As the Le Boreal luxury Antarctic cruise ship sailed eastward toward the Falkland Islands (our first stop of Antarctic journey), A&K Abercrombie & Kent began their lecture series on the fauna and flora and the history of this region. The waters here are rich in krill, making them a favorite with local wildlife searching for food, creating a perfect opportunity to spot marine mammals and birdlife from the deck.
THE SOUTHERN OCEAN
The Stormy waters of the Southern Ocean encircle Antarctica in a continuous ring of mainly eastward-flowing water. This water comprises 10% of the world’s oceans as well as connecting the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans; it also isolates the continent from warmer waters. The Antarctic Circumpolar Current has an average rate of flow 4 times greater than the Gulf Stream.
One of our major interests in the Southern Ocean arises from its influence on global climate. The region, where the cold Antarctic water meets the warmer waters of the northern oceans, is called the Antarctic Convergence or Polar Front.
The seas south of the Antarctic Convergence contain the coldest and densest water in the world. This water, called Antarctic bottom water, is formed as seawater sinks to the ocean floor when ice shelves melt. It then moves along the ocean floor into the Northern Hemisphere, where it adds oxygen and reduces the temperature of these seas to less than 2oC / 35oF. This cooling effect on tropical and temperate seas is an important feature of the world’s heat balance.
There is a psychological benefit to the Southern Ocean as well: sailing over it to Antarctica makes clear the continent’s remoteness and immensity.
Today’s Program Highlights
Welcome Aboard Cocktail Party at the Theatre (deck 4 aft) at 1900
Captain’s Welcome Dinner in La Licorne Restaurant (deck 2) at 1945
We spent the entire day on sea leaving South America continent toward Falkland Islands. It was a good day to walk around the ship and get familiar with the cruise amenities on each deck, as well as to socialize with fellow passengers. The weather was very nice and sunny. Many of us walked outside on the deck to view seabirds.
Back to Antarctic Expedition to read other destinations of the trip.