FAPESP - Satellite estimates of marine net community production in the South Atlantic from Sentinel-3.

Lead Research Organisation: Plymouth Marine Laboratory
Department Name: Remote Sensing Group

Abstract

Atmospheric CO2 has risen from 280 micro-atmospheres during preindustrial times to 370 micro-atmospheres today. This is predicted to double over the next 100 years if anthropogenic emissions of CO2 continue at their current rate. The microscopic marine algae (the phytoplankton), are able to fix CO2 through photosynthesis and can therefore reduce atmospheric CO2 by drawing it down into the ocean. Photosynthesis involves a series of enzymatic controlled reactions that start with capturing light energy and finish with fixing CO2 to build phytoplankton cells. Some of the fixed carbon is lost
through respiration. Marine bacteria, the microscopic animals known as the zooplankton and phytoplankton themselves during the night time respire. The extent to which phytoplankton photosynthesize and fix carbon and the bacteria-zoophytoplankton (or marine plankton) community respires carbon controls whether CO2 is drawn down from the atmosphere to the ocean or is released to the atmosphere from the ocean. The overall objective of this proposal is to improve our understanding of how the marine plankton community in the South Atlantic and the coast of Brazil potentially regulate the atmospheric CO2 concentration. Phytoplankton carbon fixation can be monitored from space using satellite sensors. A new satellite sensor, that has the capability to do this, will be launched by the European Space Agency in autumn 2015. We will use data from this new satellite to study this phenomena in collaboration with a Brazilian Research Institute. The results will benefit both UK and Brazilian research on climate change.
The RCUK-FAPESP Lead Agency Agreement is being applied by the applicants

Planned Impact

Who will benefit from this research?
The Atlantic Ocean is affected by climate change through changing circulation patterns and the variability and extent of water column mixing and stratification. These factors impact phytoplankton primary production and marine community respiration, which in turn affect the air-sea exchange of CO2 and the export and storage of carbon in the ocean. This proposal aims to initially deliver exploratory science between two research institutes who are recognized internationally as leaders in remote sensing and biogeochemistry and who will address these questions. The results will provide the foundation to build on a lasting impact that will enhance our understanding of the variability in sources and sinks of CO2 in the South Atlantic. This is of interest to government and non-governmental organizations and members of the public, internationally. This research will feed into the NERC mission on Managing Environmental Change through the use of new technology, the development of satellite products and the processing and synthesis of large data sets and to assess the role that phytoplankton play in mitigating climate change. This research will benefit the wider scientific community: Firstly the European Space Agency and the wider satellite oceanography community will benefit from the products that will be developed. The project will also benefit ecosystem
modelers working on prediction of marine biogeochemistry. The research has the potential to benefit projects such as Future Earth which aims to link studies on climate change with policy-makers so that rapid action can be implemented to mitigate the risks associated with a global rise in CO2. The project will also be of value to monitoring agencies involved in the monitoring and protection of marine ecosystems, and tasked with assessing the impact of climate change in maritime territories and the capacity for these regions to store CO2. The research will also be of benefit to the general public, who, through visits to aquaria, museums and public lectures and radio, television, newspaper and magazine articles have an interest in climate change and how it affects the marine environment.

How will they benefit from this research?
The project is of interest to government and non-governmental organizations and the general public as it will enhance our understanding of the role that play phytoplankton in mitigate climate change. These organizations will benefit from the proposed assessment of the South Atlantic Ocean and Brazilian coastal zone to absorb or release CO2. The academic impact of this research will be through collection of new data in a sparsely sampled region of the Atlantic Ocean and the development and validation of new satellite models. The Copernicus mission aims to will provide satellite data to improve the management of the environment, understand and mitigate the effects of climate change. Since the proposed project addresses climate issues in the marine environment and will develop novel satellite products, the project is of direct relevance to the GMES mission. Monitoring agencies will also benefit from the satellite products that will be developed as they will enhance their capability of monitoring the carbon storage capacity of coastal and open ocean environments. The satellite images of net community production generated through this project will be invaluable to marine modelers to validate ecosystem models that predict future climate change scenarios. The images potentially also provide an ideal data grid for data assimilation for modelers involved in the dynamic response marine ecosystem structure to environmental variability. The research will impact society by providing evidence based research for policy on climate change. The project will aid IMBER's Memorandum of Understanding and will potentially feed into the IPCC.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description • An ocean colour satellite model was developed for the South Atlantic.
• The satellite model is based on a power law between net community production, Primary Production and Sea Surface Temperature.
• A ~20 year satellite time series was constructed using this model which showed that the South Atlantic is CO2 source during boreal spring and summer and a CO2 sink during boreal autumn and winter.
• Variations in Net Community Production in south Atlantic were anti-correlated with the Multiple ENSO Index.
Exploitation Route The impact of this work is to demonstrate when and where and under what the conditions the South Atlantic and Brazil coast is acting as a CO2 sink or source to the atmosphere. This enhances our understanding of the role of the South Atlantic in climate change feedback and highlights the area as an essential ecosystem service in regulating climate change.
Sectors Environment

 
Description The impact of this work is to demonstrate when and where and under what the conditions the South Atlantic and Brazil coast is acting as a CO2 sink or source to the atmosphere. This enhances our understanding of the role of the South Atlantic in climate change feedback and highlights the area as an essential ecosystem service in regulating climate change.
First Year Of Impact 2018
Sector Environment
 
Description Atlantic Meridional Transect Ocean Flux from Satellite Campaign (AMT4OceanSatFlux)
Amount € 450,000 (EUR)
Organisation European Space Agency 
Sector Public
Country France
Start 11/2019 
End 04/2021
 
Description Atlantic Meridional Transect Ocean Flux from Satellite Campaign (AMT4OceanSatFlux)
Amount € 300,533 (EUR)
Organisation European Space Agency 
Sector Public
Country France
Start 11/2018 
End 04/2020
 
Description Development of OSPAR satellite phytoplankton production as an ecological indicator (HBDSEG),
Amount £27,000 (GBP)
Organisation Department For Environment, Food And Rural Affairs (DEFRA) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 10/2018 
End 03/2019
 
Description NERC-FAPESP SemSAS Workshop on Net community and primary production techniques from in situ measurements and remote sensing algorithms 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact NERC-FAPESP SemSAS Workshop on Net community and primary production techniques from in situ measurements and remote sensing algorithms, Sao Paulo, Brazil, 18-30 April 2018. 13 lectures; 6 practical lessons.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description SemSAS Final Workshop 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact SemSAS Final Workshop PML, 26-30 Nov 2018 attended by Brazilian and UK scientists.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018