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Project Title:  Role of the Southern Ocean in the Earth System


Elaina Ford

Principle Investigators

PICCOLO: Karen Haywood, CUSTARD: Adrian Martin, SONATA: Corinne Le Quere

Project Description

The Southern Ocean is one of the most important and poorly understood components of the global carbon cycle that profoundly shapes Earth’s climate. It is the primary hot spot for the oceanic sink of anthropogenic carbon dioxide (CO2), having captured half of all human-related carbon that has entered the ocean to date. As a major knowledge gap and a central player in global carbon and climate dynamics, the Southern Ocean carbon system is regularly singled out as the Achilles’ heel of the Earth system models upon which humankind relies to understand contemporary climate change, predict its future evolution, and define international climate policy.

NERC, the Natural Environment Research Council, part of UK Research and Innovation) is investing £7 million in this five-year research programme, which aims to substantially reduce uncertainty in 21st century global climate change projections through improved assessment of the Southern Ocean carbon sink and to provide the scientific basis to inform international climate policy on the role of the Southern Ocean in 21st century global climate change.

Project links to ORCHESTRA

ORCHESTRA and RoSES are closely tied – they are overlapping programmes, both looking into carbon uptake in the Southern Ocean, and both funded by NERC directed science calls. They have a joint Programme Advisory Group, and have joint Annual Science Meetings each summer.

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