NL Gazette

The Labrador Sea maintains the world’s oceans alive

Nfld and Labrador

Key takeaways: 

  • The sea is one of the few areas where oxygen from the atmosphere is moved to the most profound aspects of the ocean.
  • Investigators onboard Germany’s RV Maria S Merian in the Labrador Sea. 

Scientists are now nearer to understanding how is it feasible: 

Canadian and German scientists state they have calculated the discharge of oxygen in and out of the plunging ocean in the Labrador Sea for the only time, delivering a new understanding into what has been named “a lung of the ocean” that is important for keeping aquatic life alive. 

The Labrador Sea is one of the rare areas where oxygen from the air is transferred to the most profound parts of the ocean and spread throughout the Atlantic and finally into the Pacific and Indian Oceans.

“Without this transport of oxygen by the match of our bloodstream, there would be no animal life, there would be microbial life, but no animal life in the deep sea,” states Doug Wallace, an oceanography teacher at Dalhousie University in Halifax. Source –

“It’s important for the deep ocean ecosystems.” Source –

How the ocean lung functions 

Wintertime cooling in the Labrador Sea causes oxygen-rich surface waters to be thicker and heavy sufficiently to drop to a deep of two kilometers, where deep boundary currents spread the oxygen.

Read more: N.L. notices rain, snow, severe cold as a ‘significant’ climate system takes hold

The sea of Labrador keeps the world’s ocean alive

Researchers estimated oxygen flow into the deep ocean interior over two years using detectors between Labrador and Greenland.

The sensors were deployed at 600 meters from ropes that arrived at the ocean floor.

They were located along with an array at 53 degrees north space where scientists predicted deep mixing in the center of the Labrador Sea to extend into the Atlantic.

Half the oxygen exhaled into deep sea currents

Over five months, nearly half of the “inhaled” oxygen was infiltrated into deep water currents. 

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