Development of Observational Products and Coupled Models of Land-Ocean-Atmospheric Fluxes in the Mississippi River Watershed and Gulf of Mexico in Support of Carbon Monitoring

Sponsor:  National Aeronautics and Space Administration


University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth: Steve Lohrenz

Funding period

August 2012 – August 2014


The uncertainties in coastal carbon fluxes are such that the net uptake of carbon in the coastal margins remains a poorly constrained term in global budgets. In particular, our ability to estimate current air-sea CO2 fluxes in continental margins is limited, and there is even less capability for predicting changes in the CO2 uptake capacity in coastal waters. This research employs a combination of models and remotely-sensed and in situ observations to develop estimates of land-ocean exchange of carbon, air-sea exchanges of carbon dioxide, and coastal-to-open ocean exchanges of carbon. Such information is critically needed to better constrain the contribution of coastal margins to carbon sources and sinks and improve capabilities to attribute sources and sinks to different regions as well as reducing uncertainties in estimates. This effort uses a combination of observations and coupled terrestrial and ocean models to examine carbon processes and fluxes from the watershed to the continental margin. A major aspect of this project is to establish and populate geospatial portals for sharing and analysis of carbon datasets and products. The chosen region of study provides an excellent setting to carry out this work as there are a large number of supporting datasets and on-going programs that complement this work. This work is also closely aligned with objectives of the North American Carbon Program and the NASA Carbon Monitoring System scoping effort. Results will also benefit efforts to describe and predict how land use and land cover changes impact coastal water quality, including possible effects of coastal eutrophication, hypoxia and acidification.