The Antarctic Convergence or Antarctic Polar Front is a curve continuously encircling Antarctica, varying in latitude seasonally, where cold, northward-flowing Antarctic waters meet the relatively warmer waters of the Subantarctic. Antarctic waters predominantly sink beneath the warmer subantarctic waters, while associated zones of mixing and upwelling create a zone very high in marine productivity, especially for Antarctic krill.
This line, like the arctic tree line, is a natural boundary rather than an artificial one, such as the borders of nations and time zones. It not only separates two hydrological regions, but also separates areas of distinctive marine life and climates.
The Antarctic Convergence is a zone approximately 32 to 48 km (20 to 30 mi) wide, varying in latitude seasonally and in different longitudes, extending across the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans between the 48th and 61st parallels of south latitude. Although the northern boundary varies, for the purposes of the Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources 1980, it is defined as "50°S, 0°; 50°S, 30°E; 45°S, 30°E; 45°S, 80°E; 55°S, 80°E; 55°S, 150°E; 60°S, 150°E; 60°S, 50°W; 50°S, 50°W; 50°S, 0°." Although this zone is a mobile one, it usually does not stray more than half a degree of latitude from its mean position. The precise location at any given place and time is made evident by the sudden drop in seawater temperature from north to south of, on average, 2.8 °C (5.0 °F) from 5.6 °C (42.1 °F) to below 2 °C (36 °F).
Islands which lie to the north of the Convergence
- Amsterdam Island (France)
- Crozet Islands (France)
- Diego Ramírez Islands (Chile)
- Falkland Islands (United Kingdom)
- Isla de los Estados (Argentina)
- Macquarie Island (Australia)
- NZ Subantarctic Islands (New Zealand)
- Prince Edward Islands (South Africa)
- Saint Paul Island (France)
- / Tierra del Fuego (Argentina / Chile)
- Tristan da Cunha (United Kingdom)
Islands which lie to the south of the Convergence
North of 60°S latitude
South of 60°S latitude
- R.K. Headland, The Island of South Georgia, Cambridge University Press, 1984.
- Alan Gurney, Below the Convergence: Voyages Toward Antarctica, 1699-1839, Penguin Books, New York, 1998.
- Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources 1980, Article 1(4).
- This article incorporates public domain material from the United States Geological Survey document: "Antarctic Convergence". (content from the Geographic Names Information System)