Surface Ocean Lower Atmosphere Study

Project Description
SOLAS (Surface Ocean - Lower Atmosphere Study) is an international research initiative that has as its goal:

To achieve quantitative understanding of the key biogeochemical-physical interactions and feedbacks between the ocean and atmosphere, and of how this coupled system affects and is affected by climate and environmental change.

SOLAS research covers all ocean areas including coastal seas and ice-covered regions. One fundamental characteristic of SOLAS is that the research is interdisciplinary in that it involves biology, geochemistry, physics, and mathematical modelling. It also involves another layer of interdependence because each of these disciplines has a marine side and an atmospheric side. The two sides of each discipline need to work together so that SOLAS research can be meaningful and successful. This multi-layered dependence will require a paradigm shift in the arenas of academia and funding, which is more likely to separate disciplines than to combine them.

SOLAS has three scientific foci:

Focus 1: Biogeochemical interactions and feedbacks between ocean and atmosphere

The objective of Focus 1 is to quantify feedback mechanisms involving biogeochemical coupling across the air-sea interface, which can only be achieved by studying the ocean and atmosphere in concert. These couplings include emissions of trace gases and particles and their reactions of importance in atmospheric chemistry and climate, and deposition of nutrients that control marine biological activity and carbon uptake.

Focus 2: Exchange processes at the air-sea interface and the role of transport and transformation in the atmospheric and oceanic boundary layers

The objective of Focus 2 is to develop a quantitative understanding of processes responsible for air-sea exchange of mass, momentum and energy to permit accurate calculation of regional and global fluxes. This requires establishing the dependence of these facial transfer mechanisms on physical, biological and chemical factors within the boundary layers, and the horizontal and vertical transport and transformation processes that regulate these exchanges.

Focus 3: Air-sea flux of carbon dioxide and other long-lived radiatively active gases

The air-sea carbon dioxide flux is a key inter-reservoir exchange within the global carbon cycle. The oceans also play an important role in the global budgets of other long-lived radiatively active gases, including nitrous oxide and to some extent methane. The objective of Focus 3 is to characterise the air-sea flux of these gases and the boundary layer mechanisms that drive them, in order to assess their sensitivity to variations in environmental forcing.

International SOLAS website: http://www.solas-int.org/

SOLAS Project Integration website: http://www.bodc.ac.uk/solas_integration/