Science

The Weddell Sea Expedition 2019 will provide an unprecedented opportunity to investigate and explore one of the most remote, and least studied, places on our planet. Floating ice shelves surrounding the Weddell Sea are important because they affect the stability of the Antarctic Ice Sheet, as well as ocean-current circulation.

If ice shelves thin, break up to produce icebergs and retreat as the atmosphere and ocean waters warm, ice flow from the ice-sheet interior accelerates and more mass is lost, contributing to a rise in global sea levels. Melting at the base of ice shelves and calved icebergs also releases fresh water, which can inhibit the generation of very dense Antarctic Bottom Water. The formation of Antarctic Bottom Water is one of the major drivers of the thermohaline circulation of the oceans, which influences regional climates by transporting heat and provides vital nutrients to fishery grounds around the world.

  • Glaciology

    The ice shelves that fringe the Weddell Sea, which include the Larsen C and Flincher-Ronne ice shelves, are the floating portions of glaciers that transfer ice from large ice-sheet interior drainage basins to the marine environment.

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  • Geology & Geophysics

    An understanding of the stability or otherwise of the floating ice shelves surrounding the Weddell Sea over the last few thousand years is needed to place recently observed changes within a long-term context.

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  • Marine Biology

    The Weddell Sea extends over an area of approximately 2.8 million square kilometres and is one of the most pristine marine ecosystems in the world.

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  • Sea Ice Research

    Approximately 25,000 years ago, during the coldest apart of the last glacial period, the ice in region of the Weddell Sea may have been up to 100m thicker and extended 400km North.

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  • Oceanography

    The Weddell Sea is one of the few areas where deep and bottom water masses are formed to contribute to the global thermohaline circulation.

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  • Marine Archaeology

    We have a team of leading marine archaeologists who hope to locate Shackleton’s lost Endurance ship. The 44m long sailing vessel journeyed into the southern regions of the Weddell Sea. The ship has still not been found.

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