An International Consortium for the Study of Oceanic Related Global and Climate Changes in South America (SACC)

Summary of the project

Though about 50% of the Earth’s chlorophyll production occurs in the ocean, some of the most productive regions occupy relatively small areas near water mass boundaries, the so-called ocean fronts. The success of marine life near fronts is linked to physical mechanisms, e.g. vigorous vertical currents, which deliver nutrients to the upper sunlit ocean, where “primary producers” grow, releasing oxygen and absorbing CO2. As plants are at the base of the food chain, other species, including low trophiclevel invertebrates, high-level consumers, such as marine birds and mammals, and productive fisheries concentrate in these areas. Our research focuses on productive ocean fronts located on the continental shelf of the southwestern Atlantic (SWA). This broad and smooth submarine terrace is the largest continental shelf in the southern hemisphere. Its western margin hosts some of the most important industrial and commercial centers of Latin America: Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, Montevideo, and Buenos Aires, while its eastern margin is bounded by the strong Brazil and Malvinas currents. Exceptionally large tidal amplitudes, substantial freshwater discharges, high wind speeds and intrusions from the neighboring western boundary currents are significant in the development of the region’s outstanding biological activity. Climate changes impact the region on a variety of scales, variability of wind patterns and river runoff alter vertical mixing and nutrient distribution and lead to changes in the regional marine ecosystem.

Area of study

Western South Atlantic continental shelf from Cabo Frio (23ºS) to Tierra del Fuego (55ºS) and adjacent western boundary currents.

TimeTable for activities

The present project runs from July 2006 – June 2011, SACC is active since 1999.

Renewed for 3 years (July 2006 – June 2014)