Southern Ocean Observing System (SOOS) Symposium

POGO provided support for the Southern Ocean Observing System (SOOS) Symposium “Southern Ocean in a changing world”, held in Hobart, Australia from the 14 to the 18 of August 2023.

The funding from POGO was used to cover travel and subsistence for early-career scientists from developing countries to attend the Symposium.


Scientific rationale, societal benefits and policy relevance

The Southern Ocean Observing System (SOOS) has the mission to facilitate the sustained collection and delivery of essential observations of the Southern Ocean to all global stakeholders, through the design, advocacy, and implementation of cost-effective observing and data delivery systems. SOOS has been operating since 2011, and has built community networks, focussed task groups, and tools to support collaboration and data discovery (with a network of over 40 countries, 450 institutions and 200 programs). Yet, over these 11 years SOOS has never conducted a large, international symposium, instead focussing on smaller focused meetings and workshops. SOOS is now planning a weeklong, multi-session international symposium to be held in Hobart, Australia, in late August – early September 2023. This symposium aims to re-engage the community across the whole Southern Ocean observations value-chain post COVID. The symposium will improve linkages across the community including enhancing coordination and collaboration between nations and Southern Ocean regions, international and national observing initiatives, disciplines, and key stakeholders across all steps in the observational pathway (e.g., technological, logistical, scientific, data management and policy stakeholders). The symposium will gather 300 leading researchers and data managers to discuss the current observing system, the status of this system, its gaps, and the next steps and opportunities needed for addressing these gaps. It will include a mixture of plenary presentations, panel discussions, parallel sessions and workshops in a hybrid format to further the SOOS mission to create a comprehensive, integrated and cohesive observing system that is readily accessible to provide a foundation for enabling the international scientific community to advance our understanding of the Southern Ocean and for policy and decision makers to address critical societal challenges. One of these pillars of this symposium will discussing new observing technologies and systems (e.g., autonomous and unmanned observing platforms) specifically by connecting scientific communities with engineering and technical communities which to date have been largely on an ad-hoc basis. In addition, these sessions will address how these new and emerging observing technologies can be harmonised and integrated with existing observing technologies and systems.

Global context

The Southern Ocean is disproportionally important in the Earth System, through its roll in connecting the Earth’s oceans basins, and impacting climatic, biogeochemical and ecological systems. The understanding of ongoing changes in the Southern Ocean and our ability to project future changes are reliant on sustained observations, and hence the need for a coordinated approach to designing and implementing sustained, integrated observing systems for the delivery of data, data products and knowledge to all stakeholders. SOOS is governed by the Scientific Committee of Antarctic Research (SCAR) and the Scientific Committee of Oceanic Research (SCOR). The SOOS International Project Office is sponsored and hosted by a partnership between the University of Tasmania’s Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) and the Tasmanian State Government. SOOS also currently has several international operating sponsors including Antarctic New Zealand, Swedish Polar Research Secretariat, University of Cape Town and the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey Marmara Research Centre (TUBITAK MAM) Polar Research Institute. The timing of this symposium is significant in the current global context with the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development underway, latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report highlighting the significant impact that climate change has, and will continue to have, on ecosystems and society, and new environmental management strategies being implemented by key policy stakeholders (e.g., Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources, CCAMLR and the Antarctic Treaty Committee for Environmental Protection). The Southern Ocean is changing in response to climate change and variability, but a coordinated observing system is required to monitor, understand and predict how these changes impact the global system. Therefore, it is critical to have an effective Southern Ocean observing system to meet the goals of the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development and to provide much needed information for future IPCC and other climate reports. This symposium will provide significant improvements to meeting the mission of SOOS and providing enhanced Southern Ocean observations required for global priorities.

Relevance to POGO and fit with POGO’s Strategy

The SOOS Symposium brings together national and international institutions, programs and initiatives with an interest in Southern Ocean observations. These include institutions from developed and developing Antarctic and Southern Ocean nations. It facilitates and enhances the advocacy, design and delivery of a comprehensive Southern Ocean observing system to all stakeholders, and a critical component of a comprehensive global ocean observing system. The symposium improves linkages between technology, science, data management and delivery, policy and decision makers for all. It provides opportunities to learn, share and network across a series of plenary presentations, panel discussions, forums, parallel sessions and workshops including opportunities for the training of early career researchers and researchers from developing programs. Core to SOOS and to this symposium are ensuring observations and the data produced by these observations are findable, accessible, interoperable and reusable (FAIR) to all.

Specifically, the symposium aimed to:

  • Connect stakeholders across the entire Southern Ocean observations value-chain to improve linkages and innovation e.g., between engineers and scientists, scientists and data managers, scientists and policy to lead the innovation and development of new opportunities, collaborations and coordination required to deliver the crucial components of a Southern Ocean observing system.
  • This symposium will incorporate a mixture of plenary presentations, panel discussions, parallel sessions and workshops which will provide several opportunities for attendees to further develop key skills, capabilities and capacities to deliver a circumpolar, coordinated Southern Ocean observing system. These will include workshops on SOOS’s key products and how researchers can improve the findability, accessibility, interoperability and reusability (FAIR) of their data to make ocean observations available on-line to all.
  • Specific sessions on linking between science and policy, and how the Southern Ocean is delivering the global UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development will be included in the symposium to ensure the observations from the Southern Ocean are delivering to benefit society.

Status: Complete Project

Year: 2023

Project website

Members involved

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Partners involved

Project Participants


  • Dr Alyce Hancock, Southern Ocean Observing System, Australia


  • Terry Bailey, University of Tasmania, Australia
  • Prof. Eileen Hofmann, Old Dominion University & SOOS, USA/international
  • Dr Mike Williams, National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) & SOOS, New Zealand / International program
  • Dr Sian Henley, University of Edinburgh & SOOS, UK / International program
  • Dr Sebastien Moreau, Norwegian Polar Institute & SOOS, Norway / International program
  • Prof. Deneb Karentz, University of San Francisco & Scientific Committee of Antarctic Research (SCAR), USA / International program
  • Dr Steve Parker, Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR), Australia / International secretariat
  • Dr Jilda Caccavo, Institut Pierre-Simon Laplace (IPSL), France
  • Dr Irene Schloss, Instituto Antárctico Argentino, Argentina
  • Steve Diggs, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, USA
  • Assoc. Prof. Wolfgang Rack, University of Canterbury, New Zealand
  • Dr Sarat Chandra Tripathy, National Centre for Polar and Ocean Research, India
  • Dr Parli Bhaskar, National Centre for Polar and Ocean Research, India
  • Andreas Marouchos, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), Australia
  • Dr Alessandro Silvano, University of Southampton, UK
  • Assoc. Prof. Delphine Lannuzel, Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania, Australia
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