Rising atmospheric CO2 levels and subsequent ocean acidification present potentially serious concerns for marine life. As a result, scientists are interested in developing a detailed spatial and temporal understanding of ocean-atmosphere CO2 exchange. This information is essential for building accurate global climate models, as well as for understanding how ocean acidification will affect ocean-based industries and fragile marine ecosystems. That is why scientists around the world are deploying systems to monitor ocean-atmosphere CO2 fluxes.
When calculating CO2 fluxes for bodies of water, measurement of either the partial pressure (pCO2) or total dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) in the surface waters is necessary. These measurements can be made aboard oceanic vessels, moorings, buoys, or in laboratories. LI-COR has just published an Application Note which provides a general description of how measurements of pCO2 and DIC are made. It is available for download from the LI-COR website here.
Demand for ocean-atmosphere CO2 monitoring systems led to the recent development and commercialization of an Autonomous pCO2 Monitoring System by the Battelle Memorial Institute, in collaboration with the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The autonomous CO2 monitoring system is designed for continuous monitoring of the CO2 concentration in air and the partial pressure of CO2 in water, to determine whether the ocean is absorbing or releasing CO2 at a particular location and time. This information will add critical details to our understanding of the role of oceans in CO2 exchange, and how it varies over time and space.
The Battelle Autonomous pCO2 Monitoring System uses a LI-COR LI-820 for CO2 analysis. It is equipped with on-board calibration gases and battery power, which are designed to provide over one year of continuous operation. Two-way communications equipment provides fully autonomous transfer of data and configuration files between the system and land based laboratories, so data can be analyzed in almost real time. Contact Battelle or click here to learn more about the Autonomous pCO2 monitoring system.