Oceanic CO2 Collaboration

The ocean has absorbed approximately 30% of the anthropogenic global CO2 emissions since the end of the preindustrial era and thus is playing a vital role in the mitigation of globally rising atmospheric greenhouse gas levels and the resulting climate change. The process driving this uptake is called the Carbon Cycle; the biogeochemical exchange of carbon in its different forms between the different parts of the earth system. CO2 is the dominating form in which this exchange happens between seawater and air.

Climate and Global Circulation Models are tools that scientists use to understand the complex web of climate mechanisms and to make climate change projections. Process-based models of oceanic and terrestrial carbon cycling have been developed, compared and tested against in situ oceanic and atmospheric measurements with some success. But there is large uncertainty in the projections based on these models partly because of the scarcity of high-quality observational data.

One reason for this scarcity is that the oceanic climate observations require high accuracy measurements and high-resolution temporal and spatial sampling. Currently, the majority of offshore ocean data is collected via crewed research vessels or via ships of opportunity, which are prohibitively expensive, have limited access to remote areas and are affected by adverse weather conditions. Autonomous Surface Vehicles (ASV) however are well suited and here is where Jupiter Research Foundation excels.

Wave Gliders can carry mobile platforms for measuring carbon dioxide in the air and in the water. Image (c) 2016 MBARI

Wave Gliders can carry mobile platforms for measuring carbon dioxide in the air and in the water. Image (c) 2016 MBARI

As a co-developer of the Wave Glider and with years of experience in building sensors for this ASV and other platforms, Jupiter Research Foundation has the expertise to design and implement a robust observation system for sea surface and atmospheric CO2. With the support of our collaborators, we plan to build a system that can operate over a large area and for a prolonged time to provide high-quality data that can be used to dramatically improve present day marine carbon cycle forecasts in the context of global circulation models.


The exact nature of the sensor set and sampling strategies will be driven by the needs of the marine biogeochemical and earth system modeling communities. We anticipate that this effort will spur the evolution of the models to be able to assimilate the real time-synchronous data stream and result in significant improvements in forecast accuracy.

For more about this project, please contact us at Oceanic-CO2@jupiterfoundation.org