Organization: National Science Foundation (NSF)

Research Title: Joint Global Ocean Flux Studies (JGOFS)

Funding Level (millions of dollars):

FY94 15.4
FY95 16.8
FY96 19.4

Committee on Environment and Natural Resources (CENR) Component:
(a) Subcommittee: Global Change Subcommittee (100%) NSTC Committee on Fundamental Science
(b) Environmental Issue: Climate Change(60%); Natural Variability (20%); Large-scale Changes in Ocean Ecosystems (20%)
(c) Research Activity: System Structure and Function: Understand (100%)

Organizational Component:
Ocean Sciences Division
NSF, Ocean Sciences Research Section
OCE/NSF, Room 725
4201 Wilson Blvd.
Arlington, VA 22230

Point of Contact:
Neil Anderson
Phone: 703-306-1589

Research Goals:
To determine and understand on a global scale the processes controlling the time- varying fluxes of carbon and associated biogenic elements in the ocean, and to evaluate the related exchanges with the atmosphere, sea floor and continental boundaries. To develop a capacity to predict on a global scale the response of oceanic biogeochemical processes to anthropogenic perturbations, in particular those related to climate change.

Research Description:
The Program elements consist of time-series stations, process studies, a global survey of ocean CO 2 chemistry, data management and modeling. Each year some 40% of the fossil fuel CO 2 added to the atmosphere is transferred to the sea, and the imprint of this signal now provides a significant perturbation of ocean chemistry. Policy makers are concerned with regulating the build up of atmospheric CO 2, and need accurate information on current status and future trends. Models accounting for this process typically use a simple abiological ocean, and the fossil fuel signal appears in such models as written on a blank, or constant background. The ocean contains large time-varying gradients of the natural cycle on which the fossil fuel signal is superimposed. JGOFS experiments are designed to observe and constrain this natural cycle so that the changes of man are truly discernible. In the future it is quite possible that climatic change can perturb this natural cycle, forcing further changes in the CO 2 system, and affecting life processes over 70% of the earth's surface. JGOFS seeks to attain national and international consensus and scientific understanding of these issues. The potential role of increased atmospheric CO 2 in influencing the marine animal populations will be addressed by the linking of JGOFS and GLOBEC. In a similar linkage, the interaction of the ocean and continental margins will be realized through coordination with LOICZ. Two major process studies, both multi- agency and multi-national, have been executed, two time-series stations, are in operation, and approximately one third of the global survey goals have already been met. A research satellite dedicated to the program is scheduled for a 1995 launch.

Program Interfaces:
The U.S. JGOFS Program grew out of the recommendations of a 1984 National Academy of Sciences workshop. It is a major and leading component of the international program JGOFS, established three years later, which now numbers more than 30 nations among its participants, and is a "Core Project" of the IGBP. National and international partners include related global change programs which cooperate with JGOFS (i.e., WOCE, GLOBEC, TOGA and IGAC and their U.S. equivalents). In addition, NOAA's Global Change Program and NASA's Ocean Biogeochemistry Program are integral components of the U.S. JGOFS. Beneficiaries include the scientific community, at large, who need a better description of the ocean's role in the global carbon cycle and policy makers who rely on this community for advice.

Program Milestones:
(1) Completion of analysis of data from the Equatorial Pacific carbon flux field program by the end of 1995; (2) completion of the 14-month field international field campaign on the Arabian Sea monsoonal flux regime and (3) continued planning for 1997 implementation of the Southern ocean flux field program.

Policy Payoffs:
The ocean is a major sink for carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, through surface primary production, and ultimate burial in sediments. Yet there is still major uncertainty regarding the absolute magnitude and its relation to terrestrial uptake. Models suggest uptake varies by season and region. Accurately quantifying this variability observationally will provide the needed input for predictive climate models. Only then can reliable projections be made regarding the extent and geographical variability of future global warming, and national mitigation policies implemented with full knowledge of the economic costs vs. payoffs.