SAVEX South Atlantic Variability Experiment

Lead Research Organisation: University of St Andrews
Department Name: Biology

Abstract

The Southern Ocean (SO) may seem like a remote part of the planet that has little importance to the every day lives of most people. But with increasing knowledge about its oceanography and biology, scientists are rapidly coming to realize that it is arguably the Earth's most important ocean. It is the only water body that completely circles the globe, providing the crucial link between all of the worlds' oceans. Physical processes in the SO influence all other oceans in significant ways, by closing the global thermohaline circulation and linking climatic processes from the Artic to the Antarctic. Its physical structure and dynamics support extremely rich and important biological resources including key species across all trophic levels from primary producers to top predators. This unique connectivity and biology also brings strategic importance for a wide range of oceanic activities, including commercial exploitation, transport, and conservation, which together bring the potential of conflicts between competing interests. Yet because of the cost and logistic challenges the SO presents to direct observation, it is the also arguably the least studied ocean, especially during winter and in its southern and seasonally ice covered regions, which are of profound importance both in terms of their physical oceanography and ecosystems. With growing public concern about the effects of human activities on climate and the consequences of rapidly increasing marine exploitation for oceanic ecosystems, the need for monitoring and understanding its physical dynamics and linking these to the biological processes that depend on them is becoming critical, as is the need for appropriate fine-scale ocean data for increasingly sophisticated models to provide the basis for understanding climate. A recent study argued that an observed warming of the SO is man-made and related to a southward shift of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC) caused by an increase in zonal winds. However, this is based on coarse-resolution modeling, and whilst there has been some support for this idea based on satellite studies, it is important to note that satellites are only really effective at tracking particular fronts, not the whole ACC. Many issues consequently remain unresolved, particularly: Does the position of the ACC change in a systematic way in response to changes in winds? We try to address this question, by equipping strategically chosen, deep-diving marine mammal species with state-of-the-art animal-borne oceanographic instruments. Programmes such as the Global Ocean Observation System will enable the assimilation of such data into ocean circulation models, with the intention of accurately representing and predicting climate variability on seasonal and longer timescales. This project will make its contributions at a particularly advantageous time for polar ocean studies, during the International Polar Year (IPY). During this time, a global concerted effort will be made to observe and interpret all aspects of high-latitude oceanography during this time of rapid change in the polar seas and when there is a growing realization of the importance they have for global climate Thanks to our technological developments in data collection, storage and communication, IPY will have our polar animals themselves as an important part of the observational and exploratory team to help us get data on places important to both them and us. The instruments collect and store behavioural and hydrographic data and relay them via the Argos System back to servers at the Sea Mammal Research Unit. This will provide a large high-resolution hydrographic data set covering areas of ocean at the fringes of the South Atlantic which is strategically important to ocean and climate modelling, but which are still relatively data sparse due to logistic difficulties.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Title Where The Animals Go: Tracking Wildlife with Technology in 50 Maps and Graphics 
Description A book of creative ways to display geographical information and associated data 
Type Of Art Creative Writing 
Year Produced 2016 
Impact Popular "coffee table" book which, among many examples, uses information from seals to map a set of animal movements withing oceanographic parameters. 
URL http://wheretheanimalsgo.com/
 
Description We investigated the physical properties of Subantarctic Mode Water (SAMW) and Antarctic Intermediate Water (AAIW) in the Drake Passage region on time scales down to intraseasonal, within the 1969 - 2009 period by combining all available data sources. Both SAMW and AAIW experience substantial interannual to interdecadal variability. The two water masses have also experienced a substantial lightening since the start of the record. Examination of the mechanisms underpinning water mass property variability shows that SAMW characteristics are controlled predominantly by a combination of air-sea turbulent heat fluxes, cross-frontal Ekman transport of Antarctic surface waters and the evaporation-precipitation balance, whilst AAIW properties reflect air-sea turbulent heat fluxes and sea ice formation in the Bellingshausen Sea. We also investiagted the seasonal progression of upper-ocean water mass properties and stratification at the southern boundary of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current.Close et al., JC, 2013Meredith et al., DSR II, 2011Charrasin et al., OCeanObs'09, 2010. :We then compare the observed hydrographic fields with those obtained from general ocean circulation models. The model frontal positions will be compared with those inferred from our in-situ temperature and salinity fields. We will investigate the coupling of oceanfronts in the ACC and their seasonal and interannual variability as predicted by models. We will also compare the standard deviation of the observed frontal locations to the bottom depth and bottom slope of the topography to confirm or disprove the role of isobaths in controlling these fronts. We still plan investigate how the frontal locations of the models are affected by bathymetry. This will increase our understanding of the influence of bathymetry in controlling the splitting and steering of the frontal jets.FINDINGS:SAVEX data was utelized to improve the assimilating ECCO model. The model output was improved by more than 35% in areas where SAVEX data were collected and by about 5% in the whole SOuthern Ocean area. We are also still investigating the seasonal and interannual variability of the Southern Ocean frontal system using our observational data together with output from eddy-resolving ocean circulation models (see above). This works shows that most fronts are topograhically controlled (unpublished and still ongoing work)Roquet et al., submittedObjective #4:Due to severe weather and ice conditions for most of the year, hydrographic data from the Southern Ocean are extremely sparse, in spite of the fact that these areas play a crucial role in upper ocean processes. The Southern Ocean contains some of the most important sites of global intermediate and deepwater formation. The seals on which we deploy CTD-SRDLs (Satellite Relay Data Loggers) regularly migrate into these regions during their summer and winter feeding trips from South Georgia. The data from these seals will provide 1-3 CTD profiles per seal-day in near real-time, year-round, producing data from rarely sampled regions. We will make these available for inclusion in operational ocean circulation and climate models. We were major contributors to the datasets gathered during the International Polar Year (now freely available), as well as providing analytical techniques for their analysis.
Exploitation Route All the data from the SAVEX deployments (and that collected by SMRU tags by our IPY MEOP partners) is now archived and incorporated in the World Ocean Data base. An example of its global impact is that 70% of all oceanographic profiles south of 60 degrees in the World ocean Data Base are from animal platforms, most from the MEOP project. The first 2 NERC funded projects that utilized the tags, SEaOS and SAVEX, both large multinational efforts have provided the technological expertise and basis for an ongoing set of international and UK projects which have continued to provide freely available ocean information from the Arctic and Antarctic. The most recent of these is ocean2ice, part of the NERC iStar project on the dynamics of the Pine Island Glacier. Other international projects are in the pipeline. SMRU Instrumentation (as distinct from SMRU) has provided the seal-born equipment for all of these and continues to be the only source of the profilers for marine animals.
Sectors Environment

URL http://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/~savex/
 
Title SMRU-IG CTD-SRDL 
Description Beginning in 2000, with the support of the US Office of Naval Research, the Norwegian Polar Institute, and, with a NERC £5000 start-up grant, the Sea Mammal Research Unit' Instrumentation Group (SMRU-IG) developed an ocean profiling tag that could be carried by marine animals. Since its first large scale deployment in 2004 (funded in part by the NERC SEaOS grant and with collaborators in France, the US and Australia), this technology has provided a wealth of data from oceans in the polar regions (see Fedak, 2013 (http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0967064512000938 ) and Roquet et al. 2013 (http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/2013GL058304/abstract ). The data stream from these tags has continued apace and is becoming increasingly important. It provides information from places and times where there is no other. Output from these tags is provided in near real time to Meteorological community via the GTS and in quality-controlled, post-processed form via the MEOP web site (http://www.meop.net) .The MEOP web site makes over 500,000 ocean profiles freely available to researchers. The site also provides a growing list of over 100 publications that use data provided by the device. 
Type Of Material Technology assay or reagent 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact Quote from: E. P. Abrahamsen, 2014. Sustaining observations in the polar oceans. .DOI: 10.1098/rsta.2013.0337 "In the past, the vast majority of polar measurements took place in the summer. In recent years, novel techniques such as miniature CTD (conductivity-temperature-depth) tags carried by seals have provided an explosion in year-round measurements in areas largely inaccessible to ships, and, as ice avoidance is added to autonomous profiling floats and gliders, these promise to provide further enhancements to observing systems." This technology dramatically extends the reach of other ocean observation approaches and is exceptionally cost-effective. 
URL http://www.smru.st-andrews.ac.uk/Instrumentation/CTD/
 
Title Nature Data 
Description Much of the animal platform data from scientists and organizations around the world has been post processed and made availble in the World Ocean Database and in the data publishing organ implemented by the publishers of Nature, Nature Data 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2012 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact Improved estimates of the state of the ocean expressed in the (MIT) ECCO model and improvements to the Met Office ocean model from animal platform temperature data. See the following publications for details: 
 
Description MEOP Web page 
Organisation Stockholm University
Country Sweden 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution We provided all the data for the www.meop.net site
Collaborator Contribution They set up the site for data sharing and post process much of the data to a suitable standard..
Impact This web site makes data from SMRU Instrumentation Group CTD tags tags freely available. The site lists some 100 publications which have used the data.
Start Year 2014
 
Description University of California Santa Cruz 
Organisation University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC)
Country United States 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution expertise, equipment, analysis, writing
Collaborator Contribution expertise, equipment, logistic support, analysis, writing
Impact It is obviously necessary to "account" for investment in science by some process. And unfortunately, it is felt this process has to take into account the very narrow vision of science that seems to dominate the governance of science these days. But by overly constraining the expression of this value, the process may itself defeat its purpose. I believe that with researchfish, this is the case. The simplest way I can think of supporting this notion is via an example of how NERC investment in a linked chain of my NERC grants has created a string of high impact papers, an unprecedented legacy of ocean data and a rich global network of collaborators that collectively have brought in a high level of resources synergistically to support the work. On top of this, the collective of people associated with these projects supported the technological development and evolution of unique methodology within SMRU Instrumentation. It is worth remembering that SMRU Instrumentation is a group supported largely by the "sales" (with a turnover of 1 M £, much from overseas) of the monitoring equipment for observing the ocean used in these grants, which both facilitates collection of observations from important but unobserved times and locations with drastically reduced cost and logistic requirements. So how did NERC funding help to bring the remarkable success of these projects about? And how much funding did it leverage? It's not a simple story and not one that can be reflected in researchfish in any sensible way. The only way to shoe-horn it into the system forces the misrepresentation of the process of the scientific endeavour itself. The chain of my NERC projects involving ocean obs started with a £5000 pound NERC grant to build a couple of the first animal-carried ocean profiling instruments, CTD-SRDLs. The initial development of these tags had been supported with about £20,000 pounds from the Norwegian Polar Institute and then later, $250,000 from the US Office of Naval Research. The success of these "proof of concept" instruments resulted in my submitting a NERC grant to support their first large-scale deployment in the Southern Ocean on elephant seals. We also sold tags to researchers in France, Australia and the US to deploy the tags simultaneously on elephant seals in their areas of interest in the Southern Ocean. The combine effort was collectively known as the SEaOS project. The success of this project led to an even larger follow-on project in both polar oceans involving 10 different countries, MEOPP (an awkwardMarine Mammals Exploring the ocean Pole to Pole). It was part of the International Polar Year. Collectively, these projects generated data about the distribution, behaviour and environmental associations 100s of seals and produced hundreds of thousands of ocean profiles from the seas around f both poles, often from unsampled times and locations. These projects generated momentum of animal platform approach that has led to a growing range of onging projects and new proposals. To date, the many hundreds of animals that have carried the tags have delivered almost 400,000 ocean profiles and these data sets numerically outnumber all other data available in the Southern Ocean . All of the data were sent out on the GTS and are or will be freely available, either through the world ocean database or in published data sets. They projects have generated a large and growing number of publications and have been used operationally by the Met office. How do we capture the value of this in Researcfish? The success of SEaOS and MEOPP lhas also led on to the current ocean2ice project (part of NERC iStar project) includes the use of seals to study the oceanic heat flow to the Pine Island glacier. The BAS ship, JCR , moorings and autosub collected detailed highly accurate data from the immediate area during the month it was in position. The seals provided an additional 12000 CTD profiles in a wide area of some 20,000 km^2 from February through October that dramatically increased the value of the other data sources. How do you account for that increase in value in researchfish terms? The NERC contribution to this complex set of interlinked project was critically important but represents only a small fraction of the total cost of the combined effort. The value of the data , however, very much depended on the scale large cooperative effort involved. The deployment of these tags and the analysis of the data collected involved universities, research institutions and the polar research arms of all the countries in 10 countries. Ships, logistics, maintenance of bases, help from voluntary technical personnel, etc. are all involved and sometimes un-costed even in each group's proposals . Assigning contributions in cash or kind in a realistic way is impossible for me. So I will not even attempt to include all these links collaborations in my researchfish input. The only way I could do it is by pulling numbers out of the air to satisfy the required fields and I will not do this. In the final analysis, the value of the larger global, cooperative project and each national component of it cannot be measured in simple monetary terms but only in its on-going academic output, the growing use of the data in publications and models, the way the approach affects, in a difficult to determine way, the cost effectiveness of the general on-going effort in ocean observation. Perhaps, more importantly, researchfish , in demanding that we pound large round pegs in small square holes, can't even start to assess, in any realistic way, how the improved understanding of the behaviour of the oceans in the climate system allows us to plan ahead and prepare for change nor the value of understanding of the functioning of a complex and exploited marine ecosystem. I think the real worry is that in using such constrained accounting practices to provide a narrow measure of value to pander to a government that seems only able to measure value in simple monetary terms, you risk throwing the baby out with the bathwater. You devalue the process of science and lead to a downward spiral in the perception of that value in government and the public. This really is a dangerous spiral to get caught in. Perhaps I am taking researchfish too seriously and should just ignore its inadequacies. Like I suspect many more sensible people will do, I should just fill in the forms as quickly as possible and get on with useful work, treating the task as just one more of the many silly things we have to do to satisfy an increasing perceived need for detailed accounting, regardless of how unrealistic the results are. But I feel I should at least try to make the case for a developing broader, more meaningful approach for "valuing" my scientific efforts. In the final analysis, I thought expressing these concerns was more valuable than labouring over a flawed set of forms.
 
Description University of Plymouth 
Organisation University of Plymouth
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution One of 4 partners in the PICCOLO overall Grant. St Andrews is responsible for providing the animal platform data.
Collaborator Contribution Each provides an important specialization to this very broad environmental study on the biogeochemical cycle in the Weddell Sea.
Impact Multidisciplinary. physical and biological oceanography; climate modelling; Antarctic; Biology of marine mammals.
Start Year 2017
 
Title SMRU Instrumentation CTD-SRDLs 
Description The basic software design and protocols for CTD-SRDLs were published in Animal Biotelemetry. The software routines for data sampling and processing that are implemented on-board telemetry devices (tags) called Conductivity-Temperature-Depth Satellite Relay Data Loggers (CTD-SRDLs) enable the simultaneous collection of biological and in-situ environmental data by animal-platforms over periods of weeks to months, despite severe energy and bandwidth limitations imposed by their relatively small size. This extended operational lifetime is made possible by the use of software protocols on-board the tags that manage sensors, data collection, storage, compression and transmission to ensure that the most useful data are sent at appropriate resolution while minimizing redundancy. 
Type Of Technology Software 
Year Produced 2015 
Impact While tag software is tailored to the particular species under study and the questions being addressed with a given field deployment, the philosophy behind Sea Mammal Research Unit Instrumentation Group (SMRU-IG) software protocols is to adopt a general set of principles to achieve the best results within the energy and bandwidth constraints. Here, we discuss these and review the general protocol that is used to simultaneously collect information on geographical movements, diving behaviour and in-situ oceanographic information from marine mammals.This should ahelp other developers to develop ocean platforms of ocean observing. 
URL http://animalbiotelemetry.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s40317-015-0053-8
 
Description Animal oceanographic platforms for the-scientist.com 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Interview for an article for The Scientist magazine about the research and its particular value in difficult-to-access areas like the Antarctic.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://www.the-scientist.com/
 
Description Atila Urbancic, UCL student. Interview for student magazine at UCL 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact feature article about your work on the use of marine mammals for oceaonographic research purposes
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Hannah Waters Interview for Vice Motherboard "The internet of elephant seals" 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact Story for on-line publication. Motherboard is an online magazine and video channel dedicated to the intersection of technology, science and humans. Launched by VICE in 2009,
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL http://motherboard.vice.com/read/the-internet-of-elephant-seals
 
Description Interview with magazine journalist about biologging in general and oceaninic wind observations from soaring birds 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Interview with Tess Mackey for Earth Magazine on Biologging
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL https://www.earthmagazine.org/
 
Description Interviews fot article: Short on Ocean Data, Scientists Turn to Seals for Help By Andrew Freedman 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Story about the value of animal platforms to ocean observation.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://www.climatecentral.org/news/desperately-in-need-of-ocean-data-scientists-turn-to-seals-for-he...
 
Description Louise Murray Engineering and Technology magazine 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Quotes
"The current and future melt rate of polar glaciers and ice sheets will have long term effects on sea global levels. The fate of land-based ice is strongly affected by the floating ice shelves that hem them in, restraining their movements. The integrity of these shelves is largely determined by heat reaching them from warmer deep water flowing in over the continental shelf and deeper water driven by oceanographic processes. The Pine Island Glacier in West Antarctica drains an area 2/3 that of the entire UK and may contribute 3.5-10mm to global sea level rise in the next 20 years. It has been chosen for intensive monitoring involving all the normal tools in the physical oceanographer's toolbox.
In January 2014 the British Antarctic survey ship the James Clarke Ross visited the area, deploying standard CTDs and stationary moorings which have to be retrieved in later years to recover the detailed fixed point data they record on currents, temperatures and depth. Similar data can be made while on a cruise, but troubles with icing on antennas and cables can make the instrumentation difficult to deploy and recover. Robotic gliders can be deployed to scout the sub ice topography and ride the currents but can only do so when a mothership is nearby. Ships visit the area only infrequently and cruises are very costly. Biologists joined the oceanographers and glaciologists on this cruise to tag seals with devices that provide ocean data, much like those collected directly by the ship-based oceanographers. The elephant and Weddell seals can record depth, temperature and salinity profiles during their normal deep diving activities, and don't stop when the ship leaves. In mid June 2014, the animal's tags were still transmitting data during the dark polar winter. 'The animals keep on working long after the ship has had to leave, and will forage naturally into areas that the captain would just not risk on a ship, particularly one that is not an icebreaker,' says SMRU's Fedak, who endured freezing conditions to put the tags on the 500 kilo seals who routinely dive to 800 metres. 'The tagged data doesn't replace conventional oceanographic instrumentation, but it is another useful tool for exploring the ice covered polar regions in particular.'
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL https://eandt.theiet.org/content/articles/2014/07/tracking-wildlife-how-scientists-monitor-endangere...
 
Description NERC 50th anniversary display on RV Discovery, London 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact NERC 50th anniversary display on-board Discovery. 7-9 October, 2015, Presented posters and slides about NERC funded projects including ocean2ice, SAVEX, SEaOS among others
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Radio 4 Today show MEOP animal platform data web site going live. Press release. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact The MEOP web site was formally launched on 1 June. The press office of the University of St Andrews and the press offices of all of the MEOP partners released stories picked up my the International media. These were picked up directly or indirectly bu hundreds of broadcast, print and on-line outlets. I did 4 broadcast Interviews on the morning of the release including BBC Radio4 Today show STV News, Agence France-Presse, Radio Scotland as well as numerous phone interviews..
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Sarah Conner BBC discussion of new "Ocean" series. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact This was a lengthy discussion with a BBC representative seeking stories that would be on interest to a proposed new BBC "Blue Planet" type program. I provided information of our NERC funded projects and information on contacts for groups who might provide opportunities for the BBC to get involved with future fieldwork that might provide filming opportunities..
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Science Discovery Day 2016 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact This is an annual event which runs close to National Science and Engineering Week every year, and the target audience is anyone with an interest in science, but particularly families. We typically have about 100 (!) volunteers and 500+ visitors throughout the day, which runs from 10:00 until 16:00 in the Physics & Astronomy building. Activities on offer range from short talks to longer talks, hands-on activities, static displays and interactive exhibits and demonstrations
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL https://synergy.st-andrews.ac.uk/biooutreach/2016/03/
 
Description Series of interviews and emails with Chris Benjamin for Science Friday 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact an article about "weather seals" for Science Friday's blog (http://www.sciencefriday.com/blogs/#page/posts/1), which posts entertaining stories on science. I learned from the Met Office that some seals, with your help, are making a significant contribution to meteorological science.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL https://sciencefriday.com/articles/seals-deep-dive-for-ocean-data/
 
Description Times Newspaper article 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Feature article in the Times: 24/8/2016 Seals help track down the cold hard facts
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/seals-help-scientists-track-down-the-cold-hard-facts-jsrfq666k