The Southern Ocean Network of Acoustics (SONA)

Start date
1 August, 2013
End date
31 July, 2016

The Southern Ocean Network of Acoustics (SONA) represents a group of scientific institutes and industrial partners who have united to measure an under-sampled component of the ecosystem – the mid-trophic level –  to agree common standards and protocols for data collection and processing and with a view to provide that data on an open access basis.

SONA will use bio-acoustics to monitor mid-trophic organisms at large spatial scales annually along transits to Antarctic research bases and fisheries sites. It will unite multi-national calibrated acoustic data from both research and fisheries vessels into a common accessible database. This data will inform on ecosystem based fisheries management, marine planning and monitoring impacts of climate change.

Ultimately the project will input data and knowledge to international bodies such as the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) and international programmes such as Integrating Climate and Ecosystem Dynamics (ICED) through the SENTINEL programme and the Southern Ocean Observing System (SOOS) and provide a road map for a global acoustic database of the mid-trophic level.

SONA has two strategic objectives that are designed to provide a data framework and sharing procedure that will address three scientific objectives.

Strategic objectives:

1.    Lead, coordinate and support the Antarctic scientific community in generating an open access database of acoustic observations of the mid-trophic level.

  • To maintain and develop coordination and communication between the different science and national programmes within SONA.
  • To determine and adopt calibration and acoustic data collection and processing protocols to ensure high quality common data collection.
  • To enable the implementation of the South Atlantic Science, South Atlantic Opportunistic and Southern Ocean Baseline Acoustic databases.
  • To develop the SONA data discovery and data access website and determine open-access procedures for the databases.
  • To actively expand the network of partners and supporters in terms of geographic representation and expertise.

2.    To implement a self-sustaining long-term acoustic observing strategy framed within the international observing and modelling communities.

  • To support and organise an international workshop that will advance our knowledge of the status of the ecosystem of the South Atlantic sector of the Antarctic, focussing on the mid-trophic level.
  • To create an atlas of mid-trophic level distribution in the Southern Ocean with associated qualification of uncertainties.
  • To support and organise an international workshop that will advance our knowledge of the status of the Southern Ocean ecosystem, focussing on the mid-trophic level
  • To coordinate activities leading to high impact outputs that include publication of the SOBA atlas, and peer-reviewed literature outputs from the workshops.
  • To liaise with international programmes such as SOOS and AntaBIF for the long-term stewardship and funding of the databases.
  • To interact with the ICED (Integrating Climate and Ecosystems Dynamics) community to integrate mid-trophic level measurements into ecosystem models in order to address issues pertaining to Southern Ocean food-web structure and scenarios of change that will influence the IPCC process.

Scientific objectives:

  • Determine a baseline and establish methods to determine long-term trends in the distribution of mid-trophic level organisms in the South Atlantic part of the Southern Ocean.
  • Determine a baseline and establish methods to determine long-term trends in the circumpolar distribution of mid-trophic level organisms in the Southern Ocean.
  • Provide and advise on a mid-trophic level component to the Southern Ocean ecosystem to the scientific community (ICED and CCAMLR) for integration into models concerning biogeochemical processes and ecosystem based fisheries management.
Avatar photo

Sophie Fielding

Zooplankton Ecologist

Ecosystems team


Institute/Company Partner/Contacts Geographic sector of Southern Ocean
 AAD Australian Antarctic Division (AAD) [Australia] Martin Cox Indian/Pacific
 BAS British Antarctic Survey (BAS) [UK] Sophie Fielding, Alex Tate Atlantic
 CSIRO_Grad_RGB_hr Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) [Australia] Rudy Kloser, Tim Ryan Indian/Pacific
 IRD Institut de Recherche pour le développement (IRD) [France] Patrice Brehmer, Nolwenn Behagle Indian
 IMR Institute of Marine Research (IMR) [Norway] Georg Skaret, Rolf Korneliussen Atlantic
 IMOS Intergated Marine Observing System (IMOS) [Australia] Rudy Kloser, Tim Ryan Indian/Pacific
 NIWA National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) [New Zealand] Richard O’Driscoll, Adam Dunford Pacific
 NOAA National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries Service [USA] Christian Reiss, Tony Cossio Atlantic