The initiative will release a series of scientific studies on the state of the Beagle Channel and the influence of climate change on it.
In November 2019, the first binational oceanographic campaign between Chile and Argentina was carried out in the Beagle Channel, a seabed shared by both nations. For seven days, researchers from both countries aboard the Argentine ship “Víctor Angelescu” collected information about the dynamics of ocean currents and the effect of climate change on their waters.
Scientists from the Center for Dynamic Research of High Latitude Marine Ecosystems (IDEAL) of the Austral University of Chile (UACh), the Austral Center for Scientific Research (CADIC) of the National Council for Scientific and Technical Research (CONICET), the National Institute for Fisheries Research and Development (INIDEP), the Oceanographic Research Center in the South-Eastern Pacific (COPAS Coastal) and the Fisheries Development Institute (IFOP), all participated in the expedition. All the institutions are part of the Bilateral Commission for Cooperation in Austral Marine Scientific Research.
The working group collected samples to analyze the effects of phenomena such as the freshening of Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) and ocean acidification. In addition, the team detected places with hypoxia (low oxygen level) in the water column and studied key species and functional groups of organisms within the system.
After three years of analysis, the first results of this campaign are being published in the volume n. 240 of the Journal of Marine Systems, and a special issue will soon be released, with a summary of the research carried out during that period.
“The studies carried out in the area range from the most particular to the great changes that can occur in the face of phenomena such as global warming. In this sense, the Beagle Channel is an area of high scientific potential, which can function as a carbon sequesterer or buffer against climate change,” commented Dr. Humberto González, director of the IDEAL Center and one of the leaders of the initiative.
For his part, Dr. Gustavo Ferreyra, director of CADIC and coordinator of the binational campaign, highlighted that “the Beagle channel has enormous variability, not only spatial, but also temporal. Therefore, it is essential that both countries can coordinately deploy duly standardized high-frequency monitoring systems to obtain high-quality data, as well as continue joint research on the ground and at an experimental level. We must not forget that, regardless of borders, the Beagle Channel is a single ecosystem partly shared by both nations, so there is no other way to understand its operation except through cooperation.”
Currently, Chile and Argentina work in the area under the legal regulations of both countries. However, the interest in studying the sub-Antarctic zone is greater, attracting the attention of the international scientific community. An example of this is the CoastCarb project, developed by Germany and under the protection of the European Union, which works together with national and trans-Andean researchers, creating a wide collaboration network.
“This type of publication seeks to bring the information and results obtained closer to people who are not familiar with concepts associated with oceanography. We hope that this will serve as scientific evidence not only for academia, but also for decision makers and public mitigation and conservation policies,” mentioned Dr. González.
“This expedition was an unprecedented event, at least as regards marine research in the region. We managed to integrate a group of experts from both countries, with the support of the foreign ministries, after joint, detailed and very positive planning. I believe that this has been an example of bilateral collaboration, where there have been no barriers and the spirit of scientific and human collaboration on the part of both teams, which acted as a unit, has been manifested in full force,” concluded Dr. Ferreyra.