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SCAR XXXII WP19: Report of the Southern Ocean Observing System (SOOS) Popular

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XXXII SCAR Delegates Meeting
23-25 July 2012, Portland Oregon, USA

SCAR XXXII WP19: Report of the Southern Ocean Observing System (SOOS)

Working Paper 19
Agenda Item: 5.4.1
Posted/Revised: June 14
Person Responsible: Sparrow

Executive Summary

Title: The Southern Ocean Observing System (SOOS)

Authors: M Sparrow, L Newman

Introduction/ Background: The Southern Ocean is a fundamental part of the Earth system. It forms a vital connection between the major ocean basins and the upper and lower layers of the global ocean. The Southern Ocean strongly influences global climate, biogeochemical cycles and the functioning of the ecosystem. The rapid changes being experienced by the Southern Ocean have profound ramifications for the future of the planet. These changes include large-scale warming that exceeds global averages, including several “hotspots” of regional warming. The upper and lower limbs of Southern Ocean overturning have freshened due to changes in hydrological cycles and ice melt. The rate at which the Southern Ocean draws down anthropogenic carbon dioxide from the atmosphere has likely weakened. Acidification is underway with far reaching implications for marine species and populations. The climatic changes are already impacting Southern Ocean ecosystems. There is a critical need to observe and understand the Southern Ocean as it remains one of the most under-studied regions of the world. Sustained observations will be needed to detect, interpret and understand the on-going physical, chemical and biological changes and to predict what the future holds.

Important Issues or Factors: The SOOS was launched in August 2011 with the mission to coordinate and expand the efforts of all nations that gather data from the Southern Ocean. A SOOS International Project Office is supported by IMAS in Australia and a SOOS Scientific Steering Committee has been formed.

Recommendations/Actions and Justification:  Delegates are asked to note progress with the SOOS and approve the introduction of a separate budget line for this activity.

Expected Benefits/Outcomes:  The development of a coherent and efficient observing system that will deliver the observations required to address key scientific and societal challenges, with SCAR as a leader (along with SCOR) of this effort.

Partners: The Scientific Committee on Oceanic Research (SCOR) provides matching funds to support the SOOS. The SOOS is also endorsed by the Partnership for Observations of the Global Ocean (POGO), and the Climate Variability and Predictability (CLIVAR) and Climate and Cryosphere (CliC) projects of the World Climate Research Programme. The IPO is supported by the Australian Antarctic Division with additional support from Antarctica New Zealand and the Integrated Marine Observing System

Budget Implications: $8,000 a year to support the meetings of the SOOS Steering Committee and related activities (matching funds with SCOR)