From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Southern Ocean
Mains level : Role of Southern Ocean in Climate dynamics
A South African oceanographic research vessel SA Agulhas set off from Port Louise in Mauritius, on a two-month Indian Scientific Expedition to the Southern Ocean 2020. Recently the vessel was at Prydz Bay, in the coastal waters of “Bharati”, India’s third station in Antarctica.
India’s polar mission
- This is the 11th expedition of an Indian mission to the Southern Ocean, or Antarctic Ocean.
- The first mission took place between January and March 2004.
About the Southern Ocean expedition
- The researchers from IITM Pune are collecting air and water samples from around 60 stations along the cruise track.
- These will give valuable information on the state of the ocean and atmosphere in this remote environment and will help to understand its impacts on the climate.
- A key objective of the mission is to quantify changes that are occurring and the impact of these changes on large-scale weather phenomenon, like the Indian monsoon, through tele-connection.
Why study Southern Ocean?
- We know that carbon dioxide is getting emitted into the atmosphere, and through atmospheric circulation goes to the Antarctic and Polar Regions.
- Since the temperature is very low there, these gases are getting absorbed and converted into dissolved inorganic carbon or organic carbon, and through water masses and circulation it is coming back to tropical regions.
- All oceans around the world are connected through the Southern Ocean, which acts as a transport agent for things like heat across all these oceans.
- The conveyor belt that circulates heat around the world is connected through the Southern Ocean and can have a large impact on how climate is going to change due to anthropogenic forces.
Core projects of the expedition
- Study hydrodynamics and biogeochemistry of the Indian Ocean sector of the Southern Ocean; involves sampling seawater at different depths. This will help understand the formation of Antarctic bottom water.
- Observations of trace gases in the atmosphere, such as halogens and dimethyl sulphur from the ocean to the atmosphere. This will help improve parameterizations that are used in global models.
- Study of organisms called coccolithophores that have existed in the oceans for several million years; their concentrations in sediments will create a picture of past climate
- Investigate atmospheric aerosols and their optical and radiative properties. Continuous measurements will quantify the impact on Earth’s climate.
- Study the Southern Ocean’s impact on Indian monsoons. Look for signs in a sediment core taken from the bottom of the ocean
- Dynamics of the food web in the Southern Ocean; important for safeguarding catch and planning sustainable fishing