An international team of scientists discovered the first Antarctic ocean current. The largest ocean current on Earth Which connects the three main basins that were formed about 14 million years ago.
The study is led by researchers from the Andalusian Institute of Geosciences (CSIC).It is a joint center with the University of Granada (UGR), Imperial College London and the Universities of Salamanca, Barcelona and Bordeaux.
The researchers discovered that the Antarctic Circumpolar Current, which has properties similar to those found today, only formed about 14 million years ago.
It is the largest ocean current on Earth and connects the three main basins of the World Ocean – the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans.
This current regulates the transfer of heat, moisture, carbon and nutrients between the Southern Ocean and low-latitude regions, significantly influencing atmospheric carbon dioxide and global climate.
Despite its fundamental role in global ocean movement, climate dynamics and stability of the Antarctic ice sheet, when and how Antarctic current Its current characteristics have been the subject of debate for more than four decades.
The latest discovery by this group of researchers challenges the prevailing belief that the onset of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current was caused by the opening and deepening of the Drake and Tasmanian Ocean Passages.
The results of this study require a paradigm shift in understanding the processes that lead to the initiation of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current and the interaction of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current with the Antarctic ice sheet throughout historical times and in the face of future climate change. .
The research highlights that the true driver of the onset of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current with current-like characteristics is the observed increase in density anisotropy and intensification of southwesterly winds along the Southern Ocean.
These changes were driven by the cooling and expansion of Antarctic ice after the Middle Miocene climate shift, which occurred 14 million years ago.
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