A tiny amount of ozone, riding a stiff breeze, slips along the ocean’s surface. Some of the ozone reacts with dissolved organic matter in the water and is absorbed into the sea. The reaction is small and soon over—but it is repeated, all over the world’s oceans, every day. 

A team of scientists on board the research vessel Ronald H. Brown are measuring the amounts of ozone absorbed from the atmosphere into the oceans. 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. 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. Using new instruments they’ve built in labs at their home institutes, our team of researchers are hoping to find out more about ozone fluxes (interchanges) between the atmosphere and the oceans. Because the oceans cover about two-thirds of the earth's surface, they have a large effect on feedbacks between atmospheric ozone and climate change.

The researchers want to accomplish a few things in 2005 and 2006:

  • Measure ozone fluxes over the oceans.
  • Figure out the basic physical processes that drive the ozone fluxes.
  • Develop a simplified representation of those processes that can be incorporated in global climate models.

With this web site, you can follow along with the researchers. What are we doing? How will they build an instrument to measure the tiny amounts of ozone moving between air and sea? What are they discovering at sea and in the lab? Use the tabs above to find out.

The research vessel Ronald H. Brown. The instruments used in this project will be fixed to the bow tower and jackstaff on the foredeck of the ship. Photo by Chris Fairall.

One of the laboratories onboard the research vessel Ronald H. Brown. Photo by Chris Fairall.

This research is a collaboration between four institutes and supported by the U.S. National Science Foundation, Biocomplexity in the Environment - Instrumentation Development for Environmental Activities (IDEA) Program, grant no. 0410058.

Institute of Arctic & Alpine Research NOAA - Environmental Technology Lab Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences Max Planck Institute for Chemistry National Science Foundation