360 Projects, page 1 of 72
The arctic ocean and it's peripheral seas comprise a seasonally variable mix of ice covered and ice-free open ocean and shelf waters that are considered to be one of the most sensitive regions to global change processes. Current estimated rates of multi-annual sea-ice loss appear to be exceeding model predictions. Despite the insulation from direct atmospheric forcing, mesoscale baroclinically unstable eddies (the oceanic's internal 'storm scale', 10-100 km) have been clearly observed through repeated salinity and temperature against depth profiles deployed through ice holes and more recently by the deployment of ice-tethered profiling instruments. Measurements of a turbulent well mixed boundary layer under sea-ice have been examined, establishing a mixed layer thickness closely coincident with an ice speed related frictional drag. For the same reason that different processes lead to the establishment of a turbulent mixed layer under ice compared to open waters, we expect that different mechanisms will lead to mixed layer re-stratification and therefore that the sub-mesoscale (1-10's km) interaction with mesoscale eddies and frontal boundaries will vary between ice-free and ice-covered regions. The aim of this study is an improved understanding of the characteristics of mixed layer variability in marginal or seasonally variable ice-covered regions, through the analysis of a large pre-existing data resource. Royal Navy (RN) submarines have collected temperature and salinity data in the Arctic, and elsewhere for a long time. For over 15 years RN submarines have been equipped with a sensor suite that also includes a number of biogeochemical instruments particularly for pigments such as chlorophyll(a) and 'yellow substance'. These data are normally highly classified and unavailable for research purposes outside and even largely within the MOD itself. This is because traditional research requirements include acquisition time/date and position. However, only vessel velocity, elapsed time (instrument sampling interval) and depth, within well known published ranges, are required to accompany the data-streams for us to examine the spatial cross correlation coefficients in the physical and biological parameters. This is a mechanism for looking at data collected spatially and temporally in terms of the time and space scales of the inherent variability contained within it. Specifically, discussions with our MOD collaborators indicate that significant amounts of data will be available both in the mixed layer and deeper. The wavenumber spectrum is simply proportional to the Fourier transform of these cross-correlation coefficients, and quantifies the contribution to variability from features at a range of length scales, including eddies and filaments. For general underway vessel velocities, the 'speed' of the observer is such that the time taken to traverse a structure is very much less than the time taken for its evolution for all but the smallest structures. The disturbance scale of the vessel O(100 m) will limit our study to sub-mesoscale filaments and above (~0.2-100 km). A key issue we can address is how closely related the spectra of other properties are to the physical spectra.
Proposal to Research Councils Energy Program: Carbon Capture and Storage / Potential ecosystem impacts of geological carbon storage call. Quantifying and Monitoring Potential Ecosystem Impacts of Geological Carbon Storage (QICS). Climate change caused by increasing emissions of CO2, principally the burning of fossil fuels for power generation, is one of the most pressing concerns for society. Currently around 90% of the UK's energy needs are met by fossil fuels which will probably continue to be the predominant source of energy for decades to come. Developing our understanding of the pros and cons of a range of strategies designed to reduce CO2 emissions is vital. Of the available strategies such as wind, wave and solar renewables and Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) none are without potential problems or limitations. The concept of CCS simply put is to capture CO2 during the process of power generation and to store it permanently in deep geological structures beneath the land or sea surface. If CCS is successful existing fossil fuel reserves could be used whilst new forms of power generation with low CO2 emissions are developed. A few projects have been successfully demonstrating either capture or storage on limited scales, so it is established that the technical challenges are surmountable. Research is also demonstrating that the geological structures are in general robust for long term storage (for example oil deposits remain in place within geological strata). However geological structures are complex and natural sub surface gas deposits are known to outgas at the surface. Consequently it would be irresponsible to develop full scale CCS programmes without an understanding of the likelihood of leakage and the severity of impacts which might occur. The aim of this proposal is to greatly improve the understanding of the scale of impact a leakage from CCS systems might inflict on the ecosystem and to enable a comprehensive risk assessment of CCS. The main location of stored CO2 in the UK will be in geo-formations under the North Sea and our research concentrates on impacts to the marine environment, although our work will also be relevant to all geological formations. Research to date has shown that hypothetical large leaks would significantly alter sediment and water chemistry and consequently some marine creatures would be vulnerable. What is not yet understood is how resilient species are, and how big an impact would stem from a given leak. Our project will investigate for the first time the response of a real marine community (both within and above the sediments) to a small scale tightly controlled artificial leak. We will look at chemical and biological effects and importantly investigate the recovery time needed. We will be able to relate the footprint of the impact to the known input rate of CO2. The results will allow us to develop and test models of flow and impact that can be applied to other scenarios and we will assess a number of monitoring methods. The project will also investigate the nature of flow through geological formations to give us an understanding of the spread of a rising CO2 plume should it breach the reservoir. The work proposed here would amount to a significant advance in the understanding and scientific tools necessary to form CCS risk assessments and quantitative knowledge of the ecological impacts of leaks. We will develop model tools that can predict the transfer, fate and impact of leaks from reservoir to ecosystem, which may be applied when specific CCS operations are planned. An important product of our work will be a recommendation of the best monitoring strategy to ensure the early detection of leaks. We will work alongside interested parties from industry, government and public to ensure that the information we produce is accessible and effective.
Climate is currently changing mostly because of additional greenhouse gases, emitted through human activity, which are heating up the planet. Since future warming of climate is likely to cause damage to societies, governments are coordinating efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to avoid these damaging consequences. However, despite the continuing rises in atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations, the rate of warming of the Earth's surface has declined somewhat since the 1990s. While it is tempting to find a simple reason for this slowing (or "hiatus") in global surface warming, the climate system is extremely complex and there are many factors which can explain the lumps and bumps in the surface temperature record which also include increases (or "surges") in the rate of warming. The goal of our proposed programme of research is to understand much more fully how all the contributing factors can explain past hiatus and surge (H/S) events and this will ultimately help improve predictions of future climate change over the coming decades and far into the future. The potential causes of H/S events includes: natural (so-called unforced) climate variability, due to complex interplay between the atmosphere, oceans and land; natural climate change due to volcanic eruptions or changes in the brightness of the sun; changes in how heat is moved into the deep oceans due to natural variations or human-caused factors; changes in emissions of gases such as methane due to human activity; limitations in the distribution of temperature observations, such that the hiatus is partly an artefact of imperfect observations. Rather than one single cause it is likely that H/S events are caused by a combination of factors. This is why a large team with a broad range of expertise is required to evaluate the different processes together. Our project, Securing Multidisciplinary UndeRstanding and Prediction of Hiatus and Surge events (SMURPHS) has brought together a comprehensive community of researchers from 9 UK institutes supported by 5 project partners including the Met Office who are experts in the atmosphere, the oceans and the land surface. SMURPHS has 3 broad objectives, achieved through 6 research themes, which exploit theory, observations and detailed computer modelling. Objective 1 is to build a basic framework for interpreting H/S events in terms of energy moving between the atmosphere and ocean and to determine characteristics of and similarities between H/S events. Objective 2 is to understand mechanisms that could trigger H/S events and extend their length, considering both human and natural factors. Objective 3 is to assess whether H/S events can be predicted and what information is needed for near-term prediction of climate over coming decades which is important for how societies adapt to change. To meet these objectives scientists from a range of different disciplines will work on each of these possibilities and communicate their findings across the team. SMURPHS will produce a wide-ranging synthesis of its results. SMURPHS will have many beneficiaries. Beyond the global scientific community, improved understanding of H/S events is important at national and international levels for designing policies to control future greenhouse gas emissions and for effective adaptation to climate change. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) assessments have deeply influenced climate policy development at the international and national levels. Scientists involved in SMURPHS have contributed significantly to previous IPCC reports, and SMURPHS science and scientists would contribute significantly to future such assessments.
Doctoral Training Partnerships: a range of postgraduate training is funded by the Research Councils. For information on current funding routes, see the common terminology at www.rcuk.ac.uk/StudentshipTerminology. Training grants may be to one organisation or to a consortia of research organisations. This portal will show the lead organisation only.
Our object is to understand how large, and how variable, are sources and sinks of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere from the North Atlantic. We aim to be able to describe how these have changed in the recent past and how they will change in the future under different climate scenarios. Most effort will be concentrated on carbon dioxide, and we will deliver a comprehensive budgeting of natural and anthropogenic components of the carbon cycle in the North Atlantic and understanding of why the air-sea fluxes of CO2 vary regionally, seasonally and multi-annually. Observations of CH4 and N2O and estimates of their regional fluxes will additionally be made. We, in collaboration with our partner institutions in Europe and the US, will undertake surface measurements of CO2 air-sea fluxes made from networks of voluntary observing ships and at fixed sites. These will be synthesised with observations from hydrographic sections of the interior carbon content. We will thus obtain accurate estimates of the uptake, present storage, and net transport of anthropogenic carbon, and variability in the natural uptake and release of atmospheric CO2 by the N. Atlantic. In parallel with direct estimates made from these observations, forward and inverse models (of both atmospheric and oceanic kinds) of these fluxes will be developed. The main hypotheses are (1) that past uptake and variability of CO2 in the region can be quantified by examination of the deep carbon inventory in the Atlantic, (2) that the present observed variability in CO2 uptake is due to a combination of biological and physical processes that are driven by climatic variations, the main factors being captured by ocean carbon simulations embedded in climate models, and (3) these variations (past, present and future) are due to a combination of variability internal to the climate system and external anthropogenic forcing - in proportions we will determine. Objectives are (1) a template for operational forecasting of the fluxes of GHGs into and out of the N. Atlantic, to be implemented as part of ICOS and in combination with ECMWF (2) an understanding of that sink that can be used to improve projections of how the ocean CO2 sink will change in the future, and (3) a quantitative understanding of how and why Atlantic Ocean uptake of anthropogenic CO2 has changed as a result of climate change over the last 100 years.