Southern Ocean Fluxes (SOFLUX)



Enhancing Air-Sea Flux Observations in the Southern Ocean

SOFLUX will design and facilitate the implementation of an observing system of essential ocean variables (EOVs) to support investigations on dynamics and change in Southern Ocean air-sea fluxes. SOFLUX developed out of the efforts of the Air-Sea Fluxes Task Team and workshop.




SOFLUX was officially approved by SOOS SSC in May 2016, and is now an active SOOS Capability Working Group.

soflux timeline


The core aim of SOFLUX is to reduce uncertainties in air-sea and air-sea-ice exchanges. SOFLUX will design and facilitate the implementation of an observing system of essential ocean variables (EOVs) to support investigations on dynamics and change in Southern Ocean air-sea fluxes, including the formal definition of EOVs for fluxes, the development of priority measurements, standardized methodologies for collecting and archiving data, the optimal design of field programs, and strategies for implementing field observations, including supporting regional working groups and networking with existing and emerging programs. The working group may also need to address fundamental errors in bulk formulae used to parameterize fluxes, since these formulae are not tuned for the time-varying waves and winds typically found in the Southern Ocean. The presence of sea ice is a further complication that must be addressed.

SOFLUX will make important contributions to all of the 6 SOOS Science Themes.

Current Activities

SO-FLUX is currently developing 4 Task Teams to deliver the Terms of References. All four efforts are open for involvement by any interested, qualified persons:



Task Team 1) Coordinating in situ observations

This Task Team will focus efforts on intensive observations in the region of the IMOS and OOI moorings, and has been developed to enhance flux observations from the Southern Ocean, specifically focussing on coordinating proposals for enhanced efforts that build on the existing flux moorings of OOI and IMOS-SOTS.


Task Team Members

Seb Swart (lead), Carol Ann Clayson, Jim Edson, James Girton, Eric Schultz, Bob Weller, Ronald Buss de Souza, Simon Josey, Giannetta Fusco, Yuri Cotroneo, Luc Lenain



Task Team 2) Defining Requirements for Flux Observations

This Task Team will develop a community statement on the requirements for flux observations from the Southern Ocean


Task Team Members

Sarah Gille (lead), Ivana Cerovecki, Jim Edson, Mark Bourassa, Pat Hyder, Brent Roberts, Bob Weller, Brian Ward, Chris Fairall, Abderrahim Bentamy, Simon Josey, Ken Melville, Giannetta Fusco, Yuri Cotroneo



Task Team 3) input to GCOS/GOOS

This Task Team will act as a conduit to push information and recommendations up to coordinating bodies such as the Global Climate Observing System (GCOS) and the Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS), in particular to articulate the importance of flux observations and inclusion of flux variables within the GCOS/GOOS Essential Climate/Ocean Variables.


Task Team Members

Mark Bourassa (lead), Bob Weller, Brian Ward, Abderrahim Bentamy, Matt Mazloff, Sarah Gille



Task Team 4) Modelling and Satellite Synthesis


Task Team Members

Andrew Lenton (lead), Matt Mazloff, Mark Bourassa, Brent Roberts, Judith Hauck, Carol Anne Clayson, Simon Josey


Terms of Reference

SOFLUX will fulfil the following terms of reference over the next 5 years:


1) Guide development of a pilot study (or series of coordinated projects) for SO air-sea fluxes across the Southern Ocean.  This effort can include observations of the atmospheric boundary layer and upper ocean state over selected regions of the Southern Ocean (using ships, planes, wave gliders, profiling floats, autonomous underwater vehicles), and should address turbulent and non-turbulent components of fluxes and should evaluate bulk parameterizatons relative to direct flux covariance observations.

2) Facilitate the identification and development of candidate air-sea flux EOVs for the Southern Ocean, and progress these to a mature state of readiness for inclusion in SOOS. Provide input to GCOS regarding air-sea flux ECVs with relevance to the Southern Ocean.


3) For those EOVs with a mature state of readiness, provide standardised methodologies for collecting and archiving data


4) Identify and assemble legacy data sets from ships and stations that may assist in validating and furthering our knowledge of SO air-sea fluxes


5) Promote and coordinate existing programmes and platforms to collect essential observations that are identified as scarce and required for validation purposes; provide information to SOOS Field Projects Portal on field access opportunities and coordination.


6) Develop standardized methods that are easily understood by different stakeholders (including policy stakeholders), which are repeatable, and easily transferrable


7) Develop methods for validation/ground truthing of satellite-derived flux estimates using in situ observations


8) Define targets which will make the flux products more usable and enable progress to be assessed.


9) Perform spatial and temporal gap analysis (including key regions – sea ice, upwelling, islands etc) of Southern Ocean air-sea flux observations and knowledge; links to optimal sampling strategies and data assimilation.

10) Identify ‘fast-track’ approaches to obtaining observations that address existing spatial and temporal gaps, including new technologies available to contribute to observing these fluxes.


11) Identify end users of such data and provide guidelines to facilitate the delivery of this data to end users; develop procedures to achieve efficient sharing of data across the science community according to SOOS data policy and via the SOOS Data Portal


12) Use observations to: 
a. Validate satellite air-sea fluxes and mapped (e.g. reanalysis) products 
b. Improve models in terms of atmospheric state and coupling to the ocean 
c. Assess air-sea coupling parameters in evolving sea states 
d. Evaluate the impact of the improved coupling parameters on ocean model performance


13) As part of the pilot study, augment the observing program with coupled ocean-surface wave-ice-atmosphere process modeling to evaluate model physics at the air-sea interface, the sensitivity to bulk formulae, and perform a comparative analysis of varying resolution models.  Although sea ice may not be central to the initial pilot study, it should be considered as part of the longer-term planning.


14) Evaluate infrastructure issues, including flow distortion for existing ships, design criteria for ships and moorings, and optimal measurement strategies in high wind and high wave conditions.


15) Development of white paper(s) that inform the community of recent gains and paths forward


16) Hold annual meetings of the working group, and source funding to enable WG sustainability and “spin-off” flux-related initiatives


17) Convene focussed sessions at national and international meetings, including SCAR and SCOR, and facilitate synthesis products, to increase the awareness of the science community to the importance of the air-sea fluxes. Provide annual reports to the SOOS SSC on activities and outcomes of the WG, and regular updates for the SOOS newsletter


SOFLUX is open membership. If you would like to be involved, please contact Sarah Gille (sgille at


Sarah Gille
Seb Swart


Steering Committee:
Mark Bourassa
Carol Anne Clayson
Bruno Delille
Simon Josey
Andrew Lenton
Eric Schulz
Inga Smith
Brian Ward



Working Group membership can include observational oceanographers, atmosphere/ocean/coupled modellers, and specialists in atmospheric boundary layer processes.


Dorothee Bakker
Abderrahim Bentamy
Ivana Cerovecki
Ronald De Souza
Jim Edson
Chris Fairall
Giannetta Fusco
Judith Hauck
Pat Hyder
Luc Lenain
Pierre-Philippe Mathieu
Matt Mazloff
Ken Melville
Scott Miller
Pedro Monteiro
Alberto Naveira Garabato
Lucian Ponzi Pezzi
Marcos Portabella
Brent Roberts
Craig Stevens
Sarat Tripathy
Bob Weller
Margaret Yelland
Chris Zappa
Edson, James
Cerovecki, Ivana
James Girton
Veronica Tamsitt
Andy Thompson

Planned Products and Outcomes

  1. Air-Sea Flux EOVs for the Southern Ocean with detailed specification sheets highlighting temporal/spatial requirements, standardised methodologies, and preferred data management
  2. White paper / peer reviewed paper / community report highlighting status, key spatial-temporal gaps, technology/sensor issues and requirements, data management issues/requirements, strategy for way forward (to be used as rationale for funding bids for pilot study)
  3. Funding and logistics proposals submitted internationally for a coordinated pilot study addressing key air-sea flux observational gaps – likely timed to coincide with, and contribute too YOPP. Ultimate pilot study outcomes could include development of robust sensors (including improvements in ship-based met packages and ship drag assessment), standard operating procedures/protocols for collecting air-sea flux observations, ground truth data for analyzing air-sea fluxes, improved air-sea coupling parameterizations for the Southern Ocean to be used in climate modeling, improved infrastructure for coupled ocean-ice-atmosphere modeling and assimilation


Relevant Documents:

Bourassa et al., 2013, High-latitude ocean and sea ice surface fluxes: Challenges for climate research, BAMS. HERE

WMO Year of Polar Prediction (YOPP) HERE

Southern Ocean Community Response to YOPP Implementation Plan (2015) HERE

SOOS 2015 Air-Sea Fluxes Workshop Report HERE

Eos Report (2016) HERE



All presentations from the 2015 Air-Sea Fluxes workshop available HERE.

Copyright 2015 Southern Ocean Observing System. All rights reserved.