Our directory of things of interest

University Directory

Ocean mixing explained

  • Written by  Olivia Edward
  • Published in Oceans
Drake Passage Drake Passage Shutterstock
01 Nov
2013
A team of researchers has solved the mystery of how deep and mid-depth ocean waters are mixed, providing a vital insight for climate modellers

The international team measured mixing in the Southern Ocean by releasing tiny quantities of an inert chemical tracer into the Southeast Pacific and then tracking it for several years as it went through Drake Passage – the channel between the southern tip of South America and the Antarctic continent. As the tracer moved across the Pacific, it showed almost no vertical mixing of water, but as the water rushed over undersea mountains in the relatively narrow continental gap that forms Drake Passage, it began to mix dramatically.

Ocean mixing transfers atmospheric carbon dioxide to the deep sea, while also affecting the transport of heat around the oceans, so it plays a crucial role in global climate. ‘A thorough understanding of the process of ocean mixing is crucial to our understanding of the overall climate system,’ said Andrew Watson of the University of Exeter, the study’s lead author. ‘Our study indicates that virtually all the mixing in the Southern Ocean occurs in Drake Passage and at a few other undersea mountain locations. Our study will provide climate scientists with the detailed information about the oceans that they currently lack.’

 This story was published in the November 2013 edition of Geographical Magazine

Related items

Subscribe and Save!

geo line break v3

Free eBooks - Geographical Newsletter

Sign up for our weekly newsletter today and get a FREE eBook collection!

geo line break v3

University of Winchester

geo line break v3

EDUCATION PARTNERS

Aberystwyth University University of Greenwich The University of Derby

TRAVEL PARTNERS

Ponant

Silversea

Travel the Unknown

NEVER MISS A STORY - Follow Geographical on Social

Want to stay up to date with breaking Geographical stories? Join the thousands following us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and stay informed about the world.

More articles in NATURE...

Geophoto

The British Isles are packed with natural landmarks that serve…

Geophoto

The prestigious photography awards to go on display in some…

Tectonics

The discovery of a slow-motion earthquake near Istanbul, which took…

Oceans

The 2014 to 2016 marine heatwave, which took place off…

Climate

Marco Magrini discovers that hydrogen is back, but hopefully not…

Wildlife

 A ten-year analysis of chimpanzees has revealed that the presence…

Wildlife

The return of the pine marten to UK forests has…

Energy

A project in Orkney is converting excess wind energy into…

Geophoto

Mountains provide a dramatic sight at the best of times,…

Wildlife

A surge in reports of dead hares has resulted in…

Oceans

Four scientists have banded together to make the case against the farming of octopuses, arguing…

Climate

As planetary oil consumption hits the 100-million-barrel mark Marco Magrini…

Oceans

A ship that ran aground early in February has been…

Wildlife

Two whale populations on either side of the African continent…

Geophoto

March traditionally heralds the beginning of spring, a time of…

Wildlife

An innovative project to utilise Laos’ elephant experts in service…

Polar

Despite common belief that Antarctica is vastly uninhabited, humans are…

Wildlife

Javan rhinos survived the recent Krakatoa tsunami, but the species…

Energy

As the world turns away from fossil fuels, one question…

Geophoto

The winners of the Outdoor Photographer of the Year 2018…