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

Ocean-atmosphere fluxes play a critical role in controlling our climate. We require a mechanistic understanding of the physical, chemical, and biological processes that affect the transfer of mass (especially gases) and energy across the air-sea interface from nanoscales up to the global scale.

Theme 2 team


Team leaders

Tom Bell (United Kingdom,
Inés Mercedes Leyba (Argentina,
Lisan Yu (United States,

Team members

Daiki Nomura (Japan,
Luc Deike (USA,
Patrick Duke (Canada,
Anja Engel (Germany,
Leonie Esters (Germany,
Christa Marandino (Germany,
Peter Minnett (United States,
Sarah Nicholson (South Africa,
Raquel Oliveira (Brazil,
Mariana Ribas-Ribas (Germany,
Anna Rutgersson (Sweden,
Rachel Stanley (USA,

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 mass and energy fluxes across the surface ocean boundary layer and in the sea surface microlayer?
  • 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 we improve methods and models to estimate air-sea fluxes?



Coordinated measurements
Joint, coordinated and interdisciplinary flux campaigns, including measurements at time-series stations, to compare methods, instruments, and processes. This should be achieved both with stationary stations, where instruments are attached to buoys or platforms (including unmanned aerial vehicles, UAVs, and autonomous underwater and surface vehicles, AUVs and ASVs) and with ongoing and planned cruises, as well as method evaluation of flux measurements and surfactant analyses. Efforts to compile existing and newly generated data in flux databases, using FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reusable) principles, should be included.
Satellite observations
Develop and apply satellite tools to determine features of sampling sites prior to studies as well as interpreting the results. Additionally, remote sensing products, other than wind speed and sea-surface temperature, should be developed, which can be used globally as a basis for gas exchange estimates.
Modeling efforts in synergy with measurements
Support modeling (prognostic and empirical/machine learning) efforts to be performed jointly/in collaboration with field measurements, with the aim of providing data to validate physics-based formulation/parameterization of air sea mass fluxes (including gas transfer velocity for multiple gases, sea spray aerosols) at various wind speeds. Measurements from satellites should be an important component of such studies. Develop collaborations with large scale modeling centers to implement these novel formulations into ocean, atmosphere and climate models, leading to better exploitation of satellite data.
Links with other large scale coordinated programmes

Ensure that SOLAS Theme 2 is represented within programmes such as Ocean Obs. (, which makes important and Theme 2-relevant contributions via Community White Papers such as Centurioni et al. (2019) and Cronin et al. (2019). Other relevant programmes include Integrated Carbon Observation System (ICOS), Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS), World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and Observing Air-Sea Interactions Strategy (OASIS).




Planned activities

Theme 2-relevant, funded research programmes

SOLAS-endorsed national and international research programs investigating the air-sea interface and fluxes include:

Atlantic Meridional Transect CO2 Flux from Satellite Campaign (AMT4CO2Flux:
Biogeochemical processes and Air-sea exchange in the Sea-Surface microlayer (BASS:
Breathing Oceans: understanding the organic skin that modulates the exchange of greenhouse gases between the atmosphere and the ocean (BOOGIE:
Community activities, meetings and workshops