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About

NASA's Ocean Biology and Biogeochemistry program focuses on describing, understanding, and predicting the biological, ecological, and biogeochemical regimes of the upper ocean, as determined by observation of aquatic optical properties using remote sensing data, including those from space, aircraft, and other suborbital platforms.

Overarching programmatic goals include:

  • Understanding and quantifying the impacts and feedbacks of Earth System processes, particularly oceanographic mechanisms, on the global and regional spatial and temporal variability of ocean biology and ecology, including phytoplankton and organisms from other trophic levels

  • Understanding and quantifying the impacts and feedbacks of Earth System processes, particularly oceanographic mechanisms, on the global and regional spatial and temporal variability of ocean biogeochemistry, including carbon sources and sinks and the fate of other chemical species or components in the ocean;

  • Exploring the development of new biological, ecological, and biogeochemical observations beyond traditional ocean color (e.g., phytoplankton chlorophyll a) from space-based assets, as well as furthering the climate research enabled by existing time series of climate observations (Earth System Data Records); and

  • Improving future climate predictions (impacts and feedbacks) by incorporating a dynamic understanding of ocean biology, ecology, and biogeochemistry into global biogeochemical and ecological models to understand the ocean's role in the Earth System.
Science Questions
  • How are ocean ecosystems and the biodiversity they support influenced by climate and environmental variability and change, and how will these changes occur over time?

  • How do carbon and other elements transition between ocean pools and pass through the Earth System, and how do biogeochemical fluxes impact the ocean and Earth's climate over time?

  • How (and why) is the diversity and geographical distribution of coastal marine habitats changing, and what are the implications for the well-being of human society?

  • How do hazards and pollutants impact the hydrography and biology of the coastal zone? How do they affect us, and can we mitigate their effects?

Programmatic Presentations:
2015 NASA Update presented at the Second International Ocean Color Science Meeting by Paula Bontempi

2014 State of the Program: NASA Ocean Biology & Biogeochemistry presented by Paula Bontempi and Kathy Tedesco >>

2013 State of the Program: NASA Ocean Biology & Biogeochemistry presented by Paula Bontempi >>

Carbon Cycle and Ecosystems Focus Area
Ocean Biology and Biogeochemistry research mainly supports the Carbon Cycle and Ecosystem Focus Area (http://nasascience.nasa.gov/earth-science/carbon-cycle-and-ecosystems). Each of the Earth Science Focus Areas portrays a strategy for a decade of progress through 2015, based on a suite of systematic observations, novel new Earth Science observations, and specific programmatic elements. NASA’s Ocean Biology and Biogeochemistry program utilizes remotely sensed observations from land, ocean, and atmosphere, as well as field studies and campaigns, and interdisciplinary data assimilation and modeling efforts to better understand the ocean’s role in the Earth System and to predict future causes of change and feedbacks on ocean biology and biogeochemistry within the Earth System.

In support of the Carbon Cycle and Ecosystems Roadmap, scientific questions of interest to the Ocean Biology and Biogeochemistry Program include (but are not limited to):

  • How are ocean ecosystems and the biodiversity they support influenced by climate andenvironmental variability and change, and how will these changes occur over time?
  • How do carbon and other elements transition between ocean pools and pass through the Earth System, and how do biogeochemical fluxes impact the ocean and Earth's climate over time?
  • How (and why) are the diversity and geographical distribution of coastal marine habitats changing, and what are the implications for the well being of human society?
  • How do hazards and pollutants impact the hydrography and biology of the coastal zone?
  • How do they affect us, and can we mitigate their effects?

Resources for NASA Ocean Biology and Biogeochemistry Program

  • Appendix A.1 of ROSES
    "Earth Science Research Program" provides an overview of how the Ocean Biology and Biogeochemistry program fits into the Earth Science Division within NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. >>

  • Program goals and objectives for the coming decades can be found in the Ocean Biology and Biogeochemistry program’s advance plan.>>