Drake Project Takes GSO to Antarctica

typical_day_in_the_drakeHow have the increased winds and warming that the region has experienced lately had an impact on the Antarctic Circumpolar Current? Two GSO oceanographers, Drs. Kathleen Donohue and Randy Watts, together with Teri Chereskin (SIO) are trying to answer this question. They have been awarded a five-year grant by the National Science Foundation to measure this current that flows around Antarctica. The current acts as a conduit, transporting water among Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans. The nature of this flow has consequences for local, regional, and global ecosystems and climate. The GSO scientists want to understand the dynamics of the Current by measuring its transport rate over time. The Drake Passage, located between Antarctica and the tip of South America, is the Current’s narrowest passage, a choke point that is an ideal location for this experiment. They have recently deployed over 35 current and pressure recording inverted echo sounders across the Passage that will remain for a 4-year period. These instruments will provide observations that will help us understand why the current is there, what forces it, what controls its variability, and how it responds to climate change.