The ULPGC installs anchors in the South Atlantic to measure its role in climate change

Verónica Caínzos, Cristina Arumí, Daniel Santana and Marta Veny, students of the Doctorate of Oceanography and Global Change taught by the Iocag of the University of Las Palmas, together with researchers from the Spanish Institute of Oceanography (IEO), the University of Barcelona and from Institute of Marine Sciences of the Higher Council for Scientific Research (CSIC).

“It has been 42 days of crossing, from Punta Arenas in Chile to Gran Canaria without stopping in any port due to the pandemic. A series of hydrographic stations have been made and, most importantly, they installed some anchors in the middle of the South Atlantic to determine the flow of the current that flows north from the Indian Ocean and from the Pacific with the contribution of the Atlantic and the flow returning to the south in deep layers ”, explained the director of Iocag, Alonso Hernandez about the campaign to study the global conveyor belt from the ocean in order to collect new data on the contribution of the South Atlantic Ocean to climate change.

Study will pinpoint heat changes on the global ocean conveyor belt


The global conveyor belt moves from the bottom up in the Atlantic, carrying warm waters from the subtropics to the north, where it cools and thickens, then descends again to the south. It is a cycle that is being widely investigated as it constitutes a crucial mechanism for balancing the global climate. “The sun heats the ocean more at the equator, so there would have to be a flow of heat towards the two poles, towards the north and towards the south so that the equator does not heat indefinitely. And this is the case in the Indian and the Pacific, but not in the Atlantic Ocean, which is the only one where heat transport is from the southern hemisphere to the northern hemisphere, not from the equator to the poles, and this is due to the global conveyor belt. Any variation in this heat flow towards the north is due to a variation in the global conveyor belt, with which it is necessary to determine these variations in the South Atlantic, which is the one that makes the difference with respect to the other oceans ”, said the researcher Alonso Hernández.

Precisely the SAGA10W campaign -length 10 west- is part of the SAGA project financed with almost one million euros by the National R & D & I Plan of the State, to better understand the operation of deep global circulation and its influence on the weather. The importance of carrying out the study in the South Atlantic lies in the fact that it is a kind of “crossroads” that regulates the intensity of the conveyor belt in charge of transporting warm waters to the north and cold waters to the south.

The project is carried out together with scientists from the IEO, the University of Barcelona and the CSIC


During the aforementioned campaign, a series of devices have been deployed to measure different oceanographic variables at a depth of between 2 and 4 kilometers in seven different areas, and three anchors to measure currents, as well as temperature, salinity and the conductivity of the water. These anchors will be in the water for two years, after which the data to measure and understand the operation of the global conveyor belt will be collected and analyzed.

In January or February 2022, scientists plan to start a second oceanographic campaign, SAGA34S, -34 South- from Cape Town in South Africa to Buenos Aires in Argentina.


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