Agulhas Current Research Can Change the Way We Think About Global Warming

ACT 2011

For the past few weeks, the research vessel Melville has been home to a team of scientists studying one of the world’s most dangerous and fascinating currents, the Agulhas Current. UM Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science Associate Professor Lisa Beal is leading the research expedition in the southern Indian Ocean, along with scientists from around the globe, including from Scripps Institution of Oceanography and the University of Cape Town, to study the Agulhas Current’s role in global climate change.

Braving massive waves and intense rain, the team has deployed moorings buoys, which arranged like a picket fence across the current will measure current speed and direction. They have encountered humpback whales, technical difficulties and breath-taking views, but have managed to gather fascinating data that will aid Beal in the months to come once she arrives back in Miami.

In order to bring the science to life, Dr. Beal has launched a website where the public can follow along with daily journals, photos, and pictures of their expedition. You can ask Beal and her team questions, take a tour of the R/V Melville and get a glimpse of what life is like aboard a research vessel at sea.

“Our goal now is to get more of the scientific community involved in research of the Agulhas system and its global effects. The emphasis has been too long in the North Atlantic,” said Beal.

The Agulhas Current Time-Series Experiment was launched in 2010 to measure the variability of the Agulhas Current using a combination of current meter moorings and satellite data with Beal as the Chief Scientist. She is funded by the National Science Foundation through the ACT (Agulhas Current Time-series) project award.

With a few weeks left at sea, Dr. Beal hopes to return with a better understanding of The Agulhas Current, and plans on using her website to further promote the research and its importance to understanding global warming.

For more information on The Agulhas Current, please visit:

About the UM Rosenstiel School
The University of Miami’s mission is to educate and nurture students, to create knowledge, and to provide service to our community and beyond. Committed to excellence and proud of the diversity of our University family, we strive to develop future leaders of our nation and the world. Founded in the 1940’s, the Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science has grown into one of the world’s premier marine and atmospheric research institutions. Offering dynamic interdisciplinary academics, the Rosenstiel School is dedicated to helping communities to better understand the planet, participating in the establishment of environmental policies, and aiding in the improvement of society and quality of life. For more information, please visit

agulhas current •  dr. lisa beal •  indian ocean •  climate change •  national science foundation •  global warming •  scripps •