The Maritime Continent (MC) is arguably the most important region in the global weather and climate system, in terms of forcing global atmospheric variability on sub-seasonal to decadal time scales. However, the interactions of the atmosphere, ocean and land surfaces in the MC region are sparsely observed, badly represented in our models and so there remain large gaps in our knowledge of the physical processes that contribute to the coupled variability in this region. Recent work has identified that the multi-scale interactions between the Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO), convectively coupled Kelvin waves (CCKWs) and the diurnal cycle over the MC are important and poorly understood.
In this project, the interactions within atmospheric equatorial convectively coupled Kelvin waves (CCKWs), the leading modes of eastward moving convection on time scales between several days and three weeks, will be investigated. CCKWs and other equatorial waves form the “building blocks” of the active phase of MJO. The main effort will be to organize and execute the Equatorial Line Observations (ELO) field campaign during the winter of 2018/2019 – as a component of the International Years of the Maritime Continent (YMC) program. Based on collected in-situ data as well as other observational, remote sensing and modeling datasets, the key physical mechanisms responsible for multi-scale interactions associated with the propagating atmospheric convection over the Maritime Continent will be analyzed. To this end, a novel Lagrangian approach in the analysis of propagating events will be employed to study the interaction between tropical waves and the local atmospheric and oceanic environment, in particular over the MC region.
AlterEco seeks to demonstrate a novel monitoring framework to deliver improved understanding of key shelf sea ecosystem drivers. We will capitalise on recent UK investments in marine autonomous vehicles and planning capability to investigate an area of the North Sea known to undergo variable physical, chemical and biological conditions throughout an entire seasonal cycle, including areas identified to experience low bottom layer oxygen levels during summer months. Ocean gliders will be used to undertake repeat transects over a distance of ~150km, sufficient to capture important shelf sea features; such as fronts and eddies. The AlterEco strategy will employ small fleets of vehicles to capture these meso-scale features (typically ~100km in scale) but will also resolve sub-mesoscale variability (~100m). We will benefit from successes and lessons learnt from recent, pioneering deployments of underwater gliders and use a suite of sensors that permit high-resolution coincident measurements of key ecosystem indicators. Combining the expertise within the AlterEco team we will not only provide a new framework for marine observations that has global transferability, but also the diagnostic capability to improve understanding of shelf sea ecosystem health and function.
Processes on the Antarctic continental shelf and slope are crucially important for determining the rate of future sea level rise, setting the properties and volume of dense bottom water exported globally, and regulating the carbon cycle. Yet our ability to model and predict these processes over future decades remains rudimentary. This deficiency in understanding originates in a lack of observations in this inaccessible region. The COMPASS project seeks to rectify that by exploiting new technology - autonomous marine vehicles called gliders - to observe, quantify and elucidate processes on the continental shelf and slope of Antarctica that are important for climate.
The COMPASS objective is to make a step-change in our quantitative understanding of:
(i) the ocean front that marks the boundary between the Antarctic continental shelf and the open ocean, and its associated current system;
(ii) the interaction between ocean, atmosphere and sea-ice on the Antarctic continental shelf;
(iii) the exchange of heat, salt and freshwater with the cavities beneath ice shelves.
These goals will be met by a series of targeted ocean glider campaigns around Antarctica, spanning different flow regimes, including areas where warm water is able to access the continental shelf and influence ice shelves, areas where the continental shelf is cold and fresh, and areas where the continental shelf hosts cold, salty, dense water that eventually spills into the abyss. A unique circumpolar assessment of ocean properties and dynamics, including instabilities and mixing, will be undertaken. COMPASS will develop new technology to deploy a profiling glider into inaccessible environments such as Antarctic polynyas (regions of open water surrounded by sea-ice). As well as scientific breakthroughs that will feed into future climate assessments, improving projections of future sea level rise and global temperatures, COMPASS will deliver enhanced design for future ocean observing systems.
MASSMO is a pioneering multi-partner series of trials and demonstrator missions that aim to explore the UK seas using a fleet of innovative marine robots. With newly developed unmanned surface vehicles (USVs) and submarine gliders, the multi-phase project has successfully completed the largest single deployment of marine autonomous systems ever seen in the UK. These field trials are providing valuable insight into UK seas and the marine life they support, gathering environmental data, and feeding back vital information on how the different vehicles perform separately and together in preparation for future scientific applications.
Funded by DSTL and in collaboration with NOC, SAMS, and PML.
The Bay of Bengal Boundary Layer Experiment (BoBBLE) aims to better understand how air-sea interaction in the Bay of Bengal influences Indian monsoon rainfall. The observational field campaign took place in June-July 2016, with the research cruise during the Indian Monsoon from which five Seagliders, seven Argo floats and multiple drifters were deployed. Observations of ocean temperature, salinity, currents and small-scale mixing, as well as atmospheric conditions and air-sea fluxes were made from the RV Sindhu Sadhana. Combining measurements from these platforms the dynamics controlling ocean heat and salt transport and the influence of these on the exchange of heat and moisture with the atmosphere can be evaluated. A comprehensive modelling effort is building on these observations to investigate the impact of coupled ocean-atmosphere processes on monsoon rainfall. This involves collaborations between scientists in the UK and India to translate the process understanding gained during fieldwork into improved forecasts of the Indian Monsoon.
Dynamics of the Madden-Julian Oscillation
Exploring the Antartic's Ocean Gateway
Monitoring the export of Antarctic Bottom Water from the Weddell Sea is a significant challenge due to the remote location and harsh conditions. The GENTOO project will use ocean gliders to autonomously sample the northwestern Weddell Sea over an extended period. Physical, chemical and biological observations will resolve for the first time the variability in a region that has global significance for ocean circulation, climate and ecology.
Marine plants contribute about half of the global net primary production and thus sustain fisheries and world food supplies. Current climate change caused by anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions is likely to affect this production through changes in temperature, ocean circulation, pH, nutrient and light availability. Understanding what drives production is therefore a key problem of marine science. In this pilot study involving “Orca”, one of UEA's three ocean gliders, we aim to improve our understanding by observing the physical, chemical and biological processes driving production in the Iberian upwelling region, off the coast of Spain, on a wide range of temporal and spatial scales. You can follow the progress of this study on the UEA glider mission website. Wind-induced upwelling pumps nutrient-rich deep waters to the surface and often fuels intense phytoplankton (marine plants) blooms. Mixing between upwelled and surface water is usually not homogeneous, but occurs over a wide range of spatial scales. Often, smaller-scale processes contribute significantly, e.g., wind/turbulence interactions at the mesoscale (10-100 km) and submesoscale (1-10 km). Resolving these small-scale processes through traditional ship-board surveys is expensive and technically challenging. Recently developed autonomous platforms and sensors can significantly enhance traditional ship-based work. For example, a fleet of >3000 Argo floats now take regular temperature and salinity profiles of the upper 2 km of the world's oceans and help improve our understanding of oceanic heat budgets and circulation. However, floats can only move vertically in the water column and are otherwise drifting passively. Gliders have been developed to partly overcome the limited manoeuvrability of floats. These autonomous vehicles can be interactively piloted in the vertical as well as horizontal direction and acquire depth profiles of marine physical and biogeochemical parameters with high resolution in space and time. This project is funded through the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), Grant NE/G019509/1.