Southern Ocean Fluxes (SOFLUX)


Enhancing Air-Sea Flux Observations in the Southern Ocean

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 underpins all key scientific drivers in the Southern Ocean and contributes broadly to all six SOOS Scientific Priority Themes.

This working group was approved in 2016 and is proposed to finish in 2020.

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The full terms of references for this working group can be found here.

  1. Facilitate the identification and development of candidate air-sea flux EOVs and ECVs for the Southern Ocean, and to progress these to a mature state of readiness for inclusion in SOOS;
  2. For those with a mature state of readiness, provide standardised methodologies for collecting and archiving data;
  3. Identify and assemble legacy data sets from ships and stations (not already undertaken by other initiatives) that may assist in validating and furthering our knowledge of SO air-sea fluxes;
  4. Promote and coordinate existing programmes and platforms to collect essential observations that are identified as scarce and required for validation purposes;
  5. Develop standardized methods that are easily understood by different stakeholders, including policy stakeholders, which are repeatable, and easily transferrable;
  6. Develop methods for validation/ground truthing of satellite-derived flux estimates using in situ observations;
  7. Define targets that will make the flux products more usable and that will serve as metrics for assessing progress;
  8. Identify critical spatial and temporal gaps (including key regions sea ice, upwelling, islands etc) in Southern Ocean air-sea flux observations and knowledge; links to optimal sampling strategies and data assimilation;
  9. Identify fast-track approaches to obtaining observations that address existing spatial and temporal gaps;
  10. 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;
  11. Guide development of a series of coordinated pilot studies projects for SO air-sea fluxes across the Southern Ocean. The pilot studies can include observations of the atmospheric boundary layer and upper ocean state over selected regions of the Southern Ocean (ships, planes, wave gliders, profiling floats);
  12. Use observations to;
    1. validate satellite air-sea fluxes and mapped (e.g. reanalysis) products
    2. improve models in terms of atmospheric state and coupling to the ocean
    3. assess air-sea coupling parameters in evolving sea states
    4. 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
  14. Development of white paper(s) that guide the community of recent gains and way forward
  15. Hold annual meetings of the working group, and source funding to enable WG sustainability and spin-off flux-related initiatives
  16. Convene focused 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