Shelf Sea Biogeochemistry blog

Showing posts with label Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler. Cefas SmartBuoy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler. Cefas SmartBuoy. Show all posts

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Recovering the Smart Buoy’ systems

We recently recovered two ‘Smart Buoy’ systems operated by Cefas. Several such observing systems have been deployed at various stations around the Celtic Sea since March of 2014. These systems allow us to understand variation in the ocean in a way that is similar to weather monitoring. The sensors can record a variety of variable crossing physics to biogeochemical themes. These systems allow us to see how weather and climate affect surface ocean conditions and the growth of marine algae via primary production. It can measure changes in salinity, primary production nutrients, chlorophyll fluorescence, dissolved oxygen, and suspended particles. There is also a string of temperature sensors down to 60 m depth.

Recovering a 'Smart Buoy' system
We used the ship’s sensor and sampling systems to calibrate the buoy sensors, both when deployed and recovered to check that everything is working as expected and calibrate any sensor drift. Together with the sediment samples being take in the area, these long-term observatory observations allow us to better understand the variation in way that can be achieved when ships are not present. This helps bridge understanding between site visits over the change of seasons. 

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Deploying the Cefas Lander and the SmartBuoy

Louis Byrne, British Oceanographic Data Centre, NOC

Wednesday saw the deployment of two moored instrument suites owned by Cefas. The first deployment was a lander similar to the NOC-L (National Oceanography Centre, Liverpool) Mini-STABLE lander deployed earlier in the cruise, although the instruments attached to the Cefas minilander are very different.

The Cefas lander has an ADCP (Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler), which uses the Doppler affect to measure current speed and direction through the water column. As well as the ADCP there is a water sampler collecting a sample of water in a plastic bag (to be analysed for nutrients on land after the mooring is retrieved) and other instruments measuring a variety of parameters including temperature, chlorophyll fluorescence and optical backscatter (a way of measuring how many particles are in the water, which is useful for determining how much sediment any storm events may mix into the water column).


A Cefas SmartBuoy on deck

The second one was a Cefas SmartBuoy which was deployed at the same location as the lander but instead of resting on the seabed it floats on the surface. The SmartBuoy has all the same instruments that are on the lander as well as a water sampler which will collect one sample of water each day for analysis back at the lab.

The Lander and the SmartBuoy are useful because they can provide long term high resolution background data. The overall UK SSB programme is a seasonal project, lasting one year, and repeatedly sampling the same sites to see how the processes affecting the carbon and nitrogen cycles vary between the seasons.

The seasonal changes in the Celtic Sea primarily revolve around the development of water column temperature stratification in spring, through to when it breaks down in late summer to early autumn (see the previous blog post for an explanation to  this process and the resulting phytoplankton blooms).

A Cefas SmartBuoy after being deployed in the Cetic Sea

The data collected by the SmartBuoy and minilander provide very useful data on the timing and magnitude of the development of stratification and the phytoplankton blooms. The chlorophyll fluorescence and oxygen sensors attached to the SmartBuoy on the sea surface can detect the start of the phytoplankton bloom as phytoplankton use chlorophyll to photosynthesise, a process which produces oxygen as a by-product.

Meanwhile on the seabed, when stratification develops there will be a decrease in oxygen. This is because aerobic bacteria and the countless other marine organisms which require oxygen will continue to use it, however, as this layer has now been cut off from the surface (by the thermocline) the oxygen diffusing into the  surface water from the atmosphere does not make it down to the water below the thermocline quick enough to replenish it. This decrease in oxygen will be picked up by the oxygen sensor attached to the Cefas minilander. The minilander is also able to detect when the phytoplankton bloom dies off, as the large influx of dead phytoplankton cells falling down through the water column (also known as Marine Snow) will cause a peak in chlorophyll and later a further decrease in oxygen, as the phytoplankton are consumed.

Large amount of marine particles or marine snow in suspension just above the sea floor. Image credit:

By measuring the biogeochemical changes which revolve around the development and breakdown of stratification, the data from the Cefas minilander and SmartBuoy can help put the rest of the data collected during SSB into context, by placing the measurements taken during this cruise within the seasonal cycle that this region experiences.