Establishing Long-term Ocean-atmospheric Observations on Cape Verde


OCCI Funded Project: 2006

Proposed Research

We are at an exciting moment when action is needed to establish a new ocean and atmospheric time-series observation program on the Cape Verde Islands (16°N 24°W). European colleagues have initiated and now secured European funding to launch TENATSO, the Tropical Eastern North Atlantic Time-Series Observatory. We seek with this OCCI proposal, support to get in on the ground floor with a series of upper ocean carbon flux measurements to study the strength of the “biological pump” for carbon uptake and subsequent carbon removal on sinking particles to the deep ocean.

We can measure the magnitude of ocean carbon fluxes indirectly with thorium-234, a natural radionuclide that has a high affinity for sinking particles. This approach has been pioneered by Dr. Buesseler’s lab, nicknamed the “Café Thorium.  We would be transferring our thorium-234 sampling protocols to Cape Verdean colleagues (with subsequent 234Th measurements at WHOI), thus initiating a one-year time-series study of upper ocean carbon flux.  In addition, on two cruises we propose making direct measurements of carbon flux with our novel WHOI-developed neutrally buoyant sediment traps (J. Valdes lead). A second goal is to secure OCCI funds to be able to assist in the early planning and promotion of TENATSO as a high dust, high production and high carbon flux time-series site, situated in a tropical upwelling zone that is of great interest to ocean carbon and climate studies. This collaboration with EU and Cape Verdean scientists offers great scientific opportunity and would attract other WHOI and US scientists, with a goal to seek long term and broader federal and private support.