Analyzing why the ocean has become less salty


The Southern Ocean has become less salty in recent years, though the cause of this trend is not yet clear. There are three significant sources of freshwater to the surface of the Southern Ocean: melting of the Antarctic ice sheet and icebergs calved from it, sea ice, and precipitation. Of these, precipitation is the least well known. Direct measurements of precipitation during the ACE cruise will be combined with evaluation of the larger scale weather and sea ice patterns to determine how precipitation influences the ocean. Our team will also collect samples of ocean water and precipitation at regular intervals for laboratory analysis of its oxygen isotopic composition.

Principal Investigator (PI)

Katherine C. Leonard



Quantifying snowfall and its contribution to surface freshening in the Southern Ocean

Principal institution / country

  • Australian Antarctic Division/ACE CRC, University of Tasmania (Australia )
  • Australian Bureau of Meteorology
  • Austrian Polar Research Institute, University of Innsbruck (Austria)
  • British Antarctic Survey (UK)
  • Brown University (USA)
  • Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (Belgium)
  • University of Colorado Boulder (USA)