Scientists have created a detailed animation of the movement of dense and frigid Antarctic water using Australia's most powerful supercomputer, Raijin.
The incredible visualization revealed underwater ocean storms that are generated by waterfalls and colossal underwater waves, the University of New South Wales reported.
"Scientists who have seen the visualization have been astonished at the level of detail," said Associate Andy Hogg. "But this visualization is about more than communicating the wonder of science to the public. Being able to actually see how the bottom water moves in three dimensions rather than just looking at numerical, two dimensional outputs has already opened new areas for scientific research."
The movement of dense Antarctic water is vital because it makes up most of the oxygenated water in the deep ocean and drives many of the significant currents in the major ocean basins connected to the Southern Ocean.
The stark differences in densities of water that move around Antarctica seen in the animation could have important implications for climate change predictions. These dense waters form at the surface in Antarctica before sinking, so any warming or carbon they are exposed to could be drawn deep into the ocean.
"The inhospitable climate of Antarctica and the lack of sustained observations of the ocean in this region over a significant period of time adds to the importance of using ocean models to create visualizations like these," Hogg said. "It helps us understand what is happening in locations that are difficult to observe and may explain why Antarctic bottom water is disappearing, becoming less saline and warmer. It may also give us important insights into a future under climate change."