Ocean and atmospheric physical characteristics and dynamics are crucial to understanding key SOCCO related scientific focus areas where a multi-disciplinary approach is taken to understanding the links between climate, biogeochemistry and ecosystems. SOCCO researchers pursue research focused predominantly on submesoscale (<10km) to mesoscale (10-200km) oceanographic processes that have an impact on upper ocean mixing and stratification dynamics and variability. Core to this science includes understanding the link between the ocean and the atmosphere through air-sea exchange and interaction. Our work also extends to the deeper ocean processes and ventilation, while laterally to the larger scale circulation of the Southern Ocean from the Subtropical to Antarctic sea-ice domains. These approaches make South Africa a leading contributor to Southern Hemisphere ocean and climate science.
SOCCO’s physics-related research is underpinned by an integrated approach, combining the use of numerical modelling simulations, ship-based observations and high-resolution measurements collected by autonomous ocean gliders and floats. Recent emphasis has been placed on resolving the seasonal cycle of upper ocean physical processes in the Southern Ocean and relating this to biogeochemical responses. This was undertaken through unique experimental design by deploying marine robotic instruments in the Southern Ocean that continuously observe the ocean and air-sea exchange processes for extended periods of time (6 months) and resolving the temporal and spatial scales of variability at unprecedentedly high resolution.
Our research contributes to South Africa’s developmental needs by using novel approaches in advanced observations, numerical modelling and analysis to train undergraduate and post graduate students.