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Current Near Antarctica Linked to Climate, Marine Life Changes

August 03, 2000

A deep-ocean current originating south of New Zealand, near Antarctica, is influencing marine life nearly halfway around the world and could be a key to understanding climate change, according to geologist Paul Loubere of Northern Illinois University in DeKalb. He reports in today's Nature that the equatorial current 300 to 400 feet below the surface is like a secret river that delivers nutrients to tropical marine life, such as plankton, in the eastern Pacific Ocean.

He unearthed the secrets of the equatorial current by taking hundreds of sediment samples from the ocean floor at four sites near the Galapagos Islands to reconstruct a picture of marine life during the past 130,000 years. Loubere found differences in the samples that seemed to be determined by their closeness to the equatorial current.

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Compiled by Times medical writer Thomas H. Maugh II

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