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Study of convective movements in the Southern Ocean

Parent project: Research action SPSD-I: Sustainable management of the North Sea, more
Reference no: A4/DD/H01
Period: December 1996 till May 2001
Status: Completed

Thesaurus terms: General circulation (oceans); Hydrodynamics; Modelling; Physical oceanography; Satellite imagery
Geographical terms: PS, Southern Ocean [Marine Regions]; PSW, Maud Rise; PSW, Weddell Sea [Marine Regions]

Institutes (2)  Top 
  • Koninklijk Belgisch Instituut voor Natuurwetenschappen; Departement Beheer van het Mariene Ecosysteem; Beheerseenheid Mathematisch Model Noordzee en Schelde-estuarium; Brussel (KBIN-BMM), more
  • Belgian Science Policy (BELSPO), more, sponsor

The purpose of the project is to work out a mathematical model able to provide, at the regional scale of the Weddell Sea, an accurate representation of the hydrodynamics and the air/ocean interface usually covered by the ice pack. Special attention is paid to the zones surrounding the Filchner-Ronne Ice Shelf and the Maud Rise, the former of which is renowned for significantly contributing to the production of deep water and, the latter for undergoing upwellings of relatively warm water.

It comprises two main sections which are the digital modelling and the use of satellite imagery and in situ data. The first deals with a detailed representation of the ice pack, including its rheology coupled to an ocean model calculating the temperature and salinity fields. The second is centred on the direct validation of the results.

In a second stage, it consists in implementing the model so as to study the convective phenomena characteristic of the Southern Ocean and their implications for the formation of deep water in relation to regulation of the global climate.


The following objectives will be pursued in this study :

1) To contribute to improving understanding of the convective phenomena which affect the Southern Ocean by attempting to identify :

- the zones contributing to the formation of deep water;
- the conditions favourable to this formation;
- the effects on the remainder of the world oceanic circulation in relation to the global climate.

2) To put the coupled ocean/ice model developed at the scale of the Sea of Weddell into operational mode for the needs of potential end-users, in fields such as the prevention and control of pollution by hydrocarbons.

3) To distribute forecasts generated by the operational version of the model to such users.

4) To disseminate the global results of the study among researchers in marine ecology and biogeochemistry, in particular by means of telematics.

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