Green Turtle
Dr Annette Broderick
Professor Brendan Godley

The Exeter Atmospheric and Ocean Science Group

In December 2015, our group set off on a marine expedition on board RRS Discovery as part of a programme of research, studying the role of the North Atlantic Ocean in controlling greenhouse gas concentrations. Our mission is to collect data for the NERC Greenhouse Gas programme known as RAGNARoCC. RRS Discovery (expedition DY040) ended at the end of January 2016 after a successful mission. We travelled from the Eastern Seaboard of the USA, to the African continent along latitude 24°N. Every 30 miles the ship stopped to take samples from the ocean surface to the sea floor.

At present, approximately 25% of all the anthropogenically produced CO2 released into the atmosphere is absorbed into the oceans. The oceans are believed to be a major sink for the excess CO2 produced by human activities (deforestation, industry and the burning of fossil fuels) releasing vast quantities of greenhouse gases into our atmosphere.

The North Atlantic Ocean in particular absorbs substantial amounts of CO2 from the atmosphere. This ‘uptake’ fluctuates on a seasonal, year to year and over longer time scales.

Our research group, Exeter Atmospheric and Ocean Science, based at the University of Exeter, has an interest in observing and understanding the global carbon cycle, to better understand the current global CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere, the carbon in our oceans and the exchange between the two.

We specialise in taking high precision measurements of carbon (dissolved inorganic carbon and total alkalinity), methane, nitrous oxide and tracer gases in the oceans and atmosphere.

The scientific organisations that took part in the expedition included the National Oceanography Centre in Southampton, Plymouth Marine Laboratory and the Exeter atmospheric and ocean science group at the University of Exeter took part in fieldwork for this voyage,  each measuring different parameters.

This important fieldwork allows us to better understand the physical-chemical-biological balance of the oceans.