Oceans and Climate - Current Projects

A Trans‐Atlantic Assessment and deep‐water ecosystem‐based spatial management plan for Europe (ATLAS) - ATLAS takes a comprehensive approach to living marine resources in the North Atlantic, investigating interconnections between ocean circulation, surface production, and the functioning, biological richness and socioeconomic importance of Atlantic ecosystems. Work at Liverpool will focus on food resources available to deep-sea ecosystems. This holistic view of the project, led by Professor Murray Roberts at Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, will underpin the science‐led policies governments and businesses need to ensure ecosystem preservation. ATLAS activities will focus on waters 200‐ 2000 m deep where the greatest gaps in our understanding lie and certain populations and ecosystems are known to be under pressure. This focus will provide international policy makers with the best data, tools, and understanding needed for sound adaptive management of the deep ocean as patterns of marine resource exploitation change.
PI: Prof. George Wolff

COMICS: Controls over Ocean Mesopelagic Interior Carbon Storage. - COMICS addresses the biogeochemistry of the ocean’s mesopelagic (100-1000m) layer or ‘twilight zone’, a stratum inhabited by organisms which play a crucial role in regulating our climate by remineralising and storing carbon (C).
PI: Prof. George Wolff 

RidgeMix: A nutrient and carbon pump over mid-ocean ridges. - There is an ongoing debate in ocean sciences as to how biological growth over the mid latitude ocean is sustained. The total nutrient requirement is greater than the supply of nutrients. RidgeMix, a NERC responsive mode project, proposes to test a new view: tides passing over the mid-Atlantic ridge enhance turbulence and mixing. This mixing provides nutrients, which is transported along density surfaces into the winter mixed layer. When this layer shallows and warms in spring, the nutrients are then available to the phytoplankton. To test this view, we are conducting observational studies over the mid-Atlantic ridge to measure nutrients and turbulence, as well as deploying a novel long-term moored array of instruments on the ridge. A 2nd component of RidgeMix uses computer models of circulation in the Atlantic to explore the wider implications of the observations.
PI: Prof. Jonathan Sharples, Co-PIs Dr. Claire Mahaffey and Prof. Ric Williams 

How does ocean warming and steric sea level rise depend on carbon emissions? - There is widespread concern about how climate is responding to the on going rise in atmospheric carbon dioxide from carbon emissions and land use changes. This project will investigate how increased atmospheric carbon dioxide causes the atmosphere to warm, how the ocean absorbs and circulates this heat and the impact of a warming ocean on steric sea level. The climate warming and steric sea level rise will be investigated using a combination of the theory and Earth System models of intermediate complexity. This will allow a wide parameter space to be explored for a range of emission scenarios, much broader than that usually employed within IPCC assessments for the next 100 years. The study has the potential to provide accessible bounds for steric sea level rise, relevant for policy makers interested in different energy policies, and a link to end users is provided via the collaboration with the Hadley Centre.
PI: Prof. Ric Williams, co-PI Prof. Chris Hughes

CaNDyFloSS: Carbon and Nutrient Dynamics and Fluxes over Shelf Systems: - CaNDyFloSS is the pelagic part of a large multi-institutional research programme, Shelf Sea Biogeochemistry, which is co-funded by NERC and Defra. The programme takes a holistic approach to the cycling of nutrients and carbon and the controls on primary and secondary production in UK and European Shelf sea. The goal is to increase understanding of these processes and their role in wider biogeochemical cycles, including the role that shelf seas play in the export of carbon to the deep ocean. By linking to a parallel modelling programme, we also aim to improve predictive marine biogeochemical and ecosystem models over a range of scales.
For more information about the programme, please see: http://www.uk-ssb.org
PI: Prof. Jonathan Sharples, co-PIs: Dr. Claire Mahaffey, Prof. George Wolff 

UK-OSNAP: UK-Overturning in the Subpolar North Atlantic Program. - OSNAP is an international program designed to provide a continuous record of the full-water column, trans-basin fluxes of heat, mass and freshwater in the subpolar North Atlantic. The OSNAP observing system consists of two legs: one extending from southern Labrador to the southwestern tip of Greenland across the mouth of the Labrador Sea (OSNAP West), and the second from the southeastern tip of Greenland to Scotland (OSNAP East). For more information, please see: http://www.o-snap.org
PI: Prof. Ric Williams 

Weighing the Ocean: - How much water is entering the oceans? Knowledge of mass exchange between the continents and the oceans is fundamental to understanding and interpreting sea level rise. An independent method of measuring the mass change is to observe the change in pressure at the bottom of the ocean. The mass component of water entering the ocean spreads quickly worldwide, thus increasing bottom pressure everywhere. This proposal will test the hypothesis that bottom pressure measurements can provide a useful measure of the mass entering the ocean.
PI: Prof. Chris Hughes 

FASTNET - Fluxes Across the Sloping Topography of the North East Atlantic. - The FASTNEt consortium, led by colleagues at the Scottish Association for Marine Sciences, is a 4-year physics research programme which aims to construct a new paradigm on ocean/shelf exchange using novel observations and model techniques to resolve the key seasonal, interannual and regional variation in physical processes that occur at the shelf edge.
See: http://www.sams.ac.uk/fastnet
PIs: Prof. Jonathan Sharples and Prof. Ric Williams. 

GEOTRACES is an international programme dedicated to studying the distributions and cycling of trace elements and isotopes in the ocean. It focuses on elements that are micronutrients (e.g. Fe and Zn), tracers of modern oceanic processes (e.g. Al and Ra), significantly impacted by human activity (e.g. Pb and Hg) and used as proxies to reconstruct the past (e.g. Th and 13C). GEOTRACES compiles and releases quality controlled basin scale datasets for use by the wider oceanographic community.
Dr. Alessandro Tagliabue is co-chair, Data Management Committee and member of the Scientific Steering Committee.
See: www.geotraces.org 

SCOR working group 139: Organic Ligands—A Key Control on Trace Metal Biogeochemistry in the Ocean. - This working group's aim is to improve scientists’ understanding of the role of organic metal-binding ligands in oceanic biogeochemistry through an interdisciplinary collaboration of members comprising trace metal biogeochemists, organic geochemists, and biogeochemical modelers.
Full member: Dr. Alessandro Tagliabue
See: http://neon.otago.ac.nz/research/scor/ 

SCOR working group 145: Modelling Chemical Speciation in Seawater to Meet 21st Century Needs. - This working group's aim is to document the current status of models concerned with the chemistry of ocean acidification and micronutrient trace metals in seawater towards producing a community tool suitable for wide range of applications in oceanography research and teaching.
Full member: Dr. Alessandro Tagliabue
See: http://neon.otago.ac.nz/research/scor145/ 

SCOR WG 147: COMPONUT: Towards comparability of global oceanic nutrient data. - This working group’s aim is to improve the quality of nutrient data collected globally so that changes in nutrient concentrations in time and space can be accurately and reliably detected. This aim will be achieved by encouraging ocean scientists to engage with international calibration exercises and commit to the use of reference materials for nutrient analysis.
Full member: Dr. Claire Mahaffey