ESA seeks to better understand impact of oceans on climate
December 11, 2006
The European Space Agency (ESA) said it is backing two projects that aim to better understand the impact of oceans on climate.
The first, called the Medspiration project, seeks to chart sea-surface temperatures. The second, called the GlobCOLOUR project, is working to develop a data set of global ocean color, a variable that can determine the health of phytoplankton, microscopic marine plants that play a key role in the global carbon cycle.
Phytoplankton bloom off the coast of Norway in the Norwegian Sea in 2000. Image provided by the SeaWiFS Project, NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center, and ORBIMAGE.
“Because phytoplankton are a major influence on the amount of carbon in the atmosphere and are sensitive to environmental changes, it is important to monitor and model them into calculations of future climate change,” said Proessor Emeritus Andre Morel at the French Observatoire Océanolgique de Villefranche. “The risk is that we may find the warming of the sea and the modification of the water circulation patterns may cut off or modify some of that primary production, so it is important to know both sea-surface temperature and ocean colour.”
ESA says the satellite data will give “scientists a uniquely detailed view of the changing physical characteristics of ocean surfaces.”
This article uses quotes and information from an ESA news release.