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Under the Antarctic Southern Ocean

December 2011
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200px-Location_Southern_Ocean.jpgLocated at one extreme of the planet, the Antarctic Southern Ocean can be an unforgiving place: for most of the dark winter the surface of the sea is covered in thick pack ice and year round, the water temperature can get down to nearly -2°C and rarely rises above 0°C.

 

The surface and the water aren’t the only hostile place as every year up to 60% of the sea bed is scraped and scoured by passing icebergs.

 

Surviving extremes

 

With such harsh conditions, have you ever wondered how marine creatures have evolved to survive at the bottom of this ocean? Have you ever considered whether things were the same in the times of great polar adventurers, like Scott, Shackleton and Amundsen who were exploring these lands 100+ years ago? Do you worry about the impact that warming waters will have on these specialised marine animals?

 

These are the questions that get me out of bed in the morning and to find some of the answers I am going to spend the next two months in Antarctica plunging into these icy southern seas.

 

Who I am

 

My name is Jen Loxton and I am a marine scientist and SCUBA diver. I am currently working towards my doctorate looking at the effects of our changing oceans on the skeletons of tiny marine creatures known as bryozoa.

 

Thus far my investigations have been in Scotland and the Arctic but now I am joining the British Antarctic Survey and heading south to investigate one of the most rapidly warming places on Earth, the West Antarctic peninsula.

 

This blog and my Twitter feed will let you join me on my adventure as I investigate the marine life at the peninsula.

 

 

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Jen SCUBA diving in the Arctic with a ctenophore (comb jelly) © Piotr Kuklinski

 

Jen's research is being undertaken as a collaboration between:
Heriot Watt University, Natural History Museum, UMBS, Millport, and the British Antarctic Survey.

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Jen is funded by the NERC Collaborative Gearing Scheme and Heriot Watt Alumni Fund and sponsored by Catlin Group Limited, Apeks Marine and O'Three.

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Image of the Antarctic Southern Ocean: © Connormah under CC BY-SA 3.0