Sailing South for Christmas

RRS Discovery docked in Punta Arenas port, Chile
photo credit: Sofia Alexiou, NOC

by Dr Adrian Martin, Principal Scientist (National Oceanography Centre, UK)


While many people may be thinking of stockings, Rudolph and Frosty at Christmas, the CUSTARD team is heading to the Southern Ocean to study how marine life helps keep carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. Last year we deployed a mooring studded with sensors and two unmanned ‘glider’ submarines at 59oS 89oW, west of the tip of South America. These have given us the first insight into how the ecosystem of this remote environment changes throughout the year, including the harsh winter when you really do not want to be there in a boat. With the team now fully assembled in Punta Arenas, all are now busy unpacking and setting up the equipment that we will need on our return to the site.

This year we will be making much more intense use of the fantastic facilities and laboratories we have on board, to get a more detailed picture of what is happening to the local phytoplankton population and its fate, as its rapid growth leads to starvation as the nutrients run out. Over the next few weeks you will get to read about the many ways in which we study the ocean, from drifting floats to optics and the inevitable big bottles of water. For now though, it is a last chance to send a Christmas postcard before we sail.

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King Penguins in Punta Arenas, RRS Discovery coming into port
photo credit: Katsia Pabortsava, NOC

CUSTARD sailing south for Christmas on RRS Discovery

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