Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Southern Ocean Seals Dive Deep For Climate Data

Date:
August 14, 2008
Source:
CSIRO Australia
Summary:
Elephant seals are helping scientists overcome a critical blind-spot in their ability to detect change in Southern Ocean circulation and sea ice production and its influence on global climate.

Elephant seals fitted with special oceanographic sensors are providing a 30-fold increase in data recorded in parts of the Southern Ocean rarely observed using traditional ocean monitoring techniques.
Credit: Dr Martin Biuw

According to a paper published today by a team of French, Australian, US and British scientists in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, elephant seals fitted with special oceanographic sensors are providing a 30-fold increase in data recorded in parts of the Southern Ocean rarely observed using traditional ocean monitoring techniques.

“They have made it possible for us to observe large areas of the ocean under the sea ice in winter for the first time,” says co-author Dr Steve Rintoul from the Antarctic Climate & Ecosystem Cooperative Research Centre (ACE CRC) and CSIRO’s Wealth from Oceans National Research Flagship.

"Conventional oceanographic platforms cannot provide observations under the sea ice, particularly on the Antarctic continental shelf where the most important water mass transformations take place.  Until now, our ability to represent the high-latitude oceans and sea ice in oceanographic and climate models has suffered as a result.”

“They have made it possible for us to observe large areas of the ocean under the sea ice in winter for the first time,”

says co-author Dr Steve Rintoul from the Antarctic Climate & Ecosystem Cooperative Research Centre (ACE CRC) and CSIRO’s Wealth from Oceans National Research Flagship.

Co-author, University of Tasmania Professor Mark Hindell says the seal data complements traditional oceanographic sampling from ships, satellites and drifting buoys. “By providing ocean measurements under the sea ice, the seals are helping us to establish the global ocean observing system we need to detect and understand changes in the ocean,” he says.

The polar regions play an important role in the earth’s climate system and are changing more rapidly than any other part of the world. In the southern hemisphere, the limited observations available suggest that the circumpolar Southern Ocean has warmed more rapidly than the global ocean average and that the dense water formed near Antarctica and exported to lower latitudes has freshened in some locations and warmed in others. Polar changes are important because a number of feedbacks involving ocean currents, sea ice and the carbon cycle have the potential to accelerate the rate of change. 

The seals typically covered a distance of 35-65 kilometres a day with a total of 16,500 profiles obtained in 2004-5. Of these, 8,200 were obtained south of 60S, nine times more than have been obtained from floats and research and supply ships. The 4,520 profiles obtained within the sea ice is a 30-fold increase over conventional data. The seals dived repeatedly to a depth of more than 500 metres on average and to a maximum depth of nearly 2000m. The Australian team included scientists from CSIRO, the ACE CRC, the University of Tasmania's School of Zoology and Centre for Marine Science and Charles Darwin University.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by CSIRO Australia. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

CSIRO Australia. "Southern Ocean Seals Dive Deep For Climate Data." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 August 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/08/080812135658.htm>.
CSIRO Australia. (2008, August 14). Southern Ocean Seals Dive Deep For Climate Data. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 16, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/08/080812135658.htm
CSIRO Australia. "Southern Ocean Seals Dive Deep For Climate Data." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/08/080812135658.htm (accessed September 16, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Scientists Examine Colossal Squid

Raw: Scientists Examine Colossal Squid

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) — Squid experts in New Zealand thawed and examined an unusual catch on Tuesday: a colossal squid. It was captured in Antarctica's remote Ross Sea in December last year and has been frozen for eight months. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Man Floats for 31 Hours in Gulf Waters

Man Floats for 31 Hours in Gulf Waters

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) — A Texas man is lucky to be alive after he and three others floated for more than a day in the Gulf of Mexico when their boat sank during a fishing trip. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Researchers Explore Shipwrecks Off Calif. Coast

Researchers Explore Shipwrecks Off Calif. Coast

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) — Federal researchers are exploring more than a dozen underwater sites where they believe ships sank in the treacherous waters west of San Francisco in the decades following the Gold Rush. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Conservationists Face Uphill PR Battle With New Shark Rules

Conservationists Face Uphill PR Battle With New Shark Rules

Newsy (Sep. 14, 2014) — New conservation measures for shark fishing face an uphill PR battle in the fight to slow shark extinction. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

    Environment News

      Technology News



      Save/Print:
      Share:  

      Free Subscriptions


      Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

      Get Social & Mobile


      Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

      Have Feedback?


      Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
      Mobile iPhone Android Web
      Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
      Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
      Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins