- Project Dates: October 2005 - October 2009
- Project Leader: Professor Rob Upstill-Goddard
- Staff: Matt Salter (NERC PhD Student)
- Sponsors: Natural Environment Research Council (NERC)
- Partners: University of Exeter; University of Southampton; Plymouth Marine Laboratory; National Oceanography Centre
A Newcastle led international team participated in Atlantic Ocean research cruises to examine processes controlling climate-active trace gas exchange between the atmosphere and the ocean. Such measurements are important for predicting and modelling future climate change. We carried out the first ever open ocean release of an artificial surfactant, so as to quantify the extent to which natural organic slicks produced by plankton and bacteria suppress the air-sea exchange rate of carbon dioxide.
An understanding of the processes that influence the ocean-atmosphere exchange of carbon dioxide and other climate-active gases is important for quantifying global element cycling and for predicting and modeling the extent of future climate change. This requires integrated approaches designed to exploit a suite of state-of-the-art techniques.
This Newcastle-led project assembled an international team of leading experts (UK, Europe, and USA) who participated in two research cruises in the North Atlantic Ocean on board RRS Discovery.
Several important measurements and observations (including sea state, white capping and wave breaking, the role of bubbles and surfactants) were combined with direct estimates of air-sea carbon dioxide and dimethylsulfide fluxes by eddy covariance, all supported by ancillary water column measurements and meteorological data. These measurements and observations were carried all out within an experimental framework in which two gaseous tracers (sulfur hexafluoride and helium-3) were released to surface seawater to derive information on the gas transfer velocity of carbon dioxide.
One of these included the first ever release of an artificial surfactant at sea, with the purpose of quantifying the extent to which natural surface organic slicks produced by phytoplankton and bacteria suppress the air-sea exchange rate of carbon dioxide.