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  Seaweek 2003    
   

Theme

Exploring Our Oceans

Exploration and research in the marine environment is undertaken by federal and state government environmental agencies, universities and private industry. This includes CRC's Centres for Research and Development, AIMS Australian Institute of Marine Science www.aims.gov.au Geoscience Australia www.ga.gov.au CSIRO Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation www.csiro.gov.au and AAD Australian Antarctic Division www.aad.gov.au. Just a few of the current stories are mentioned below.

Long-lost records confirm rising sea level
Estimates of anticipated sea level rise as a consequence of 'greenhouse' warming depend both on the increased global temperatures, and on the way in which this heat and the water formed from melting ice are absorbed in the global ocean. Climate modeling of the way the ocean will respond to 'greenhouse' warming have shown that the increase in sea level will not be uniform worldwide.

To test these models, direct observations are required. For this, measurements of sea level change over long periods are needed. Unfortunately, very few early sea level measurements have survived, especially in the Southern Hemisphere. A unique series of sea level measurements, made by amateur scientist and meteorologist Thomas Lempriere at Port Arthur between 1837 and 1842, and linked to a benchmark which still exists, has been used to estimate sea
level changes in the region over the past 160 years.

For the complete story visit the CSIRO at www.marine.csiro.au Assistance from Craig Macaulay, thank you.

Robotic floats watch beneath the surface
Australian scientists are preparing to make their largest investment yet to monitor the engine-room of global climate, the Southern Ocean's Antarctic Circumpolar Current. In the next three years, a total of 44 robotic floats will be deployed south of Australia by scientists from the Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) for Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems and CSIRO.

"With this new technology, we can for the first time observe what is happening beneath the surface of the Southern Ocean on a routine basis," says CRC Program Leader and oceanographer Dr Steve Rintoul. The Southern Ocean is notorious for experiencing the strongest winds and largest waves on the planet. Because the region is so remote and inhospitable, ships tend to avoid the area and we have very few observations there. The floats will allow us to observe changes in the Southern Ocean affecting climate and marine life. Together with US, European and Japanese efforts this project will monitor the Circumpolar Current and provide a benchmark against which we can measure future climate change," he said.

With a life of 3-5 years, the $30,000 instruments drift with the currents and sample the ocean to a depth of two kilometres every 10 days. Temperature and salinity profiles measured by the floats are relayed to land via satellite. The floats will be deployed between 75ºE and 165ºE, from Australia to the edge of the sea ice, starting in late 2003. The Australian floats will be part of a flotilla of 3,000 instruments seeded throughout the world's oceans by 2006, as part of the Argo project, a US-led ocean observation initiative supported by 13 countries.

"Eighty per cent of the 750 floats deployed so far are in Northern Hemisphere ocean basins. Yet many of the most important questions regarding future climate can only be answered with observations from the southern hemisphere oceans. The Australian Argo effort is helping to fill this gap," Dr Rintoul said.

For the complete story visit the CSIRO at www.marine.csiro.au Assistance from Craig Macaulay, thank you.

Spanning the Antarctic: a busy research season
This season in Antarctica is characterised by full programs of scientific research and operational activities, including a major expedition and two marine science voyages. In February the RV Aurora Australis will undertake a hydroacoustic study of the behaviour of krill swarms off Mawson coast, its centre of operation being dictated by the feeding behaviour of Adelie penguins that are bringing up their chicks on Bechervaise Island. This voyage will also gather data on the structure and flow of Antarctic Circumpolar Current, as part of the Australian Antarctic Division's climate and environment change research. From the Australian Antarctic Magazine Spring 2002

Discover Antarctica on line at www.aad.gov.au the Australian Antarctic Division website. Find the latest news, amazing photographs, list of publications, science, information, links etc. Also for Teachers and Kids go to Classroom Antarctica and solve the mystery 'Who's eating who?



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