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Associate Director Ken Johnson with biogeochemical float

Theme 1: Observations

To develop a new observing system for carbon, nutrients, and oxygen that will complement and expand on the existing observing system for heat and freshwater, the observations team will deploy a large array (~200) of profiling floats (shown at right) with biogeochemical sensors throughout the Southern Ocean. This robotic float observing system will be complemented by shipboard measurements, instrument and sensor development, and data analysis, including state estimation in conjunction with the modeling program.

Principal responsibility for development and deployment of the observing system will be in the hands of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography (Theme 1 Lead Lynne Talley), in partnership with the University of Washington (Co-Lead Steve Riser) and Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (Associate Director Ken Johnson (in photo with cap)), who together will design and build the floats and participate in analysis of the data. Deployment opportunities with international partners are an important component to the SOCCOM observational program.

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Theme 2: ModelingEKE calculated from coarse and high resolution models

The modeling component of the program will create assessment tools for newly available high-resolution and Earth System Model simulations to improve our understanding of the uptake of carbon and heat by the Southern Ocean, and our ability to project the role of winds and stratification in determining the impacts of warming on the ocean’s role in climate (image at right - eddy kinetic energy calculated from observations (top), a coarse-resolution model (middle), and a high-resolution model (bottom)). Integral to these goals is the development of a Southern Ocean Model Intercomparison Program (SOMIP) aimed at improving the assessment of this and the next generation of climate models. An important part of the modeling team’s focus is on developing standardized analysis packages and diagnostics to be shared with the community.

Principal responsibility for analyzing the next-generation ultra high-resolution models and developing model-data diagnostics, which are necessary to validate these new models at this much smaller scale and use them for future projections, will lie with the University of Arizona (Theme 2 Lead Joellen Russell), Princeton University (Jorge Sarmiento) in collaboration with NOAA’s Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory through the Cooperative Institute for Climate Science.  

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Theme 3: Broader Impacts

Led by Climate Central (Heidi Cullen) 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 SOCCOM integrated team of 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 available.