Future of the Environment

From arm-sized worms to the Screaming Sixties, this is everything to know about the Southern Ocean

Penguins are one of Antarctica's most well-known species. Image: REUTERS/Pauline Askin

Ceridwen Fraser
Associate professor, University of Otago
Christina Hulbe
Professor, University of Otago School of Surveying
Craig Stevens
Associate Professor in Ocean Physics, National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research
Huw Griffiths
Marine Biogeographer, British Antarctic Survey
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A map showing the world's oceans as a single body of water
The Spilhaus projection shows the connect nature of the world's ocean basins Image: Spilhaus ArcGIS project, CC BY-ND
A view of broken up ice in the The Southern Ocean
The Southern Ocean is our planet’s primary storage of heat and carbon. Image: Crag Stevens
a large research ship is pictured on the water
Strong westerly winds and the circumpolar current create massive waves in the Southern Ocean. Image: Craig Stevens
Ocean view from above
Ocean currents with different properties mix, rise and sink. Image: Craig Stevens
A researcher performs an experiment from the side of the boat
Argo probes measure salinity and temperature. Image: NIWA/Daniel Jones
a view of the south ocean from onboard a research ship
The RV Polarstern battles through a storm in the Southern Ocean. Image: Huw Griffiths
sea kelp
Algae growing on the underside of sea ice. Image: Andrew Thurber
Antarctic krill
Antarctic krill is a key species in the Antarctic marine ecosystem. Image: British Antarctic Survey
underwater images of the Antarctic hydrothermal vent
An Antarctic hydrothermal vent on the East Scotia Ridge. The image was taken by a remotely operated vehicle during the ChEsSO expedition. Image: chEsSO/NERC
A selection of invertebrates
A selection of invertebrates commonly found by scientists diving at Rothera Station, Antarctica. Image: British Antarctic Survey
Marine invertebrates on the seafloor off the Antarctic coast
Marine invertebrates on the seafloor off the Antarctic coast. Image: Alfred Wegener Institute, OFOBS team
penguins
Chinstrap penguins on Deception Island. Image: Michelle LaRue
a whale in the water
Many whale species depend on Antarctic ecosystems for summer feeding and migrate to warmer, lower latitudes for winter breeding Image: Huw Griffiths
a lone penguin with a whaling station in the background
An abandoned whaling station. Image: Ceridwen Fraser
a diagram showing the human effect on the Southern Ocean ecosystems
Humans are changing Southern Ocean ecosystems in many ways, both directly (purple-blue arrows) and indirectly (red arrows). Image: Chown et al (2015) The changing form of Antarctic biodiversity. Nature, 522: 431-438, CC BY-ND
A view on the antartic ocean with snowy mountain like peaks
Antarctic ocean waters are warming dramatically. Image: Ceridwen Fraser
seals and southern bull kelp
Southern bull kelp does not grow in the Antarctic, but it floats well and recent research has shown that it can drift to Antarctica, travelling tens of thousands of kilometres. Image: Author provided
penguins walking in a line
Adélie penguins rest and breed on land, but go to sea to forage for food. Image: Michelle LaRue
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Related topics:
Future of the EnvironmentOceanRestoring ocean lifeClimate Change
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