RAGNARoCC: Radiatively active gases from the North Atlantic Region and Climate Change

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

Abstract

Our object is to understand how large, and how variable, are sources and sinks of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere from the North Atlantic. We aim to be able to describe how these have changed in the recent past and how they will change in the future under different climate scenarios. Most effort will be concentrated on carbon dioxide, and we will deliver a comprehensive budgeting of natural and anthropogenic components of the carbon cycle in the North Atlantic and understanding of why the air-sea fluxes of CO2 vary regionally, seasonally and multi-annually. Observations of CH4 and N2O and estimates of their regional fluxes will additionally be made. We, in collaboration with our partner institutions in Europe and the US, will undertake surface measurements of CO2 air-sea fluxes made from networks of voluntary observing ships and at fixed sites. These will be synthesised with observations from hydrographic sections of the interior carbon content. We will thus obtain accurate estimates of the uptake, present storage, and net transport of anthropogenic carbon, and variability in the natural uptake and release of atmospheric CO2 by the N. Atlantic. In parallel with direct estimates made from these observations, forward and inverse models (of both atmospheric and oceanic kinds) of these fluxes will be developed. The main hypotheses are (1) that past uptake and variability of CO2 in the region can be quantified by examination of the deep carbon inventory in the Atlantic, (2) that the present observed variability in CO2 uptake is due to a combination of biological and physical processes that are driven by climatic variations, the main factors being captured by ocean carbon simulations embedded in climate models, and (3) these variations (past, present and future) are due to a combination of variability internal to the climate system and external anthropogenic forcing - in proportions we will determine. Objectives are (1) a template for operational forecasting of the fluxes of GHGs into and out of the N. Atlantic, to be implemented as part of ICOS and in combination with ECMWF (2) an understanding of that sink that can be used to improve projections of how the ocean CO2 sink will change in the future, and (3) a quantitative understanding of how and why Atlantic Ocean uptake of anthropogenic CO2 has changed as a result of climate change over the last 100 years.

Planned Impact

Please See Lead Proposal

Publications

10 25 50

publication icon
Goddijn-Murphy L (2016) A reconciliation of empirical and mechanistic models of the air-sea gas transfer velocity in Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans

publication icon
Land P (2018) Correction of Sensor Saturation Effects in MODIS Oceanic Particulate Inorganic Carbon in IEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing

publication icon
Le Quéré C (2015) Global Carbon Budget 2015 in Earth System Science Data

 
Description We have measured . Along with water-vapour, these are the main greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Our work is mapping the regional distribution , uptake and release of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide in the North Atlantic. A scientific paper has been published describing the increase in surface CO2 (and concomitant acidification) across the Atlantic Ocean over the last 20 years. Further peer-reviewed papers have been published relating to the Surface Ocean CO2 Atlas and Global Carbon Budget.
Exploitation Route We will use the data collected to determine the storage and uptake of anthropogenic carbon dioxide (as well as methane and nitrous oxide) in the North Atlantic Ocean. This is expected to inform governments and policymakers internationally (e.g. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change)
Sectors Education,Environment

 
Description A short video was prepared for public engagement (see Engagement Activities). The Global Carbon Budget to which this project has contributed (see Publications) will form the basis for the next Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Assessment of Greenhouse Gas emissions.
First Year Of Impact 2015
Sector Environment
Impact Types Societal

 
Title New CRDS instrument for greenhouse gases in seawater 
Description A new instrument was developed for the measurement of greenhouse gases (CO2/CH4/N2O) dissolved in seawater. This instrument integrates a cavity ring down spectrometer, showerhead equilibrator and associated electronics, water- and gas-handling hardware and gas standards. The instrument is automated to work in "underway" mode on research vessels. Compared to existing instrumentation, this provides increased sample throughput (data acquisition every 10 seconds compared to hourly) without compromising accuracy and precision. 
Type Of Material Technology assay or reagent 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact The instrument provides increased data coverage which facilitates research into the role of the oceans as sources/sinks of greenhouse gases. 
 
Title DY040 CH4/N2O data 
Description This dataset relates to measurements of methane and nitrous oxide in seawater and air during research cruise DY040 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2018 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact These data will contribute to efforts to constrain the oceanic source of methane and nitrous oxide 
 
Title JR302 CH4/N2O data 
Description This dataset relates to measurements of methane and nitrous oxide in seawater and air during research cruise JR302 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact These data will contribute to efforts to constrain the oceanic source of methane and nitrous oxide 
 
Title JR302 pCO2 data 
Description This dataset relates to measurements of carbon dioxide partial pressure (pCO2) in seawater and air during research cruise JR302 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact This dataset will contribute to the annual Global Carbon Budget. This is an international project which calculates sources and sinks of atmospheric CO2 on an annual basis (see URL below). 
URL http://www.globalcarbonproject.org/
 
Description BBC interview (How Northern European waters soak up carbon dioxide) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact Jonathan Amos (BBC correspondent) interviewed Dr. J.D. Shutler over phone. he then wrote the BBC article "How Northern European waters soak up carbon dioxide". The article described how the seas around the UK take up atmospheric Carbon Dioxide.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-35654938
 
Description EGU 2016 presentation (Kitidis) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact EGU2016-14721 Surface ocean carbon dioxide during the Atlantic Meridional Transect (1995-2013); evidence of change. by Vassilis
Kitidis, Ian Brown, Nicholas Hardman-Mountford, and Nathalie Lefèvre
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description EGU 2016 presentation (Rees) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact EGU2016-16991 N2O and CH4 distribution and fluxes in the North Atlantic Ocean by Andy Rees, Ian Brown, Jamie Shutler, and Ian Ashton
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Online media and social media coverage 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact A press release from the European Space Agency and a related BBC news article resulted in news articles on 11 news websites, 1 blog, 4 twitter feeds and 2 Facebook pages.

ESA press release: http://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Observing_the_Earth/Copernicus/Sentinel-3/Sentinel-3_and_the_ocean_carbon_conundrum
BBC news article: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-35654938
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL https://www.altmetric.com/details/4969088#score
 
Description Public Engagement Video 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact This short video was put together in order to explain the role of the oceans in the cycling of greenhouse gases to the wider public.


The video was formally presented during a discussion forum at the Plymouth Marine Laboratory and stimulated discussions regarding both the science presented in it as well as means of public engagement. We hope that the video will be used widely in other research institutes/HEI as well as schools.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vuu9_PzSgdI