Boaty McBoatface and the Antarctic mystery
In March 2016 the public voted to name a new polar research vessel “Boaty McBoatface”, ultimately though, it was decided that “RRS Sir David Attenborough” was a more fitting choice. But the name “Boaty McBoatface” lived on and was instead given to one of the ship’s autonomous submarine vehicles. Now, data from Boaty’s first research mission in Antarctica has revealed a worrying new mechanism related to rising sea levels. Boaty has discovered that winds above the southern ocean, which have been strengthening in recent years, due in part to increased concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, are driving warmer surface water down into the depths of the ocean and warming the water right at the bottom of our oceans. Warmer oceans mean melting ice caps, so this new discovery is vital to help us accurately predict the rate that global sea levels will rise and plan for the consequences. Heather Jameson spoke to Southampton University’s Alberto Naveira Garabato who led the project.