Southern Ocean Regional Center

Center Head

Center Team

  • Ms Laura Hehemann
  • Mr Simon Dreutter
  • Mr Sacha Viquerat
  • Mr Fynn Warnke

Center Role

The Southern Ocean Regional Center acts as the regional focus for data compilation and co-ordination activities for Seabed 2030 in the Southern Ocean region.

The Center covers an area of almost 52.7 million km2 of ocean south of 50°S. It is responsible for producing a seafloor map for an area reaching from the southern tip of Chile and Argentina to the coast of Antarctica, covering the Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC) and the Drake Passage, as well as Antarctic seas including the Weddell Sea and the Ross Sea.

The Center is hosted at the Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI), Bremerhaven, Germany and is one of Seabed 2030's network of regional and global centers.

Center Overview

The Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI) is a member of the Helmholtz Association (HGF) and focuses on polar and marine research in a variety of disciplines including biology, oceanography, geology, geochemistry and geophysics, thus allowing multidisciplinary approaches to scientific goals.

Since the center was founded at the AWI, three new members of staff have been brought on, bringing new expertise in hydrography, GIS and geo-statistics. Additional capability is provided by the bathymetry working group in the geophysical department of the AWI, with which the Regional Center is closely interlaced.

In addition to hosting the Regional Center, the AWI also chairs the International Bathymetric Chart of the Southern Ocean (IBCSO), creating valuable synergies between Seabed 2030 and complementary regional mapping initiatives within GEBCO. Furthermore, working closely with GEBCO and the other Regional Centers enables us to standardize workflows and metadata on a global level to better foster and facilitate data-sharing initiatives.

The Southern Ocean Regional Center is interacting and engaging with people and organisations active in and around Antarctica and in the Southern Ocean, and the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research has been particularly supportive of Seabed 2030 and the activities of the Regional Center. Further connections have been developed with national projects and industries active in the Southern Ocean, such as fisheries and tour operations.

With its ice-covered seas around Antarctica, the Southern Ocean is a remote area with harsh working conditions. Nevertheless, since Seabed 2030 was launched, numerous new bathymetric data sets have been provided to the center, helping to shed light on the seafloor topography of the shelf slopes and in the deep sea in this area. One example is that better maps of troughs crossing the continental shelves help to model the pathway of warm ocean water to the ice shelves thus affecting the Antarctic response to global warming.