Southern OceaN optimal Approach To Assess the carbon state, variability and climatic drivers (SONATA)

Lead Research Organisation: University of East Anglia
Department Name: Tyndall Centre

Abstract

The Southern Ocean (SO) is the most exciting and extreme region of the world ocean, with the strongest winds, coldest temperatures, and most intense storms. It is believed also to be among the largest 'sink' for atmospheric CO2, accounting for about one third of the uptake of CO2 by the global ocean and nearly one tenth of the global emissions of CO2 on average each year. Thus the evolution of the SO carbon sink has the potential to alter the rate and extent of climate change.

In spite of its importance, we don't know the state, variability, or climatic drivers of the contemporary SO carbon sink and there is much controversy over its recent evolution. The climate of the SO has been changing over recent decades: in particular, winds have intensified, (attributed in part to the depletion of stratospheric ozone and in part to increasing temperature gradients arising from climate change), ocean acidification is occurring, and there is a long term decline in krill stocks. These effects take place on top of large natural variability and poorly quantified climatic trends.

SONATA will achieve a step change in our understanding of the contemporary SO carbon sink by delivering new data and new insights, integrating observations from the ocean, from the atmosphere, and model results. We will develop three complementary streams of research, an 'Oceanic', an 'Atmospheric', and a 'Processes and drivers' view, and will bring them together using advanced mathematical frameworks to provide a single assessment with multiple constraints and reduction of uncertainties.

The Oceanic view will use existing and new observations of ocean carbon. We will undertake a new calibration experiment to better assess the large number of pH measurements now being made by about 200 sophisticated profiling floats introduced by the US SOCCOM programme. These have the potential to greatly increase the number of observations that can be used to calculate air-sea CO2 fluxes, but only if adequately calibrated. In addition we will develop and use a new technique to construct estimates of the seasonal and temporal evolution of the air-sea flux, using a model of the upper water column constrained with available hydrographic and carbon-system observations.

The Atmospheric view will collect new atmospheric CO2 data in remote SO locations comprising Halley Station (75S), the Falkland Islands (51S), and aboard the BAS research ship James Clark Ross; new atmospheric O2 data will come from a ship track that repeats a SO transect every 8 weeks, as well as from Halley Station in coastal Antarctica. Using these data and an inverse framework approach, SONATA will provide an independent assessment of the SO carbon sink, which will deliver particularly on the geographic distribution of the changes, with O2 data helping to inform the drivers.

The Processes and drivers view will use two climate-scale carbon models and a series of hindcast simulations to identify the relative contributions of (a) atmospheric CO2 concentration, (b) natural climate variability, (c) climate change, and (d) stratospheric ozone depletion to recent SO carbon trends and variability. Ocean and atmosphere observations, including new data from SONATA and SOCCOM, will be used to optimise the model and validate the results. Idealised forcing with climate models will provide the 'fingerprints' of climatic drivers that are needed to understand the observed patterns of change.

Finally the three streams of research will be integrated using a Bayesian fusion mathematical approach that considers the strengths and weaknesses of each stream of information and minimises the joint uncertainty. The SO ocean carbon sink will be assessed annually in this way. We will then test the added value of including new streams of observations in the future, including from floats, gliders, drifters, Autonomous Surface Vehicles, additional ground-based observations and satellite CO2 data.

Planned Impact

The main beneficiaries outside of the academic community for our project are listed below, along with how they might benefit from SONATA work. What will be done is listed in the Pathways to Impact.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The IPCC assesses the scientific, technical and socio-economic information relevant for the understanding of the risk of human-induced climate change. SONATA will provide key information on the state, variability, and climatic drivers of the contemporary Southern Ocean (SO) carbon sink published in peer-reviewed papers, and therefore suitable for IPCC assessments. Our work will show scientific advances compared to IPCC AR5 (2013) in at least: (1) the quantification of contemporary trends in the SO carbon sink, (2) relative contributions of natural climate variability, longer-term climate change, and stratospheric ozone depletion, (3) the contribution of the SO to the global oceanic carbon sink, and (4) elements of the contribution to the carbon cycle of changes in carbon export production from marine ecosystems. SONATA work will inform both the IPCC special report on Oceans and the Cryosphere (due 2018) and the more comprehensive 6th Assessment Report (scheduled for 2021).

National and international policymakers: National and international policymakers will benefit from results from SONATA to inform policy on climate change, in particular through information on the sensitivity and climatic drivers responsible for contemporary trends in the SO carbon sink. This information is relevant to determine what emissions pathways are realistic for given climate targets, and the risks associated with these pathways. SONATA work will also contribute, eventually, to determining what pathways are no longer viable. We will specifically target policymakers who participate in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and attend the Conference of the Party, as these are the policymakers who detailed and agreed the Paris Agreement on climate change and associated documents, and who will develop and agree future amendments. In the UK, SONATA work will inform decisions on the 5-year UK carbon budgets that are set by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) based on the recommendations of the Committee on Climate Change, which considers evidence on how the climate system is evolving.

The media and the public: SONATA researchers are very involved in promoting a good public understanding of science, particularly climate change and the carbon cycle. We have a proven track record of frequent media contact, and in engaging in public science events such as NERC's recent "Into the Blue" showcase in Manchester, the annual Norwich Science Festival, and hosting a BBC film crew at Halley Station. The work of SONATA will serve as a basis for supporting active discussions on what to do about climate change, and how the Earth is responding to it, using, for example, the very high visibility provided by the naming of the submarine "Boaty McBoatface", which has sparked imagination surrounding SO exploration. SONATA media relations and public engagement activities will sit alongside other large NERC multi-centre projects led at BAS, such as ORCHESTRA, to ensure a joined-up approach is taken in promoting the role of the SO, what research is taking place and why it really matters to the general public.

Publications

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DeVries T (2019) Decadal trends in the ocean carbon sink. in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

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Friedlingstein P (2020) Global Carbon Budget 2020 in Earth System Science Data

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Friedlingstein P (2021) Global Carbon Budget 2021

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Friedlingstein P (2022) Global Carbon Budget 2021 in Earth System Science Data

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Friedlingstein P (2020) Global Carbon Budget 2020

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Friedlingstein P (2019) Global Carbon Budget 2019 in Earth System Science Data

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Le Quéré C (2018) Global Carbon Budget 2018 in Earth System Science Data

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Le Quéré C (2018) Global Carbon Budget 2017 in Earth System Science Data

 
Description This project is in its final year and the results are now coming together. A comparison and integration of methods show that process carbon cycle models used to assess the Global Carbon Budget and by IPCC underestimate variability on semi-decadal to decadal time-scale in the Southern Ocean. However we find no evidence of a strengthening of the Southern Ocean CO2 sink as has been suggested by others. We are finalising three publications on this award. These cover an assessment of the uncertainties in the estimates based on observations and optimisation of a global carbon cycle model, an assessment of the fingerprints of climate variability and climate change in the Southern Ocean, and the use of independent O2 data to constrain the evolution of the CO2 sink. We will report after the final meeting on the overall results.
Exploitation Route Resolving the underestimation of Southern Ocean CO2 variability by ocean carbon cycle models is one of the cutting-edge challenges faced by the carbon and climate research communities.
Sectors Environment

 
Description The PI has presented the research in broad lines in a TEDx talk (popular presentation) at Warwick University in front of 900 students which was received extremely well. It discussed science and highlighted some research from the Southern Ocean carbon cycle. The presentation is available on the TED web site where it has been viewed 73k times: https://www.ted.com/talks/corinne_le_quere_inside_the_mind_of_a_climate_change_scientist The PI has also presented some results at the Queens lecture in Berlin invited by the British Council in front of a varied audience of 1000. The PI has presented at the Game Changers seminar series of the International Space Science Institute. The project has also been presented at scientific meetings, and is providing insights into the Global Carbon Budget annual update for the past three years. SONATA results helped to show that process ocean carbon models greatly underestimate variability in the Southern Ocean.
First Year Of Impact 2018
Sector Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Environment
Impact Types Societal

 
Description Citation in IPCC AR6 WGII
Geographic Reach Multiple continents/international 
Policy Influence Type Citation in other policy documents
URL https://report.ipcc.ch/ar6wg2/pdf/IPCC_AR6_WGII_FinalDraft_Chapter03.pdf
 
Description Citation in IPCC AR6 WGII
Geographic Reach Multiple continents/international 
Policy Influence Type Citation in other policy documents
URL https://report.ipcc.ch/ar6wg2/pdf/IPCC_AR6_WGII_FinalDraft_Chapter03.pdf
 
Description Climate-Carbon Interactions in the Coming Century
Amount € 8,000,000 (EUR)
Funding ID 821003-2 
Organisation European Commission 
Sector Public
Country European Union (EU)
Start 05/2019 
End 05/2023
 
Description ScienceBrief Carbon Cycle
Amount £14,500 (GBP)
Organisation University of East Anglia 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 04/2018 
End 03/2019
 
Description Collaboration with the Ecole Nationale Suppérieure (ENS) Paris 
Organisation École Normale Supérieure, Paris
Country France 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution I have visited ENS in February 2022 and will be going back in May 2022. I have given a seminar and exchanged with researchers on a daily basis. I have given a policy presentation to two groups of graduate students.
Collaborator Contribution ENS has hosted me and provided insights into the research on marine carbon cycle ongoing in their institutions and among their partners in Paris. They have provided a single office for one month and technical support. They are helping with the organisation of a workshop which will be held at ENS.
Impact ENS has given Corinne Le Quéré the honorary title of Extraordinary Professor for a period of 5 years. As part of this I am welcomed at ENS for 5 weeks per year to foster collaborations with the marine biogeochemistry community. I spent 4 weeks in February 2022, where I engaged with a range of researchers on a daily basis. We planned a workshop at ENS in May 2022 on the topic of modelling marine ecosystems and the carbon cycle.
Start Year 2021
 
Description EGU21 - Towards inferring the variability in oceanic CO2 fluxes at high latitudes using atmospheric O2 observations 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Virtual oral presentation at EGU 2021, Scientific Session, Improved Understanding of Ocean Variability and Climate, Observations and Models.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
URL https://meetingorganizer.copernicus.org/EGU21/EGU21-13682.html
 
Description Green Ocean Workshop (Villefranche-sur-mer) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Green Ocean workshop: New observations and new methods to better constrain marine ecosystems processes in models in the context of a changing climate
Institut de la Mer de Villefranche sur Mer (IMEV), Villefranche-sur-mer, 12-13 February 2020
This workshop brought together theoretical ecologists, modellers and observationalists to explore how we can better use new observations and new methods such as machine learning to improve the representation of ecosystem processes in global ocean biogeochemistry models. The workshop aimed to stimulate ideas by creating new working relationships and reinvigorating existing ones. The ultimate goal is to improve our understanding and predictive capability of the impacts of global changes on the functioning of marine ecosystems this century and to quantify the potential feedbacks on climate change.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
 
Description ISSI Game Changers seminar series 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Game Changers Seminar series of the International Space Science Institute
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
URL https://www.issibern.ch/issi-spotlight/recorded-game-changers-seminars/
 
Description Investigating the role of jellyfish for carbon export using a global OBGM (presented by Rebecca Wright) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Presentation at the Green Ocean Workshop in Villefranche-sur-mer
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
 
Description Invited conference presentation at European Geophysical Union annual meeting 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Invited presentation at the 2018 European Geophysical Union, on Trends and drivers of variability in the Southern Ocean CO2 sink
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Machine Learning and Observations to improve parametrisation in biogeochemical models (presented by Anna Sommer) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Presentation was given at the Green Ocean Workshop in Villefranche-sur-mer.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
 
Description OSM 2022 - Changes in phenology and associated carbon export over the past two decades (presented by Joe Guest) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Virtual poster presentation at OSM 2022
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2022
 
Description OSM 2022 - Estimates of the Southern Ocean carbon sink with enhanced historical wintertime coverage extrapolated from summertime observations (presented by Neill Mackay) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Virtual oral presentation at OSM 2022, Scientific Session, Ocean Biology and Biogeochemistry, Quantifying the Ocean Carbon Sink.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2022
URL https://osm2022.secure-platform.com/a/gallery/rounds/3/details/6812
 
Description OSM 2022 - Fingerprint of climate change on Southern Ocean carbon storage (presented by Rebecca Wright 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Virtual poster presentation at OSM 2022
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2022
 
Description OSM 2022 - Origin and magnitude of interannual variabilities in Southern Ocean air-sea O2 and CO2 fluxes (presented by Nico Mayot) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Virtual oral presentation at OSM22
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2022
URL https://osm2022.secure-platform.com/a/gallery/rounds/3/details/3923
 
Description Press briefing on the Global Carbon Budget 2019 
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 Press briefing at the Science Media Centre on the annual release of the Global Carbon Budget 2019. The estimated reach of this outreach activity exceeds 2 billion people.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.uea.ac.uk/about/-/global-carbon-emissions-increase-but-rate-has-slowed
 
Description Public presentation at the Plymouth Marine Science and Education Foundation (PlyMSEF) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Public presentation on 'The ocean carbon cycle in a changing climate' as part of the Plymouth Marine Science and Education Foundation (PlyMSEF) Silver medal. It was attended by practitioners and members of the public interested in the ocean.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://www.pml.ac.uk/News_and_media/Events/Annual_Marine_Science_Medal_Lecture
 
Description Public science lecture at the Royal Society You and the Planet kick off 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact This was a public discussion on the State of the Planet, which served as the opening event of the Royal Society public debate series You and the Planet.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://royalsociety.org/science-events-and-lectures/2019/10/state-of-the-earth/
 
Description Queens annual lecture delivered in Berlin on behalf of the British Council, with associated press coverage 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Undergraduate students
Results and Impact Invited by the British Council, I gave the 2019 Queens lecture in Berlin in front of about 1500 people. The lecture is recorded and available to view. The title was: "The interactions between climate change and the carbon cycle and the future we choose", where I presented my own research including on the Southern Ocean CO2 sink, and the broader implications for climate change for society.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.britishcouncil.de/en/programmes/science/queens-lecture
 
Description RoSES/ORCHESTRA Annual Science Meeting 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Annual Science Meeting for the larger research group - virtual meeting.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
 
Description RoSES/ORCHRESTRA Workshop 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact RoSES/ORCHESTRA workshop including Synthesis discussion meeting and Modelling workshop
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
 
Description SONATA Workshop - Royal Society 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact SONATA workshop to update team members on the progress of each others research streams and discuss plans for the final year of the project.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
 
Description Shipboard O2 and CO2 measurements (presented by Penelope Pickers) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Online presentation at the SONATA Annual Science meeting on 20th July 2020
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
 
Description TEDx talk 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact TEDx presentation Inside the mind of a climate change scientist. This was broadcasted at the University of Warwick, with 1000 attendants, including undergraduate students and members of the public. The talk featured Southern Ocean research, including carbon cycle and ice core research. It was about engaging the public in understanding climate science and how the climate scientist views her work. It also served to engage the public in dreaming about their environmental future, and taking ownership in making their dream come true.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O6f4Q_ReMxA
 
Description Variability of the Southern Ocean carbon cycle and modelling marine ecosystems 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Seminar series of the collective of marine carbon cycle scientists working in Paris. This was part of a 1-month stay at the Ecole Normale Suppérieure in paris, February 2022.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2022