Southern Ocean Carbon and Climate Observations and Modeling


The new U.S. SOCCOM Program: A key contribution to SOOS!


Contact: Roberta Hotinski 

SOCCOM is a new observational and modelling research program focused on the role of the Southern Ocean in the anthropogenic carbon budget, ocean biogeochemistry, and climate change. The operational goal of SOCCOM is to deploy nearly 200 Argo compatible biogeochemical (BGC) profiling floats equipped with pH, oxygen, nitrate and bio-optical sensors throughout the Southern Ocean waters south of 30°S. These BGC-floats will be calibrated at the time of deployment by high accuracy biogeochemical measurements, and they will operate year around, including in ice-covered waters. The data from the BGC-floats will be assimilated by a Southern Ocean State Estimate (SOSE) model that incorporates biogeochemical processes, then this gridded SOSE output will be used to constrain high-resolution coupled atmosphere-ocean model simulations designed to both increase our understanding of Southern Ocean processes and make better projections of the future trajectory of the Earth’s carbon, climate and biogeochemistry.

SOCCOM is headquartered at Princeton University with Jorge Sarmiento as Director. Ken Johnson of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute is Associate Director. Lynne Talley of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography-University of California San Diego and Stephen Riser of the University of Washington are in charge of the observational program, Joellen Russell of the University of Arizona is responsible for the modeling program, and Heidi Cullen of Climate Central is responsible for the outreach component. SOCCOM includes a total of 23 senior researchers at these institutions as well as at the University of Miami, Oregon State University, Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory/NOAA, Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory/NOAA, and Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory/NOAA (for more details see our website). SOCCOM is supported principally by the US Antarctic Program of the National Science Foundation, with additional support from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

SOCCOM was initiated with the deployment of an array of pre-SOCCOM BGC-floats in March/April, 2014 as a test of the proposed methodology. BGC-Floats were deployed on the US GO-SHIP P16S cruise from Tasmania to 68°S, 150°W and then north along 150°W to Tahiti, with a hydrocast at each BGC-float deployment to obtain high accuracy biogeochemical measurements for calibration purposes (see map). These were the first profiling floats with pH sensors deployed in the Southern Ocean and they have already returned a mean of 31pH profiles/month in the Austral winter months of June, July and August (exceeding by 600% the average reporting rate of the past 25 years for this region). In the next phase of the SOCCOM observational program, 12 BGC-floats will be deployed this December on a cruise of Germany’s R/V Polarstern. Following the paradigm of the Argo program, all of the data from these BGC-floats will be made immediately available to the public for research and educational purposes. The raw and adjusted data are reported in real time, and are available here.

In addition to our planned cruises, we welcome and are actively pursuing international partnerships, particularly to extend the BGC-float array as well as to provide opportunities for float deployments. Please contact Dr. Roberta Hotinski, SOCCOM Project Manager, at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. regarding possible opportunities for collaboration. To keep up with the latest project developments, please visit the SOCCOM website and consider attending our “Town Hall” program preceding the AGU Fall Meeting in San Francisco (see website for details).

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