Physics

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.

 

 

  • A CTD station being completed at the Antarctic ice shelf to investigate the diurnal and event scale variability of upper ocean physics and biogeochemistry in the ice impacted polar seas.
  • SOCCO and South Africa’s geographical coverage of the Southern Hemisphere oceans and access to the Antarctic region. The coloured lines represent the domains covered by annual South African research and logistical voyages (carried out on the SA Agulhas II): Marion Island, Gough and Tristan du Cunha Islands, SANAE base, South Georgia Island and South Sandwich Islands. The blue lines represent the northern and southern extent of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current, while the magenta line represents the position of the Agulhas Current and Retroflection. The maximum winter sea-ice extent is indicated. The background shading represents the ocean depth.
  • High-resolution time series of (a) temperature, (b) stratification and (c) chlorophyll-a collected by an ocean glider in the Subantarctic region. These observations provide a first look at the seasonal evolution of upper ocean physics and biogeochemistry in the Southern Ocean.
  • Profiling gliders are deployed in the coastal regions of South Africa and the Southern Ocean to observe key physical and biogeochemical properties of the water column.Compared to ships and moorings, these innovative and high-tech robots provide a cost-effective means to monitor the environment over extended paeriods of time.
  • Deployment of a underway UCTD from the research ship, the SA Agulhas II. The underway mode profiling instrument collects temperature, salinity and pressure measurements up to 500m depth.UCTD deployments means we are able to collect sub surface water column measurements in underway mode without stopping the ship.
  • The Southern Ocean Seasonal Cycle Experiment (SOSCEx): Tow glider tracks overlaid onto the spring-summer surface chlorophyll-a concentrations, as measured from satellite.
  • A Wave Glider is retrieved with a combined ship and small boat approach after spending numerous months sampling the Southerrn Ocean air-sea interface. These rare and valuable data are crucial to understanding the variability of the upper ocean currents and CO2 fluxes. Note the severe barnacle growth on thee underside of the glider’s surface float.
Related News and Publications

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.

 

 

'