Expedición Malaspina

Expedición Malaspina

La contaminación alcanza a todos los rincones del océano

Playas de Santa Marta - Colombia
Playas de Santa Marta – Colombia

Madrid, (Ecoestrategia – Sxxi.net).- Tres años después de que el buque Hespérides regresara a España culminando la vuelta al mundo de la expedición Malaspina, los científicos tienen una idea cada vez más clara sobre cómo funciona el océano global y cuál es su estado de salud.

En concreto, la entrada de contaminantes procedentes de la atmósfera no se limita a las zonas costeras, sino que se produce también en las zonas más remotas del planeta y ya ha empezado a afectar al ecosistema oceánico. Esta y otras conclusiones se acaban de presentar en estos días en la Residencia de Investigadores del Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC) en Barcelona, en un congreso que pone fin al mayor proyecto interdisciplinar de la historia sobre cambio global.

Cerca de 80 científicos participan en las ponencias, que profundizarán en el impacto del cambio global sobre el plancton marino, los efectos del aumento de la temperatura, la velocidad a la que se produce el transporte del calor o las consecuencias del aumento de la radiación ultravioleta. La expedición Malaspina (2010-2011) siguió la senda de la primera expedición realizada en 1778 por el teniente de navío Alejandro Malaspina, una excursión político-científica alrededor del mundo, con el fin de visitar casi todas las posesiones españolas en América y Asia.

Posteriormente, El Hespérides, un barco de la Armada Española, partió el 15 de diciembre de 2010 de Cádiz, realizando paradas en Río de Janeiro (Brasil) y Ciudad del Cabo (Sudáfrica). Tras Perth (Australia), pasó por Sídney (Australia), Auckland (Nueva Zelanda), Honolulú (Hawai), y Cartagena de Indias (Colombia). Otro buque, el Sarmiento de Gamboa, perteneciente al CSIC, regresó en abril de 2010 procedente de Santo Domingo (República Dominicana), donde llegó tras haber explorado el Atlántico durante casi dos meses.

La expedición Malaspina es un proyecto Consolider-Ingenio 2010 gestionado por el CSIC y financiado por el Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad. Malaspina comprende cerca de 50 grupos de investigación, incluyendo 27 grupos de investigación españoles, del CSIC, el Instituto Espa- ñol de Oceanografía, 16 universidades españolas, un museo, la fundación de investigación AZTI-Tecnalia, la Armada Española, y varias universidades españolas. La financiación total, en la que también han colaborado el CSIC, el IEO, la Fundación BBVA, AZTI-Tecnalia, varias universidades españolas y organismos públicos de investigación, ronda los 6 millones de euros.

Tras la huella del cambio global La expedición ha generado por primera vez una base de datos que recoge los niveles de contaminantes orgánicos en todos los océanos. Los investigadores han logrado determinar cómo se distribuyen globalmente las dioxinas, compuestos químicos generados durante la combustión de residuos orgánicos.

“Las concentraciones son mayores cerca de los continentes que en las zonas centrales de los océanos, una circunstancia que se explica por los procesos de degradación durante el transporte, ya que se depositan al océano directamente desde la atmósfera”, explicó Jordi Dachs, investigador del CSIC en el Instituto de Diagnóstico Ambiental y Estudios del Agua y uno de los autores del trabajo, que también confirma que estos contaminantes han comenzado a afectar al fitoplancton y zooplancton. “Hemos observado que los contaminantes entran directamente al océano a través de la atmósfera, llegando a las zonas más remotas del planeta, con aportes que ya están afectando al ecosistema oceánico”, explica el investigador del CSIC y coordinador de la expedición Malaspina Carlos Duarte.

Asimismo, durante el proyecto se ha generado la mayor base de datos de hidrocarburos aromáticos policíclicos (PAHs) en el océano. Los PAHs se encuentran como parte de los combustibles fósiles y también se generan durante la combustión de petróleo y carbón. “Hemos hallado que las concentraciones de PAHs son mayores cerca de los continentes que en las regiones oceá- nicas centrales y que se produce una entrada difusa de PAHs por deposición atmosférica. Esta entrada es mayor que la llegada de vertidos de petróleo al océano y se produce en todos los océanos, aunque su impacto todavía lo desconocemos”, asegura Dachs.

Los investigadores ya han demostrado, a partir de las muestras recogidas a bordo, que existen cinco grandes acumulaciones de residuos plásticos en el océano abierto, que coinciden con los cinco grandes giros de circulación de agua superficial oceánica. Según estos resultados, el problema de la contaminación por residuos plásticos tiene carácter planetario. “Sólo una expedición global como Malaspina podía obtener estos resultados y evaluar la abundancia global de contaminación por plásticos”, resalta Duarte.

Comprensión del océano

La expedición Malaspina ha supuesto un salto adelante en la comprensión del ecosistema del océano global, particularmente de las aguas situadas por debajo de la capa expuesta a la luz solar, donde hemos descubierto una biomasa de peces hasta 10 veces mayor de la que se pensaba”, señala Duarte.

Los investigadores ya han comenzado a secuenciar el genoma del océano profundo global empleando más de 2.000 muestras de microorganismos recogidas en el Atlántico, el Índico y el Pací- fico durante la expedición. Esta colección de genómica microbiana marina, la primera del mundo a escala global, aportará nuevas claves sobre un reservorio de biodiversidad aún por explorar, ya que podría suponer el hallazgo de decenas de millones de genes nuevos en los próximos años.

Los trabajos de secuenciación, enmarcados en el proyecto Malaspinomics, se centran en los virus, bacterias y protistas que pueblan el océano hasta los 4.000 metros de profundidad. Resultados preliminares de Malaspinomics revelan una cantidad ingente de especies desconocidas de microorganismos en el océano profundo. En concreto, el 60% de las especies bacterianas del océano profundo detectadas mediante técnicas de secuenciación masiva son desconocidas.

Una expedición irrepetible

“La oceanografía española nunca había liderado un proyecto con una dimensión internacional de este calibre, con más de 18 países implicados. Además de marcar un antes y un después por los avances científicos, ha conseguido romper las fronteras y recelos tradicionales entre grupos científicos. También ha sido capaz de hacer llegar la oceanografía española a la sociedad”, aseguró el coordinador del proyecto.

Más información en: http://www.expedicionmalaspina.es/

 

 

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