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Keywords:

  • IMOS;
  • OceanSITES;
  • SOFS;
  • Southern Ocean;
  • air-sea flux;
  • mooring

[1] The Southern Ocean is a key component of the global climate system: insulating the Antarctic polar region from the subtropics, transferring climate signals throughout the world's oceans and forming the southern component of the global overturning circulation. However, the air-sea fluxes that drive these processes are severely under-observed due to the harsh and remote location. This paucity of reference observations has resulted in large uncertainties in ship-based, numerical weather prediction, satellite and derived flux products. Here, we report observations from the Southern Ocean Flux Station (SOFS); the first successful air-sea flux mooring deployment in this ocean. The mooring was deployed at 47°S, 142°E for March 2010 to March 2011 and returned measurements of near surface meteorological variables and radiative components of the heat exchange. These observations enable the first accurate quantification of the annual cycle of net air-sea heat exchange and wind stress from a Southern Ocean location. They reveal a high degree of variability in the net heat flux with extreme turbulent heat loss events, reaching −470 Wm−2in the daily mean, associated with cold air flowing from higher southern latitudes. The observed annual mean net air-sea heat flux is a small net ocean heat loss of −10 Wm−2, with seasonal extrema of 139 Wm−2 in January and −79 Wm−2in July. The novel observations made with the SOFS mooring provide a key point of reference for addressing the high level of uncertainty that currently exists in Southern Ocean air-sea flux datasets.