Scientists from Chile and Germany will investigate the low oxygen levels in the area, in addition to reconstructing the geological history of the place and analyzing the variations it has experienced due to the effects of climate change.

From January 28 to February 10, national and international researchers will carry out a campaign towards the Almirante Montt Gulf, in the province of Última Esperanza, Magallanes Region, with the aim of obtaining oceanographic information on the area.

The expedition is led by researchers from the Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI, Germany), in collaboration with professionals from the University of Concepción (UdeC) and the Center for Dynamic Research of High Latitude Marine Ecosystems (IDEAL) of the Austral University of Chile (UACh), who will study the dynamics of biological processes that exist under low oxygen conditions.

The multidisciplinary team will work on board the German ship Sonne, a state-of-the-art ship that stands out for its engine room, installed in such a way that it avoids vibrations to the ship’s hull, traveling in silence and avoiding echo prospecting. In addition, it has 17 laboratories in its 600 m2.

The modern vessel will begin its journey in the Bío-Bío Region, where it will carry out a series of oceanographic transects off the coast of Concepción. Once the work is finished, the expedition will go to the channels of Patagonia, studying the physical conditions that modulate the hypoxia and anoxia conditions in the area, as well as the chemical and biological changes in the superficial and deep layers of the southern territory.

“There is significant industrial activity in that area, where higher levels of nitrogen and red tide events have also been found that we must analyze through the trophic flow of microorganisms. We will study the effects of the current decrease in oxygen on the properties of marine photosynthesis and the particulate matter present in the water column,” assured the director of the IDEAL Center, Dr. Humberto González.

“The Almirante Montt Gulf is used as a natural model of possible scenarios under the current global change regime, as well as the effects of productive activities in the inland ocean of southern Chilean Patagonia,” said the IDEAL Center researcher and academic from the Institute of Aquaculture of the UACh, Dr. José Luis Iriarte.

In addition to the physical and chemical conditions of the southern fjords, hydrological and biological changes will be studied through sediment intakes, in order to reconstruct the geological history of the place (paleoceanography,) work carried out by Dra. Carina Lange, researcher at the IDEAL Center and the Center for Oceanographic Research in the South-Eastern Pacific (COPAS Coastal).