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Atmospheric observatory for Atlantic Ocean as York scientists win research cash


Scientists at the University of York have been awarded nearly £500,000 to help to establish a centre in the Atlantic Ocean to monitor gases in the atmosphere.

Dr Lucy Carpenter and Dr Alastair Lewis, of the University’s Department of Chemistry, have been awarded £487,070 by the National Environment Research Council (NERC) to set up an atmospheric observatory on the Cape Verde Islands.

The York chemists, who have been awarded the money under the NERC’s Surface Ocean – Lower Atmosphere Study (SOLAS) programme, will be the major partners in a project also involving German and Cape Verdean scientists.

Cape Verde (16°N, 24°W) is situated in the tropical Eastern North Atlantic Ocean, in a region which exerts a strong influence on greenhouse gases and clouds as well as being highly sensitive to climate change. There are major interactions between the ocean and the atmosphere in this area of the tropics though these are little understood due to the limited amount of study that has taken place.

The project will examine long term trends in gases such as ozone, and processes affecting the marine ecosystem such as the input of desert dust to the ocean.

It will launch a two and a half-year programme of trace gas, including ozone, nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds, and aerosol measurements. The aim is to create a high quality international facility and start a long-term UK-led atmospheric monitoring programme, providing vital data to the UK and international communities.

Dr Carpenter said: "The Cape Verde Observatory will provide a powerful tool for characterizing transport and deposition of trace gases, aerosols and dust from Africa to the tropical Atlantic."

Dr Lewis added: "This project is a key component in understanding how global changes in atmospheric composition and climate may affect the ocean and biogeochemical processes occurring within it".

Dr Lucy Carpenter | alfa
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