Welcome aboard FOCUS!


The FOCUS voyage on CSIRO research vessel Investigator sailed from Hobart on 15 November 2023.

FOCUS stands for:
Fine-scale Observations of the (Antarctic Circumpolar) Current Under SWOT.

The Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC) is the strongest on Earth and acts as a barrier to help keep the icy continent frozen. This voyage to the ACC will investigate powerful eddies that leak more heat into the polar seas.

While the ACC has always leaked heat at these hotspots, the quest is to understand how this process will change as the ocean warms, winds accelerate and shift poleward, and more meltwater freshens the Southern Ocean – and what this means for melting ice and sea level rise.

SWOT is the Surface Water and Ocean Topography satellite, jointly developed and recently launched by NASA and the French space agency Centre National d’Études Spatiales (CNES).

While the ship measures the properties of the ocean inside the current, the satellite will measure the height of the ocean surface in an unprecedented high resolution from space.

The images and stories here are from the scientists and media team on board.


The science team and support staff on this voyage includes 34 participants from the Australian Antarctic Program Partnership (University of Tasmania), CSIRO, Marine National Facility, the Australian National University, Bureau of Meteorology, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Caltech and Monash University Climate Change Communication Research Hub.

This research is supported by a grant of sea time on RV Investigator from the CSIRO Marine National Facility which is supported by the Australian Government’s National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS).


Meet Hydrochem: our floating lab

By AAPP | 06/12/2023

At the heart of this science ship is an advanced analytical lab for measuring the vital signs of the ocean

For the sheer excitement of being here

By AAPP | 05/12/2023

PhD student Andie Hay offers her thoughts about life on the high seas – and a poem

Living the oceanographic dream

By AAPP | 04/12/2023

PhD student Polina Sholeninova about her experience living and working at sea on the FOCUS voyage

From big things, little things grow

By AAPP | 30/11/2023

Why are we studying a patch of the Southern Ocean just 100km wide and 200km long so intensively?

How to build a tall mooring

By AAPP | 24/11/2023

Crew and scientists on CSIRO research vessel RV Investigator install an oceanographic ‘weather tower’ in the Antarctic Circumpolar Current

We’re in the zone

By AAPP | 22/11/2023

The FOCUS voyage has now reached our survey area about 850 nautical miles south of Hobart (or 200nm west of Macquarie Island, halfway between Tasmania and Antarctica).

Deep-sea diving probe recovered from Southern Ocean

By AAPP | 22/11/2023

A state-of-the-art robotic float has been recovered from the Southern Ocean, in a first for CSIRO research vessel Investigator.

Voyage to Southern Ocean ‘hotspot’ probes how planet’s strongest current helps melt Antarctic ice

By AAPP | 13/11/2023

Scientists head for the heart of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current to investigate how it leaks warm water into polar seas.

SWOT team zooms in on Southern Ocean from space

By AAPP | 16/12/2022

MEDIA RELEASE: An advanced new satellite to observe water on Earth in unprecedented resolution promises to revolutionise Australian research in the Southern Ocean.