The trajectories of sub-surface floats will offer the first look at deep-water pathways in the North Atlantic.
"This project provides the first opportunity to directly link changes in the intensity of the North Atlantic overturning circulation with the air-sea interaction processes that drive deep water formation," says Johns.
OSNAP will be one of the first projects to make use of the NSF-funded Ocean Observatories Initiative's (OOI) array of moored sensors that will be installed in the Irminger Sea off the southern tip of Greenland in 2014.
The Irminger Sea is one of four planned global observing sites of the OOI program, a networked infrastructure of science-driven sensor systems to measure the physical, chemical, geologic and biological variables in high-latitude and coastal ocean locations, as well as at the sea-floor.
The OSNAP measurement system also complements a joint U.S.-U.K. project called MOCHA-RAPID. MOCHA is primarily funded by NSF; RAPID is funded by the Natural Environment Research Council in the U.K. Scientists participating in the project have measured the overturning circulation in the sub-tropical North Atlantic since 2004; MOCHA-RAPID has been extended through 2020.
"The OSNAP project will greatly enhance our ability to track changes in the circulation of the North Atlantic Ocean, a critical component of understanding future climate and its effects on marine ecosystems," says David Conover, director of NSF's Division of Ocean Sciences.
Overturning data are also critical to understanding the ocean's continued ability to act as one of Earth's most important carbon sinks.
Surface waters absorb heat-trapping carbon dioxide from Earth's atmosphere. When cold, dense, southward-flowing waters from sub-polar regions sink, they carry these surf
|Contact: Cheryl Dybas|
National Science Foundation