The Southern Ocean is under-sampled. Data collected continuously during the Antarctic Ecosystems Voyagehelped fill an important knowledge gap about oceanographic and atmospheric processes in this important region.
Most of the Southern Ocean outside of the narrow Antarctic continental shelf is more than 3000 m deep. This poses a real challenge for scientists studying the assemblages of animals living on the seabed.
The Southern Ocean and Antarctica have high levels of primary productivity for three months of the year, based on the growth of phytoplankton. These microscopic plants are highly adapted to this unique environment and survive despite the lack of iron – a key nutrient – in these waters.
NIWA biological oceanographer Dr Philip Boyd explains how the Southern Ocean plays a key role in controlling the world's climate, by drawing large amounts of CO2 from Earth's atmosphere into the ocean depths.
Dr Vonda Cummings, benthic ecologist at NIWA, explains the special characteristics of seafloor communities living in Antarctica's coastal waters and the importance of understanding what makes them tick.
NIWA physical oceanographer Dr Mike Williams talks about the world's largest current – the Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC) – and its influence on the 'oceanography' (ocean characteristics) south of New Zealand.
The New Zealand archipelago, particularly its subantarctic islands, is a global seabird hotspot. It's home to 25 per cent of the world's breeding seabird populations and a very diverse array of penguin, albatross, petrel and shearwater species.