Joellen Russell on a research trip to the Southern Ocean
Joellen Russell on a research trip to the Southern Ocean

Is the Antarctic helping cool Arizona?  How does that work? What oceanic and atmospheric forces move “Antarctic cool” to hot Arizona?

We know that summer rains come from the Gulf of Mexico and the Baja and winter rains come from the Pacific across California.  But how does Antarctica get involved, and is this related to the ozone hole over Antarctica?

Joellen Russell, Associate Professor of Geosciences, University of Arizona will explain in the third and final lecture of this year’s Academy Village Sustainability Seminars at 2:30 p.m. Thursday (April 2).

The oceans play a key role in the ongoing climate change in the Southwest by storing carbon dioxide and heat, not only at the surface but also in its deepest layers where they can be sequestered for centuries.  The vast Southern Ocean surrounding the Antarctic continent is the only place in the global ocean where water wells up from more than two mile deeps to the surface before sinking again, providing the doorway to this deep oceanic reservoir.

This “doorway” depends on the strength of the winds around Antarctica, and these winds have been changing – forced by warming of the atmosphere and destruction of ozone in the stratosphere. Despite its critical importance, however, the Southern Ocean is the least observed and least understood region of the oceans.  Research now underway by Russell and others in oceanography and climate science will enable us to predict the ocean’s role in determining the climate of Earth.

Russell is an Associate Professor in the Department of Geosciences at the University of Arizona with a joint appointment in the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory. She was named a University of Arizona 1885 Society Distinguished Scholar in 2014 and won the UA Provost’s Teaching Award in 2010.

Written by Ted Hullar, Academy Village Volunteer

How the Antarctic Helps Arizona Keep Its Cool: April2015