PROGRAM TITLE: Ocean Ecological Dynamics, Marine Light Mixed Layer ACTIVITY STREAM: Process Studies, Observe/Data SCIENCE ELEMENT:
Ecological Systems and Dynamics DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE OFFICE OF NAVAL RESEARCH (ONR)SCIENTIFIC MERIT: A goal of this basic research program is to develop a reliable, robust in-situ observing system to quantitatively measure the space/time variability of optical, biological, and physical processes at high latitude ocean sites. Field programs are defined to place fully instrumented deep water surface moorings with full suites of oceanographic and meteorological sensors in dynamic areas of the ocean. State of the art systems capitalizing on the cutting edge ocean engineering techniques and unique ocean optical sensors will be part of this mooring. This system is designed to operate in extreme sea and weather conditions, storing and reporting data via ARGOS. Results from a pilot mooring south of Iceland placed in FY 89 have been applied to a follow on mooring system installed in FY 91. Data from that mooring was used to support high priority Global Change research issues (such as the dynamics of the onset of the Spring phytoplankton bloom) and continues to be a significant contributor to the Joint Global Ocean Flux Studies (JGOFS) initiative. Increased knowledge of the origin and propagation of blue-green light in the ocean will strongly contribute to the DOD Satellite Laser Communication and Non-acoustic ASW programs. Successful workshops to frame this work generated well defined science plans and subsequent significant additions to the science literature in this unique area. This work was conducted primarily in the academic community with close liaison with Navy and other federal partners. STAKEHOLDERS: This research program is closely coordinated with research sponsored by NSF, NOAA, and NASA in support of Global Change programs (JGOFS, GLOBEC). POLICY RELEVANCE: This program deals with the potential role of phytoplankton in regulating the Earth's carbon dioxide concentration, a crucial factor in Global Change relating to greenhouse warming. Currently each year, we dump approximately 6 billion tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels. The ocean's annual production of phytoplankton is estimated at between 44 and 208 billion tons of carbon, equivalent to between 161 and 762 billion tons of carbon dioxide. Thus, if we could increase the amount of phytoplankton in the ocean by somewhere between 1 to 4% we could flush out of the atmosphere the carbon dioxide we now dump into it. PROGRAM CONTACT: Dr. Edward J. Green, ONR Code 323C, 800 N. Quincy Street, Arlington, VA 22217-5660, (703) 696-4591.