National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration
United States Department of Commerce


FY 2011

A global sea surface carbon observing system: inorganic and organic carbon dynamics in coastal oceans

Borges, A.V., S.R. Alin, F.P. Chavez, P. Vlahos, K.S. Johnson, J.T. Holt, W.M. Balch, N. Bates, R. Brainard, W.-J. Cai, C.T.A. Chen, K. Currie, M. Dai, M. Degrandpre, B. Delille, A. Dickson, W. Evans, R.A. Feely, G.E. Friederich, G.-C. Gong, B. Hales, N. Hardman-Mountford, J. Hendee, J.M. Hernandez-Ayon, M. Hood, E. Huertas, D. Hydes, D. Ianson, E. Krasakopoulou, E. Litt, A. Luchetta, J. Mathis, W.R. McGillis, A. Murata, J. Newton, J. Olafsson, A. Omar, F.F. Perez, C. Sabine, J.E. Salisbury, R. Salm, V.V.S.S. Sarma, B. Schneider, M. Sigler, H. Thomas, D. Turk, D. Vandemark, R. Wanninkhof, and B. Ward

doi: 10.5270/OceanObs09.cwp.07, In Proceedings of the "OceanObs'09: Sustained Ocean Observations and Information for Society" Conference (Vol. 2), Venice, Italy, 21–25 September 2009, Hall, J., D.E. Harrison, and D. Stammer, Eds., ESA Publication WPP-306 (2010)

Coastal environments are an important component of the global carbon cycle, and probably more vulnerable than the open ocean to anthropogenic forcings. Due to strong spatial heterogeneity and temporal variability, carbon flows in coastal environments are poorly constrained. Hence, an integrated, international, and interdisciplinary program of ship-based hydrography, Voluntary Observing Ship (VOS) lines, time-series moorings, floats, gliders, and autonomous surface vessels with sensors for pCO2 and ancillary variables are recommended to better understand present day carbon cycle dynamics, quantify air-sea CO2 fluxes, and determine future long-term trends of CO2 in response to global change forcings (changes in river inputs, in the hydrological cycle, in circulation, sea-ice retreat, expanding oxygen minimum zones, ocean acidification, …) in the coastal oceans. Integration at the international level is also required for data archiving, management, and synthesis that will require multi-scale approaches including the development of biogeochemical models and use of remotely sensed parameters. The total cost of these observational efforts is estimated at about 50 million US dollars per year.

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