Southern Ocean - Oden

 

Overview

As the Oden broke ice into the Amundsen Sea, we were able to measure the concentration of nutrients.  This provided a unique view of the biogeochemistry of the Amundsen Polynya region (an ice-free region surrounded by ice).  We found an accumulation of phosphate that reflects the growth of diatoms in the overlying water.

 

Still the most difficult ocean region to sample, the Southern Ocean slowly has revealed new and important features in surface ocean biological production and chemistry.  NSF sponsors cruises in the west Antarctic region each austral spring aboard the Swedish icebreaker Oden that I was fortunate to participate on in December, 2008 - January 2009.  It was a rare opportunity to sample the coast and shelf areas of this vast and largely un-sampled region. 

 

The processing of nutrients in the Antarctic may have far-reaching consequences because the water from this region flows to lower latitude.  In this way, the nature and characteristics of the high-latitude biological systems can influence the productivity in other regions of the ocean.

Example data

Why the Biogeochemistry of the Southern Ocean Matters