Chilean Patagonia: An Open-air Lab To Study Climate Change

Chilean Patagonia: an open-air lab to study climate change

In one of the most inhospitable places on Earth, the southernmost part of Chile's Patagonia region, scientists are studying whales, dolphins and algae in order to help predict how climate change will affect the world's oceans

Seno Ballena, Chile, (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News, app - 14th Jan, 2019 ) :In one of the most inhospitable places on Earth, the southernmost part of Chile's Patagonia region, scientists are studying whales, dolphins and algae in order to help predict how climate change will affect the world's oceans.

For the study, four researchers from the Austral University of Chile embarked from Punta Arenas for the remote Seno Ballena fjord.

The fjord currently produces the kind of conditions that should be seen in other marine systems in the next few decades, when dramatic changes are expected in the environment due to increased carbon dioxide emissions in the atmosphere and the melting of glaciers.

"This place is like an actual experiment in nature because it allows us, without needing to conduct experiments in the lab, to know what will happen without imagining it," marine biologist Maximiliano Vergara told AFP.

Reaching the fjord is no easy task -- they had to negotiate the treacherous Strait of Magellan that connects the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans for a day and a half aboard a small raft adapted for scientific research, with winds exceeding 100 kilometers (60 miles) per hour and glacial temperatures.

On site, they take readings from a system of sensors that provide a constant stream of data from water samples taken every three hours.

The researchers are analyzing the chemical, physical and biological variables of the waters, which show lower levels of pH, salinity and calcium, especially in the most shallow areas, as a consequence of climate change.

"What we're doing at the moment is establishing our information baseline," Vergara said.

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