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SO-CHIC is a highly ambitious project with the aim to unlock understanding of some of the key Southern Ocean processes, which represent the main limitation of the current generation of climate models in their way to represent past and future global heat and carbon cycles. The project proposes to tackle this significant gap in our understanding of the global climate by bringing together old and new observations, along with new specific modelling efforts developed in the different groups within Europe.

Specific objectives:

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    To initiate a sustained monitoring of budgets of heat and carbon in the Southern Ocean, by quantifying their fluxes at the air-sea-ice interface and estimating interannual variability of heat and carbon storage in the Southern Ocean.
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    To improve understanding of the spatial distribution and variability of heat and carbon exchanges between the atmosphere and the deep ocean, focusing on the dynamics of the ocean mixed-layer, its relation to sea ice distribution, and on assessing what has caused the opening of the open-ocean Weddell Polynya in 2016 and 2017 (i.e. a large-scale ice-free area within closed sea-ice cover), more than 40 years after its previous occurrence.
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    To improve understanding of the formation and export of bottom waters in the Bottom Boundary Layer, which ventilate the world’s abyssal oceans, and to propose new strategies to represent such key processes, which are major shortcomings of current state of the art climate models.
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    To identify critical sensitivities in the Southern Ocean climate system that must be correctly represented in models in order to significantly reduce uncertainties in future projections of oceanic heat and carbon content.
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    To enable free and open access to all data and to maximise impact on the climate report (IPCC), climate services, and climate-model groups.