Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Voyage To Southern Ocean Aims To Study Air-sea Fluxes Of Greenhouse Gases

Date:
February 28, 2008
Source:
Earth Institute at Columbia University
Summary:
Scientists will embark from Punta Arenas, Chile, on the tip of South America, to spend 42 days amid the high winds and waves of the Southern Ocean. Here they hope to make groundbreaking measurements to explain how huge fluxes of climate-affecting gases move between atmosphere and sea, and vice-versa.

Study area (circled), with Western hemisphere wind speeds during March. Hotter colors denote higher winds.
Credit: Courtesy NASA/Scatterometer Climatology of Ocean Winds

Scientists will soon embark from Punta Arenas, Chile, on the tip of South America, to spend 42 days amid the high winds and waves of the Southern Ocean. Here they hope to make groundbreaking measurements to explain how huge fluxes of climate-affecting gases move between atmosphere and sea, and vice-versa.

Related Articles


The cruise, which departs Feb. 28, should provide important information on how the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide moves between the ocean and atmosphere, said the cruise's chief scientist, David Ho of Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. Comprising 30 percent of global seas, "the Southern Ocean is a source of great uncertainty," he said. "So it's potentially important to our understanding of the global system."

Humans put about 6 billion metric tons of CO2 into the air each year, mainly by fossil-fuel burning and deforestation. About a third is thought to be absorbed by oceans, and a third by plants or other components of land. The rest stays in the air--much of the reason why atmospheric CO2 is now building and climate is warming. However, there are huge uncertainties in the calculations--made so far mostly through indirect means--and fluxes seem highly variable from year to year, with some parts of the oceans habitually giving up CO2 while others absorb it. (The Southern Ocean usually absorbs it.)

"Understanding how atmospheric carbon dioxide reacts with these cold surface waters is important for determining how the ocean uptake of carbon dioxide will respond to future climate change," said Christopher Sabine, an oceanographer at the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

About 30 scientists from over a dozen institutions will traverse an area above Antarctica more than 1,000 miles east of Punta Arenas, aboard the 274-foot NOAA ship Ronald Brown. Here high, freezing winds unimpeded by landmasses roar much of the time, and waves can routinely top 30 feet. "The conditions are a little grim, but it's ideal for study," said Ho. He said that higher wind speeds correlate with faster exchange of gases, but there have been few studies aimed at directly measuring these exchanges under real-world conditions.

The scientists say that wind speed itself probably does not drive gas exchange; the drivers are hard-to-observe phenomena driven by the wind, including turbulence and bubbles created by cresting waves. Another factor is the amount of phytoplankton taking CO2 from the water, which is usually measured by color. To figure out what is going on, the crew will dangle arrays of complicated instruments just above the water surface, and in the water column. "That will be a challenge, since the bow will be plunging off those big waves," noted Sabine.

"NASA's ongoing effort to understand the global carbon cycle will benefit from the data this cruise will produce," said Paula Bontempi, manager of NASA's ocean biology and biogeochemistry research program. "NASA's global satellite observations of ocean color will be improved, as we validate what our space-based sensors see with direct measurements taken at sea."

NOAA, NASA and the National Science Foundation are cosponsoring the cruise.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Earth Institute at Columbia University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Earth Institute at Columbia University. "Voyage To Southern Ocean Aims To Study Air-sea Fluxes Of Greenhouse Gases." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 28 February 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/02/080226135414.htm>.
Earth Institute at Columbia University. (2008, February 28). Voyage To Southern Ocean Aims To Study Air-sea Fluxes Of Greenhouse Gases. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 1, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/02/080226135414.htm
Earth Institute at Columbia University. "Voyage To Southern Ocean Aims To Study Air-sea Fluxes Of Greenhouse Gases." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/02/080226135414.htm (accessed April 1, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Earth & Climate News

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Homes Threatened by Washington Landslide

Raw: Homes Threatened by Washington Landslide

AP (Mar. 31, 2015) — The city of Des Moines, Washington says it could be weeks before a landslide that damaged several homes settles, according to KOMO. (March 31) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Models in Masks Highlight Indonesian Environmental Devastation

Models in Masks Highlight Indonesian Environmental Devastation

AFP (Mar. 31, 2015) — Wearing gas masks and designer dresses, models condemn the fashion industry&apos;s role in causing environmental devastation. Duration: 00:40 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
California on Alert Over Surge in Sea Lion Strandings

California on Alert Over Surge in Sea Lion Strandings

AFP (Mar. 31, 2015) — Since the start of the year, thousands of baby sea lions have washed up on beaches along the west coast of the United States. Marine animal care centers are working around the clock to save the stranded creatures. Duration: 02:06 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dutch Architects Show Off 3D House-Building Prowess

Dutch Architects Show Off 3D House-Building Prowess

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Mar. 31, 2015) — Dutch architects are constructing a 3D-printed canal-side home, which they hope will spark an environmental revolution in the house-building industry. Jim Drury reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins