Organization: Department of Energy (DOE)

Research Title: Ocean Research

Funding Level (millions of dollars):

FY94 12.1
FY95 11.5
FY96 11.5

Committee on Environment and Natural Resources (CENR) Component:
(a) Subcommittee: Global Change Research Subcommittee (100%) Water Resources and Coastal and Marine Environments Subcommittee (contributing)
(b) Environmental Issue: Climate Change (50%), Other-Ocean Ecosystems (30%). Other-Ocean Climate Modeling (20%)
(c) Research Activity: System Structure and Function: Observations (10%), Understanding (70%). Predictions (20%)

Organizational Component:
Environmental Sciences Division
Office of Health and Environmental Research
Office of Energy Research, ER-74
U.S. Department of Energy
Washington, DC 20585

Point of Contact:
Curtis R. Olsen
Phone: 301-903-5329
E-Mail: curtis.olsen@oer.doe.gov

Research Goals:
Improve our understanding of ocean-atmosphere-climate interactions and the global carbon cycle, with major emphasis on measuring and modeling physical and chemical processes within the deep ocean and on quantifying biological and biogeochemical processes within the coastal ocean.

Research Description:
The DOE has traditionally supported long-term interdisciplinary studies on the structure and function of ocean systems as part of its concern for sustainable development and the dispersal and fate of energy-related materials (including CO 2) in the marine environment. This program supports molecular to global scale studies, and has three coordinated components aimed at improving the treatment of heat and CO 2 flux in linked ocean-atmosphere models, defining oceanic sources and sinks in the global carbon cycle, and quantifying the biogeochemical mechanisms and processes by which carbon is assimilated, transported and transformed in the ocean.

A global description of the oceanic carbonate system to sea-truth ocean- atmosphere gas-exchange and carbon-cycle models. (20%): University and national- laboratory scientists, under DOE sponsorship, are making CO 2 and carbonate system measurements along World Ocean Circulation Experiment (WOCE) hydrographic lines as a component of the Joint Global Ocean Flux Study (JGOFS). To ensure consistency of the data obtained by many investigators over the life of the WOCE and JGOFS programs, DOE has initiated an effort to standardize shipboard CO 2 analyses, and has provided certified reference materials to U.S., and international participants.

Development of advanced instrumentation, new molecular biological techniques, and mathematical models for measuring the ocean's physical, chemical, and biological state, for obtaining high frequency in-situ measurements of the environmental and biological factors affecting carbon fluxes, and for predicting changes in the CO 2 content of the ocean and atmosphere that may result from fossil fuel combustion. (20%): The DOE seeks to improve model simulations of deep convection in ocean circulation and to develop models needed to test the sensitivity of the carbon cycle to seasonal variability, biogeochemical processes, and feedbacks in the system. In related research, DOE is developing advanced sensors for measuring physical, chemical, biological and optical properties of the ocean to provide sea-truth for satellite observations.

An integrated multidisciplinary field experiment to assess the sources, sinks, and exchange of carbon and other biogenic elements at the land/ocean interface and to develop primary product algorithms from remotely sensed variables for the coastal ocean. (60%): The DOE will utilize moored instrumentation, ship sampling, and remote sensing to measure watermass movements; spatial and temporal concentrations of chemical species and particles; biological productivity; pigment characterizations; zooplankton grazing and bacterial respiration; ecological dynamics; and biogeochemical fluxes of organic particles, nutrients, and dissolved organic carbon between estuarine systems, the shelf, and the interior ocean near Cape Hatteras, NC.

Program Interfaces:
The oceanic CO 2 measurements and model development are DOE's contribution to the Joint Global Ocean Flux Study (JGOFS) and are being conducted in collaboration with the WOCE program. Standardization of shipboard CO 2 analyses is coordinated with JGOFS and NOAA. Feasibility studies on satellite detection of air-sea gas exchange and primary productivity in coastal waters are joint efforts with NASA. The DOE coastal effort is the major U.S. integrated multidisciplinary research program for understanding the ocean margin's role in the global carbon cycle, and is strongly linked with the JGOFS Program because there is compelling evidence that as much as 30%-50% of the total primary productivity of the global ocean occurs along the ocean's margins. In addition, DOE's coastal effort is interacting with the IGBP's LOICZ Program and several EPA, MMS, NOAA, ONR, and NSF programs concerned with quantifying the processes that affect the transport and fate of water, carbon, nutrients, biota, sediments, and pollutants in changing coastal environments.

Program Milestones:
1995: DOE will conduct shipboard measurements of the CO 2 system in the Indian Ocean on WOCE hydrographic lines. 1996: Fully operational field experimental phase to quantify the role of the coastal ocean in the global flux of carbon. 1997: Incorporate ocean carbon measurements into assessments of ocean-atmosphere interaction and global carbon cycle models.

Policy Payoffs:
The CO 2 measurements and WOCE hydrographic data will provide critical information for calibrating ocean-atmosphere interactions and carbon-cycle models, and is important for determining how the ocean will respond to climate change on decadal to centennial time scales. Quantitative information on the flux and fate of CO 2 and other energy-related material at the land/ocean interface is important for the IPCC and other integrated assessments of sources and sinks in the global carbon cycle and dispersal and fate of contaminates in the coastal environment. In addition, quantitative information on coastal processes underpins policy decisions on resource management in changing coastal areas.