The Wave Climate of the Southern Ocean

Qingxiang Liu

Although the Southern Ocean is often viewed as a very remote area, it plays a critical role in global climate. Waves generated in intense Southern Ocean storms propagate across the Indian, Pacific and Atlantic Oceans and define the wave climate for many areas of these oceans. In addition, the wind and wave climate of the Southern Ocean plays an important role in determining the rate of decay of Antarctic glaciers which are an important element in global sea level change. Obviously, for Australia the Southern Ocean play a critical role in many operational activities. Despite this important role, little is known about the wind and wave climate of this vast region. This presentation will bring together a series of unique datasets to provide a comprehensive view of this wind and wave climate. These datasets include: the long duration model reanalysis dataset ERA-I, a 33-year calibrated and validated altimeter dataset and buoy data from four deployments. These buoys have been located at: Macquarie Island (540S), Campbell Island (520S), a site west of South America (550S) and the Southern Ocean Flux Buoy south of Tasmania (460S). Data from these buoy deployments spans a total of approximately 7 years and provide directional spectra in unique long fetch environments. In addition to providing valuable data for model validation, coastal and offshore engineering design and Naval Architecture, these combined datasets provide new insights into air-sea interaction under extremely long fetch conditions. The paper will also use the satellite datasets to investigate changes in wave conditions in recent decades and the role that climate variability plays in such changes. This analysis will examine: long-term trends, annual variability and multi-year oscillations.


Qingxiang Liu was born in 1989. He graduated with a degree in marine science from Ocean University of China, Qingdao, China, in 2011, and received the Ph.D. degree in physical oceanography in 2016 with a thesis dedicated to altimeter measurements of ocean surface winds and waves. In 2017, he joined the Ocean Engineering Centre of the University of Melbourne as a research fellow. His main research interests are related to spectral wave modelling, wave-ice interactions, tropical cyclone and remote sensing of ocean waves.

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