Earth Science News  





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

Study area (circled), with Western hemisphere wind speeds during March. Hotter colors denote higher winds. Credit: Courtesy NASA/Scatterometer Climatology of Ocean Winds.
by Staff Writers
New York NY (SPX) Feb 27, 2008
Scientists will embark this week 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.

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

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."

Community
Email This Article
Comment On This Article

Related Links
The Earth Institute at Columbia University
Climate Science News - Modeling, Mitigation Adaptation




Tempur-Pedic Mattress Comparison

Newsletters :: SpaceDaily Express :: SpaceWar Express :: TerraDaily Express :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News
Compost Can Turn Agricultural Soils Into A Carbon Sink
Los Angeles CA (SPX) Feb 26, 2008
Applying organic fertilizers, such as those resulting from composting, to agricultural land could increase the amount of carbon stored in these soils and contribute significantly to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, according to new research published in a special issue of Waste Management and Research.

.
Get Our Free Newsletters Via Email
  



  • Death toll from China snow storms hits 129: report
  • Kenya, UN warn crisis risks incubating new AIDS infections
  • Philippine floods and landslides toll rises to 26: officials
  • Monitoring Asia-Pacific Disasters From Space

  • Voyage To Southern Ocean Aims To Study Air-Sea Fluxes Of Greenhouse Gases
  • Destruction Of Sumatran Forests Driving Global Climate Change And Species Extinction
  • EU official heads to US to discuss greenhouse gas deal
  • US ready for 'binding' reductions of greenhouse gases: official

  • Falcon Investigates Pollution From The Dakar Metropolis Into Desert Dust Layers
  • NASA Extends Mission For Ball Aerospace-Built ICESat
  • CIRA Scientist Among Authors Of Book Celebrating 50 Years Of Earth Observations From Space
  • Indonesia To Develop New EO Satellite

  • US high court to review 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill case
  • Big Oil Embraces Wind Power
  • New US Biofuels Target Poses Risks And Rewards For Fuel Marketers And Refiners
  • Coal-Fired Power Industry Now In Similiar Position To Nuclear Power In 1970s

  • Death of woman confirmed bird flu related: China health ministry
  • Yellow fever outbreak reported in Paraguay
  • Woman dies in southern China, tested positive for bird flu
  • Woman seriously ill with suspected bird flu in China

  • MBL Creates Portal for Online Macroscope To Explore Life's Mysteries
  • Life May Have Begun In The Hot Or The Cold
  • Two Oxygenation Events In Ancient Oceans Sparked Spread Of Complex Life
  • Attack Of The Invasive Garden Ants

  • China's listed firms forced to submit environmental data: report
  • Polluting Chinese bosses face steep salary cuts: report
  • Polluted Prey Causes Wild Birds To Change Their Tune
  • Turtle Studies Suggest Health Risks From Environmental Contaminants

  • Large Portion Of Brain Switches Off And Lets Creativity Flow In Jazz Improvisations
  • In Japan, laughter to be measured by 'aH'
  • Ancient Out Of Africa Migration Left Stamp On European Genetic Diversity
  • Human Culture Subject To Natural Selection

  • The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2007 - SpaceDaily.AFP and UPI Wire Stories are copyright Agence France-Presse and United Press International. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by SpaceDaily on any Web page published or hosted by SpaceDaily. Privacy Statement