Graduates students of the IDEAL Center participated in the third oceanographic campaign to study the chemical, physical, and biological characteristics of water during the winter.
Onboard the Marypaz II vessel, doctoral students from the Center for the Dynamic Research of Marine Ecosystems of High Latitudes (IDEAL) of the Austral University of Chile (UACh) and the University of Magallanes (UMAG), Marco Pinto-Torres and Jurleys Vellojin, conducted oceanographic sampling in Whale Sound, west of the Strait of Magellan.
The objective of this campaign, which lasted four days, was to study the chemical, physical and biological characteristics of water on the surface of the Southern Ocean during mid-winter. For this, two doctoral students in aquaculture science at the UACh carried out a transect with six sampling stations. In each of them they evaluated the microalgae present along with characteristics of the pH, alkalinity, and nutrients. At the same time, they analyzed the effects of “freshening”, a phenomenon known as “ocean desalination,” as a consecuence of the continuous melting of the surrounding glacial ice.
At the same time, these students evaluated the conditions of a biogeochemical buoy installed in this area during March of this year. The buoy included sensors that measure the characteristics of pH, carbon dioxide (CO2), temperature, salinity (conductivity) and dissolved oxygen. The information collected by the oceanographic system will be a key element for understanding the exchange of CO2, an important compound in the increase of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, which is affecting marine systems.
“Whale Sound features characteristics that are typical of the Magallanes Region. It is a natural laboratory that brings together conditions to for conducting several kinds of scientific research and, above all, those disciplines that attempt to explain future global environmental changes and how these could affect the productivity of marine systems in the short term,” says Pinto-Torres.
The students will perform comparisons of the samples obtained during winter and summer in order to identify any changes. Their research is part of a Fondecyt project, in which researchers from the IDEAL Center and the University of Magallanes (UMAG) participate.
Whale Sound is located within the Francisco Coloane Marine Park and is part of the first Chilean Multi-Purpose Coastal Protected Area, which houses, in turn, the Carlos III Island. Several marine mammals, including humpback whales, travel thousands of kilometers to feed in the area.
In addition to being a very productive area, Whale Sound holds the Santa Inés glacier. At present the impact of the seasonal melting of this ice mass is unknown, nor how this may affect the marine organisms that live there.
The characteristics of Whale Sound make it a unique place to conducting scientific research into the possible consequences of global change.