The SOCCOM Project was officially launched in September of 2014 with a mission to drive a transformative shift in the scientific and public understanding of the role of the vast Southern Ocean in climate change and biogeochemistry. Nine months into the project, we have 23 floats deployed and reporting, the start of the world’s first large-scale network of autonomous biogeochemical floats.

With pre-SOCCOM support from the National Science Foundation, SOCCOM was able to deploy 12 test floats along the GO-SHIP P16S line east of New Zealand in the spring of 2014 as a test of the proposed methodology. Among these were the first profiling floats with pH sensors deployed in the Southern Ocean and they returned a mean of 31 pH profiles/month in the Austral winter months of June, July and August (exceeding by 600% the average reporting rate of the past 25 years for this region). These floats have provided the first complete set of pH measurements over a full annual cycle in the open waters of the Southern Ocean. Prior to the operation of these floats, there had been only 2 pH profiles reported to the US National Oceanographic Data Center for the austral winter months of June/September, and south of 45 degrees South, in the prior 25 years.

The first twelve SOCCOM-funded BGC-floats were deployed on a cruise of the Alfred Wegener Institute's R/V Polarstern from Cape Town, South Africa in December and January of 2015.  Two additional floats were deployed south of Tasmania by Australia Marine National Facility’s new research vessel Investigator in late March as part of a cruise to deploy a full set of Southern Ocean Time Series moorings. In total, this float array is providing a view of biogeochemical processes in some 25% of the Southern Ocean.

Raw and adjusted biogeochemical data for all floats are made publicly available in real time at SOCCOMViz, a data portal developed and hosted by MBARI and embedded in the SOCCOM website. Users can either use the interface to view and create plots of the SOCCOM data or download tab-delimited, ASCII text files in OceanDataView format. FTP access to the data, including the relatively large high resolution data files (CTD at 2 m resolution, with biogeochemical data at lower resolution), is also available. Links to shipboard data and reports from SOCCOM cruises are also available through our “Cruise Information” page, and work is currently underway to integrate the biogeochemical data into the Argo data stream.

The adjusted biogeochemical data are providing an unparalleled view of Southern Ocean biogeochemistry.  This includes variability of pH and carbonate saturation in the system, net community production, carbon export, air-sea fluxed of biogeochemical parameters and bloom dynamics.

Southern Ocean State Estimate (SOSE)

Analysis of the integrated biogeochemical data set will be greatly enriched when the data are assimilated in the Southern Ocean State Estimate. This process is making excellent progress. The BLING biogeochemical model has been incorporated into SOSE and preliminary data assimilation efforts are beginning. We have produced the adjoint model of BLING v2 and will begin optimizing this set up via 4D-Var data assimilation as planned. We have also begun tuning a 1/12° resolution model with 104 vertical levels. The results of Year 1 efforts are now available on the web at  


The modeling aspects of SOCCOM made progress on the following fronts: the OSSE’s have quantified the anticipated errors associated with the float data and have helped with the deployment strategy; a preliminary pH algorithm has been developed and is already being used to test for instrumental drift in the pH sensor.; the observation-based metrics provide a thorough overview of an overall simulation of the Southern Ocean, and while no model does well against every metric, the set of metrics provide a baseline for which models are most applicable/reliable for which science questions; and the initial plans for the Southern Ocean Model Intercomparison Program are nearly complete and should be approved by the main participants shortly so that they can be formally submitted to WCRP/CMIP6.

map with dots representing the floats