Project overview

The domain of study for SOLAS
The domain of study for SOLAS ©

UK SOLAS was the UK's contribution to the International SOLAS project.

The Surface Ocean - Lower Atmosphere Study (SOLAS) is an international project involving more than 20 nations. Its central goal is

  • To achieve quantitative understanding of the key biogeochemical-physical interactions and feedbacks between the ocean and atmosphere, and of how this coupled system affects and is affected by climate and environmental change.

This understanding is vital to the construction of Earth System models.

The programme, funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), ran for six years. It focuses on processes in and the interaction between the surface ocean and the lower atmosphere in the North Atlantic region.


  • To determine the mechanisms controlling rates of chemical transfer and improve estimates of chemical exchanges
  • To evaluate the impact of these exchanges on the biogeochemistry of the surface ocean and lower atmosphere and on feedbacks between the ocean and atmosphere
  • To quantify the impacts of these boundary layer processes on the global climate system

The outputs will improve our ability to predict climate change, giving insights into natural marine production and the fate of important trace gases. They will show whether these processes are sensitive to other environmental factors. This information is needed by climate modellers and policy makers.

UK SOLAS has brought together scientists, with the skills to address these aims, from numerous research centres and universities. It worked closely with NERC's Quantifying and Understanding the Earth System (QUEST) programme.

Funded projects

NERC provided funding for 19 projects, led by the following Principal Investigators (PIs)

  1. Impact of atmospheric dust derived material and nutrient inputs on near-surface plankton microbiota in the tropical North Atlantic
    PI — Eric Achterberg
  2. The role and effects of photoprotective compounds in marine plankton
    PI — Steve Archer
  3. Field observations of sea spray, gas fluxes and whitecaps (SEASAW)
    PI — Ian Brooks
  4. Factors influencing the biogeochemistry of iodine in the marine environment
    PI — Lucy Carpenter
  5. Global model of aerosol processes (GLOMAP) - effects of aerosol in the marine atmospheric boundary layer
    PI — Ken Carslaw
  6. Ecological controls on fluxes of dimethyl sulphide (DMS) to the atmosphere
    PI — David Green
  7. Dust outflow and deposition to the ocean (DODO)
    PI — Ellie Highwood
  8. Investigation of near surface production of iodocarbons - rates and exchanges (INSPIRE)
    PI — Gill Malin
  9. Reactive halogens in the marine boundary layer (RHaMBLe)
    PI — Gordon McFiggans
  10. The role of bacterioneuston in determining trace gas exchange rates
    PI — Colin Murrell
  11. Measuring methanol in sea water and investigating its sources and sinks in the marine environment
    PI — Phil Nightingale
  12. The impact of coastal upwellings on air-sea exchange of climatically important gases
    PI — Carol Robinson
  13. The Deep Ocean Gas Exchange Experiment (DOGEE)
    PI — Rob Upstill-Goddard
  14. High wind air-sea exchanges (HiWASE)
    PI — Margaret Yelland
  15. Aerosol characterisation and modelling in the marine environment (ACMME)
    PI — James Allan
  16. 3D simulation of dimethyl sulphide (DMS) in the north east Atlantic
    PI — Icarus Allen
  17. Processes affecting the chemistry and bioavailability of dust borne iron
    PI — Michael Krom
  18. The chemical structure of the lowermost atmosphere
    PI — Alastair Lewis
  19. Factors influencing the oxidative chemistry of the marine boundary layer
    PI — Paul Monks


Fieldwork included eight dedicated research cruises in the North Atlantic. Ongoing measurements were made aboard the Norwegian weather ship Polarfront. Time series measurements were made at the SOLAS Cape Verde Observatory and at the Plymouth Marine Laboratory (PML) L4 station. Additional atmospheric data came from a series of collaborative aircraft campaigns. These campaigns were funded by UK SOLAS, African Monsoon Multidisciplinary Analyses (AMMA-UK), Dust and Biomass Experiment (DABEX)  and the Facility for Airborne Atmospheric Measurements (FAAM).

UK Surface Ocean - Lower Atmosphere Study