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Leibniz Institute for Baltic Sea Research
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21 Projects, page 1 of 5
  • Funder: EC Project Code: 336408
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  • Funder: UKRI Project Code: NE/W006243/1
    Funder Contribution: 543,217 GBP

    The proposed project will test the hypothesis that gradual changes in Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) -a system of surface and deep ocean currents that exerts a primary control on Earth's climate, led to abrupt shifts in North Atlantic climate during the transition out of the last ice age and into the present warm interglacial (~20,000-10,000 years ago). Greenlandic ice-core records show clear evidence that this period was characterised by major abrupt climate shifts in less than a decade, which have been attributed to changes in the AMOC regime associated with reduced northward surface heat transport in the high-latitude North Atlantic and its deep southward return flow. Critically, the anomalous weakening of the AMOC in the last decades caused by enhanced fluxes of meltwater and ice export from the Arctic in response to Arctic change prompts the question: Is the current decline in AMOC heralding a new phase of abrupt change similar to those recorded in ice cores and ocean sediments, and what is the response time of North Atlantic climate to changes in high-latitude surface and deep ocean circulation? Resolving and quantifying asynchronous changes within the coupled ocean-atmosphere system is hence essential to improve our theoretical understanding of climate processes and predictive capacity of climate models, as well as identifying under which conditions abrupt climate change occurs. ASYNC is an international collaborative project led by the University of Cambridge that will tackle this fundamental problem. The project will avail of unique North Atlantic Ocean sediment records to generate a suite of precisely dated and multidecadally-resolved proxy records of ocean circulation and climate change. ASYNC represents the first targeted effort to compare high resolution North Atlantic proxy records by precisely integrating the underlying timescales in a continuous fashion. The marine records will be synchronised to the Greenland ice-core chronology via independent and continuous reconstructions of globally synchronous variations in the incoming cosmic ray flux using multidecadally-resolved cosmogenic 10Be records from seafloor sediments and published ice cores. The proposed project will result in new cosmogenic 10Be, sea ice, meltwater discharge, and bottom- and surface-water ventilation reconstructions from three North Atlantic marine sediment cores. The palaeoceanographic reconstructions, and in particular the bottom-water ventilation records, which reflect the southward deep component of AMOC, will be directly compared to events recorded in ice-core climate reconstructions from Greenland. Together, ASYNC will result in the first network of continuously synchronised records of atmospheric, oceanic and sea ice change that will resolve the temporal and spatial propagation of North Atlantic ocean perturbations on the climate system across the major climatic transitions that punctuated the last deglaciation (~20,000-10,000 years ago). Results from ASYNC will advance the current understanding of i) the nature and timing of abrupt climate shifts across climate archives, ii) nonlinear responses of AMOC and climate to gradual Greenland Ice Sheet and Arctic sea ice meltwater forcing, and iii) ocean precursors of rapid climate change in the North Atlantic region.

  • Funder: ANR Project Code: ANR-13-IS06-0001
    Funder Contribution: 272,000 EUR

    The present perturbation of the atmospheric radiative balance on Earth, and hence the global climate, is mainly due to anthropogenic emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4), both important contributors to the greenhouse effect (IPCC, 2001). Although CH4 is a trace gas, it contributes up to 20% of the greenhouse effect due to its high global warming potential (25 times more influential than CO2 over a 100 year timescale) that have resulted in atmospheric CH4 concentration doubling within the last 300 years (IPCC, 2007). Methane, which has a short residence time (~20 years) is rapidly oxidized to CO2 and H2O, implying that to sustain climate warming due to increasing CH4 requires a continuous supply (Legget, 1990). Sustained supplies must be provided by the potential sources including oceans, continental wetlands and permafrost (Haq, 1995). There are significant uncertainties on the amount of methane emitted and absorbed by the oceans. To overcome the limitation in spatial and temporal resolution of methane oceanic measurements, sensors are needed that can autonomously detect CH4-concentrations over longer periods of time. The proposed project is aimed at: • Designing molecular receptors for methane recognition (cryptophane-A and –111) and synthesizing new compounds allowing their introduction in polymeric structure (Task 1; LC, France); • Adapting, calibrating and validating the 2 available optical technologies, one of which serves as the reference sensor, for the in-situ detection and measurements of CH4 in the marine environments (Task 2 and 3; GET, LAAS-OSE, IOW). Boulart et al. (2008) showed that a polymeric film changes its bulk refractive index when methane docks on to cryptophane-A supra-molecules that are mixed in to the polymeric film. It is the occurrence of methane in solution, which changes either the refractive index measured with high resolution Surface Plasmon Resonance (SPR; Chinowsky et al., 2003; Boulart et al, 2012b) or the transmitted power measured with differential fiber-optic refractometer (Boulart et al., 2012a; Aouba et al., 2012). • Using the developed sensors for the study of the CH4 cycle in relevant oceanic environment (the GODESS station in the Baltic Sea, Task 4 and 5; IOW, GET); GODESS registers a number of parameters with high temporal and vertical resolution by conducting up to 200 vertical profiles over 3 months deployment with a profiling platform hosting the sensor suite. • Quantifying methane fluxes to the atmosphere (Task 6); Monitoring of greenhouse-gas emissions such as CO2 and CH4 (GHG), is a world-wide concern, where UNESCO has a strong influence through the implementation of observatories. The conclusions of the workshop on anthropogenic GHG emissions organized by the UNESCO in 2006 clearly identified in-situ monitoring as an immediate action to better quantify GHG emissions. Clearly, the current project, which aims at developing in-situ aqueous gas sensors, provides the technological tool to achieve this. The aim is to bring the fiber- optic methane sensor on the TRL (Technology Readiness Level) from their current Level 3 – i.e. Analytical and laboratory studies to validate analytical predictions - to the Levels 5 and 6 - i.e. Component and/or basic sub-system technology validation in relevant sensing environments-, in comparison to the SPR methane sensor, taken as the reference sensor (TRL 4-5). This would lead to potential patent applications before further tests and commercialization. This will be achieved by the ensemble competences and contributions from the proposed consortium in this project. Our financial request is organized according to 6 Tasks with funds for 3 post-docs (Task 1 (LC), Task 2 and 3 (LAAS-OSE), Task 3 and 5 (IOW, GET)) and 1 engineer (Task 4 and 5 (IOW)), funds for the integration of the 2 methane sensors into the profiling GODESS station, and a provision for laboratory and field expenses, workshops and meetings, and publication fees.

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  • Funder: UKRI Project Code: NE/L003325/1
    Funder Contribution: 420,969 GBP

    The continental shelf seas provide a transition zone between estuaries and the ocean across which carbon, nutrients, sediments and contaminants are exchanged. The currents and mixing on the NW European continental shelf are dominated by the tide interacting with the sea bed, with density stratification occurring during summer months across ~80% of the region. Significant levels of biological primary production occur in these regions. However, the exchange of nutrients and carbon across these critical interfaces of stratified fluid is poorly understood and so is poorly represented in numerical models. This project aims to compile the world's largest observational data base of shelf sea pycnocline turbulence and hydrographic measurements and to exploit state-of-the-art computer modelling and new observational technology to investigate, quantify, and parameterise the physical mechanisms and processes responsible for the fluxes across this critical interface. In particular we will develop improved understanding of pycnocline turbulence and mixing promoted by shear instability. We will test the hypothesis that these mechanisms, or interaction between mechanisms, drives pycnocline shear to levels which exceed a critical threshold beyond which there is a catastrophic loss of stability resulting in episodic mixing. Parameterisations for this mixing will be developed and tested.

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  • Funder: UKRI Project Code: NE/I028947/1
    Funder Contribution: 472,484 GBP

    Look at a map of the world and find the Shetland Islands. Follow the 60 degrees north latitude circle eastwards. You pass through St. Petersburg, the Ural Mountains, Siberia, the Bering Sea, Alaska, northern Canada, the southern tip of Greenland, then back to the Shetlands. All these places are cold, harsh environments, particularly in winter, except the Shetlands, which is wet and windy but quite mild all year. This is because in the UK we benefit from heat brought northwards by the Atlantic Ocean in a current called the Conveyor Belt. This current is driven by surface water being made to sink by the extreme cold in and around the Arctic. It returns southwards through the Atlantic at great depths. Scientists think it is possible that the Conveyor Belt could slow down or stop, and if it did, the UK would get much colder. We know the planet has been warming for the last century or more, and we think this is due to the Greenhouse Effect. Burning fossil fuels puts a lot of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, which stops heat from leaving the Earth, like the glass in a greenhouse. In a warming world, ice melts faster, and there is a lot of ice on the Earth: ice caps on Greenland and Antarctica, sea ice in the Arctic and Antarctic Oceans, glaciers in high mountains. And we know that the Arctic is the fastest-warming part of the planet. This causes extra amounts of fresh water to flow into the oceans. Now this fresh water can affect the Conveyor Belt by acting like a lid of water too light to sink, so the Conveyor Belt stops. What is the chance of this happening? We do not know, because there is much we do not understand about how the Arctic Ocean works. You need a powerful icebreaker to get into the Arctic Ocean, and that's only really possible in the summer, because in winter the sea ice thickens and the weather is bad. Scientists all over the world agree that the Arctic Ocean is important because it contains a lot of freshwater, which is why, although it is difficult to make measurements in the Arctic, the UK's Natural Environment Research Council has decided to fund a programme of scientific research in the Arctic. We want to be able to make better predictions of how the Arctic climate will change during the 21st century, so this project will help improve our ability to make these predictions. We will do this by improving the way that computer models of the Earth's climate represent the Arctic. We are going to treat the Arctic Ocean as a box, with a top, a bottom, sides and an interior, and we're going to examine all these parts of the box using measurements from space, from ships, from instruments moored to the sea bed, and from robotic sensors attached to drifting sea ice. We'll use all these measurements together to improve the scientific equations within the computer models, and then we'll run the models into the future to create better predictions not just of the Arctic, but of how changes in the Arctic might influence UK, European and global climate. With better predictions, we can make better plans for the future.

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