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Front. Mar. Sci. | doi: 10.3389/fmars.2019.00421

Constraining Southern Ocean air-sea-ice fluxes through enhanced observations

  • 1Department of Oceanography, Faculty of Science, University of Cape Town, South Africa
  • 2Department of Marine Sciences, University of Gothenburg, Sweden
  • 3Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego, United States
  • 4University of Liège, Belgium
  • 5National Oceanography Centre, University of Southampton, United Kingdom
  • 6University of Tasmania, Australia
  • 7California Institute of Technology, United States
  • 8Applied Physics Laboratory, University of Washington, United States
  • 9Ryan Institute, Environmental, Marine and Energy Research, National University of Ireland, Galway, Ireland
  • 10Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), South Africa
  • 11Met Office, United Kingdom
  • 12Earth Observation General Coordination, National Institute for Space Research (OBT/INPE), Brazil
  • 13Southern Regional Center for Space Research, National Institute for Space Research (CRS/INPE), Brazil
  • 14University of New South Wales, Australia
  • 15Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, United States
  • 16Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory (LDEO), United States

Air-sea and air-sea-ice fluxes in the Southern Ocean play a critical role in global climate through their impact on the overturning circulation and oceanic heat and carbon uptake. The challenging conditions in the Southern Ocean have led to sparse spatial and temporal coverage of observations. This has led to a ‘knowledge gap’ that increases uncertainty in atmosphere and ocean dynamics and boundary-layer thermodynamic processes, impeding improvements in weather and climate models. Improvements will require both process-based research to understand the mechanisms governing air-sea exchange and a significant expansion of the observing system. This will improve flux parameterizations and reduce uncertainty associated with bulk formulae and satellite observations. Improved estimates spanning the full Southern Ocean will need to take advantage of ships, surface moorings, and the growing capabilities of autonomous platforms with robust and miniaturized sensors. A key challenge is to identify observing system sampling requirements. This requires models, Observing System Simulation Experiments (OSSEs), and assessments of the specific spatial-temporal accuracy and resolution required for priority science and assessment of observational uncertainties of the mean state and direct flux measurements. Year-round, high-quality, quasi-continuous in situ flux measurements and observations of extreme events are needed to validate, improve and characterize uncertainties in blended reanalysis products and satellite data as well as to improve parameterizations. Building a robust observing system will require community consensus on observational methodologies, observational priorities, and effective strategies for data management and discovery.

Keywords: air-sea flux, Southern Ocean, Ocean-atmosphere interaction, Ocean-ice interaction, climate

Received: 31 Oct 2018; Accepted: 05 Jul 2019.

Edited by:

Sabrina Speich, École Normale Supérieure, France

Reviewed by:

Tong Lee, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), United States
Brent Else, University of Calgary, Canada  

Copyright: © 2019 Swart, Gille, Delille, Josey, Mazloff, Newman, Thompson, Thomson, Ward, Du Plessis, Kent, Girton, Gregor, H, Hyder, Pezzi, De Souza, Tamsitt, Weller and Zappa. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Dr. Sebastiaan Swart, Department of Oceanography, Faculty of Science, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, Rondebosch 7701, South Africa,