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Southern Ocean Carbon Uptake

Project description

Studying the Southern Ocean to predict climatic changes

Within the world’s oceans, the Southern Ocean takes up more CO2 than any other body of water. The Subantarctic Mode Water (SAMW) and Antarctic Intermediate Water (AAIW) contribute to the uptake and storage of anthropogenic gases like CO2. The EU-funded SO-CUP project seeks to identify and quantify the processes that control the amount of inorganic carbon that is subducted with the SAMW/AAIW. It will integrate the use of recent in situ observations from biogeochemical Argo floats and a state-of-the-art data-assimilating, high-resolution coupled biogeochemical–physical ocean model (B-SOSE). By shedding light on the ventilation and carbon uptake processes in the Southern Ocean, the project will help predict their response to ongoing and future climatic changes.

Objective

The Southern Ocean (SO) is a disproportionately important region, relative to its size, for mitigating the consequences of the anthropogenic climate change, being responsible for 43% and 75% of the ocean uptake of anthropogenic CO2 and heat, respectively. The Subantarctic Mode Water (SAMW) and Antarctic Intermediate Waters (AAIW) effect the bulk of this uptake. Yet the dynamical processes that control the formation of these water masses in the thick winter mixed layers to the north of the SubAntarctic Front (SAF), and the associated drawdown of carbon, are not well understood, primarily as a result of the scarcity of data during winter in this remote region. Hence, the present and future evolution of the SO carbon sink remains the subject of vigorous debate. The main goal of the SO-CUP project is to identify and quantify the processes that control the amount of inorganic carbon that is subducted with the SAMW/AAIW. To do so, the work plan integrates the use of recent in situ observations from biogeochemical Argo floats and a state-of-the-art data-assimilating, high-resolution coupled biogeochemical-physical ocean model (B-SOSE). Through analysis of these novel datasets, which allow for unprecedented data coverage of the SO in winter, the SO-CUP project will produce a major step forward toward understanding the ventilation and carbon uptake processes in the SO, and will help to predict their response to ongoing and future climatic changes. This proposal will also enable Dr. Fernández-Castro to decisively broaden his expertise on ocean physics and biogeochemistry, and to gain experience in the state-of-the-art technologies in these disciplines. These new skills and knowledge will propel Dr. Fernández-Castro’s career toward a status of independent scientist with high international visibility. Further, the SO-CUP project will establish new links between the EU and US communities for the investigation of the fundamental role of the SO in the climate system.

Coordinator

UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHAMPTON
Net EU contribution
€ 224 933,76
Address
Highfield
SO17 1BJ Southampton
United Kingdom

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Region
South East (England) Hampshire and Isle of Wight Southampton
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Links
Total cost
€ 224 933,76