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SCAR XXXVII Paper 16: Southern Ocean Observing System (SOOS)

XXXVII SCAR Delegates Meeting
5-7 September 2022, Goa, India

SCAR XXXVII Paper 16: Southern Ocean Observing System (SOOS)

Agenda Item: 4.3.3
Person Responsible: Alyce Hancock
Report Authors: Alyce Hancock, Eileen Hofmann and Mike Williams


In August 2021 SOOS celebrated its 10-year anniversary of the establishment of the International Project Office in Hobart, Australia. During this first decade, SOOS facilitated major changes in data collection coordination and in finding and accessing existing observations of the Southern Ocean. These changes provided a foundation for the development of a new SOOS 2021-2025 Science and Implementation Plan, which, after extensive review, was approved by our sponsors, SCOR and SCAR, in June 2022.

The International Project Office staff has undergone changes during the past year. Dr. Louise Newman departed in late 2021, after 10 years as the SOOS Executive Officer, for a new position. Dr. Alyce Hancock took on the role of Executive Officer after serving as the SOOS Science and Communication Officer. Dr. Julia Bach joined SOOS in late 2021 as the new Science and Communication Officer. Dr. Pip Bricher, SOOS Data Officer for 7 years, left in March 2022 for a new position. Dr. Imogen Jones joined SOOS as the new Data Officer in May 2022. 

SOOS continues to partner with polar organisations to make data more findable and accessible. Our data portal, SOOSmap, has been undergoing continued development and version 2 will be released in the August 2022. DueSouth, which SOOS developed to help researchers find future logistical opportunities, has been further developed in partnership with the European Polar Board and is now part of Polardex which was launched in April 2022.

SOOS took a lead role in the organisation of a side-event, “Antarctic Marine Ecosystems Under Pressure”, at the 26th United Nations Climate Change conference (COP26) in Glasgow, UK in October 2021. SOOS also participated in workshop and webinar related to development of the United Nations Ocean Decade Southern Ocean Action Plan. In 2022, SOOS was represented at the UN Ocean Conference and co-convened a virtual side event “From the Southern Ocean to the Arctic – a call to action via the UN Ocean Decade”.

The impacts of COVID on international travel prevented in-person meetings in 2021. However, SOOS maintained an active schedule of virtual meetings that included six Scientific Steering Committee (SSC) meetings (two in 2021 and quarterly through 2022), four Data Management Sub-Committee (DMSC) meetings (two each year), the SOOS 10-year celebration, the 2nd Southern Ocean UN Ocean Decade Regional Workshop, Polar Data Forum IV, ten polar to global online data hacks, two AUV Task Team meeting (one each year) and a UN Ocean Decade Satellite Session “More Seats at the Table – Increasing Representation in the Marine Sciences”. Two of SOOS’s working groups commenced webinar series, the Southern Ocean Fluxes (SOFLUX) Capability Working Group and the Amundsen and Bellingshausen Sector (ABS) Regional Working Group. In addition, the SOOS Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) group meet and continued to guide SOOS in ensuring inclusivity for all representations within SOOS and the community.

Technology is changing and SOOS has recognised this in the formation of a Polar Technologies Task Team. This task team aims to develop a polar technologies group focused on addressing challenges and exploiting synergies in technology targeted at Southern Ocean and Antarctic marine research.

SOOS continued active publication of science papers and reports in 2021 and 2022. This included seven publications, three reports and a new SOOS Data Policy. SOOS endorsed 10 international projects, was represented at over 50 international meetings, workshops and conferences, submitted several proposals for funding in collaboration with other international partners and had a growth in international sponsorship with additional sponsorship support gained from the University of Cape Town’s Marine Biogeochemistry Lab (2021-2022), South Africa and the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey Marmara Research Centre Polar Research Institute (2021), Turkey. The local sponsoring partnership continued between the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies - University of Tasmania, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) and Tasmanian Government (2020-2022). International sponsorship continued from the Swedish Polar Research Secretariat (for 2020-2022), Antarctica New Zealand (agreed annually since 2012), and the agreement with the State Oceanic Administration, China, was completed in 2021.