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International meeting on the Southern Ocean

Over 80 experts from around the world will meet next week (14-16 July) to discuss the Southern Ocean surrounding Antarctica. It's the first attempt by scientists to take a collective approach to investigating an important marine environment that comprises more than 10% of the world's ocean, links the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian Oceans and represents the world's largest oceanic carbon sink.

The meeting, organised and hosted by British Antarctic Survey (BAS), will review current knowledge of the Southern Ocean, the key role it plays in global ocean climate systems, and the sustainable management of marine living resources.

BAS Director, Professor Chris Rapley CBE, says, "We are bringing together some of the top experts in the world to look at a key component of the Earth's system. The Southern Ocean influences the Earth's ocean currents and global climate. Its behaviour is as critical to the rest of the world as it is to the local environment. However, the impact of climate change and the commercial exploitation of its fish stocks could result in major and potentially damaging changes. Unfortunately, our knowledge of the region is currently very limited, and a new international effort to change this is required."

The meeting expects to agree international research programmes for improved global climate models, for examining the circumpolar links between climate, ocean, ice and biological processes and the future sustainable management of marine life. The Antarctic Circumpolar Current, that isolates the frozen continent, is the most powerful current system on the planet and is known to influence the marine food web. Illegal and unregulated fishing threatens Antarctic animals such as seals, penguins, albatross and fish. By understanding the complex processes that affect the currents, atmosphere, sea ice and biology of the Southern Ocean, scientists can provide sound advice to international bodies responsible for its protection and sustainable ma
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Contact: Athena Dinar
a.dinar@bas.ac.uk
44-122-322-1414
British Antarctic Survey
14-Jul-2003


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