20 Years of Watching Earth Breathe from Space
Since 1997, a collection of NASA satellites has been monitoring life on earth. These satellites detect chlorophyll, the pigment that makes plants green. By knitting together images from SeaWiFS satellites, NASA has produced a stunning, global view of life on Earth over the past 20 years. So stunning, the resulting visualization and some of the scientists that helped to create these images were featured on the morning news in the United States. Sea-Bird Scientific works closely with these and other scientists, providing the oceanographic instruments to verify these space-borne measurements, and helping to monitor the beating heart of our planet that provides half of the oxygen we breathe.
Evolution of the SBE 41 Float CTD Module
Sea-Bird Scientific's involvement in the world of profiling floats dates back to the late 90s, when temperature and conductivity sensors were integrated with early profiling floats. Back in 1997, when ALACE floats were devoted to tracing ocean circulation, the first PALACE (Profiling ALACE) floats were equipped with temperature and conductivity sensors, recording high-accuracy salinity and temperature as the float rose to the surface. The success of the PALACE floats fed into the ARGO program in 1999-2000, and the release of the 41CP float CTD module in the year 2000, allowing for 1 Hz profiling and greater autonomy from the float/CTD combination. As the global distribution of profiling floats expanded and more instruments entered the water, Sea-Bird expanded the capabilities of the 41/41CP. Sensor packages rose to meet advancing data requests:
- A membrane-based dissolved oxygen sensor was integrated in 2003 (later replaced by the SBE 63 optical dissolved oxygen sensor)
- The STS “Surface Temperature Salinity” free-flushed conductivity sensor was added in 2006 to record surface temperature and salinity and prevent fouling of the primary sensors
- New pressure sensor choices improved stability and reliability
- A serial interface was added to the SBE 41 to support a wider variety of auxiliary sensors.
In 2011, Sea-Bird developed the Navis Profiling Float, capable of supporting the 41/41CP CTDs and additional sensors. More recently, biogeochemical sensor options as part of the Navis BGCi profiling float package include the Float Deep SeaFETTM pH sensor, the Deep SUNA Nitrate Sensor, the ECO-MCOMS fluorescence and backscattering optical sensor, and the OCR 504 Multispectral Radiometer. Today, success of the SBE 41/41CP Float CTDs in ARGO and other float programs have culminated to active R&D in the profiling float platform. Continuing the research momentum of the Navis BGCi, Sea-Bird Scientific is helping to expand the capabilities of the global float network, working alongside major players in the profiling float industry.
For a visual timeline of the SBE 41 Argo CTD, please read the PDF "Present and Future State of SBE 41 Argo CTD", presented at the University of Washington Float and Sensor Workshop.
Tech Tip: Profiling Float Nomenclature
ALACE: Autonomous LAgrangian Circulation Explorer- subsurface oceanographic float designed to study ocean circulation. Neutrally buoyant at depth, ALACE floats travel with underwater currents and periodically surface to transmit their new location.
PALACE: Profiling Autonomous LAgrangian Circulation Explorer- an ALACE float equipped with temperature and conductivity sensors. PALACE floats conduct profiles during the float’s ascent, transmitting temperature and salinity profiles in addition to positional data.
ARGO: International organization that deploys and manages a global fleet of profiling floats, known as “Argo” floats, with over 3900 floats deployed by March 2017. Visit Argo website.
Navis: Integrated profiling float made by Sea-Bird Scientific deployed in the Argo program. Read more.
Navis BGCi: Navis float with an integrated CTD and an optional suite of sensors. Read more.
SBE 41: CTD module for profiling floats. Relies on the float controller to trigger spot sampling and log data. Read more.
SBE 41CP: CTD module for profiling floats capable of both spot sampling and continuous profiling at 1 sample/second during the float's ascent. Has internal memory for data storage. Read more.
STS: Surface Temperature Salinity - a second free-flushing conductivity sensor. Samples surface temperature and conductivity while the primary sensors and pump shut off to avoid ingesting surface contaminants. Read more [PDF].
Float Deep SeaFETTM: Adaptation of the Deep-Sea DuraFET developed collaboratively by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI), Scripps Institution of Oceanography (SIO), and Honeywell. Provides stable and accurate pH for long-term deployments on profiling floats. Read more.
SBE 63: Optical dissolved oxygen sensor included in many Navis packages. Also installed as an auxiliary sensor for other Sea-Bird CTDs. Read more.
ECO-MCOMS: Fluorescence/backscattering optical sensor, based on the SeaOWL and adapted for integration on profiling floats. MCOMS is installed directly into the float end cap and co-located with DO and physical measurements.
Meet Our People: John Sablan, Production Supervisor
John has been with Sea-Bird Scientific for over 12 years now. John started as a Service Technician in 2005, and then moved into Production Assembly several months later. John also worked in the Final Test department, before joining the Navis Team in 2011. Since then, John has been contributing to the team in various roles from Technician to Production Supervisor responsible for Alace and Navis teams.
In his spare time, John enjoys barbeque and golfing. He also loves to spend time with his wife Nereyda, his daughter Arianne, and Salvador, his 5 month old baby boy.