This research programme has two stages.

Stage one will provide new understanding of key processes. Stage two will integrate this new knowledge into models, to assess its global consequences. 

The strategy for stage one is to encourage modelling, laboratory work and fieldwork to overlap, recognising that such an interdisciplinary approach is key to solving this complex issue. 

Stage one is split between projects not requiring fieldwork and projects requiring fieldwork. 

These projects are staggered so ideas for novel techniques or sampling strategies from non-fieldwork projects can percolate into planning for fieldwork projects. 

Fieldwork projects will form part of a major fieldwork programme, with scope for significant use of NERC ship time and autonomous systems. 

In addition to bringing novel modelling approaches to bear on this topic, stage two will make use of contrasting global models that are routinely used across the UK community. This will allow the feedbacks arising from climate-triggered shifts in processes to be assessed. 

Using a diverse range of models will provide a robust assessment of the impact of biologically affected changes in ocean carbon storage to 2100, and its uncertainty. 

The UK has a range of models needed for this important step that very few other countries possess. 


The aims of this programme are to: 

  • enhance our understanding of key biological processes that affect how carbon storage by the global ocean will change in the future 
  • significantly improve global ocean carbon budget projections, to better inform policy development and decision making in support of net zero ambitions 
  • provide new parameterisations of key processes and emergent constraints on global model behaviour for use in simulations feeding into the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) seventh assessment report 
  • implement new parameterisations and constraints in a suite of global models in order to provide a robust assessment to 2100 of the biologically associated changes in global ocean carbon storage, and their sensitivity to key processes identified by this programme. This assessment should be suitable for inclusion in IPCC’s seventh assessment report 
  • provide a significant UK contribution to the UN Ocean Decade outcome for ‘a predicted ocean’ by improving our ability to model oceanic responses under anthropogenic influence 
  • address two priorities of the WCRP’s grand challenge on carbon feedbacks in the climate system