The Southern Ocean FINEstructure (SOFINE) project studies the 'frictional' processes that slow down the strongest current on Earth (the Antarctic Circumpolar Current, ACC) and drive the extension of the ocean's overturning circulation across the Southern Ocean.
The experiment focuses on a major ACC meander (around the northern Kerguelen Plateau, southern Indian Ocean), which features as an area of intensified 'friction' and cross-ACC flow in most present theories and models of the Southern Ocean circulation. Specifically, in SOFINE we set out to explore two important oceanographic questions:
What are the relative roles of oceanic processes associated with large-scale (many hundreds to thousands of kilometres) or small-scale (a few kilometres) sea floor topography in slowing down the ACC and driving north-south flow across the Southern Ocean?
What oceanic processes control the rate at which water masses are transformed and fluxed across the major meanders of the ACC, and how do they do it?
To tackle these questions, we set off on a 52-day expedition in 2008 to the Kerguelen Plateau region and make a variety of novel and standard oceanographic measurements.
The RRS James Cook in Cape Town (Courtesy of Jennifer Graham)
are a group of French islands
in the southern Indian Ocean, situated at 49°15'S, 69°35'E. The map below shows a map of the world with the different continents, in which The Kerguelen Islands
are shown in the red square.
Map of the world with the different continents in blue.
The red square indicates the position of the Kerguelen Island.
Bathymetry of Kerguelen Plateau