Scientists require a wealth of information to fully characterize and understand both regional and global climate, as well as fundamental ocean processes and functions. Certain questions, such as how the ocean responds to global climate change, can only be answered by in-depth analysis of data collected continuously over a significantly long period of time, also known as a time-series study. The Bermuda Atlantic Time-series Study (BATS) was established to help scientists address these "big picture" questions about the ocean by collecting data on important physical (hydrographic), chemical, and biological parameters throughout the water column at multiple sites within the Sargasso Sea. Since the program began in 1988, BATS data have been used by researchers at BIOS--and around the globe--to explore active oceanographic questions and integrate new methodologies into their research.
BATS has proven invaluable in ocean and atmospheric science by producing data that helps us better understand global climate change and the ocean's responses to variations in the Earth's atmosphere. BATS and other deep-ocean time-series have highlighted the importance of biological diversity in understanding biological and chemical cycles, including "active" carbon transport by migratory zooplankton as part of the ocean's Biological Carbon Pump. BATS scientists have also focused on carbon exchange between the ocean and atmosphere, seeking an understanding of how the ocean responds to increased levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide.
Data from BATS have been used to address a variety of other topics, including:
- Temporal variations in nutrient concentrations of surface water;
- Phytoplankton blooms;
- Responses of calcifying organisms (e.g., corals) to ocean acidification;
- Ecosystem models for the Sargasso Sea and North Atlantic;
- Plankton diversity and community structure;
- Mesoscale eddies and their impacts on phytoplankton community structure and carbon sequestration;
- The role of dissolved organic carbon in the global carbon cycle;
- The impacts of low-frequency climate patterns (such as the El Niño Southern Oscillation) on biogeochemical cycling