Understanding and detection of global change requires relevant, long-term data collection in critical areas of the Earth System. The Cape Verde Ocean Observatory is located in an area of the world that plays a key role in atmosphere-ocean interactions of climate-related parameters as well as of key biogeochemical parameters such as greenhouse gases. The site is also located in an area of massive dust transport from land to the ocean, and where aerosol impacts on climate, atmospheric chemistry and marine processes are large and potentially subject to future change as a result of direct or indirect human intervention.
The Cape Verde site is located in the tropics, a region of the Earth that is under-populated with long-term observations, as compared to mid-latitudes and high-latitudes. A unique feature of this observatory is the proximity to an atmospheric monitoring site (Cape Verde Atmospheric Observatory, CVAO) that measures a wide range of greenhouse gases and other parameters, downwind of the ocean site.
One example for the benefit of co-located atmospheric and oceanographic measurement at Cape Verde is the characterization of biogeochemical cycles of Sub-Saharan Africa.
Measurements in the ocean and in the atmosphere as well will also be capable of resolving seasonal to inter-annual variability in air-sea gas exchanges associated with variability of upwelling dynamics off Mauritania. Climate-change related variations in equatorial and tropical upwelling in the Pacific Ocean are already known to have a global impact for example on atmospheric CO2 variability.
Oceanographic time-series information from immediately ‘upwind’ of the atmospheric monitoring site will help resolve the extent to which atmospheric signals of air-sea gas exchange are forced locally in the nearby pelagic North Equatorial Countercurrent (NECC), or remotely in the Mauritanian Upwelling region.
Another climate-related feedback mechanism involving the ocean and the atmosphere is a change in deposition of continental dust on marine ecosystems, including biogenic gas production. This feedback can be studied very effectively in the vicinity of Cape Verde.
Established sampling infrastructure and collection of relevant basic data at CVOO (marine biogeochemistry) in co-location to the atmospheric site (e.g. dust characteristics, atmospheric data) could provide a foundation and context for research projects that investigate these feedbacks. The Cape Verde time-series infrastructure and data could become the locus for operations, campaigns and more specialized measurements and experiments by the international science community. At the same time, the infrastructure, data and exposure to international science can be of direct value to Cape Verde and the West Africa region.