Support for the U.S. GEOTRACES Project Office

Lead PI: Dr. Robert F. Anderson

Unit Affiliation: Geochemistry, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory (LDEO)

October 2018 - September 2021
Project Type: Research

DESCRIPTION: This award would support the work of the U.S. GEOTRACES Project Office to coordinate and support the activities of investigators at U.S. institutions who are fulfilling the GEOTRACES mission, specifically: "To identify processes and quantify fluxes that control the distributions of key trace elements and isotopes (TEIs) in the ocean, and to establish the sensitivity of these distributions to changing environmental conditions." Trace elements such as iron, cobalt and zinc occur in the ocean at ultra-low concentrations. Their low abundance is thought to influence the health and fertility of marine ecosystems. Consequently, gaining an accurate knowledge of the processes that regulate the distribution of these elements in the ocean forms a key contribution to sustainable management of marine resources. To fulfill the GEOTRACES mission, and achieve benefits derived from doing so, GEOTRACES is making observations spanning a global array of ocean sections in close connection with numerical modeling, and supported by a solid foundation of ongoing intercalibration of analytical methods and a program-wide data management system. The U.S. GEOTRACES Project Office takes leadership in ensuring successful completion of US GEOTRACES contributions in support of the mission and in leading the international GEOTRACES data management and synthesis initiatives. The award supports project office personnel, working groups contributing to GEOTRACES synthesis, events that facilitate the use of GEOTRACES products by the broader community, and workshops for expedition planning and data analysis. US GEOTRACES is in the middle of a decade-scale plan to complete a prioritized sequence of ocean sections. Synthesis activities will interpret distributions of TEIs measured along these sections to identify the principal sources of TEIs in the ocean and, in many cases, to quantify the rates of processes that regulate TEI supply and removal. Synthesis activities, furthermore, assess the role of TEIs in biogeochemical cycles of carbon and major nutrients, including bioavailability of micronutrients together with their biological uptake and regeneration throughout the water column. Products of these activities will feed into modeling of the ocean biogeochemical cycles that assesses the sensitivity of TEI distributions to changing environmental conditions. Building and improving the GEOTRACES data management system will be an ongoing process throughout the proposed funding period. As co-chair of the standing committee responsible for the structure of the GEOTRACES data product, Anderson will work closely with the Data Management Committee throughout the process. The primary goal for the immediate future is to replace the current system, which involves manual transfer of Excel workbooks and Google docs between the three committees that handle data, the GEOTRACES Data Assembly Center, and the individual who assembles the data products, with an automated system shared by all involved that eliminates manual transfer of individual data sets. It is anticipated that developing the new data system will take two years, so the process will begin in the spring of 2018 to ensure that the system is available in time to prepare the next intermediate data product, scheduled for release in 2021.