ORCAS (O2/N2 Ratio and CO2 Airborne Southern Ocean)
The O2/N2 Ratio and CO2 Airborne Southern Ocean (ORCAS) Study is an NSF sponsored airborne field campaign with research flights planned from Punta Arenas, Chile during January and February of 2016.
The Southern Ocean plays a dominant role in the uptake of anthropogenic carbon yet this process is poorly represented by models and its future trajectory remains highly uncertain. ORCAS will advance our understanding of the physical and biological controls on air-sea exchange of O2 and CO2 in the Southern Ocean. This will be achieved through intensive airborne surveys of atmospheric O2, CO2, related gases, and ocean surface properties over diverse biogeochemical regions adjacent to the southern tip of South America and the Antarctic Peninsula. ORCAS will utilize the NSF/NCAR HIAPER Gulfstream V (GV) aircraft with a suite of high-precision in situ and remote sensing instruments, combined with whole-air samplers on 14 flights over a period of 6 weeks in austral mid-summer. In addition to the core O2, CO2, and related gas measurements, the project will include hyperspectral remote sensing of the ocean surface and characterization of the emissions of biogenic reactive gases over the Southern Ocean. The ORCAS observations will be guided by and used to test a suite of ocean biogeochemistry models to improve our understanding of key processes and feedbacks in an undersampled yet climatically important part of the world.