Gulf of Mexico and East Coast Carbon Cruise

July 27, 2007

Chris Fairall of the NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory, is collaborating with researchers at the University of Colorado and Columbia University to perform research on direct measurements of air-sea gas transfer forcing and measurements of CO2 and ozone flux by eddy correlation. These measurements will be taken as part of the Gulf of Mexico and East Coast Carbon Cruise (GEOMECC) aboard the NOAA ship RONALD H. BROWN. The cruise will operate in the Gulf of Mexico and Eastern Coast of the U.S. starting in Galveston, TX on July 10, and ending in Boston, MA on August 4, and is a comprehensive survey of inorganic carbon, nutrients and other biogeochemical parameters.

Satellite measurement of sea surface temperature with cruise track.
Credit: NOAA
Satellite measurement of sea surface temperature with cruise track.

The GEOMECC research cruise is being implemented in support of the North American Carbon Program (NACP) and is supported by the NOAA/OAR and the NOAA GCC (Global Carbon Cycle) programs. The major objective is the determination of air-sea carbon dioxide fluxes in North American coastal regions. The NOAA Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory (AOML) is the lead institution for the cruise. Nine U.S. universities are also participating.

Satellite measurement of chlorophyll with cruise track.
Credit: NOAA
Satellite measurement of chlorophyll with cruise track.

The global carbon budget is a key factor in the rate of increase of CO2 in the atmosphere and subsequent effects on the Earth's temperature. The oceans are estimated to take up about 30% of the carbon emitted by fossil fuel burning, but the processes that control that uptake are still poorly understood. Air-sea gas transfer is a critical component in the overall budget. The coastal oceans are hypothesized to be more intense consumers of atmospheric CO2 but there is little observational evidence to support this. This study will increase our understanding of the controls of air-sea fluxes of atmospheric trace gases in particular that of carbon dioxide (CO2).

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