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Field Campaigns

Field campaigns are observational studies planned for specific locations over a defined time period, during which measurements are conducted from a variety of platforms. The following field campaigns will provide data to benefit the PACE mission.

EXPORTS logo
EXPORTS Cruise Dates:
  • North Pacific: August 2018
  • North Atlantic: Spring 2020

Export Processes in the Ocean from RemoTe Sensing (EXPORTS)

Phytoplankton play a major role in the transfer of carbon from the surface ocean. While some of the carbon taken in by plankton is consumed and recycled by other organisms, some may sink to the deep ocean. Understanding the pathways by which carbon is exported from the ocean surface is important, but can be difficult to observe. The goal of EXPORTS is to track the fate of ocean carbon and study its implications for Earth’s carbon cycle. EXPORTS will use advanced ocean observing tools and satellite observations to build a more complete picture of these complex processes. The North Pacific cruise scheduled for August of 2018 will examine the sinking and export of phytoplankton. In 2020, a North Atlantic cruise will further investigate the roles of zooplankton, very small plankton (picoplankton), and bacteria in carbon export.

Benefits for PACE

  • EXPORTS is designed to advance the usefulness of NASA ocean color measurements to predict how changes in ocean primary production might impact the carbon cycle.
  • EXPORTS will strengthen understanding of both the export of organic carbon in the upper ocean  and its fate in the deeper "twilight zone."
  • Data will be used to better understand export processes, with the goal of developing better remote sensing and modeling methods to observe carbon flow (e.g., from PACE observations).


Sea to Space Particle Investigation

Distinct groups of oceanic phytoplankton play specific roles in the marine carbon cycle, contributing to the functioning of the entire ocean ecosystem. One way in which these groups can be identified is by detecting their particle size distribution (PSD), which can be observed by satellite. The ability to readily differentiate these groups from one another via remote sensing – a major goal for the PACE mission - is challenging, but would allow researchers to develop algorithms to estimate phytoplankton community composition. Before this can occur, there is a crucial need for these PSD measurements to be validated by ground-truth datasets. In January, scientists from NASA Goddard Space Flight Center will collect data in collaboration with the Schmidt Ocean Institute on a month-long cruise in the Pacific aboard the R/V Falkor. The science team will test novel instrumentation, compare in situ measurements to satellite observations, and investigate the role of PSDs in the flux of carbon in the ocean.

Benefits for PACE

  • Includes above and in-water hyperspectral radiometry
  • Calibration and validation of remote measurements of plankton particle size distribution
  • Reduction of uncertainties in estimates of marine PSDs
  • Improves definition of linkages between hyperspectral remote sensing, phytoplankton functional types and oceanic carbon cycle


North Atlantic Aerosols and Marine Ecosystems Study (NAAMES)

NAAMES is a five-year investigation to resolve key processes controlling ocean system function, their influences on atmospheric aerosols and clouds and their implications for climate. Observations obtained during four targeted ship and aircraft measurement campaigns, combined with the continuous satellite and in situ ocean sensor records, will enable improved predictive capabilities of Earth system processes and will inform ocean management and assessment of ecosystem change.

Benefits for PACE

  • Aircraft will have similar instruments including hyperspectral radiometers and a polarimeter
  • Advanced sea surface observations will be used to relate instrument-collected data to in-water biogeochemical conditions
  • Full suite of instruments serves as a prototype for the PACE Mission payload
  • Supports interdisciplinary efforts to understand open ocean phytoplankton blooms and their impact on fisheries
  • Helps to define linkages between aerosols generated by marine biological organisms and ocean ecosystems

CORAL logo
CORAL 2016 Dates:
  • Hawaii: Jun 6-17
  • Palau: Jul 4-22
  • Mariana Islands: Jul 25-Aug 5
  • Australia: Sep 1-Oct 31
  • Hawaii: Nov
CORAL Website
NASA Earth Expeditions Blog
Five Things about CORAL
PRISM Brings Coral into Focus

COral Reef Airborne Laboratory (CORAL)

The three-year CORAL mission will survey a portion of the world's coral reefs to assess the condition of these threatened ecosystems and understand their relation to the environment, including physical, chemical and human factors. CORAL will use advanced airborne instruments, including the Portable Remote Imaging Spectrometer (PRISM), and in-water measurements. The investigation will assess the reefs of Palau, the Mariana Islands, portions of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef and Hawaii. With new understanding of reef condition, the future of this global ecosystem can be predicted.

Benefits for PACE

  • Airborne hyperspectral instrument, PRISM, will provide measurements similar to those planned for PACE
  • CORAL data will be used to build a synthetic data set that will be used by PACE to test its algorithms
  • Ancillary data collected by CORAL - such as optical properties and atmospheric correction - will also help to fine-tune PACE data processing techniques


Korea - United States Ocean Color (KORUS-OC) Study

KORUS-OC is an oceanographic field study being conducted in conjunction with the air quality campaign, KORUS-AQ. Led by NASA and the Korean Institute of Ocean Science and Technology (KIOST), KORUS-OC will focus on the links between satellite- and ship-based measurements of ocean color, biology and biogeochemistry, as well as atmospheric composition in coastal waters adjacent to the Republic of Korea. KORUS-OC's hands-on training will build stronger ocean optics capabilites among participating scientists while providing oceanographic validation data for the Korean Geostationary Ocean Color Imager (GOCI) satellite.

Benefits for PACE

  • Airborne hyperspectral instruments that provide measurements similar to those planned for PACE
  • Data will be used to infer how PACE data might be applied to better understand coastal biogeochemcial processes