We need to understand how energy, gases and particles are exchanged between the atmosphere and the ocean. It’s not a simple process and it goes both directions. And the ultimate question is, how do they affect climate?
The Earth is teetering toward climate crisis. The ocean, more than anything, is helping to keep the balance. But emerging science shows the ocean’s ability to absorb carbon and regulate temperatures is changing in ways we don’t understand. It is a change that is not accounted for in global climate targets. It’s a risk we can no longer afford to take. The time has come to transform climate action.
Rachel Chang is an atmospheric scientist. But you won’t find her with her head in the clouds. Her focus is on the area just above the ocean’s surface, tracking how the particles that come from its waters impact the air above.
While oceanographers contributing to the Transforming Climate Action research program are consumed by the ocean’s ability to absorb the world’s carbon, Dr. Chang and her colleagues investigate the issue from above the waterline.
Together, the researchers will put unprecedented focus on how carbon is cycling in and out of the ocean, the world’s most important climate sink, allowing Canada to take the lead in ensuring global climate targets are on track with our environmental reality.
Dr. Chang says fog offers an ideal laboratory for studying the interplay between air and ocean, especially when it’s comprised of droplets formed on particles released by the sea. She focuses on these droplets because each of them is like a little floating beaker where chemical reactions take place.
Along coastlines and on ships at sea, she measures air particles before, during and after fog and collects fog water to test the chemical composition, which can help her learn where the particles originated from.
“There are all sorts of chemical reactions happening in fog, and definitely it affects carbon. But how is still yet to be discovered.”
Transforming Climate Action will bring together more than 170 researchers at Dalhousie and its academic partners to embark on the most intensive investigation into the ocean’s role in climate change ever undertaken. It will make Canada a global leader in climate science, innovation, and solutions by putting the ocean front and centre in the fight against a warming planet.Learn more