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In April 2008 the ANIMATE network Observatories became part of the EuroSITES European Ocean Observatory Network.
Data shown here and subsequent data are available through the EuroSITES website www.eurosites.info
The ANIMATE site will not be updated further.

The project has been structured as 8 Work Packages : for more detailed descriptions of the individual work packages involved in this project Click HERE.

The need for ANIMATE...

One of the greatest impediments to our understanding of ocean processes is a lack of data from remote regions with sufficient temporal resolution. The effect of this is that we are not able to develop and validate comprehensive models of factors that have a direct bearing on global environmental change. Furthermore we cannot detect changes in the oceanic environment that may have a direct or indirect influence on such environmental perturbation. Although a day never passes without mention of the necessity to reduce our uncertainties of the global carbon cycle, there are at present very few measurements in the oceans that provide the temporal resolution necessary. The oceans take up about 40% of anthropogenic CO2 but as this uptake has very large spatial and temporal variability, the uncertainties will remain large until data coverage is enhanced. Very rarely is it possible to examine an oceanic region with our research ships more than once per year and yet most of the critical biogeochemical and physical processes have strong seasonal and interannual signals.

Although satellites can sometimes give us the required insights into surface properties such as temperature and phytoplankton concentration, these provide data on only some of the relevant oceanic properties, they are limited by cloud cover and do not see below the upper skin of the ocean. We require in situ measurements of a variety of properties with a temporal resolution of a few hours and ideally these should be transmitted to shore in near real time.

This year sees the start of a program to make such time series measurements from deep water observatories in the North Atlantic. ANIMATE is a European program coordinated by Prof. Uwe Send at IFM, Kiel and will establish sites at three contrasting locations (see chart). The measurements in the first instance will be somewhat basic but nevertheless encapsulate the crucial processes that drive the biogeochemistry of any oceanic region. At all three sites at about 15m depth (100m off the Canary Islands) there will be frequent measurements of CO2 concentration, nutrients and fluorescence as a proxy for phytoplankton concentration. Throughout the top 100m there will be measurements at about a dozen depths of salinity and temperature and this will enable us to characterise the complete annual cycle of the physics of the upper ocean. It is this physics which determines to a great extent the concentrations of limiting nutrients in the upper sunlit zone and the growth of phytoplankton. Phytoplankton are responsible for about half of the oceanic CO2 uptake and, as such, a better understanding of the relationship between physics, nutrients, phytoplankton growth and CO2 concentration is essential if we are to understand the processes and predict future responses of the oceans to anthropogenic CO2 release.

Much of these data will be transmitted in real time by satellite to SOC where the data base and web managers will put it directly into the public domain. Some of the material produced in the upper zone settles into the deep ocean and it is important that this flux is assessed at the same time as the other properties are measured. There are already existing time series observations at the PAP and ESTOC sites and in addition to these, a new series will commence in the Central Irminger Sea (CIS) as part of ANIMATE.

To put some of these data into a spatial context, another EU program (CAVASSOO) will be using commercial shipping lines to measure surface CO2 concentration (red lines on map). The frequent cruises to the time series sites for calibration and maintenance will also be used to make rate process measurements on a wide range of aspects not at present possible using in situ instrumentation. The entire data set will then be used to enhance coupled physical and biogeochemical models of the oceanic system. This will be the first opportunity to obtain real time biogeochemical data from an oceanic setting. It represents a new wave of observations of the open ocean and paves the way for a vastly improved level of comprehension of this complex system.

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