The Southern Ocean: An essential actor of the climate
The idea behind the ACE expedition is to measure and quantify the impact of environmental changes and pollution in the Southern Ocean. This region plays a key role in climate regulation: currents of icy water deep in the ocean travel from the poles toward the equator, while warm water and air move across the ocean’s surface towards the cold regions. The earth’s climate can thus be compared to a huge heat engine. This process of heat transfer between polar and tropical regions is also an important component of the carbon cycle and a key factor in the oceans' ability to store CO2.
Research projects carried out by scientists from all around the world
Twenty-two research projects will be run during this trip by teams from Switzerland, the UK, France and Australia, to name a few. The projects cover a wide range of fields, including glaciology, climatology, biology and oceanography. The topics of study include wave formation, geographical variations in plankton populations, chemical exchanges between air and water, biodiversity on the islands, the ocean’s CO2 storage capacity, microplastic pollution and its impact on fauna, and an acoustic analysis of whale populations.
photo : Olivier Pierre / Clive McMahon / Mike Johnson / Steven L Chown
The BNP Paribas Swiss Foundation supports two of these projects, both lead by Swiss scientific teams. The first one - based at ETH Zurich and lead by Pr. Heini Wernli - is concerned with “investigating air-sea interactions”, while the second one – run by Pr. Katherine C.Leonard’s team in the EPFL - deals with “analysing why the ocean has become less salty”.
Crédit photo header : AARI