“What Can Ocean Temperatures Tell Us about Climate in the Southern Hemisphere?” + “Uncovering the Secrets of Lake Vostok” with Martin Visbeck and Michael Studinger (Nov 2003)

by | Jul 27, 2023 | Ocean and Atmospheric Physics, Polar Research

Guest Scientists: Martin Visbeck and Michael Studinger 

Originally presented 15 Nov 2003

Introductory Presentation by Dr. Michael J. Passow

PowerPoint | Web Page

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Martin Visbeck: Climate in the Southern Hemisphere
Martin Visbeck has joined us in all of our past series to share his investigations about the climate change. Previous programs have explored  his researches about  the North Atlantic Oscillation and the Hudson River. Today, he will discuss recent efforts to understand changes in the oceans of the Southern Hemisphere and the implications for understanding climate patterns.

   The Southern Ocean is the “other” region where deep and bottom waters are
formed. Cold winds blowing of the Antarctic continent cool the surface
waters until ice forms. As ice forms from sea water the salt is left behind making the water cold and salty which is the perfect combination to form very dense water. This dense water makes is way via some complicated interactions at the shelf break region into the world ocean and forms Antarctic Bottom Water (AABW). AABW can be found in all major ocean basins below the (better known) North Atlantic Deep Water (NADW). It returns to the surface near Antarctica after mixing with the warmer
NADW. This other “grand ocean conveyor” is less well known but might
circulate at an equal strength of about 10 Sv (1 Sv = 10^6 m^3/s) as the
lower NADW.
At Lamont we have begun monitoring the properties and amounts of AABW
formed in the Weddell Sea and are exploring the possibility to begin
instrumenting a second site to capture the waters leaving the Ross Sea.

Click here for more about Martin’s research.

Michael Studinger: Lake Vostok 
Buried under 4 km (2 1/2 miles) of ice in the heart of the Antarctic continent lies Lake Vostok, one of the world’s biggest freshwater lakes.  For up to 25 million years the Lake has been covered by an ice sheet and isolated from the atmosphere.  In 1996 European satellite imagery confirmed the lake’s existence, sparking scientific inquiry into the Lake and its processes.  Lamont scientists are using ice-penetrating radar data, and GPS measurements to study the melting and refreezing in the lake, and the direction of ice flow of the overlying glacier to understand better the dynamics of the water exchange system. The geologic origin of the lake provide important boundary conditions for the
ecosystem. The magnetic and gravity field of the Earth are used to  interpret the geologic structures beneath the ice sheet.

Here are selected links to related LDEO research projects:

Technology Tips for the Classroom
by Dr. Cristiana Assumpção

Creating a WebQuest using E2C web resources

Several of the scientific concepts presented by today’s Guest Scientists lend themselves to a WEB QUEST.

     A WebQuest is an inquiry-oriented activity in which some or all of the information that learners interact with comes from resources on the internet, optionally supplemented with videoconferencing. It is a great teaching strategy and involves the student by practicing many of the 21st century skills. Creating a good WebQuest is very challenging yet one of the most rewarding types of good teaching integrated with technology.

For more about creating Web Quests and other educational technologies, see the tutorials in the MENTORING section of our website


LDEO’s extensive polar research programs can be accessed at:

Here are some selected LDEO Southern Hemisphere Research sites:

Adgrav (Antarctic Digital Gravity Synthesis — Robin Bell, PI)

AnSlope (Cross-Exchanges at the Antarctica Slope) — Arnold Gordon, PI

Antarctic Multibeam Synthesis — Suzanne Carbonette, PI

Lake Vostok — Robin Bell, PI

Here a few more links about LDEO Lake Vostok research:


Observational Physical Oceanography — Arnold Gordon

The Polar Climate Group — Doug Martinson

West Antarctic Ice Sheet Airborne Gravimetry — Robin Bell

Borehole Research Group — links to ODP Legs:
ODP Leg 177 (Southern Ocean Paleooceanography)http://www.ldeo.columbia.edu/BRG/ODP/ODP/LEG_SUMM/177/leg177.html

ODP Leg 188 (Prydz Bay–Cooperation Sea, Antarctica)


The Division of Ocean and Climate Physics Ocean created several interesting activities for children available at



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