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November 6th, 2006

First ship-borne measurements of ozone fluxes to the ocean

Detlev Helmig, Jacques Huber and other members of INSTAAR's Atmospheric Resarch Lab have worked with colleagues to obtain the first ship-borne direct measurements of ozone fluxes to the ocean. Ozone is a greenhouse gas that can warm the earth's climate by absorbing heat energy from the earth, then releasing it into the atmosphere.

Jacques Hueber starts up the mast that holds the air intake of the chemiluminescence instrument during the TexAQS campaign.

While scientists have learned a great deal about how ozone is created and destroyed in the atmosphere, there are still many missing pieces of the puzzle, especially for the oceans. The research team spent several years developing an ozone + NO chemiluminescence instrument that allows continuous ozone flux measurement by the eddy correlation technique from a sampling tower on the bow of a ship. The instrument was deployed on NOAA's research vessel Ron Brown in collaboration with scientists from NOAA's Earth System Research Laboratory. Ozone flux data were obtained for a total of 7 weeks in 2006, covering more than 1000 miles in ocean surface in the Gulf of Mexico and off the coast of Chile. The new data will improve understanding of the basic physical processes at work and how they relate to feedbacks between atmospheric ozone and climate change. The team also hopes to develop a simplified representation of those processes that can be incorporated into global climate models.

This research is a collaboration between four institutes and supported by the U.S. National Science Foundation.