Ocean Systems

What are ocean-atmosphere interactions?

Over 70% of the Earth's surface is covered by ocean. Oceans play a very important role in the health of the atmosphere through critical gas exchange to global air and heat circulation.

For example, oceans play a key role in the carbon cycle by absorbing carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere, and they obviously play a key role in the water cycle by balancing how much water vapor (H2O) is in the atmosphere. Did you know that atmospheric water vapor is one of the most powerful greenhouse gases?

Research Objectives

  • To gain a better understanding of the working relationship between the atmosphere and ocean
  • To identify global changes in the interaction between the atmosphere and ocean
  • To monitor the health of the planet

Why conduct field studies on ocean-atmosphere interactions?

It is of the utmost importance to study the interactions between the ocean and the atmosphere due to the global nature of the oceans. Identifying both global and local changes due to one another can have far-reaching effects, such as predicting major climate changes such as droughts and floods and assessing the health of the planet by studying the carbon dioxide concentrations in both the oceans and atmosphere.

Recent EOL field projects studying ocean systems:

  • SOCRATES 2018: The Southern Ocean Clouds, Radiation, Aerosol Transport Experimental Study (SOCRATES) project is studying cloud development over the Southern Ocean.
  • ORCAS 2016: The O2/N2 Ratio and CO2 Airborne Southern Ocean (ORCAS) project will advance our understanding of the physical and biological controls on the air-sea exchange of O2 and CO2 in the Southern Ocean. 
  • CONTRAST 2014: The CONvective TRansport of Active Species in the Tropics (CONTRAST) study's main scientific objective was to measure the chemistry and transport of reactive chemical species into the tropical Tropopause Transition Layer (TTL) over the Western Pacific warm pool region. 

Do you still have questions about ocean-atmosphere interactions?

If you still have a few more questions about ocean-atmosphere interactions, feel free to ask a scientist! You can find a scientist who specializes in your particular question. Click on his or her name to send the scientist an email, or click on some of the other provided links to learn more about his or her specialty!