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Biogeochemical Floats

A close-up display of BGCi sensors on a Profiling Float head
© Sea-Bird Scientific

Argo floats are revolutionizing the way scientists study the ocean. Before the first profiling float entered the water, our ability to measure climate trends was limited in scope and large-scale studies were a costly endeavor. Today, scientists monitor the world’s oceans with nearly 4000 floats. These developments have provided an unprecedented amount of data.

Biogeochemical-Argo is the extension of the Argo array of profiling floats to include biogeochemical sensors for pH, oxygen, nitrate, chlorophyll, suspended particles, and downwelling irradiance. It is intended to address a number of challenges in ocean science and in the management of ocean and global resources. Newly developed sensors allow profiling floats to observe biogeochemical properties with sufficient accuracy for climate studies. This extension of Argo is developed to determine the seasonal to decadal-scale variability in biological productivity, the supply of essential nutrients from deep waters to the sunlit surface layer, ocean acidification, hypoxia, and ocean uptake of CO2.

Like the original Argo floats, Biogeochemical-Argo will drive a transformative shift in scientists’ ability to observe and predict the effects of climate change on ocean metabolism, carbon uptake, and living marine resource management. Monitoring of the ocean response to climatic and anthropogenic forces is critical to understanding the impacts on the global carbon cycle and its ecosystems’ responses. Increasing evidence of large-scale ocean acidification and resultant deoxygenation has emphasized the need to understand the impacts on biogeochemistry and ecosystem dynamics. The Sea-Bird Scientific SBE 41 and SBE 61 Deep Argo are autonomous profiling CTDs for Argo and other programs, supplying to more than 90% of the annual Argo program floats. The Navis BGCi and Navis BGCi+pH autonomous profiling floats come equipped with a CTD and biogeochemical sensors, including the Deep SUNA (nitrate), OCR 504 (4-channel radiometer), C-Rover 2000 (transmissometer), and Float pH sensor.

A large number of Sea-Bird Scientific sensors are used in biogeochemical monitoring due to their ability to get inter-comparable data:

Technical Documents

Biogeochemical Sensors
Parameter Moored Shipboard Deployments Profiling Floats AUV/ROV

CTD

37/16plusV2/16plus-IM V2

9plus

41/61

49/GPCTD

Dissolved Oxygen

SBE 63

SBE 43

SBE 63

SBE 43F (GPCTD)

pH

SeaFET V2/SeapHOx V2/
Deep SeapHOx V2

SBE 18/SBE 27

Float pH

 

Nitrate

37/16plusV2/16plus-IM V2

9plus

41/61

49/GPCTD

Chlorophyll a
Backscatter
FDOM

37/16plusV2/16plus-IM V2

9plus

41/61

49/GPCTD