The Joint Global Ocean Flux Study

JGOFS was launched in 1989 as a Core Project of IGBP to address the question: How do ocean biological processes influence and respond to climate change?

Background for JGOFS Science

In the early eighties, marine geochemists and biologists were concerned that a physical transport model with only an upper boundary condition would be inadequate to determine the role of the ocean in the atmospheric carbon dioxide budget and hence, the prediction of climate change in response to the atmospheric build-up of greenhouse gases would not be possible. Because the oceans contain about 50 times as much CO2 as the atmosphere, small changes in the ocean carbon cycle can have large atmospheric consequences. Both physico-chemical and biological processes influence the exchange of CO2 between the ocean and the atmosphere, with biological feedbacks, in particular, having the potential to amplify the chemical and physical effects. JGOFS was co-sponsored by SCOR

JGOFS Objectives

  • To determine and understand on a global scale the processes controlling the time-varying fluxes of carbon and associated biogenic elements in the ocean, and to evaluate the related exchanges with the atmosphere, sea floor and continental boundaries
  • To develop a capacity to predict on a global scale the response to anthropogenic perturbations, in particular those related to climate change.

JGOFS improved our knowledge of the processes that control carbon exchanges between the various interfaces as well as the sensitivity of these fluxes to climate change. JGOFS was completed in 2003, the year in which it held its final Open Science Conference in Washington D.C.

The JGOFS International Project Office (IPO) was first hosted by the Institut für Meereskunde, Universität Kiel, Germany (1993-1995) and later by the University of Bergen, Norway (1996-2003) with kind support from the Research Council of Norway, the University of Bergen and the Meltzer Foundation.

JGOFS Legacy

The role of the Ocean Carbon Cycle in Global Change. Fasham, Michael J.R. (Ed.) Springer Verlag, Heidelberg, Germany, 2003, 297 pp. (A synthesis of JGOFS science).

The Changing Ocean Carbon Cycle: A midterm synthesis of the Joint Global Ocean Flux Study. Hanson, R.B., Ducklow, H.W. and Field, J.G. (eds). IGBP Book Series No. 5. Cambridge University Press, UK, 2000, 520 pp.

Ocean Biogeochemistry and global change, 2001. IGBP Science no. 2 (A popular summary of JGOFS main achievements).

For further information about the JGOFS project, and electronic material produced by JGOFS, contact the IGBP Secretariat.
JGOFS website (last updated December 2003)