2016-2017 Science Planning Summaries
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2016-2017 USAP Field Season
Project Detail

Project Title

Collaborative Research: Autonomous Sampling of Southern Ocean Mixing (AUSSOM)

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Event Number:

Program Manager:
Mr. Eric Itsweire

ASC POC/Implementer:
Bruce Felix / Chelsea Wegner

Principal Investigator

Dr. Louis NMI St. Laurent

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
Department of Physical Oceanography
Woods Hole, Massachusetts

Project Web Site:


Supporting Stations: ARSV Laurence M. Gould
Research Locations: Drake Passage


The Southern Ocean is sparsely sampled in key physical parameters relevant to our understanding of the large-scale circulation known as the Meridional Overturning Circulation (MOC). The MOC is a fundamental component of the climate system that connects the oceans and atmosphere. It is responsible for the transport of heat from low to high latitudes and for the transport of atmospheric carbon into the deep ocean. This study seeks to better understand the spatial distribution of mixing rates that drive the MOC in this region, especially in the currently under-sampled surface boundary layer (upper 1000 meters). To enable this study, the research team will launch a constellation of autonomous platforms that will complete a three to four month transect from Cape Horn to the Ocean Observatories Initiative (OOI) Argentine Basin array, between the Sub Antarctic and Polar Fronts. This constellation includes a Liquid Robotics Wave Glider SV3, two Sloccum gliders, and four surface drifters. This dataset will eliminate the fair-weather bias of shipboard measurements and will fill a gap in understanding of the upper ocean in this region. In addition, it will inform large-scale modeling studies of the climate system.

Field Season Overview

During a 10 day expedition, researchers will transit to a location in the Polar Front where they will deploy four drifters, two Teledyne Webb Slocum gliders, and one Liquid Robotics wave glider platform. They will stay in close proximity to the vehicles for six days to monitor their behavior and take corrective action if a problem occurs. During the expedition, they will also deploy several ARGO profiling floats while underway.

Deploying Team Members

  • Sophia Merrifield (Co-PI)
  • Louis St. Laurent (PI)