OceanSITES Innovation Report

pier.buttigieg [ at ] awi.de


The need to cover established and emerging Essential Ocean Variables (EOVs) as defined by the Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS) calls for the development and refinement of the available sensors and samplers, specifically for biogeochemical and biology/ecosystem observations. For several of these EOVs as well as for microplastics as a relatively novel variable of particular societal concern, technological progress has been made as part of AtlantOS. This involves the samplers and sensors and the platforms to use them from as such as well as the required methodologies for obtaining relevant and well-validated results and disseminate data according to the FAIR principles. For biological observations, a main focus was on automated sampling of particles and water samples. While active, pump-based samplers for particles in the water column have been available for many years, it turned out that they were not yet fully mature for operational sampling of zooplankton, microorganisms (e.g., bacteria, archaea, phytoplankton and other eukaryotic unicellular organisms), and microplastics. AtlantOS partners joined forces with manufacturers to overcome limitations with respect to quantitative filtering without leakage, avoidance of plastic contamination and the option for preservation with appropriate agents. Technical solutions were identified and partly tested but could not in all cases be fully implemented in the time frame of the project. Technologies for automated water sampling proved to be more mature and samplers could already be successfully included in observation programs. For both water and particle samples only very few manufacturers offer off-the-shelf solutions which slows down innovation and adaption to user’s needs and may impede successful implementation of appropriate instruments on a larger scale. Particle traps are well-established and operational passive samplers of sinking particles that are widely used for phytoplankton and particulate matter observations based on microscopic sorting and chemical analyses. Using legacy samples collected in the Arctic it could be demonstrated that the same samples can also be used for omics-based observations allowing to address the emerging EOV ‘Microbe biomass and diversity’ and also contributing to the ‘Phytoplankton biomass and diversity’ EOV. Applied to legacy samples also from other sites, this holds the potential to assess past microbial communities of the Atlantic that could serve as a baseline for comparisons to recent communities that are subject to global change. Significant progress was achieved in building capacities for the implementation of omics-based observations of marine organisms into recent and future observation programs. The feasibility of samplers and different preservation agents was tested and a comparison of different methods for omics-based investigations of microbial communities was conducted. The Global Omics Observatory Network (GLOMICON) was established to better connect the institutes and initiatives that are active in the field. As part of GLOMICON, solutions were implemented that allow for a registration of omics observatories and for the sharing of protocols and bioinformatics code. Irrespective of these achievements, major steps still need to be taken to consolidate and standardize approaches in this rapidly evolving field and to establish operational and well-integrated omics-observations as part of an Atlantic Ocean Observation System. For biogeochemical observations, the focus was placed on sensors for oxygen and marine CO2 system parameters (pCO2, total alkalinity) and their readiness for integration into classical as well as emerging biogeochemical observation platforms. For oxygen, the situation is very favourable as the oxygen optode technology and the best practices routines developed around it can be considered fully operational. There are no obstacles for the D3.17 „OceanSITES Innovation Report“ 5 integration of oxygen optodes into the full range of autonomous ocean observation platforms (mooring, drifter, glider, wave gliders, floats, voluntary observing ship etc.). For marine CO2 system parameters, work carried out in AtlantOS focussed the CO2 partial pressure (pCO2) and total alkalinity (TA). With respect to pCO2 it can be stated, that the membraneequilibration sensors with NDIR detection have clearly matured to a level that they can be used routinely on a range of platforms (mooring, wave glider, voluntary observing ship) with an accuracy of ~1% under well-constrained operation conditions and with rigorous data processing routines. Major limitations still exist, however, for this sensor technology on moving platforms (long sensor response time) and platforms with stringent payload and energy limitations (float, glider etc.). In contrast, the pCO2 (as well as pH) optode technology, in which significant hopes lie, has not been forthcoming and existing products still do not meet the quality requirements for open ocean applications. For TA, our intensive testing both in the laboratory and in the field has led to significant improvement of the commercially available system, which now can be considered operational. It allows high-quality autonomous bench-top measurements (e.g., on voluntary observing ships). Ideas for a submersible version of the system are in early stages and would need significant design and testing efforts. With respect to the possibilities of oxygen and carbon measurements from novel autonomous observation platforms, our work in AltantOS has shown very promising applications on profiling Argo floats, submersible winch systems with upper ocean profilers as well as wave gliders. On all these platforms, we were able to successfully implement oxygen and carbon measurements for high-quality observations.

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Research Networks
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Not peer-reviewed
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Körtzinger, A. , Buttigieg, P. L. , Janssen, F. , Metfies, K. , Salter, I. , Wenzhöfer, F. , Steinhoff, T. , Fiedler, B. , Hahn, T. , Seelmann, K. , Canning, A. , Lampitt, R. , López, P. , Villagarcia, M. and Peplies, J. (2019): OceanSITES Innovation Report , [Miscellaneous]


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