Strait of Magellan

Strait of Magellan

Oceanography of Strait of Magellan, Southern Chile

Notre Dame PIs: Iossif D. Lozovatsky, Ronald Scott Coppersmith, Harindra. J. Fernando

Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile PI: Cristian Escauriaza


The main objective of this project was to understand flow dynamics and mixing in the Strait of Magellan, southern Chile, to evaluate its potential for generating clean energy for Patagonia, depending on future scenarios of global climate change and local human activities. This environmentally unique region is currently changing its ecological balance due to anthropogenic stressors of excessive fishing, offshore oil production, and recently increased operations of surface coal mining and newly leased areas for aquaculture. The project results will create a new framework to investigate delicate environments in sub-Antarctic regions, providing foray for future multidisciplinary studies of physical, biogeochemical and ecological processes in the coastal regions of southern Chile.

Our specific goals included:

  • Identification and description of relevant governing processes that affect mass and momentum transports in coastal channels of the Strait of Magellan, Chile.
  • Conducting field measurements of currents, stratification and turbulence (mixing) at specified locations of the Strait (collaboratively Notre Dame and Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile groups) to characterize exchange processes in the water column across and along several sections of the Strait. The measurements provide critical information for understanding of physical processes that can be used to verify outputs of numerical modeling.
  • Understanding flow dynamics in coastal channels of Patagonia and evaluate effectiveness of tidal energy for possible use of green energy production (by Chilean scientists).


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