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Ocean pH: Then, Now, and Future

Ocean acidification is the ongoing decrease in the pH of the Earth's oceans, caused by the uptake of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) as water and air mix at the water’s surface. In an effort to better understand the historical evolution of ocean acidification, the Environmental Visualization Laboratory at NOAA has developed an Interactive Map that shows pH data from 1861 to present day, and future forecasts to 2100. Scrolling back and forth through the decades brings home the dramatic changes that have occurred in the ocean over the past 150 years and demonstrates what might happen in the years to come.

The visualization is output from a model that uses carbon dioxide emission estimates from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Other interesting ocean science data sets available on NOAAView include sea surface temperature, salinity, nitrate, oxygen and chlorophyll. To learn more, please visit NOAAView Data Exploration Tool.


New Technology for Ocean Acidification Research



Ocean Business 2017
Stand L9
Southampton, UK
April 4 - 6, 2017

Sea-Bird University
Kunming, China
April 26-28, 2017

Sea-Bird University
Bellevue, WA
October 16-19, 2017
15 Seats Available

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*Only Available in
Canada and USA




Photo Credit: Wendy Schmidt Ocean Health XPRIZE.

Ocean pH has dropped from approximately 8.2 to 8.1 pH over the past 200 years, representing a 25% increase in acidity. The development of better instruments to measure ocean pH, particularly in the deep ocean, is vital to understanding the magnitude and impact of these changes. High-resolution in-situ measurements of pH in the ocean are now possible with innovative adaptations to ion sensitive field effect transistors (ISFET). Oceanographic instruments based on the ISFET technology have been in development for over a decade, but, as with most new technologies, have had significant hurdles to overcome.

The original SeaFET Ocean pH sensors, jointly developed at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute and Scripps Institution of Oceanography, have been recently updated with a solid state reference electrode and a new, custom-designed, pressure-tolerant housing for the ISFET chip. Scientists and engineers from Sea-Bird Scientific have presented field and laboratory data demonstrating the accuracy and stability of the new sensor for use in the deep ocean. For more on this work, please refer to Reliably Measuring pH In The Ocean.

Sea-Bird manufactures a number of pH sensors for a variety of deployment scenarios, from moorings to shipboard profiling to autonomous float profiling, for depths of up to 2000 m. For a look at the complete line of ocean pH sensors, please click here.


Ocean Networks Canada Releases Ocean pH Sensor Verification Report

Part of Ocean Networks Canada’s broad mandate is to test and validate new technologies for ocean research. Within their array of ocean installations is the Ocean Technology Test Bed (OTTB) in Saanich Inlet, British Columbia, which provides easy access to instruments for long-tem in situ testing. In order to assess the ability of Sea-Bird Scientific’s new SeaFET Ocean pH sensor technology to monitor the edge of a dynamic dissolved inorganic CO2 zone, a SeaFET was deployed along with a dissolved CO2 sensor, dissolved O2 sensor, and CTD on the OTTB for 1 year. A verification report detailing the sensor performance has recently been released, demonstrating the accuracy, long-term stability, and anti-fouling capabilities for the 1-year deployment period.

For more on Ocean Networks Canada’s findings, please read the verification report Ocean pH Sensor Verification Report 2015.


Sea-Bird Scientific at Oceanology International North America

Sea-Bird Scientific recently exhibited at Oi North America in San Diego, California. As this was the first year for Oi in the U.S., we were initially unsure about the extent of participation of the oceanographic community. Turnout was good, there was a positive vibe, and it was a great opportunity to meet with many of our national and international partners.


Tech Tip: SeaFET/SeapHOx pH Pre-conditioning

Above: SeaFET deployment at Sokol Point on the outer coast of Olympic National Park, Washington. Photo credit Steven Fradkin.

The SeaFET/SeapHOx must condition to the deployment environment for at least 48 hours before pH data is considered reliable. The Shallow SeaFET’s external pH sensor must be powered and exposed to the deployment site’s water for 2–5 days before obtaining quality data. You will often see the external pH gradually rise until it meets the internal reference pH within ~0.05 pH after correcting for Temperature and Salinity. To help expedite this process, you can fill the wet cap with water from the deployment environment and power the instrument prior to deployment.


PhotoMeet Our People
Nichole Halsey
Director of Product Management

Nichole has been involved in water-quality monitoring instrumentation sales and development for the past 8 years. She holds a BA in Psychology from Boston University and MBA from Northeastern University. Prior to joining Sea-Bird as a Product Line Manager in 2012, Nichole worked at Hach Hydromet as a Regional Sales Manager.

Nichole’s current role as Director of Product Management for Sea-Bird Scientific includes overseeing CTD, optical sensor, nutrient sensor, system, and software portfolios. She is also responsible for overseeing Sea-Bird pH technology and helping to advance ISFET-based pH sensors onto a broader set of instrumentation, from moored sensors to floats.

She is an Industry representative at the National Water Quality Monitoring Council. She loves to travel; some of her favorite locations include the Greek Islands, Tokyo, and Costa Rica. One day she hopes to visit the Galapagos Islands, and while there to visit the network of installed Sea-Bird SUNAs (nitrate sensors).



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