Biogeochemical Ocean Flux Study (BOFS)

Schematic representation of phytoplankton
Schematic representation of phytoplankton ©

The aim of the BOFS project was to improve our understanding of

  • the processes that control carbon exchanges between the atmosphere, the surface ocean and the ocean interior
  • the sensitivity of these processes to climate change

BOFS was a major UK contribution to the International Geosphere-Biosphere Project's Joint Global Ocean Flux Study (JGOFS).

Who ran the project?

BOFS was a community Research Project within the Marine and Atmospheric Science Directorate of the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC). A Community Research Project brings together scientists from NERC institutes and universities to work on a common problem. The BOFS project was hosted by Plymouth Marine Laboratory.

BODC was responsible for the BOFS project data management.

The project ran from April 1987 until March 1993. The BOFS North Atlantic Data Set was collected during the initial five year period. This data set is available from BODC on CDROM.

The Sterna 1992 project took place in 1992 in the Southern Ocean area. The data are available from BODC on request. Contact the BODC Enquiries Officer for more information.

The BOFS North Atlantic data set


The BOFS North Atlantic data set was the result of fieldwork carried out on 11 research cruises. Four studies were carried out during three field seasons in 1989, 1990 and 1991.

  • The 1989 North Atlantic Bloom Experiment
  • The 1990 Lagrangian Experiment
  • The 1990 BOFS Benthic Study
  • The 1991 Coccolithphore Study

What data were collected?

Measurements taken include

  • Physical (e.g. temperature, salinity and optics)
  • Meteorology and positioning
  • Chemical (e.g. dissolved oxygen, organic carbon and nitrogen)
  • Biological (e.g. biomass, pigments and bacteria production)
  • Geological (sediment traps)

Data management

Raw data were supplied to BODC directly from the ships for calibration and quality control. Our aim was to make high quality data available to project scientists as quickly as possible and ensure the publication of a comprehensive worked up data set at the end of the project.

The data set

A CDROM containing the BOFS North Atlantic data set is available from BODC and contains 98% of all data series collected during the programme. The data set comes with documentation and users' guide.

The data are also stored in BODC's databank and are part of the pool of data available to anyone interested in oceanographic research. For further information contact BODC's Enquiries Officer.

BOFS data in the Southern Ocean

The Sterna 1992 project (a component of BOFS) aimed to measure the size and variability of carbon and nitrogen fluxes during early summer in the Southern Ocean, with particular emphasis on rates and processes in the marginal ice zone.


Fieldwork was carried out between October and December 1992 in the Southern Ocean area, approximately 55°S to 70°S, 60°W to 85°W.

Data were collected at sites in the Bellinghausen Seas as part of a 2-ship Eulerian experiment. RRS James Clark Ross held her geographic position while the ice retreated past her. RRS Discovery undertook more extensive survey work in the ice-free areas to the north.

What data were collected?

A wide range of physical, chemical and biological parameters were measured.

The data are split into

  • Underway sampling (SeaSoar, UOR, lightfish, ADCP, meteorology and parameters measured from the ship's pumped seawater supply) of which there are 121179 records at 1 minute intervals.
  • Discrete sampling (CTD and XBT casts, bottle stations, net hauls, productivity incubations) of which there are over 1000 deployments.

Data management

The data were collected and supplied by UK participants in JGOFS. BODC were responsible for calibrating, processing, quality controlling, documenting and assembling the final data set.

How to get the data

The data are stored in a databank and are available on request. For further information contact BODC's Enquiries Officer.