School of Natural and Environmental Sciences

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The MILAN (sea-surface MIcroLAyer functioning during the Night) experiment.

Research to explore effects of solar radiation on air-sea gas exchange

Jon Barnes and Philippa Rickard will take part in the MILAN experiment (March 25th to April 9th 2017) in the Wadden Sea, offshore of Wilhelmshaven in northern Germany.

The multidisciplinary MILAN experiment brings together more than 20 international experts. It will explore the impact of diurnal changes in solar radiation on sea surface microlayer (SML) functioning. The SML is only around 0.2 mm in depth, however physical and biogeochemical processes within it can affect air-sea exchange. In particular, processes in the SML modify the exchange rates of trace gases and aerosols with implications for the global climate.

Bacteria and phytoplankton in the SML produce surfactants which suppress the rate of air-sea gas exchange. Solar radiation affects surfactant production and also controls photochemical processing of organic matter. Jon and Philippa will examine the photochemical processing of biologically-derived surfactants. They will also measure gas exchange rates using a bespoke gas exchange tank facility built in Newcastle.

The MILAN experiment will make its results and data openly accessible to the scientific community. It will create an international network of scientists at all career stages with interests in the SML.

Wadden Sea area
Location of the MILAN experiment in the coastal North Sea. The dashed line indicates the approximate area of sampling.

published on: 1 March 2017