The Southern Ocean* provides the principal connections between the Earth’s ocean basins and between the upper and lower layers of the global ocean circulation. As a result, the Southern Ocean strongly influences climate patterns and the cycling of carbon and nutrients, and thus changes in the Southern Ocean would have global ramifications. Sustained, multidisciplinary observations are required to detect, interpret and respond to change.
The Southern Ocean Observing System (SOOS) was launched in August 2011 to coordinate and expand international efforts to collect and disseminate sustained observations from the Southern Ocean, with the key objective being to deliver the observations required to address key scientific and societal issues, such as climate change, sea-level rise, and the impacts of global change on marine ecosystems.
* SOOS adopts the standard oceanographic definition of the Southern Ocean as the waters between the Subtropical Front and the Antarctic continent. This is a broader definition than used in some policy contexts, but reflects the circumpolar continuity of the waters of this oceanic domain and the strong scientific connections between them.