Ocean surface and atmospheric boundary layer interactions include a variety of critical feedbacks between physical and biogeochemical processes resulting in complex exchanges of energy and matter. The observation, quantification and monitoring of the various ocean and atmospheric variables involved in these processes are of major importance to better understand, characterise and predict their influence in the overall Earth system and its climate.
The understanding and prediction of such processes have been hindered in the past by the lack of suitable data at the required spatial and temporal scales. Over the past years, Earth observation (EO) data integrated with in situ networks and within suitable models have demonstrated their potential to provide improved global estimates of several key parameters governing these ocean–atmosphere interactions. Furthermore, over the next few years the capabilities of monitoring the Earth’s ocean surface and atmosphere will experience an unprecedented improvement through the increasing number of novel EO missions to be launched by the space agencies. The full exploitation of such increasing multi-mission observational capability by scientific and institutional users requires coordinated research efforts to develop robust global geoinformation products and to facilitate their integration with in situ data and within suitable coupled physical–biogeochemical models.
Specific objectives for the EGU Ocean Science (OS)–Biogeosciences (BG) inter-journal special issue are the following:
- to increase the scientific understanding of the main processes governing ocean–atmosphere interactions and their impacts on the Earth system and climate;
- to highlight the current advances in EO technology and its capacity to improve the characterization of the complex ocean–atmosphere fluxes at different temporal and spatial scales;
- to exploit the synergies of the increasing number of complementary EO missions (and their integration into advanced coupled models) to better address the major scientific gaps in ocean–atmosphere interactions.
Such objectives are meant to be addressed by studies relevant to the non-exhaustive range of the following thematic areas: aerosol, heat, freshwater, momentum and greenhouse-gas fluxes; modelling and data assimilation.
This journal contributions are expected to exploit data coming from several remote sensors onboard a wide suite of ESA (ENVISAT and the Earth Explorers series), EUMETSAT, NASA and JAXAsatellites (among others). The envisaged enhanced capabilities that will be offered in the near future with the launch of the Sentinel satellites of the GMES programme are also particularly welcome.
As a forerunner activity to draw together EO and Earth-system communities to emphasize major insights and relevant findings in the use of EO data to characterize ocean–atmosphere interactions, the ESA, SOLAS (Surface Ocean and Lower Atmosphere Study) and EGU jointly organized the "Earth Observation for Ocean-Atmosphere Interaction Science" conference (http://www.eo4oceanatmosphere.info/), which took place in December 2011 at the Italian premises of ESA (ESRIN) in Frascati. This event proved to be an excellent opportunity to exchange information and enhance coordination across the EO and SOLAS, scientific institutions and space agencies involved in the observation, characterization and forecasting of ocean–atmosphere interactions and their impacts. This EGU inter-journal special issue will also capitalize and deepen results and remarks highlighted at this conference.