Abstract

The Southern Ocean (SO) contributes most of the uncertainty in contemporary estimates of the mean annual flux of carbon dioxide CO2 between the ocean and the atmosphere. Attempts to reduce this uncertainty have aimed at resolving the seasonal cycle of the fugacity of CO2 (fCO2). We use hourly CO2 flux and driver observations collected by the combined deployment of ocean gliders to show that resolving the seasonal cycle is not sufficient to reduce the uncertainty of the flux of CO2 to below the threshold required to reveal climatic trends in CO2 fluxes. This was done by iteratively subsampling the hourly CO2 data set at various time intervals. We show that because of storm-linked intraseasonal variability in the spring-late summer, sampling intervals longer than 2 days alias the seasonal mean flux estimate above the required threshold. Moreover, the regional nature and long-term trends in storm characteristics may be an important influence in the future role of the SO in the carbon-climate system.

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The spatial variability of the FCO2 uncertainties, which arise from a uniform 10 day sampling period choice. The Southern Ocean is characterized with uncertainties of 10–25% (10–25 μmol m2 h1) at this sampling period.

The spatial variability of the FCO2 uncertainties, which arise from a uniform 10 day sampling period choice. The Southern Ocean is characterized with uncertainties of 10–25% (10–25 μmol m2 h1) at this sampling period.

Thomalla S.J., Dr Marie-Fanny Racault, Swart S., Monteiro P.M.S.
Abstract

In the Southern Ocean, there is increasing evidence that seasonal to subseasonal temporal scales, and meso- to submesoscales play an important role in understanding the sensitivity of ocean primary productivity to climate change. This drives the need for a high-resolution approach to resolving biogeochemical processes. In this study, 5.5 months of continuous, high-resolution (3 h, 2 km horizontal resolution) glider data from spring to summer in the Atlantic Subantarctic Zone is used to investigate: (i) the mechanisms that drive bloom initiation and high growth rates in the region and (ii) the seasonal evolution of water column production and respiration. Bloom initiation dates were analysed in the context of upper ocean boundary layer physics highlighting sensitivities of different bloom detection methods to different environmental processes. Model results show that in early spring (September to mid-November) increased rates of net community production (NCP) are strongly affected by meso- to submesoscale features. In late spring/early summer (late-November to mid-December) seasonal shoaling of the mixed layer drives a more spatially homogenous bloom with maximum rates of NCP and chlorophyll biomass. A comparison of biomass accumulation rates with a study in the North Atlantic highlights the sensitivity of phytoplankton growth to fine-scale dynamics and emphasizes the need to sample the ocean at high resolution to accurately resolve phytoplankton phenology and improve our ability to estimate the sensitivity of the biological carbon pump to climate change.

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Time series of (a) modelled MLD and water column integrated NPP (mg C m-2 d-1), (b) modelled respiration (mg C m-2 d-1) (Sverdrup 1953), with standard mean error (shaded area), (c) same as for (c) but for NCP (mg C m-2 d-1), and (d) f-ratio approximation of the export efficiency (PP/mean NCP) (solid line).

Time series of (a) modelled MLD and water column integrated NPP (mg C m-2 d-1), (b) modelled respiration (mg C m-2 d-1) (Sverdrup 1953), with standard mean error (shaded area), (c) same as for (c) but for NCP (mg C m-2 d-1), and (d) f-ratio approximation of the export efficiency (PP/mean NCP) (solid line).

Abstract

In the Southern Ocean there is increasing evidence that seasonal to sub-seasonal temporal scales, meso- and submesoscales play an important role in understanding the sensitivity of ocean primary productivity to climate change. In this study, high-resolution glider data (3 hourly, 2km horizontal resolution), from ~6 months of sampling (spring through summer) in the Sub-Antarctic Zone, is used to assess 1) the different forcing mechanisms driving variability in upper ocean physics and 2) how these may characterize the seasonal cycle of phytoplankton production. Results highlight the important role meso- to submesoscale features have in driving vertical stratification and early phytoplankton bloom initiations in spring by increasing light exposure. In summer, the combined role of solar heat flux, mesoscale features and subseasonal storms on the extent of the mixed layer is proposed to regulate both light and iron to the upper ocean at appropriate time scales for phytoplankton growth, thereby sustaining the bloom for an extended period through to late summer. This study highlights the need for climate models to resolve both meso- to submesoscale and subseasonal processes in order to accurately reflect the phenology of the phytoplankton community and understand the sensitivity of ocean primary productivity to climate change.

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Glider sections of (a) temperature (°C), (b) stratification and (c) chlorophyll-a concentration (mg m-3) during the 'spring bloom initiation phase' of SOSCEx. The MLD is depicted using a white curve.

Glider sections of (a) temperature (°C), (b) stratification and (c) chlorophyll-a concentration (mg m-3) during the ‘spring bloom initiation phase’ of SOSCEx. The MLD is depicted using a white curve.

Ansorge I. J., Jackson, J., Reid, K., Durgadoo, J., Swart S., Eberenz, S.
Abstract

Mesoscale eddies and meanders have been shown to be one of the dominant sources of flow variability in the world’s ocean. One example of an isolated eddy hotspot is the South-West Indian Ridge (SWIR). Several investigations have shown that the SWIR and the corresponding planetary potential vorticity field (f/H) exert a strong influence on the location and dynamics of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC), resulting in substantial fragmentation of the jets downstream of the ridge. The easterly extension of this eddy corridor appears to be restricted to the deep channel separating the Conrad Rise from the Del Cano and Crozet Plateau. However, while the fate of eddies formed at the SWIR has been widely investigated and the frontal character of this eastward extension is well known, the zone of diminishing variability that extends southwards to approximately 60S remains poorly sampled. Using a combination of Argo, AVISO and NCEP/NCAR datasets, the character of this eddy corridor as a conduit for warm core eddies to move across the ACC into the Antarctic zone is investigated. In this study, we track a single warm-core eddy as it moves southwards from an original position of 31E, 50 20′ S to where it dissipates 10 months later in the Enderby Basin at 561200 S. An Argo float entrained within the eddy confirms that its water masses are consistent with water found within the Antarctic Polar Frontal Zone north of the APF. Latent and sensible heat fluxes are on average 8 W/m2 and 10 W/m2 greater over the eddy than directly east of this feature. It is estimated that the eddy lost an average of 5 W/m2 of latent heat and 5 W/m2 of sensible heat over a 1-year period, an amount capable of melting approximately 0.92 m of sea ice. In addition, using an eddy tracking algorithm a total of 28 eddies are identified propagating southwards, 25 of which are anti-cyclonic in rotation. Based on the new Argo float data, combined with AVISO and NCEP/NCAR datasets, these results suggest that the southward passage of warm-core eddies act as vehicles transporting heat, salt and biota southwards across the ACC and into the eastern boundary of the Weddell gyre.

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Sea surface height variability for the period 2000-2009. The trajectory of a positive anomaly is identified with a solid black line

Sea surface height variability for the period 2000-2009. The trajectory of a positive anomaly is identified with a solid black line

Swart S., Liu, J., Bhaskar, P., Newman, L., Finney, K., Meredith, M., Schofield, O.
Abstract

The first Southern Ocean Observing System (SOOS) Asian Workshop was successfully held in Shanghai, China in May 2013, attracting over 40 participants from six Asian nations and widening exposure to the objectives and plans of SOOS. The workshop was organized to clarify Asian research activities currently taking place in the Southern Ocean and to discuss, amongst other items, the potential for collaborative efforts with and between Asian countries in SOOS-related activities. The workshop was an important mechanism to initiate discussion, understanding and collaborative avenues in the Asian domain of SOOS beyond current established efforts. Here we present some of the major outcomes of the workshop covering the principle themes of SOOS and attempt to provide a way forward to achieve a more integrated research community, enhance data collection and quality, and guide scientific strategy in the Southern Ocean.

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Map of the Southern Ocean and approximate location of regular shipping transects maintained by Asian nations.

Map of the Southern Ocean and approximate location of regular shipping transects maintained by Asian nations.

Liu, J., Swart S., Bhaskar, P., Newman, L., Meredith, M., Schofield, O., Jianfeng, HE.
Abstract

SOOS must be a fully integrated and coordinated international system with infrastructure, resources and investment from all nations involved in the Southern Ocean research and observations. This was the motivation behind the organization of the SOOS Asian workshop. The objective of the SOOS Asian Workshop was to highlight the activities of Asian countries currently engaged in Southern Ocean research and observations relevant to the SOOS science strategy, and to stimulate discussion and foster further involvement from Asian countries in the SOOS activities.

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The Southern Ocean Observing System

The Southern Ocean Observing System

Tagliabue, A., Sallee, J. B., Bowie, A. R., Levy M., Swart S., Boyd. P. W.
Abstract

Low levels of iron limit primary productivity across much of the Southern Ocean. At the basin scale, most dissolved iron is supplied to surface waters from subsurface reservoirs, because land inputs are spatially limited. Deep mixing in winter together with year-round diffusion across density surfaces, known as diapycnal diffusion, are the main physical processes that carry iron-laden subsurface waters to the surface. Here, we analyse data on dissolved iron concentrations in the top 1,000 m of the Southern Ocean, taken from all known and available cruises to date, together with hydrographic data to determine the relative importance of deep winter mixing and diapycnal diffusion to dissolved iron fluxes at the basin scale. Using information on the vertical distribution of iron we show that deep winter mixing supplies ten times more iron to the surface ocean each year, on average, than diapycnal diffusion. Biological observations from the sub-Antarctic sector suggest that following the depletion of this wintertime iron pulse, intense iron recycling sustains productivity over the subsequent spring and summer. We conclude that winter mixing and surface-water iron recycling are important drivers of temporal variations in Southern Ocean primary production.

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A schematic representation of the seasonal variability in Southern Ocean Fe cycling

A schematic representation of the seasonal variability in Southern Ocean Fe cycling

Domingues, R., Goni, G., Swart S., Dong, S.
Abstract

The variability of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC) system is largely linked to the atmospheric forcing. The objective of this work is to assess the link between local wind forcing mechanisms and the variability of the upper-ocean temperature and the dynamics of the different fronts in the ACC region south of South Africa. To accomplish this, in situ and satellite-derived observations are used between 1993 and 2010. The main finding of this work is that meridional changes in the westerlies linked with the Southern Annular Mode (SAM) drive temperature anomalies in the Ekman layer and changes in the Subantarctic Front (SAF) and Antarctic Polar Front (APF) transports through Ekman dynamics. The development of easterly anomalies between 35°S and 45°S during positive SAM is linked to reduced (increased) SAF (APF) transports and a warmer mixed layer in the ACC. The link between the changes in the wind stress and the SAF and APF transport variations occurs through the development of Ekman pumping anomalies near the frontal boundaries, driving an opposite response on the SAF and APF transports. The observed wind-driven changes in the frontal transports suggest small changes to the net ACC transport. In addition, observations indicate that the SAF and APF locations in this region are not linked to the local wind forcing, emphasizing the importance of other factors (e.g., baroclinic instabilities generated by bottom topography) to changes in the frontal location. Results obtained here highlight the importance of repeat XBT temperature sections and their combined analysis with other in situ and remote sensing observations.

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Ekman pumping anomalies during periods of (a) extreme negative and of (b) extreme positive SAM in the Southern Ocean.

Ekman pumping anomalies during periods of (a) extreme negative and of (b) extreme positive SAM in the Southern Ocean.

Hutchinson, K., Swart S., Ansorge I. J., Goni, G.
Abstract

Hydrographic data from three research cruises, occupying the GoodHope line in the Atlantic sector of the Southern Ocean, are used to identify and quantify Expendable Bathythermograph (XBT) temperature biases. A set of 148 collocated XBT and CTD stations, separated by a maximum distance of <12.5 nm and <10 h, are used in this study. A subset of these comparisons is also investigated. This subset consists of 24 simultaneous pairs where the XBT and CTD stations are within 2.5 nm and 2 h of one another. These simultaneous pairs are extremely rare in XBT bias experiments and provide data set to assess, in deeper detail, the behaviour of the bias. The net bias, which is a product of both the depth offset and the pure thermal bias, is investigated with depth per frontal zone for both the collocated and simultaneous comparisons and found to be on the whole positive, meaning warmer XBT readings compared to the CTD values at each depth. The total mean bias for all collocated pairs was found to be 0.101 +/- 0.024 1C, and for the simultaneous subset the net bias had a mean value of 0.130 +/- 0.064C. An investigation into the magnitude of the depth offset was also undertaken, exposing generally positive depth biases, thereby indicating an overestimation of depth by the fall rate equation. A sizeable variation in bias between frontal zones is observed, along with an expected increase of net bias in regions of steeper temperature gradient. The contribution of the pure thermal bias is explored and found to be comparatively small yet still sizeable (mean bias = 0.053 +/- 0.063C). Results found in this study further support the hypothesis of the regional dependence of the XBT fall rate on water temperature, and thus water viscosity. In addition, results obtained here highlight the need to develop an XBT bias correction scheme specifically appropriate to the Southern Ocean.

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Mean net temperature bias with depth for (a) collocated pairs and (b) direct comparisons. The standard deviations are illustrated with grey shading, the solid back line is the mean bias and the dashed black line is the full-depth mean bias.

Mean net temperature bias with depth for (a) collocated pairs and (b) direct comparisons. The standard deviations are illustrated with grey shading, the solid back line is the mean bias and the dashed black line is the full-depth mean bias.

Giddy, I., Swart S., Tagliabue, A.
Abstract

The canonical C/N/P ratio of 106/16/1 in phytoplankton has been instrumental in our understanding of ocean biogeochemical cycles and the development of numerical models as it couples the cycling of C to nutrients. However, this ratio can show marked variability and the processes driving these trends are still uncertain. There are, in particular, two main hypotheses to explain N/P ratios that deviate from 16/1. Firstly, it is postulated that species have specific, yet distinct, ratios that are averaged out over large spatial and temporal scales (Weber and Deutsch, 2010). Alternatively, varying optimal growth strategies resulting from physiological adaptation to environmental conditions could drive N/P variability, which simply averages out as 16/1 under current environmental conditions (Klausmeier et al., 2004). To address these hypotheses, we examine seasonal changes in the NO3- to PO43- ratio (via the geochemical tracer N*) on a section between Cape Town and Antarctica, where macronutrients are not fully depleted. Overall, we find roles for both species composition and physiology in driving the seasonal changes in N* depending on the location. Both mechanisms could act in concert and physiology was generally more important in regions undergoing large changes in phytoplankton biomass. Better understanding the driving mechanisms behind changes in the Southern Ocean N/P ratio is important as its signal is exported to low latitudes, having major impacts on global biogeochemical cycles.

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The concentration of Chl-a (mg.m) for the region of the GH line extracted from Globcolor data are provided for (a) early summer (December 2010) and (b) late summer (February 2011).

The concentration of Chl-a (mg.m) for the region of the GH line extracted from Globcolor data are provided for (a) early summer (December 2010) and (b) late summer (February 2011).

Abstract

Two sets of high-resolution subsurface hydrographic and underway surface chlorophyll a (Chl a) measurements are used, in conjunction with satellite remotely sensed data, to investigate the upper layer oceanography (mesoscale features and mixed layer depth variability) and phytoplankton biomass at the GoodHope line south of Africa, during the 2010–2011 austral summer. The link between physical parameters of the upper ocean, specifically frontal activity, to the spatially varying in situ and satellite measurements of Chl a concentrations is investigated. The observations provide evidence to show that the fronts act to both enhance phytoplankton biomass as well as to delimit regions of similar chlorophyll concentrations, although the front–chlorophyll relationships become obscure towards the end of the growing season due to bloom advection and ‘patchy’ Chl a behaviour. Satellite ocean colour measurements are compared to in situ chlorophyll measurements to assess the disparity between the two sampling techniques. The scientific value of the time-series of oceanographic observations collected at the GoodHope line between 2004 to present is being realised. Continued efforts in this programme are essential to better understand both the physical and biogeochemical dynamics of the upper ocean in the Atlantic sector of the Southern Ocean.

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Relationship between in situ and Globcolour Chl a concentrations at the GH line in December (black) and February (grey). The 1:1 slope is depicted by the grey line.

Relationship between in situ and Globcolour Chl a concentrations at the GH line in December (black) and February (grey). The 1:1
slope is depicted by the grey line.

Abstract

One of the important gaps in the reliable prediction of the response of the Southern Ocean carbon cycle to climate change is its sensitivity to seasonal, subseasonal forcings (in time) and mesoscales (in space). The Southern Ocean Carbon and Climate Observatory (SOCCO), a CSIR-led consortium, is planning the Southern Ocean Seasonal Cycle Experiment (SOSCEx), which will be a new type of large-scale experiment. SOSCEx reflects a shift from the historical focus on ship-based descriptive Southern Ocean oceanography and living resource conservation, to system-scale dynamics studies spanning much greater time and space scales. The experiment provides a new and unprecedented opportunity to gain a better understanding of the links between climate drivers and ecosystem productivity and climate feedbacks in the Southern Ocean. This combined high-resolution approach to both observations and modelling experiments will permit us, for the first time, to address some key questions relating to the physical nature of the Southern Ocean and its carbon cycle.

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A space–time plot showing relative scale magnitudes of a number of platforms (ships, instrumented moorings and gliders), the seasonal cycle and climate projections. This graphical representation emphasises that, even with both ships and moorings observational platforms, it is not possible to address questions on the seasonal cycle sensitivity of climate projections without using autonomous platforms. Ocean gliders are uniquely poised to bridge the spatial and temporal gap between ships and moorings – a bridge which critically covers the seasonal 'window' in the Southern Ocean Seasonal Cycle Experiment.

A space–time plot showing relative scale magnitudes of a number of platforms (ships, instrumented moorings and gliders), the seasonal cycle and climate projections. This graphical representation emphasises that, even with both ships and moorings observational platforms, it is not possible to address questions on the seasonal cycle sensitivity of climate projections without using autonomous platforms. Ocean gliders are uniquely poised to bridge the spatial and temporal gap between ships and moorings – a bridge which critically covers the seasonal ‘window’ in the Southern Ocean Seasonal Cycle Experiment.

Loveday, B., Swart S., Storkey, D.
Abstract

Ocean models require independent datasets to verify forecast accuracy. Glider data, within an appropriate reference frame, can satisfy this constraint. In the present paper, profiles from the northwest Mediterranean Sea are re-gridded to allow evaluation of modelled deepwater formation episodes. Time-series analysis of temperature, salinity, mixed-layer depth and ocean heat content show that the simulated response to surface flux is consistent with observations and the evolution of convective events is well represented. However, discrepancies in the distributions of the simulated Levantine Intermediate Water (LIW) and western Mediterranean deep water (WMDW) remain. A new ‘sweep’ methodology, developed in the present paper, indicates that the location and duration of the  simulated convective events are consistent with that observed, but spatial variability is underrepresented. Variogram analysis ascribes integral scales similar to those observed for the mixed-layer depth, but suggests that simulated scalar fields are too diffuse. The ability to maximise the separation of temporal and spatial variability, inherent in this new methodology, confirms that glider data is suitable for validating high-resolution ocean models.

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Schematic overview of convection phases: (a) isopycnal doming and erosion of stratification during pre-conditioning; (b) wind-driven surface heat loss deepens the mixed layer via plumes during violent mixing; c) baroclinic instability breaks up the mixed patch, homogenous  ater sinks and spreads, and surface  destratification completes the event (adapted from Marshall and Schott, 1999).

Schematic overview of convection phases: (a) isopycnal doming and erosion of stratification during pre-conditioning; (b) wind-driven surface heat loss deepens the mixed layer via plumes during violent mixing; c) baroclinic instability breaks up the mixed patch, homogenous ater sinks and spreads, and surface destratification completes the event (adapted from Marshall and Schott, 1999).

Tagliabue, A., Mtshali T., Aumont, O., Bowie, A., Klunder, M. B. , Roychoudhury A. N., Swart S.
Abstract

Due to its importance as a limiting nutrient for phytoplankton growth in large regions of the world’s oceans, ocean water column observations of concentration of the trace-metal iron (Fe) have increased markedly over recent decades. Here we compile >13 000 global measurements of dissolved Fe (dFe) and make this available to the community. We then conduct a synthesis study focussed on the Southern Ocean, where dFe plays a fundamental role in governing the carbon cycle, using four regions, six basins and five depth intervals as a framework. Our analysis highlights depth-dependent trends in the properties of dFe between different regions and basins. In general, surface dFe is highest in the Atlantic basin and the Antarctic region. While attributing drivers to these patterns is uncertain, inter-basin patterns in surface dFe might be linked to differing degrees of dFe inputs, while variability in biological consumption between regions covaries with the associated surface dFe differences. Opposite to the surface, dFe concentrations at depth are typically higher in the Indian basin and the Subantarctic region. The inter-region trends can be reconciled with similar ligand variability (although only from one cruise), and the inter-basin difference might be explained by differences in hydrothermal inputs suggested by modelling studies (Tagliabue et al., 2010) that await observational confirmation. We find that even in regions where many dFe measurements exist, the processes governing the seasonal evolution of dFe remain enigmatic, suggesting that, aside from broad Subantarctic – Antarctic trends, biological consumption might not be the major driver of dFe variability. This highlights the apparent importance of other processes such as exogenous inputs, physical transport/mixing or dFe recycling processes. Nevertheless, missing measurements during key seasonal transitions make it difficult to better quantify and understand surface water replenishment processes and the seasonal Fe cycle. Finally, we detail the degree of seasonal coverage by region, basin and depth. By synthesising prior measurements, we suggest a role for different processes and highlight key gaps in understanding, which we hope can help structure future research efforts in the Southern Ocean.

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Distribution of iron data in the Southern Ocean with regional breakdown for different ocean regimes and basins.

Distribution of iron data in the Southern Ocean with regional breakdown for different ocean regimes and basins.

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