Earth's climate is governed by complex interactions between the atmosphere and oceans. Studying the interface between the two offers insight into how these systems function and evolve over time.
The uppermost part of the ocean, that which is influenced by the atmosphere, is termed the Ocean Surface Boundary Layer (OSBL). This layer can extend to depths of several hundred metres at times and can deepen or shoal as a direct result of the various competing atmospheric and oceanic processes.
The dynamic nature of the OSBL has a real impact on our oceans. Deepening of the well-mixed OSBL helps to introduce vital nutrients from deeper waters into the light-rich shallows — the region occupied by photosynthetic organisms. This has a direct effect on the productivity of our seas.
Sea surface temperature, which influences our global weather patterns, is also governed by the OSBL. The coupling of the atmosphere and the deeper ocean via the OSBL has important implications for the exchange of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide.
Despite playing a fundamental role, the complex physical processes which take place in the OSBL and cause it to deepen and shoal are still not fully understood. OSMOSIS will utilise the very latest technological advancements to make detailed observations of the OSBL.
This ambitious programme of work will couple traditional research cruise measurements with cutting edge autonomous sampling strategies. A wealth of data will be generated over the year-long study period, which will offer insight into the processes at work in and around the OSBL. These data will ultimately feed into powerful computer models, which will greatly benefit the weather and climate forecasting communities.