Project Information
Southern Ocean Carbon and Climate Observations and Modeling (SOCCOM)
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End Date:
Southern Ocean Carbon and Climate Observations and Modeling (SOCCOM) project seeks to drive a transformative shift in our understanding of the crucial role of the Southern Ocean in taking up anthropogenic carbon and heat, and resupplying nutrients from the abyss to the surface. An observational program will generate vast amounts of new biogeochemical data that will provide a greatly improved view of the dynamics and ecosystem responses of the Southern Ocean. A modeling component will apply these observations to enhancing understanding of the current ocean, reducing uncertainty in projections of future carbon and nutrient cycles and climate.

Because it serves as the primary gateway through which the intermediate, deep, and bottom waters of the ocean interact with the surface layers and thus the atmosphere, the Southern Ocean has a profound influence on the oceanic uptake of anthropogenic carbon and heat as well as nutrient resupply from the abyss to the surface. Yet it is the least observed and understood region of the world ocean. The oceanographic community is on the cusp of two major advances that have the potential to transform understanding of the Southern Ocean. The first is the development of new biogeochemical sensors mounted on autonomous profiling floats that allow sampling of ocean biogeochemistry and acidification in 3-dimensional space with a temporal resolution of five to ten days. The SOCCOM float program proposed will increase the average number of biogeochemical profiles measured per month in the Southern Ocean by ~10-30x. The second is that the climate modeling community now has the computational resources and physical understanding to develop fully coupled climate models that can represent crucial mesoscale processes in the Southern Ocean, as well as corresponding models that assimilate observations to produce a state estimate. Together with the observations, this new generation of models provides the tools to vastly improve understanding of Southern Ocean processes and the ability to quantitatively assess uptake of anthropogenic carbon and heat, as well as nutrient resupply, both today and into the future.

In order to take advantage of the above technological and modeling breakthroughs, SOCCOM will implement the following research programs:
* Theme 1: Observations. Scripps Institution of Oceanography will lead a field program to expand the number of Southern Ocean autonomous profiling floats and equip them with sensors to measure pH, nitrate, and oxygen. The University of Washington and Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute will design, build, and oversee deployment of the floats. Scripps will also develop a mesoscale eddying Southern Ocean state estimate that assimilates physical and biogeochemical data into the MIT ocean general circulation model.
* Theme 2: Modeling. University of Arizona and Princeton University, together with NOAA's Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL), will use SOCCOM observations to develop data/model assessment metrics and next-generation model analysis and evaluation, with the goal of improving process level understanding and reducing the uncertainty in projections of our future climate.

Led by Climate Central, an independent, non-profit journalism and research organization that promotes understanding of climate science, SOCCOM will collaborate with educators and media professionals to inform policymakers and the public about the challenges of climate change and its impacts on marine life in the context of the Southern Ocean. In addition, the integrated team of SOCCOM scientists and educators will:
* communicate data and results of the SOCCOM efforts quickly to the public through established data networks, publications, broadcast media, and a public portal;
* train a new generation of diverse ocean scientists, including undergraduate students, graduate students, and postdoctoral fellows versed in field techniques, data calibration, modeling, and communication of research to non-scientists;
* transfer new sensor technology and related software to autonomous instrument providers and manufacturers to ensure that they become widely useable.
Person Role
Sarmiento, Jorge Investigator
Rynearson, Tatiana Investigator
Antarctic Instrumentation and Support Award # 1425989
Antarctic Integrated System Science Award # 1425989
Antarctic Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences Award # 1425989
AMD - DIF Record(s)
Data Management Plan
None in the Database
  1. Shi, J.-R., Xie, S.-P., & Talley, L. D. (2018). Evolving Relative Importance of the Southern Ocean and North Atlantic in Anthropogenic Ocean Heat Uptake. Journal of Climate, 31(18), 7459–7479. (doi:10.1175/jcli-d-18-0170.1)
  2. Porter, D. F., Springer, S. R., Padman, L., Fricker, H. A., Tinto, K. J., … Riser, S. C. (2019). Evolution of the Seasonal Surface Mixed Layer of the Ross Sea, Antarctica, Observed With Autonomous Profiling Floats. Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans, 124(7), 4934–4953. (doi:10.1029/2018jc014683)