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Project

Atlantic Meridional Transect Ocean Flux from Satellite Campaign (AMT4OceanSatFlux)

Montage of images from cruise fieldwork

Active project

Project start: September 2018  |  Project end: December 2022
Funder: European Space Agency
Principal Investigator: Dr Gavin H. Tilstone
Other participants from PML: Dr Tom Bell, Dr Giorgio Dall'Olmo, Dr Ming-Xi Yang, Dr Peter Land, Dr Robert Brewin, Silvia Pardo
Website: https://amt4oceansatflux.org/Home_en

The AMT4OceanSatFlux project will measure the flux of carbon dioxide (CO2) between the atmosphere and the ocean utilising a state-of-the-art eddy covariance technique along the length of the Atlantic Ocean on board the 28th Atlantic Meridional Transect (AMT) cruise. These measurements will be then used to validate a range of satellite products in order to gain regional and global estimates of gas exchange between the atmosphere and ocean.

The project will also measure surface roughness, sea-surface height, ocean colour and sea surface temperature (SST) at unprecedented spatial and temporal resolutions using Sentinel satellites, combined with data from other satellite missions (NASA, NOAA, JAXA). This will give us a means of achieving global monitoring of the rise in SST, CO2 and variability in the air-sea gas flux of our blue planet.

These measurements are needed for a better understanding how anthropogenic emissions of the greenhouse gas CO2 influence climate and the ocean’s role in the system. To date the oceans have absorbed around 40% of past emissions of CO2, this has a buffering effect on the atmospheric concentration of the gas but is also changing the chemistry of the ocean.

Absorption of CO2 is causing a gradual decrease in the pH of the oceans, a phenomenon called ocean acidification. This is having an adverse effect having on many important marine species such as corals, oysters, crabs and plankton, and due to the unprecedented rate of acidification they may not have time to evolve mechanisms to cope with the changing chemistry of the ocean.

This programme builds upon the work of the AMT4SentinelFRM programme which made reference measurements at sea to calibrate and ensure the quality of data from the Sentinel satellites. This enables us to use the data from the satellites with confidence to address large scale issues and scientific questions on the effects of climate change in the global ocean that have a direct bearing on societal issues that humankind will face in the coming decades.

AMT4OceanSatFlux is funded by the European Space Agency and is led by Plymouth Marine Laboratory, and involves scientists from the University of Southampton, The University of Exeter and the Institut Fran├žais de Recherche pour l’Exploration de la Mar, Plouzane, France (IFREMER).

Impact

Satellite data provide a global overview of oceanic conditions which greatly aids our understanding and management of the global climate. They are vitally important as these data cover vast areas of the ocean including regions that are difficult to access. They also provide a cost effective means of monitoring the oceans at a resolution that cannot be achieved by traditional methods. Data from AMT4OceanSatFlux will feed into climate models to give us a better understanding of the role of our oceans in regulating our climate.