COLUMBUS, Ohio (Feb. 26, 2015)—Being able to monitor levels of carbon dioxide in the ocean and atmosphere over a long period of time is crucial to ocean scientists’ effort to track ocean change and distinguish between natural and human-caused drivers.
Battelle recently contributed to research highlighting the importance of long-term data collection to track ocean change and the methods to do so.
In a paper co-authored by Haskell Jac Fought, research leader within Battelle’s Maritime Systems business unit, the team provides a high-frequency atmospheric and seawater pCO2 (partial pressure carbon dioxide) data set from 14 open-ocean moored autonomous systems.
This development of a pCO2 system, with its high reliability and low uncertainty, provides scientists the tools to monitor sub-seasonal dynamics and has improved our knowledge of a little-understood problem of CO2: the amount of CO2 being absorbed into the oceans. This rise in CO2 absorption leads to a drop in ocean pH level and hinders natural growth within the ocean.
“What we’re trying to get across is the importance of high quality, long-term data sets for a single location,” Fought said. “One of the big problems with measuring environmental information is that the environment is constantly changing. And so having quality data at single locations over a long period of time provides a tool enabling scientists to better understand and model the ocean environment.”
The team collected high-quality data using ocean sensor hardware manufactured by Battelle. Battelle partnered with National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Pacific Marine Environmental Labs (PMEL) to transition and improve its MApCO2 sensor, which monitors partial pressure CO2 in both the ocean and the atmosphere.
With the newly developed Battelle Seaology® pCO2 system, information is available in near real time via satellite communications instead of having to wait until you have retrieved the device from the ocean to collect the data.
Fought said in addition to this ease of access to the data, the Battelle Seaology® pCO2 system has another advantage. “There are a lot of pCO2 instruments out there, but very few of them are traceable back to World Meteorological Organization Standards,” he said. “One of the benefits of systems that are traceable back to World Meteorological Organization Standards is that the data from each instrument can be compared to the data from all of the Seaology® pCO2 systems.”
The World Meteorological Organization Standards exist to ensure uniformity in meteorological practices and procedures. In this case, using this standard allows the data collected to be traced back to a single standard of measure, allowing data to be compared over long periods of time and adding to its validity.
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