Image credit: Dan Costa, UCSC, USA.

Although the Southern Ocean remains the most under-sampled system in the global ocean, significant progress has been and continues to be made towards a sustained observing system. The maps on this page demonstrate the distribution of ocean observations made by key research collaborations in the Southern Ocean.



Southern Ocean Argo locations May 2018

The Southern Ocean distribution of Argo floats in May 2018, by country. The density of floats in the Southern Ocean is lower than in temperate waters, largely due to the challenges of distributing floats in ice-covered waters, but the under-ice Argo program and international seal-tagging efforts are attempting to fill this gap.

An interactive map of Southern Ocean Argo floats can be found  here.

Underway Observations

[click image to expand] 

Many nations take oceanographic observations on routine voyages to and from Antarctic field stations. The map above indicates the approximate routine shipping transects of all Southern Ocean nations. For information on individual nations' shipping and routine underway observations please visit the SOOS National Communities page.

Seal tagging efforts


Locations of seal-acquired observations (orange) of temperature, depth, and salinity, from the Marine Mammals Exploring Oceans Pole-To-Pole (MEOP) project, overlain on the locations of Argo profiles (blue). 
Figure credit: Map made by Ian Jonsen, from data sourced from the Integrated Marine Observing System (IMOS) - IMOS is supported by the Australian Government through the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy and the Super Science Initiative. 

MEOP datasets are available for download from the MEOP website and from the Integrated Marine Observing System.

Continuous Plankton Recorder


Southern Ocean continuous plankton recorder (SO-CPR) transects to 2013, by research vessel.

CCAMLR Ecosystem Monitoring Program (CEMP)

Observation sites for the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources' (CCAMLR) Ecosystem Monitoring Program (CEMP) studies changes in critical species, including Adélie, chinstrap, gentoo, and macaroni penguins, along with black-browed albatross, Antarctic petrels, cape petrels, and Antarctic fur seals. 

Information on data availability is here.


Repeat hydrographic sections from the Go-SHIP program. The labels indicate WOCE/CLIVAR designations for each transect. 


Mooring Network

Current oceanic and coastal mooring locations in the Southern Ocean. These moorings include long-term deep-water moorings, most of which store their data at OceanSITES, as well as a number of shorter-term and coastal moorings, for which the data is held by National Antarctic Data Centres or institutions.


Distribution of NECKLACE (Network for the Collection of Knowledge on MeLt of Antactic ICe ShElves) instruments currently collecting data on ice shelf melt rates around the Antarctic continent.

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