Organization: National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

Research Title: Biological Oceanography

Funding Level (millions of dollars):

FY94 8.3
FY95 7.7
FY96 3.7

Committee on Environment and Natural Resources (CENR) Component:
(a) Subcommittee: Global Change Research Subcommittee (100%) Task Group on Observations & Data Management
(b) Environmental Issue: Global change: exploratory research in carbon cycling with a broad focus on deep and coastal ocean environment (65%); Natural variability, including seasonal-to interannual forecasting as well as past and future changes in climate (35%); Ecosystem structure and biodiversity, Water quality, UV effects on marine biota, Atmospheric processes including aerosol concentration, DMS production, and radiative transfer.
(c) Research Activity: System Structure and Function: Understanding (100%)

Organizational Component:
Oceans, Solid Earth and Natural Hazards Branch
Science Division, Office of Mission to Planet Earth
NASA Headquarters
Washington, DC 20546

Point of Contact:
Robert Frouin
Phone: 202-358-0310

Research Goals:
To develop a quantitative understanding of global ocean biogeochemical cycles, including fluxes of elements between the oceans, the atmosphere, and land, as well as an understanding of forces affecting marine environments and climate, through a combination of in situ, modeling, and remote sensing research. This goal includes understanding of processes affecting the global carbon cycle and marine productivity, biodiversity, and water quality in coastal and deep-ocean waters.

Research Description:
The NASA Mission to Planet Earth (MTPE) Ocean Biology Program has four coordinated areas designed to determine the fate of carbon and other nutrients, biodiversity, and water quality, as well as a component designed to improve future observing systems. This program is the leading U.S. research program on applications of ocean color data.

Ocean Productivity. (50%): Global ocean color measurements offer the only global observations of marine plant biomass. Historical data includes global observations with the Coastal Zone Color Scanner (CZCS) and compilation of global in situ observations of biomass, primary production, particle fluxes, and underwater and atmospheric optics. The very high quality SeaWiFS (Sea-viewing Wide Field-of-view Sensor), EOS Color, and MODIS sensors will provide a continuous time series of measurements to study climate variability.

Air/Sea Fluxes. (15%): Measurements of air/sea fluxes are required either the ocean or the atmospheric global/regional climate models. At present, the predictive capability of coupled climate models is limited because they do not give correct air/sea fluxes. The parameters need to determine the global air/sea fluxes are being determined from the space-based observations. Focus is on transfer of carbon and dimethyl-sulfide (DMS) compounds.

Coastal Resource Management. (10%): Research is supported to develop key tools for regional resource management. As resource management requires near- real-time and frequent observations, techniques are being developed to link the observations from different satellites. The color of the coastal ocean has been very difficult to interpret in a useful manner in the past, and this program is developing new technologies and models to help address this situation.

Technology and Algorithm Development. (25%): Continuing emphasis is placed on development of the future instruments, particularly in hyperspectral instruments for in situ, airborne, and satellite platforms. Algorithm research is directed toward understanding turbid waters and turbid atmospheres in order to better retrieve useful information from remote sensing data.

Program Interfaces:
This research program is part of the NASA MTPE program to improve understanding of all physical climate processes. Interfaces include: Committee on Environment and Natural Resources (CENR) Subcommittee on Global Change, Observations Working Group and Data Management Working Group, United States Global Change Research Program - USGCRP, Joint Global Ocean Flux Study - JGOFS, Global Ocean- Atmosphere-Land System - GOALS, International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme - IGBP, International Joint Global Ocean Flux Study - IJGOFS, Land-Ocean Interactions in the Coastal Zone - LOICZ, Global Ocean Euphotic Zone Study - GOEZS, Global Ocean Observing System - GOOS, Earth Observing System - EOS, Earth Observing System Distributed Information System - EOSDIS, Goddard Space Flight Center Distributed Active Archive Center - DAAC, Physical Oceanography Distributed Active Archive Center - PO.DAAC 9. Program Interfaces (a) Development of techniques to obtain estimates of global marine primary production from ocean color data. (b) Development of resource management tools for the coastal ocean. (c) Contributing to the development of global carbon and nutrient flux assessment models.

Policy Payoffs:
Ocean color data sets will help to (a) quantitatively assess global carbon and nutrient fluxes affecting climate variations; (b) improve estimates of ocean circulation and air-sea fluxes; (c) define policies for environmental protection, define resource management strategies (fisheries, pollution, coastal erosion), and define international strategies on emissions control, dumping, and nutrient loading; (d) developing more economic and accurate instruments for routine observations in remote areas; (e) develop quantitative measures of effects of global change in the oceanic environment and input to models of climate variation. The research will have substantial social and economic impact, especially on people living in coastal regions of the world.