pCO2 data collection on James Clark Ross in support of Autoflux

Lead Research Organisation: Plymouth Marine Laboratory
Department Name: Plymouth Marine Lab

Abstract

It is widely accepted that the activities of mankind are leading to changes in global climate; however, the extent of those changes is far from certain due to the complexity of the climate system and the number of interacting processes involved. A central process is the interaction of incoming solar (shortwave) radiation, and outgoing infra-red (longwave) radiation with the atmosphere and in particular with clouds. Clouds present a large source of variability and uncertainty in the radiative balance due to the variation in size, location, and type of cloud, and also to the strong variation in properties such as reflectivity with changes in the concentration and size distribution of cloud droplets or ice crystals. Marine stratocumulus clouds (extensive sheets of low level clouds) play a major role. The size and number of their cloud droplets depends strongly on the number of aerosol particles available for droplets to form on. Sea-salt aerosol are a major source of such condensation nuclei. The generation of sea-salt aerosol occurs through evaporation of water droplets generated by bubble bursting and spray torn from wave tops by the wind. The size and number of droplets produced, and hence of the aerosol produced, varies greatly with different conditions such as wind speed, wave state, wave breaking, etc. In order to accurately represent marine clouds, and so get the radiation balance correct in climate models, we must first determine how much aerosol and of what size, is generated under any given conditions. There is much uncertainty in this (a factor of 10), particularly for the smallest aerosols which are the most important for climate processes. This project will measure the amount of aerosol at different sizes generated near the surface and transported upwards into the atmosphere, along with the wind speed, wave size and white-capping under a wide range of different conditions. The results will improve our understanding of aerosol generation, and ultimately the way in which clouds are represented within climate models. Another major uncertainty in modelling the future climate is the rate at which CO2 is transferred between the atmosphere and the oceans. CO2 absorbs infra-red radiation; an increase in CO2 in the atmosphere means more infra-red radiation is absorbed, causing a warming of the atmosphere. Although CO2 is absorbed by the oceans as a whole, at different times and places the transfer of CO2 between the atmosphere and ocean can occur in either direction depending upon the local concentrations of the gas in the air and water. The rate of the transfer also depends on the wind speed, sea-state, wave breaking etc. As with aerosol production, there are large uncertainties (about a factor of two in some conditions) in how the rate of transfer varies with different conditions. Direct measurements of the transfer of CO2 between the atmosphere and ocean, along with those of the meteorological and wave conditions, will be used to reduce the uncertainty in the parameterization of CO2 transfer. This will in turn allow improvements to long term climate models. To untangle the influence of all the different parameters that affect gas and aerosol fluxes we need a great deal of data. To obtain this we will use automatic measuring systems on the world's last weather ship which stays at sea all year round in a region which experiences a wide range of wind and wave conditions. We will maintain the measurements for three years. In addition we will have three manned cruises of 4 weeks each where we will deploy a buoy to make detailed measurements of wave breaking and will also fly a video camera from a kite to obtain continuous whitecap data for periods of a few hours or more. These data will allow us to study the process that drive the fluxes in great detail, and they will also be used to verify the less detailed data from the autonomous wave and whitecap systems which will measure continuously for the whole three years.

Publications

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Le Quéré C (2015) Global carbon budget 2014 in Earth System Science Data

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Rees A (2015) 20 Years of the Atlantic Meridional Transect-AMT in Limnology and Oceanography Bulletin

 
Description A fully automated instrument was installed on a British Antarctic Research Ship that travelled between the UK, the Southern Ocean and the Artic for three years. Measurements of the concentrations of carbon dioxide gas both in the atmosphere and in the water were made over this three year period for two reasons.
1. To increase the number of measurements of this gas in remote areas of the oceans where few merchant vessels travel. These data will be used by PML, UK and International scientists to determine how much carbon dioxide the oceans are taking up from the atmosphere.
2. As part of a research project with the University of Leeds and the National Oceanography Centre to determine what controls the rate at which gases transfer between the oceans and the atmosphere.
Exploitation Route Data are in UK and International databases and are used by a range of scientists in determining the uptake of CO2 by the oceans on both decadal and annual basis. Results feed through to the IPCC, policy makers and governments
Sectors Energy,Environment,Government, Democracy and Justice,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology,Transport

 
Description Our measurements are submitted to SOCAT an international database and findings used by us, national and international scientists to assess the ocean uptake of anthropogenic carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Results feed into the IPCC reports and hence to governments and policy makers.
First Year Of Impact 2013
Sector Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Energy,Environment,Transport
Impact Types Societal,Policy & public services

 
Description NERC LTSM
Amount £500,000 (GBP)
Organisation Natural Environment Research Council 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 04/2016 
End 09/2021
 
Title Southern Ocean pCO2 dataset 2010-11 
Description Data on the CO2 content of seawater and air. Collected on RRS James Clark Ross during operations in the Southern Ocean. Data have been processed, quality controlled and submitted to project partners. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2012 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact Data will be used by other groups in publications via the SOCAT database and via BODC 
 
Title Southern Ocean pCO2 dataset 2011-12 
Description Data on the CO2 content of seawater and air. Collected on RRS James Clark Ross during operations in the Southern Ocean. Data have been processed, quality controlled and submitted to project partners. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2012 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact Papers via BODC and SOCAT databases 
 
Title Southern Ocean pCO2 dataset 2012-13 
Description Data on the CO2 content of seawater and air. Collected on RRS James Clark Ross during operations in the Southern Ocean. Data have been processed, quality controlled and submitted to project partners. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2013 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact papers via SOCAT and BODC databases 
 
Title pCO2 data for 2013 season 
Description Underway pCO2 data in air and water from the JCR. Data have also been submitted to SOCAT 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2014 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact papers via SOCAT and ODC databases 
 
Description SOLAS Sumer School 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Sparked questions and discussions, training of the next generation of scientists and policy makers

requests for further information, further discussions, improved links/interactions between UK and scientists from both developed and developing countries
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2009,2011,2013
URL http://www.solas-int.org/summerschool/welcome.html