The Southern Ocean Carbon and Climate Observations and Modeling (SOCCOM) project seeks to increase our understanding of the crucial role of the Southern Ocean in taking up anthropogenic carbon and heat from the atmosphere, and resupplying nutrients from the abyss to the surface. An observational component, based on deployment of profiling floats with oxygen, nitrate, pH and bio-optical sensors, is supplying unprecedented amounts of new biogeochemical data that provide a year-round view of the Southern Ocean from the surface to 2000 meters water depth, including tracking ocean acidification, deoxygenation, and warming processes. A modeling effort is applying these observations and enhancing our understanding of the modern Southern Ocean, and reducing uncertainty in projections of future carbon and nutrient cycles and climate. An extension of this program from six to ten years is requested. This may allow illumination of the Southern Ocean's role in climate that was not possible with a shorter time scale and allows regional comparisons with sufficient floats and years of data to elucidate the different processes that may operate in each basin. The project will communicate data and results quickly to the wider community through established data networks, publications, websites, and social media, as well as through an active outreach program to classrooms, the general public, and policymakers. A second goal is to train a new generation of diverse ocean scientists versed in field techniques,data calibration, modeling, and communication of research to non-scientists. A third goal completes the transfer of new sensor technology and related software to industry partners.
Because the Southern Ocean serves as the primary gateway through which the intermediate, deep, and bottom waters of the ocean connect with the surface ocean (and thus the atmosphere), it has a profound influence on the oceanic uptake of anthropogenic carbon and heat as well as nutrient resupply from the abyss to the surface. The four year extension of the SOCCOM float program proposed here will allow examination of the Southern Ocean's response to critical modes of climate variability including ENSO and the Southern Annular Mode. This also contributes to the development and analysis of fully coupled climate and earth system models that can represent mesoscale processes in the Southern Ocean, as well as corresponding models that assimilate observations to produce a biogeochemical state estimate.
This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.