Seals Plunge for Climate Data

Scientists use deep-diving creatures for Antarctic research
By Jess Kilby,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 17, 2008 1:29 PM CDT
Seals Plunge for Climate Data
Researchers attach environmental sensors on a elephant seal in the Antarctic.    (AP Photo)

(Newser) – Giant seals living in the chilly waters of Antarctica are helping researchers gather important data on climate change, reports Popular Mechanics. The elephant seals, tagged with hat-like sensors, make frequent dives deep into the Southern Ocean and surface with valuable details about water temperature and salinity. The dense waters of Antarctica drive ocean circulation around the planet.

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The amount and thickness of Antarctic ice also has a huge effect on global weather patterns, and scientists are trying to understand more about how the ice forms. Satellites track surface changes, but most of what lies below the icy continent was a mystery until the seals were recruited in 2004. The massive mammals make an average of 60 dives per day, to depths of up to nearly 2,000 feet. (Read more climate change stories.)

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