EGU General Assembly 2008
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  Information - OS10 Variability in the Southern Ocean

Event Information
Southern Ocean physical processes influence the hemispheric and global climate, rate and pattern of sea-level rise, distribution of nutrients and productivity of marine ecosystems, and ocean uptake and storage of carbon dioxide. Recent studies document the variability of the Southern Ocean environment and its impact on regional climate and marine organisms. Southern Ocean water masses contributing to the meridional overturning circulation (MOC) are changing in response to climate change. Climate models predict that the Southern Ocean overturning circulation will slow down as a result of global warming, causing a decrease in the amount of carbon dioxide absorbed by the ocean and a positive feedback on climate change. However, our understanding of how the circulation and water masses of the Southern Ocean vary in time and the impact of such variability on regional ecosystems, the fringing ice sheet, and the global climate remains incomplete, largely due to the lack of appropriate observations. The Southern Ocean is remote and the environment is hostile. Therefore, historical data are scarce and hypotheses regarding the impact of Southern Ocean processes on climate are difficult to validate. However, new tools (e.g. autonomous floats, animal mounted oceanographic sensors, new and more accurate satellite sensors, improved numerical models) and additional measurements from the last decade now allow to investigate changes in the Southern Ocean and to describe and understand the processes responsible for the variability.

We welcome contributions using data and/or models about:
- Variability of Southern Ocean/ACC structure on time-scales from months to
- Variability of the coupled ocean-atmosphere-sea ice system in the Southern
- Variability of the cross-shelf exchange with consequences for water mass
formation and ice shelf basal melting.
- Variability of upper ocean currents and stratification and their impact on
marine biogeochemical and ecological systems.
- Physical controls on biological productivity and export of biological matter
to the deep ocean.
- Variations in animal distributions and behaviour related to environmental
- Ocean observations to test and guide refinement of climate models in the
Southern Ocean.
- Hindcasts from a data-assimilating ocean model to infer the statistics of
variability and to diagnose the physical processes responsible for Southern
Ocean variability.
- Connection between the Southern Ocean climate variability and large-scale
climate indices, such as ENSO, SAM, Indian Ocean dipole modes etc.

Preliminary List of Solicited Speakers


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