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Ocean Science An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 5, issue 4 | Copyright
Ocean Sci., 5, 685-695, 2009
https://doi.org/10.5194/os-5-685-2009
© Author(s) 2009. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

  15 Dec 2009

15 Dec 2009

Technical Note: Animal-borne CTD-Satellite Relay Data Loggers for real-time oceanographic data collection

L. Boehme1, P. Lovell1, M. Biuw1,*, F. Roquet2, J. Nicholson3, S. E. Thorpe4, M. P. Meredith4, and M. Fedak1 L. Boehme et al.
  • 1NERC Sea Mammal Research Unit, Scottish Oceans Institute, University of St Andrews, St Andrews, KY16 8LB, UK
  • 2LOCEAN/Museum National d'Histoire Naturelle, France
  • 3Valeport Ltd., Totnes, UK
  • 4British Antarctic Survey, Natural Environment Research Council, High Cross, Madingley Road, Cambridge, CB3 0ET, UK
  • *now at: Norwegian Polar Institute, Polar Environmental Centre, 9296 Tromsø, Norway

Abstract. The increasing need for continuous monitoring of the world oceans has stimulated the development of a range of autonomous sampling platforms. One novel addition to these approaches is a small, relatively inexpensive data-relaying device that can be deployed on marine mammals to provide vertical oceanographic profiles throughout the upper 2000 m of the water column. When an animal dives, the CTD-Satellite Relay Data Logger (CTD-SRDL) records vertical profiles of temperature, conductivity and pressure. Data are compressed once the animal returns to the surface where it is located by, and relays data to, the Argos satellite system. The technical challenges met in the design of the CTD-SRDL are the maximising of energy efficiency and minimising size, whilst simultaneously maintaining the reliability of an instrument that cannot be recovered and is required to survive its lifetime attached to a marine mammal. The CTD-SRDLs record temperature and salinity with an accuracy of better than 0.005 °C and 0.02 respectively. However, due to the limited availability of reference data, real-time data from remote places are often associated with slightly higher errors. The potential to collect large numbers of profiles cost-effectively makes data collection using CTD-SRDL technology particularly beneficial in regions where traditional oceanographic measurements are scarce or even absent. Depending on the CTD-SRDL configuration, it is possible to sample and transmit hydrographic profiles on a daily basis, providing valuable and often unique information for a real-time ocean observing system.

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