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Physical Oceanography

Polar Oceanography

Polar Oceans are of major importance because dense water is created here, and fills the basins of the World Oceans. The Geophysical Institute has long standing traditions both in Antarctic and Arctic waters.

Schematic of deep water formation in the Atlantic Ocean. Filchner overflow is...
Schematic of deep water formation in the Atlantic Ocean. Filchner overflow is an important component for the production of Antarctic Bottom Water (AABW).
Photo:
Ilker Fer

While Antarctica is a large continent surrounded by Oceans, the Arctic is an ocean surrounded by continents. This creates some fundamental differences when studying these two polar oceans. What they have in common is that warmer water is transported towards these areas, and much of the research circles around understanding the transformation of this warmer water into cold and dense water sinking towards the deep along the continental slopes.

One of the major historical developments in Oceanography occurred on the continental slope in the Weddell Sea in Antarctica in the 1970's - when the first year long current meter records were collected here. The purpose was to record such sinking, or downflow, of dense water. The efforts were due to researchers here in Bergen, both at the Geophysical Institute, Christian Michelsen Research, and the company later producing the instruments commercially: Aanderaa.