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The Southern Ocean Clouds, Radiation and Aerosol Transport Experimental Studies (SOCRATES) proposal

The Southern Ocean Clouds, Radiation and Aerosol Transport Experimental Studies (SOCRATES) proposal
Christian Jakob


Christian Jakob
Centre of Excellence for Climate Systems Science, Monash Uni VIC 3800

Alain Protat
Centre for Australian Weather and Climate, GPO Box 1289, Melbourne VIC 3001

Steve Siems
School of Mathematical Sciences, Monash Uni VIC 3800


A majority of climate models consistently suffer from a relatively large bias in the radiation budget over the Southern Ocean due primarily to a lack of reflected shortwave radiation. This bias limits confidence in climate projections for the region, as well as the neighbouring regions of Antarctica and Australia & New Zealand.

The region is unique given the absence of any significant landmass, which allows for intense boundary layer winds and waves and large concentrations of sea spray. The region is further unique due to a lack of anthropogenic and terrestrial aerosols and emissions. It has been suggested that this pristine environment lacks a ready supply of ice nuclei at modest temperatures, which fundamentally affects the microphysical state of the clouds. For example, satellite observations find that the low and mid-level clouds over the Southern Ocean are dominated by supercooled liquid water, at least at cloud-top, at temperatures down to -30° C.

The persistent bias in the climate models together with a fundamental lack of understanding of the clouds and chemistry are driving the call for an international field project nominally entitled SOCRATES (Southern Ocean Clouds, Radiation and Aerosol Transport Experimental Studies). Such a field experiment would require dedicated field observations involving ground-based sites, research aircraft and ships. Initial discussions have begun across North America and Europe with a tentative time frame of the summer of 2016/17 or 2017/18. In Australia initial plans are underway to submit a proposal for ship-time aboard the R/V Investigator.

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Key dates

  • 11th June 2013
    Registrations close
  • 21st June 2013
    Registrations at the AAD open for staff
  • 24th June 2013
    Registrations at the venue open
  • 24th June 2013
    Conference commences
  • 26th June 2013
    Conference concludes

More key dates…

This page was last modified on 23 September 2013.