Atmospheric Ar/N2 Measurements as a Tracer for Oceanic Heat Flux

EPA Grant Number: U916144
Title: Atmospheric Ar/N2 Measurements as a Tracer for Oceanic Heat Flux
Investigators: Blaine, Tegan W.
Institution: University of California - San Diego
EPA Project Officer: Lee, Sonja
Project Period: January 1, 2003 through January 1, 2006
Project Amount: $93,932
RFA: STAR Graduate Fellowships (2003) Recipients Lists
Research Category: Academic Fellowships , Air Quality and Air Toxics , Fellowship - Atmospheric Sciences


The objectives of this research project are to: (1) continue to improve our Ar/N2 flask measurement methodology; (2) analyze measurements from our flask sampling program and a continuous monitoring program at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography; and (3) continue modeling work using TOPEX/Poseidon satellite data for comparison with our observations. This research project has the potential to lead to significantly improved understanding of ocean-atmosphere heat flux and its impact on atmospheric chemistry of greenhouse gases.


The goal of this research project is to improve our understanding of ocean-atmosphere heat flux. By measuring atmospheric concentrations of the inert gas argon relative to nitrogen (Ar/N2) through time, I will be able to address questions of how heat flux into and out of the ocean varies on seasonal and interannual timescales. This tracer also will provide information on how heat flux varies latitudinally. Such issues are important to climatological questions on both local and global scales. How much heat is taken up by the ocean? How is it distributed within the ocean? Will such distributions or heat fluxes between different parts of the ocean change in the future? As part of a long-term monitoring program, Ar/N2 measurements also will be able to provide an independent estimate of the amount of heat taken up by the ocean because of global warming. Insight into oceanic heat fluxes is important in understanding the ocean's role in cycles of radiatively important gases such as carbon dioxide. As ocean circulation or heat flux patterns change because of global warming, the impact on chemical cycles may be extreme.

Supplemental Keywords:

fellowship, ocean-atmosphere heat flux, flask measurement methodology, global warming, oceanic heat fluxes, ocean circulation.

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2003
  • 2004
  • Final