Multidisciplinary Investigations of the Southern Ocean (MISO): Linking physics, biogeochemistry, plankton, aerosols, clouds and climate

MISO will characterise the properties of aerosols, clouds, radiation, and precipitation over the Southern Ocean south of Australia and investigate how they are shaped by interactions between the ocean, atmosphere and biosphere. Repeat observations will be used to discover how and why the region is changing, and the consequences of Southern Ocean change for climate, biogeochemical cycles, biological productivity, and the future of the Antarctic Ice Sheet. MISO seeks new insights into the processes controlling the availability of iron and other trace elements and their role in regulating productivity in the Southern Ocean and the production of marine organic aerosols that can drive cloud nucleation. The observations and insights gained from the voyage will be used to develop, test, and implement new parameterisations for models used for weather forecasts and climate projections. 

The research strategy has been developed in collaboration with the Bureau of Meteorology to ensure alignment with the Bureau’s Research and Development Plan 2020-2030. In particular, the research is targeted to address the Bureau’s strategic focus on Antarctic and the Southern Ocean and the key priority Towards an Earth System Numerical Prediction Capability – Ocean-Atmosphere Interactions.

Science questions to be addressed:

  1. What processes and interactions account for the unique properties of the atmosphere over the Southern Ocean and how can they be better represented in models to reduce large biases in clouds and radiation?
  2. How do biogenic sources influence the aerosol, cloud, precipitation, and radiation properties of the Southern Ocean atmosphere and how can they be parameterised in models?
  3. How much heat, momentum, and carbon are exchanged across the air-sea interface, how is the exchange influenced by surface waves, and how can these interactions be better represented in models?
  4. How and why is the ocean inventory of heat and carbon evolving in time and what are the impacts on seal level rise and ocean acidification?
  5. What physical and biogeochemical processes control primary productivity, carbon export, and production of biogenic precursors?
  6. How is the Southern Ocean changing near Antarctica and what are the implications for the stability of the Antarctic Ice Sheet and the formation of Antarctic Bottom Water?

Platform: RV Investigator

Location: I9S Oceanographic repeat line

Timing: January – February 2023


  • Alain Protat (alain.protat<@>bom.gov.au)
  • Steve Rintoul (steve.rintoul<@>csiro.au)