Exchange fluxes of climate-relevant trace gases off the Western AntaRctic Peninsula (EWARP)

Besides the well-known greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2), there are more climate relevant gases influencing our climate that are still very unexplored and underestimated. For example, the trace gases methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O) und carbon monoxide (CO) have a high warming potential. Though, there are counteracting gases such as dimethyl sulphide (DMS) with a cooling effect on the earth’s climate. These gases interact with the global oceans acting as sink or source for atmospheric gases. The exchange processes are very complex and especially in polar regions not completely understood but essential for climate research. Within the EWARP-Project, we investigate the concentrations and production pathways of trace gases in the Antarctic ocean around the Western Antarctic Peninsula (WAP) and how the gases interact with the atmosphere. The interface between the ocean and the atmosphere plays a key role for exchange processes. This layer is called sea-surface microlayer (SML) and describes the very thin (~0.1 mm) upper layer of the ocean, where organic material accumulates. Since gases have to cross this interface, the chemical, physical and hydrodynamic properties of the SML influence the transport processes. The EWARP-project therefore focuses on the investigation of surface-processes and trace-gas dynamics.

Research objectives

  • Investigation of exchange processes of trace gases at the ocean-atmosphere interface and its variability between the open ocean and coastal areas
  • Assess the influence of changing ice conditions, solar radiation and algal blooms on the distribution of trace gases
  • Explore the influence of small-scale ocean currents on the trace gas exchange
  • Examine the physical and chemical properties of the SML and the underlying (bulk)water


  • Measurements of meteorological data and sampling of SML and bulk water by using a remote‑controlled research catamaran: Analysis for accumulation of organic material and surface-active substances (surfactants)
  • Seasonal sampling of sea water for the measurement of N2O, CH4, CO as well as DMS, DMSP and DMSO concentrations
  • Measurement of atmosphericN2O and CH4 concentrations
  • Measurement of hydrographic parameters (e.g. temperature, salinity, intensity and direction of currents)
  • Tracking of flow patterns by using oceanic surface-drifters

Responsible persons

Prof. Dr. Oliver Wurl, ICBM, University Oldenburg

Dr. Thomas Badewien, ICBM, University Oldenburg

Prof. Dr. Hermann W. Bange, GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel

Dr. Damian L. Arévalo-Martínez, Radboud University, Nijmegen

Projects we participate in

MOCCHA – Arctic Ocean 2018 (IB Oden)
DynAMo – Beagle Channel Observatory