Theme 2: Air-sea interface and fluxes of mass and energy

Ocean-atmosphere fluxes play a critical role in the evolution of climate. We therefore need to come to a mechanistic understanding of physical, chemical, and biological processes affecting exchange of gases, mass, and energy across the air-sea interface from nanoscale to global scale.

Theme 2 team


Team leaders

Tom Bell (United Kingdom,
Anna Rutgersson (Sweden,

Team members

Anja Engel (Germany,
Peter Minnett (United States,
Mariana Ribas Ribas (Germany,

Processes and impacts/stressors associated with long-lived greenhouse gases.

Dominant processes controlling air-sea fluxes of mass and energy in the open ocean.

Research questions

Key questions to be addressed within this theme are:

  • What are the biogeochemical properties and mechanisms that influence fluxes of gas, mass, and energy at the surface ocean boundary layer?
  • How can the turbulence-controlling processes be incorporated into parameterisation schemes describing the air-sea fluxes of mass and energy?
  • What are the feedbacks between processes governing air-sea fluxes and climate?
  • How can remote sensing instruments and techniques for estimating global air-sea fluxes be improved?
  • How can methods of estimating air-sea fluxes be improved?



Coordinated measurements
Support joint, coordinated flux measurements to compare methods, instruments, and processes. This should be achieved both with stationary stations, where instruments are attached to buoys or platforms, and with ongoing and planned cruises, as well as method evaluation of flux measurements and surfactant analysis.
Remote sensing
Develop and apply remote sensing tools to determine features of sampling sites prior to studies as well as interpreting the results.
Time Series Stations
Establish a network of SOLAS Time Series Stations with long-term observing systems to combine methods and conduct intercomparisons.




Planned activities

See SOLAS Activities 2020-2021 table here

Research programs on fluxes of mass and energy across the air-sea interface

Programs investigating the air-sea interface and ocean fluxes include the “Atlantic Merid-ional Transect Ocean Flux from Satellite Campaign” (AMT4oceanSatFlux), the project on “Role of Eddies in the Carbon Pump of Eastern Boundary Upwelling Systems” (REEBUS). The “Global Ocean Ship-based Hydrographic Investigations” (GO-SHIP) program investigates surface meteorology and near surface oceanographic measure-ments. The observational program Integrated Carbon Observational System (ICOS) includes flux monitoring over some European waters. Information on planned observation-al programs and workshops can be found via the respective program websites:


Current national and international programs investigating processes at the air-sea inter-face include amongst many: the Sea Surface Microlayer at Night (MILAN), ProcEss studies at the Air-sEa Interface after dust deposition in the MEditerranean sea (PEACETIME), and Integrated carboN and TracE Gas monitoRing for the bALtic sea (INTEGRAL). More details on their websites:


New joint international projects focusing on the Theme 2 science questions to be initiated and encouraged include:

  • A SOLAS Time Series Station at the Cape Verde Observatory.
  • A proposed SCOR working group to set up benchmark measurements for model validations, gathering modellers and observationalists to define relevant parameters and identify existing and new data sets.
Joint meetings and workshops
  • The 8th International Symposium on Gas Transfer at Water Surfaces, May 2021, Plymouth, UK
  • Sessions at major international meetings (i.e., AGU, EGU)
  • Activities at the SOLAS Summer Schools introducing surface flux methods
  • Coordinated publication efforts (e.g., Research TOPIC in Frontiers)
  • Workshop focusing on marine-specific issues of Eddy-covariance measurements