THE Research Vessel Sonne has departed Germany on a two-month-long expedition in the southern Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Namibia to research the impact of climate change on the Benguela Upwelling System.
The Benguela Upwelling makes the southeastern part of the ocean one of the most productive and fish-rich regions of the Atlantic.
According to a statement Leibniz Centre for Tropical Marine Research (ZMT), the research team on board the RV SONNE wants to find out how climate change affects the marine ecosystem in order to better assess consequences for fisheries and the ocean’s carbon dioxide (CO2) uptake.
Tim Rixen from the Leibniz Centre for Tropical Marine Research (ZMT) will be the chief scientist on the cruise, which involves 30 researchers from universities and institutes in Germany, Namibia and South Africa.
Coastal upwelling areas provide about 20% of the annual global fish landings and thus play a significant role in the food supply for the world’s population.
The Benguela Current, located off Namibia and South Africa is one of these very productive ecosystems. In the 1970s, however, fishing yields of sardines, which had been caught predominantly until then, declined off South Africa and Namibia have declined significantly.
With climate change, other fish species and also jellyfish moved into the region, and the question of the ocean’s capacity to store greenhouse gases such as CO2 arose.
The research expedition “SO285” aims to find answers to the question of how climate change affects the marine ecosystem off South Africa and Namibia with regards to fisheries and ocean CO2 storage.
As climate change is gaining momentum and the ocean is relatively slow to respond to it, the research on the RV SONNE is integrated into various long-term observation strategies.
The task of the researchers on board the RV Sonne is to decipher processes that help to clarify how the circulation of the ocean under the influence of regional coastal morphology affects the productivity of the marine ecosystem as well as its capacity to store CO2.
Understanding such processes is essential to improve predictions and to adopt guidelines for the use of marine ecosystems to global change and thus contribute to food security and climate protection.