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Study of convective movements in the Southern Ocean

Antarctica phase IV (1997-2000)

Study of convective movements in the Southern Ocean


Dr Georges Pichot
Management Unit of the Mathematical Model of the North Sea (MUMM)
Belgian Royal Institute of Natural Sciences
Gulledelle, 100
Phone: +32 (0)2 773 21 22
Fax: +32 (0)2 773 69 72


The project aims at working 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. Detailed attention is paid to the zones surrounding the Filchner-Ronne Ice Shelf and the Maud Rise which are renowned, the former, for significantly contributing to the production of deep water and, the latter, for undergoing upwellings of relatively warmer water.

It comprises two main sections which are the numerical 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 a oceanic model calculating the temperature and salinity fields. The second one is centred on the direct validation of the results.

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


  • To contribute to the improvement of the comprehension of the convective phenomena which affect the Southern Ocean while 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.
  • To extend the coupled ocean/ice model developed at the scale of the Sea of Weddell to operational mode for the needs of potential end-users, in fields like the prevention and the control of pollution by hydrocarbons.
  • To make forecasts generated by the operational version of the model available to such users.
  • To circulate the global results of the study among the researchers in marine ecology and biogeochemistry, in particular by means of telematics.

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