Everything You Need to Know about CTD data

In August 2021, expert hydrographer, Leah McRaven (PO WHOI) from the US OSNAP (Overturning in the Subpolar North Atlantic Program) team, worked with the OOI team members aboard the R/V Neil Armstrong for the eighth turn of the Global Irminger Sea Array to support collection of an optimized hydrographic data product. A truly novel aspect of this collaboration was the near real-time sharing of OOI shipboard CTD data with the public. McRaven also shared her reports while the cruise is underway.  In doing so, she provided a detailed explanation of the process of ensuring that CTD profiles are accurate and useable for future research use.

We share her blogs below.  For archival purposes, they will also be available on the Community Tools and Datasets page.

BLOGPOST #4 (September 13, 2021)

Another OOI cruise is in the books! Now that things have wrapped up and I’ve had a chance to dig into the data a bit more thoroughly, how did we do? In my previous post I reported that the Irminger 8 CTD data looked to be very promising, but I like to include one more step before recommending data to be used for science: carefully considering salinity bottle data.

Salinity bottle data can be used in many ways to support a particular scientific objective or research question. The two that I’ve become most familiar with are 1) to support the analysis of additional bottle samples (e.g. dissolved oxygen) and 2) to provide an additional assessment and calibration of the CTD conductivity sensors. Both applications are necessary when researchers require salinity values more accurate than what CTD sensors are able to provide. However, even if this is not required, it can help ensure that users receive data that are reasonably within manufacturer specifications.

I find it easiest to consider the GO-SHIP approach to bottle data first. Using ship-based hydrography, GO-SHIP provides approximately decadal resolution of the changes in inventories of heat, freshwater, carbon, oxygen, nutrients, and transient tracers, covering the ocean basins with global measurements of the highest required accuracy to detect these changes. For a program like this, 36 salinity samples are taken every CTD station in order to provide an extremely accurate and precise calibration for the CTD sensors. Interestingly, the Irminger OOI array is bracketed by three GO-SHIP repeat transects. While GO-SHIP provides invaluable measurements, drawing a large number of samples can be expensive and time consuming. Additionally, measurements occur on a decadal timescale, so there is a lot of the picture we miss.

One of the research programs that aims to provide a higher temporal and special resolution picture of the North Atlantic is OSNAP. This program has several scientific objectives, but generally aims to quantify intra-seasonal to interannual variability of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation(AMOC) in the subpolar Atlantic. This includes a focus on heat and freshwater fluxes, pathways of currents throughout the region, and air-sea interaction, all of which require highly calibrated data products. In order to accomplish this, PIs from the program need to be able to consistently merge their shipboard and moored data products for cohesive and accurate quantification of parameters. Because much of the variability being studied is so large, researchers do not necessarily need salinity accuracies at the level of GO-SHIP, but they do need to use salinity bottle samples to ensure that CTD casts are at the very least within manufacturer specifications.

In the end, no one approach to hydrographic sampling is necessarily better than another. What is important is the delicate balance of resources while at sea that best support the scientific objectives. For both OSNAP and OOI, where the primary work at sea is focused on servicing moorings, the resources for a GO-SHIP approach to sample bottle collection is simply not feasible. However, one very key feature of the OOI CTD data is that they are collected annually, while ONSAP data are collected every two years, and GO-SHIP data are collected every ten years. Hence, OOI is able to fill in some of the temporal data gaps in the region and greatly bolster many of the international programs working in the region.

This year OOI collaborated with numerous PIs and representatives from research programs that operate in the Irminger Sea region to produce a more optimized CTD and bottle sampling strategy that better complements goals similar to GO-SHIP, as well as several additional objectives from international programs, such as OSNAP. The goal of this updated plan was to provide OOI data end users and collaborators with data that are more appropriate for CTD, mooring, glider, and float instrumentation calibration purposes. In particular, the update included increased sampling of the deep ocean. Such data are critical in the Irminger Sea region due to the uniquely large variability of temperature, salinity, and chemical properties throughout the shallow and intermediate depths of the water column. Deeper CTD and bottle data will allow all end users to more carefully reference their scientific findings to more stable water masses and allow for better intercomparison with other available datasets, such as the available GO-SHIP and OSNAP data from the region.

The majority of methods that I use when considering salinity bottle data have been adapted from GO-SHIP and NOAA/PMEL. In particular, many of the cruises I work with, including OOI, often have far fewer bottle samples than recommended by GO-SHIP or PMEL methods. This isn’t necessarily bad, since we don’t need to achieve the same goals as those programs, however, great care in adapting methods does need to be considered (and I encourage you to reach out if this is something you have an interest in). So, with the improved OOI sampling scheme, what are the potential benefits to CTD data quality?

More strategically planned salinity bottle sample collection allows users to:

  • Decide if data from primary or secondary sensors are more physically consistent
  • Identify times when CTD contamination was not obvious
  • Assess manufacturer sensor calibrations
  • Potentially provide a post-cruise calibration

In the case of the Irminger 8 cruise, I see that all four uses of salinity bottle data are possible, which will make a lot of collaborators very happy! Starting with Figure 1, we can see a summary of CTD and bottle sample salinity differences as a function of pressure for both the primary and secondary sensors. As a rule of thumb, the average offset of these differences can be considered an estimate of sensor accuracy, and the spread, or standard deviation, can be considered an estimate of sensor precision. While the data have a fairly large spread to the eye, the standard deviations (indicated by the dashed lines) are placing the spread for each sensor within what we expect from the manufacturer precision. The striking result from this figure is that before using the bottle data to further calibrate the data, we see that the primary sensor had a higher accuracy than the secondary sensor. In going back to the Seabird Electronics calibration reports for the primary and secondary sensors (available via the OOI website), I noted that the calibrations for each sensor was a bit older than what we normally work with (last performed in May 2019). Additionally, the secondary sensor had a larger correction at its time of manufacturer calibration than the primary. This is corroborated by the differing sensor accuracies as determined by the bottle data. Lastly, while there are a few spurious differences shown, on average there doesn’t look to be any CTD and bottle differences due to factors other than expected calibration drifts.

Figure 1

In order to apply a calibration based on the bottle data to the CTD data, I first QC’d the bottle data and then followed methods described in the GO-SHIP manual. There are several sources of error that can contribute to incorrect salinity bottle values, ranging from poor sample collection technique to an accidental salt crystal dropping into a sample just before being run on a salinometer. This is why all methods of CTD calibration using bottle data stress the importance of using many bottle values in a statistical grouping. However, sometimes there are “fly-away” values that are so far gone they don’t contribute meaningful information to the statistics, and in those cases I simply disregard those values. As a reference, for the Irminger 8 cruise I threw out 9 of the ~125 salinity samples collected before proceeding with calibration methods. Note that within the methods described in the above documentation, systematics approaches are used to further control for outlier or “bad” bottle values.

Figure 2

Since the majority of CTD stations for OOI are performed close to one another (and consequently in similar water masses), I grouped all stations together to characterize sensor errors. The resulting fits produced primary and secondary sensor calibrations that allow for more meaningful comparison of data with other programs. Figure 2 shows how primary and secondary data compare before and after bottle calibrations have been applied. Post calibration, primary and secondary sensors now agree more closely in terms of their differences. Similarly, Figure 3 summarizes data before and after calibration in temperature-salinity space, providing visual context for the magnitude of bottle calibration. Many folks working with CTD data would say that this is a rather small adjustment!

Figure 3

Figure 4

However, Figure 4 shows a comparison of the bottle-calibrated OOI data with nearby OSNAP CTD profiles from 2020. The results here are extremely important as OSNAP currently has moorings deployed near the OOI array and the OOI CTD profiles provide a midway calibration point for the moored instrumentation that is currently deployed for two years. These midway calibration CTD casts are critical in providing information on moored sensor drift and biofouling in a region where there has been a slow freshening of deep water (colder than 2.5 ºC) throughout the duration of these programs. Quantifying the rate of freshening is one of the objectives that OSNAP focuses on, but it is nearly impossible without high-quality CTD data for comparison. Figure 4 demonstrates that the freshening trend has continued from 200 to 2021 and that the bottle-calibrated OOI CTD data will be critical for interpretation of moored data.

Finally, for those interested in the salinity-calibrated CTD dataset, please be in touch (lmcraven@whoi.edu). A more detailed summary of the calibration applied can be found in my CTD calibration report here.

BLOGPOST #3 (August 18, 2021)

Irminger 8 science operations are now fully underway, which means the stream of CTD data is coming in hot (actually the ocean temps are very cold)! So far, CTD stations 4 through 11 correspond to work performed near the Irminger OOI array location. I spent the weekend and past couple of days paying close attention to these initial stations. Here’s an update on how things look so far.

One of the concerns this year is that the R/V Neil Armstrong is using a new CTD unit and sensor suite (new to the ship, not purchased new). Any time a ship’s instrumentation setup changes, it’s a very good idea to keep a close eye on things as changes naturally mean there’s more room for human error. What better way to talk about this than to share my own mistakes in a public blog! When I first downloaded and processed the OOI Irmginer 8 (AR60) CTD data from near the Irminger OOI array location, I became very worried…

When I compared the Irminger 8 CTD data with three cruises from the same location last year, I was seeing very confusing and unphysical data in my plots. I was using Seabird CTD processing routines in the “SBE Data Processing” software (see https://www.seabird.com/software) that I had used for previous OOI Irminger cruises as a preliminary set of scripts, so I was confident that something strange with the CTD was going on. I immediately pinged folks on the ship to ask if there was anything that they could tell was strange on their side of things. Keep in mind, this OOI cruise focuses more on mooring work with only a handful of CTDs to support all additional hydrographic work, so any time there is a potential issue with the CTD data we want to address it as soon as possible. I started digging into things a bit more, and realized that I had made a mistake.

Within the SBE processing routines, there is a module called “Align CTD”. As stated in the software manual: “Align CTD aligns parameter data in time, relative to pressure. This ensures that calculations of salinity, dissolved oxygen concentration, and other parameters are made using measurements from the same parcel of water. Typically, Align CTD is used to align temperature, conductivity, and oxygen measurements relative to pressure.” When working in areas where temperature and salinity change rapidly with pressure (depth), this module can be very important (and I encourage you to read through its documentation). As you’ll see below, the OOI Irmginer Sea Array region can see some extremely impressive temperature and salinity gradients. This has to do with the introduction of very cold and very fresh waters from near the coast of Greenland, together with the complect oceanic circulation dynamics of the region. Based on data collected on the old CTD installed on the Armstrong, I had determined that advancing conductivity by 0.5 seconds produced a more physically meaningful trace of calculated salinity.

While 0.5 seconds doesn’t seem large, it’s important to remember that most shipboard CTD packages are lowered at the SBE-recommended speed of 1 meter/second. Depending on how suddenly properties change as the CTD is lowered through the water, this magnitude of adjustment may seriously mess things up if it’s not the correct adjustment. In the case of the CTD system currently installed on the Armstrong, I’m finding that very little adjustment to conductivity is needed. There are many reasons as to why this value will change – from CTD to CTD, cruise to cruise, and even throughout a long cruise. The major factor is the speed at which water flows through the CTD plumbing and sensors and how far the pressure, temperature, and conductivity sensors are from each other in the plumbed line. Water flow is controlled by many things including CTD pump performance, contamination in the CTD plumbing, kinks in the CTD pluming lines, etc. (for more information, start here: https://www.go-ship.org/Manual/McTaggart_et_al_CTD.pdf and here: file:///Users/leah/Downloads/manual-Seassoft_DataProcessing_7.26.8-3.pdf). Note that the SBE data processing manual provides great tips on how to choose values for the Align CTD module.

Below is a figure that summarizes impact on my processed data before and after my mistake. This is a fun figure as it compares CTD data from four cruises that all completed CTDs near the OOI site: the 2020 OSNAP Cape Farewell cruise (AR45), the 2020 OOI Irminger 7 cruise (AR46), a 2020 cruise on R/V Pelagia from the Netherlands Institute for Sea Research, and stations 5-7 of the 2021 OOI Irminger 8 cruise (AR60). I’m plotting the data in what is called temperature-salinity space. This allows scientists to consider water properties while being mindful of ocean density, which as mentioned in the last post, should always increase with depth. I include contours indicating temperature and salinity values that correspond to lines of constant density (in this case I am using potential density referenced to the surface). For data to be physically consistent, we expect that the CTD traces never loop back across any of the density contours. These figures are also incredibly useful as the previous three cruises in the region give us some understanding of what to expect from repeated measurements near the Irminger OOI array.

The plot on the left shows the data processed with a conductivity advance of 0.5 sec. As you can see, the CTD traces appear much noisier than the other datasets, and contain many crossings of the density contours (i.e., density inversions). The plot on the right shows data that are smoother and less problematic in terms of density. You may also note that in the right plot, the AR60 traces are a bit shifted to the left in salinity (i.e. fresher or lower salinity values) when compared to the other datasets. This is because I am plotting bottle-calibrated CTD data from the other three cruises. Just as I type this, I’ve been given word that the shipboard hydrographer has begun analyzing salinity water sample data for Irminger 8. These bottle data are critical for applying a final adjustment to CTD salinity data and I’ll talk more about this in a future post.

For now, I’m happy to report that the data look physically consistent! For completeness, I include the core CTD parameter difference plots from stations 4 through 11 (CTDs completed near the array thus far). CTD difference plots are described in my previous post. All checks out from where I am sitting so far. Thanks to the CTD watch standers and shipboard technicians for working so hard and taking good care of the system while the cruise is underway!

BLOGPOST #2 (August 10, 2021)

For this post I’d like to introduce some of the tools that folks can use to identify CTD issues and sensor health while at sea. Most of what I’ll be discussing here is specific to the SBE911 system that is commonly used on UNOLS vessels; however, a lot of these topics are relevant to other types of profiling CTD systems.

There are several end case users of CTD data within science. These include people who perform CTDs along a track and complete what we call a hydrographic section (useful in studying ocean currents and water masses); those who perform CTDs at the same location year after year to look for changes; people who use CTDs to calibrate instrumentation on other platforms (moorings, gliders, AUVs, etc.); and those who use the CTD to collect seawater for laboratory analysis (collected samples can be used to further analyze physical, chemical, biological, and even geological properties!). For each of these CTD uses, a core set of CTD parameters are needed.

Core CTD parameters include pressure, temperature, and conductivity. Conductivity is used together with pressure and temperature measurements to derive salinity. These three variables are needed to give users the critical information of depth and density in which water samples are collected, and support the calculation of additional variables. For example, ocean pressure, temperature, and salinity together with a voltage from an oxygen sensor are needed to derive a value for dissolved oxygen. In addition to core CTD parameters, it is very common to add dissolved oxygen, fluorescence, turbidity, and photosynthetically active radiation (PAR) sensors to a shipboard CTD unit. Each of these additional measurements have errors that must be propagated from the core CTD measurements – creating a rather complex system to navigate when trying to understand the final accuracy of a given measurement.

For each CTD data application, varying degrees of accuracy are needed from the measured CTD parameters to accomplish the scientific objective at hand… And this is where a lot of folks get into trouble! For a first example, consider someone who would like to calibrate a nitrate sensor that is deployed for a year on a mooring using water samples collected from the CTD. For a second example, consider someone who is interested in the changing dissolved oxygen content of deep Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation waters. In both cases, the core CTD parameters are critical. In the first example, this person needs to know the pressure and ocean density at the exact location their water samples are collected during a CTD cast so they can correctly associate analyzed water sample values with the correct position of the sensor on the mooring. However, in the second example, this person may need to use both salinity and oxygen samples to improve the accuracy and precision of CTD measurements so that their final data product will be sensitive enough to resolve small, but potentially critical, changes in the ocean.The most important take away here (CTD soapbox moment!) is that even if end users are not specifically interested in studying physical oceanographic parameters, they still need tools to verify that 1) the core CTD measurements are of high enough quality for use in their application and 2) that there are no unnecessary errors from the core measurements that are impacting their ability to address their scientific objective.

This is the first reason why I heavily encourage all CTD end users to become familiar not only with the accuracy of their particular measured parameter, but also the core CTD parameters. The second reason is that core CTD parameters are particularly useful in diagnosing early warning signs of CTD problems. Most shipboard systems install primary and secondary temperature and conductivity sensors on their CTDs, which provide an opportunity for in-situ sensor comparison. Additionally, calculated seawater density is particularly useful as it is one of the few properties we can make a strong assumption about – it should always increase with pressure. The density of seawater is determined by pressure, temperature, and salinity (conductivity), hence any time one or some of these recorded values is suspect, non-physical density “inversions” or “noise” may appear in the data record. 

Below are two figures that can be very helpful in diagnosing CTD problems. In these examples, I am using the Irminger 8 (AR60-01) deep test cast, which took place late Sunday evening, August 8th. Figure 1 shows difference plots of the two sensor pairs (temperature and conductivity). Each panel includes vertical dashed lines indicating expected manufacturer agreement ranges (see sensor specification sheets datasheet-04-Jun15.pdf and datasheet-03plus-May15.pdf). The values shown are, ±(2 x 0.001 ºC) and ±(2 x 0.003 mS/cm) for temperature and conductivity sensors, respectively (note that 0.003 mS/cm is close to 0.003 psu for reasonable temperature ranges). In general, sensor differences should fall within, or very close to, this range when calibrated by the manufacturer within the past year. The rule can be relaxed in the upper water column, however, differences between sensors deeper than approximately 500 m that consistently fall outside of this range indicate problematic sensor drift or contamination. Figure 2 shows the calculated seawater density profile using the primary sensors. Consistent density inversions larger than ~0.1 kg/m3 also indicate problematic sensor drift or contamination. When creating such figures, always look at the downcast and upcast (skipped here for the sake of brevity). The upcast will look a bit worse than the downcast (I encourage you to read about why), but those data are extremely important to anyone collecting water samples!

Figure 1 



Figure 2  


So, what can these plots tell us about the CTD system implemented on the Irminger 8 cruise so far? Figure 1 demonstrates an overall acceptable level of agreement between the sensor pairs. The particular sensors in use right now have calibrations older than one year, so this level of agreement is actually quite good. Figure 2 is also rather promising in showing a density profile that is continuously increasing. If you’re being picky (like me), you may notice that there are some small density inversions between roughly 200-500 m. After taking a closer look, I noted that the salinity profile indicates that there are some rather impressive salinity intrusions evident in the upper 500 meters (I encourage you to download data from cast 2 and verify!). This is normal for the Labrador Sea region where the cast took place (lots of melting ice nearby) and will naturally create a bit more “noise” in these plots. So, I’m not very concerned by this.

Now what do these plots look like when there’s a problem? There unfortunately isn’t one simple answer for this (I’ve been doing this for over ten years and am still learning subtle ways CTDs show problems!), but I’ll share two examples of when something was clearly wrong. The first example is from the Irminger 7 cruise (AR35-05). Figure 3 and Figure 4 show our two plots for stations 1-13 of the Irminger 7 cruise. Figure 3 shows a suspiciously large offset (well outside of the general threshold we expect in the conductivity differences) and incredibly noisy differences in both conductivity and temperature. Similarly, Figure 5 shows consistent and large density inversions for some of these casts. Several of the casts shown in Figures 4 and 5 were so bad that there are no usable profiles as far as scientific objectives are concerned. Luckily, however, there were a few casts in the set that could be corrected with water sample data (I’ll talk more about this later). Data loss is something that does happen while at sea, and the Irminger Sea in particular is an incredibly harsh environment to work in. However, if folks are diligent in creating these plots while at sea, the hope is that we can minimize time and data loss while striving for the highest quality data possible.

Figure 3   


Figure 4  

For my last example, I provide a quick reference guide for how core CTD parameter issues may look on a Seabird CTD Real-Time Data Acquisition Software (Seasave) screen. The reason for this is that a lot of people don’t have time to create fancy plots while at sea, so it’s helpful to know how to approach monitoring while watching the data come in. Follow the link here to download a one-page pdf that can be displayed next to your CTD acquisition computer.

BLOG POST #1 (August 2, 2021)

[caption id="attachment_21736" align="aligncenter" width="2560"] A CTD is performed near the coast of Greenland during one of the OSNAP 2020 cruises on R/V Armstrong. Photo: Isabela Le Bras©WHOI[/caption]

Hello folks and welcome to the Irminger 8 CTD blog! As the cruise progresses, tune in here for updates on Irminger 8 CTD data quality as well as tips on how best to approach using OOI CTD data. I plan to keep this information inclusive for folks with varying levels of experience with shipboard CTD data – from beginner to expert! If you have any questions about CTD data, feel free to send me an email (lmcraven@whoi.edu) and I’ll do my best to help. For this first post, I would like to summarize some important resources available to the community that will greatly help with CTD data acquisition and processing.

CTDs have been around for a while, which on the surface makes them a bit less interesting than many of the new exciting technologies used at sea. The fact remains that the CTD produces some of the most accurate and reliable measurements of our ocean’s physical, chemical, and biological parameters. Aside from being very useful on their own, CTD data serve as a standard by which researchers can compare and validate sensor performance from other platforms: gliders, floats, moorings, etc. Sensor comparison is particularly important for instruments that are deployed in the ocean for a long time (as is the case for OOI assets) as it is normal for sensors to drift due to environmental exposure and biological activity. As it turns out, CTD data provide a backbone for all OOI objectives.

However, just because CTDs have been performed for decades, we can’t always assume that that collection of quality data is straightforward. For example, one of the unique challenges of collecting CTD data near the OOI Irminger site and Greenland region is that there is an elevated level of biological activity throughout the year. While biological activity is exciting for many researchers, it can clog instrument plumbing, build up on sensors, and just be plain annoying to watch out for. CTDs utilized in the Irminger Sea are also subject to extreme conditions such as cold windchills and rough sea state (Cape Farewell is actually the windiest place on the ocean’s surface!), leading to the potential for accelerated sensor drift and the need to send sensors back to manufacturers for more regular servicing and calibration. As one can imagine, there are a lot of potential sources of error when simply considering the environment that OOI Irminger CTD data are collected in.

To help combat some of these potential sources of error, I’ll be picking apart CTD and bottle data cast by cast to look for evidence of CTD problems during the Irminger 8 cruise. But before we can talk about unique sources of CTD data errors, it’s helpful to remember errors that can become systematic throughout the entire data arc: from instrument care, to acquisition, to data processing, and to final data application. Improving our awareness of these issues will allow all CTD data users the opportunity for more meaningful data interpretation. So before I move forward, I thought it would be important to share some of my favorite resources available on community-recommended CTD practices. I encourage folks to comb through these resources and find what might be most appropriate for your respective research objectives.

Recommended CTD resources are provided here.





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Students Participate Virtually in Irminger Sea 8

Twelve students from Paige Teves’ fourth-grade class virtually boarded the R/V Neil Armstrong via Zoom in early August to learn what it’s like to be at sea transporting lots of ocean observing equipment in and out of the water for a month. The connection was made through John Lund, an engineer at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and chief scientist for the eighth turn of the OOI’s Global Irminger Sea Array. John’s daughter, Annika, is a student in Ms. Teve’s class in the Summer Adventures in Learning (SAIL) program, a summer education program in Marion, MA for students in pre-kindergarten through 8th grade.

The Irminger Sea Array 8 team took turns holding up the “Zoom phone” to share their experiences with the students and the implications of their work in helping better understand the ocean and its role in the changing climate. The Irminger sea Array 8 team took the opportunity to showcase the different roles and genders involved in the work onboard the ship to demonstrate to the students the many possibilities in STEM careers.

Chief Scientist John Lund initiated the visit by explaining what the project was about (gathering real-time ocean data in one of the most important and difficult to sample regions in the Atlantic Ocean ), where they were (in the Atlantic off the Southeast coast of Greenland) and what they were doing (recovering and deploying ocean observing equipment).


[caption id="attachment_21913" align="aligncenter" width="487"] Chief Scientist John Lund showed off the CTD rosette, which is used to measure the temperature, conductivity, and density of seawater.  He had the bonus of seeing his daughter via the Zoom call, who was a participant in the SAIL program. Credit: ©WHOI, Andrew Reed.[/caption]


Engineer and Instrumentation Lead Jennifer Batryn explained her role working with the instruments.  She took them on a virtual tour of one of the surface moorings, pointing out the different instruments and explaining what the measure.


[caption id="attachment_21914" align="aligncenter" width="610"] Engineers Jennifer Batryn (in back) and Stephanie Petillo (on phone) took turns talking about the equipment they are responsible for aboard the R/V Neil Armstrong. Credit: ©WHOI, Andrew Reed.[/caption]


Senior Oceanographic Engineer, Software Architect & Manager, Oceanographic Roboticist and Technologist Stephanie Petillo explained her role as software lead and how the data are collected and relayed back to shore for the engineers and scientists, both to operate the array and to study the data.


[caption id="attachment_21912" align="aligncenter" width="566"] Engineer Dan Bogorff showed the 4th grade SAIL program students the floats that comprise part of OOI’s subsurface moorings. Credit: ©WHOI, Andrew Reed.[/caption]


Engineer and Subsurface Mooring Lead Dan Bogorff presented the Subsurface Moorings, explained their different requirements from surface moorings.  Like Batryn, he explained to the students the different instrument on these below-the-surface moorings and what kind of data they collect and report back.

The students peppered each of the presenters with great questions, demonstrating their curiosity and engagement.

Teacher Paige Teves summed up the experience, saying: “What an awesome experience we had today! It was so cool for everyone, including myself, to see everything we have learned in our summer session about climate change come together by listening to scientists and engineers share what they do.”

Added Chief Scientist Lund, “We are glad the kids enjoyed the experience and hope some of them will be inspired to pursue the fields of science and engineering.”

The SAIL program is sponsored by the Old Rochester Regional School District and Superintendency Union #55.  The school district includes the towns of Marion, Marion, Mattapoisett, and Rochester in Plymouth County, Massachusetts.






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Summer at Sea: Three Arrays Turned

This summer has been a busy time for OOI’s teams, who are actively engaged in ensuring that OOI’s arrays continue to provide data 24/7. Teams are turning – recovering and deploying – three arrays during July and August. The first expedition occurred earlier in July when a scientific and engineering team spent 16 days in the Northeast Pacific recovering and deploying ocean observing equipment at the Global Station Papa Array. The team recovered three subsurface moorings and deployed three new ones. They also deployed one open ocean glider, recovered one profiling glider, and conducted 11 CTD casts (which measure conductivity, temperature, and depth) to calibrate and validate the instruments on the array.  After completing this eighth turn of the Station Papa Array, the team returned to Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution by way of Seward, Alaska on the second of August.


On 30 July, the Regional Cabled Array team embarked on the first of four legs of its 37-day Operations and Maintenance Cruise aboard the R/V Thomas G. Thompson. The ship, operated by the University of Washington, is hosting the remotely operated vehicle (ROV) Jason, operated by Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI). During the cruise, Jason will be used to deploy and recover a diverse array of more than 200 instruments from the active Pacific seafloor. The science, engineering, and ROV teams will be joined this year by 19 students sailing as part of the University of Washington’s educational mission (VISIONS’21). A live video feed of the ship’s operations and Jason dives is available for the duration of the cruises.

[media-caption path="https://oceanobservatories.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/r1472_elguapo.top_.web_-768x511-1.jpg" link="#"]The Regional Cabled Array team expects to share imagery as spectacular as this during its upcoming cruise. Shown here is the El Guapo hot spring, covered in life venting boiling fluids 4500 feet beneath the oceans surface. Credit: UW/NSF-OOI/CSSF; V11.[/media-caption]

On 3 August, a team from WHOI boarded the R/V Armstrong for a weeklong transit to recover and deploy the Global Irminger Sea Array, off the Southeast coast of Greenland. The array is located in one of the most important ocean regions in the northern hemisphere and provides data for scientists to better understand ocean convection and circulation, which have significant climate implications.  A science and engineering team will be deploying and recovering a global surface mooring, a global hybrid profiler mooring, two global flanking moorings, and three gliders (two open ocean and one profiling) during the three-week expedition. The team will also carry out shipboard sampling and CTD casts to support the calibration and validation of platform sensors while underway.  A novel aspect of this cruise is that near real-time CTD profiles will be made publicly available during the cruise. The profiles will be evaluated by onshore staff, who will provide feedback to the ship, and share online assessment of CTD results.

“This summer’s at-sea activities are the culmination of months of planning, testing, and logistical work that goes on behind the scenes to make these expeditions possible,” said John Trowbridge, OOI’s Principal Investigator and head of the Program Management Office. “A tremendous amount of human effort and ingenuity is required to keep the arrays operational year-round, particularly in some of the ocean’s most challenging environments like the Irminger Sea and on the seafloor at Axial Seamount. The data collected, however, are essential, providing scientists with the tools needed to understand our changing ocean.”

The progress of the expeditions will be reported on these pages and on OOI’s social media channels.

[media-caption path="https://oceanobservatories.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/Irminger-Surface-mooring-.jpg" link="#"]A global surface mooring in the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution stage area is outfitted and ready for deployment in the Irminger Sea Array. Photo: ©Jade Lin, WHOI[/media-caption]



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Recommended CTD Resources

Hydrographer Leah McRaven (PO WHOI) from the US OSNAP team provided the following CTD resources to help researchers and others better how she and the Irminger Sea Array team are working with the near real-time data being provided by CTD sampling from the R/V Neil Armstrong: 

There are four main sources considered in this list:

  1. Seabird Electronics is one of the most commonly used manufacturers of shipboard CTD systems. Their CTDs allow for integration of instruments from several other manufactures.
  2. The Global Ocean Ship-Based Hydrographic Investigations Program (GO-SHIP) provides decadal resolution of the changes in inventories of heat, freshwater, carbon, oxygen, nutrients and transient tracers, with global measurements of the highest required accuracy to detect these changes. Their program has documented several methods and practices that are critical to high-accuracy hydrography, which are relevant to many CTD data users.
  3. The California Cooperative Oceanic Fisheries Investigations (CalCOFI) are a unique partnership of the California Department of Fish & Wildlife, NOAA Fisheries Service and Scripps Institution of Oceanography. CalCOFI conducts quarterly cruises off southern & central California, collecting a suite of hydrographic and biological data on station and underway. CalCOFI has made great effort to document methods that are helpful to those collecting hydrographic measurements near coastal regions.
  4. University-National Oceanographic Laboratory System (UNOLS) is an organization of 58 academic institutions and National Laboratories involved in oceanographic research and joined for the purpose of coordinating oceanographic ships’ schedules and research facilities.

Instrument care and use

Seabird training module on how sensor care and calibrations impact data: https://www.seabird.com/cms-portals/seabird_com/cms/documents/training/Module9_GettingHighestAccuracyData.pdf

Data acquisition and processing

Notes on CTD/O2 Data Acquisition and Processing Using Seabird Hardware and Software: https://www.go-ship.org/Manual/McTaggart_et_al_CTD.pdf

CalCOFI Seabird processing: https://calcofi.org/about-calcofi/methods/119-ctd-methods/330-ctd-data-processing-protocol.html

Seabird CTD processing training material: https://www.seabird.com/training-materials-download

Within this material, discussion on dynamic errors and how to address them in data processing: https://www.seabird.com/cms-portals/seabird_com/cms/documents/training/Module11_AdvancedDataProcessing.pdf

General overview documents and resources

GOSHIP hydrography manual: https://www.go-ship.org/HydroMan.html

CalCOFI CTD general practices: https://www.calcofi.org/references/methods/64-ctd-general-practices.html

UNOLS site https://www.unols.org/documents/water-column-sampling-and-instrumentation?page=2 )


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Shipboard CTD Data in Near-real Time from Irminger 8

In August, members of the OOI team aboard the R/V Neil Armstrong for the eighth turn of the Global Irminger Sea Array and members of OSNAP (Overturning in the Subpolar North Atlantic Program) onshore are working together to make near-real time shipboard CTD data available here.

[button link="https://oceanobservatories.org/community-tools/"] READ NEAR REAL-TIME CTD DATA REPORT BLOGS DURING CRUISE  [/button]


The OOI shipboard team is working directly with an onshore expert hydrographer, Leah McRaven (PO WHOI), from the US OSNAP team to support collection of an optimized hydrographic data product. This collaboration is supporting the OOI team through the cruise planning stages, during the cruise, and during initial data processing stages. In the end, both teams aim to document the process of collecting thoroughly vetted data from the shipboard CTD (conductivity, temperature, depth) system.

A special feature of this collaboration is the near real-time sharing of OOI shipboard CTD data with the public. Interested parties have access to the same CTD profiles that McRaven will be reviewing. Additionally, McRaven will share brief reports online while the cruise is underway.

The hydrographic data collection facilitated by OOI on the Irminger Sea cruise will bolster not only OOI end users, but also supports international oceanographic research projects, including OSNAP, AMOC (Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation) and BGC-ARGO (BioGeoChemical Array for Real-time Geostrophic Oceanography).

“We hope sharing this data will present an opportunity for OOI end users to learn more about working with oceanographic data as well as good data practices,” said McRaven.

Al Plueddemann, PI of OOI’s Coastal and Global Scale nodes, which includes the Global Irminger Array, added “This is a great example of a cross-project collaboration that expands the visibility of OOI data over the short-term and improves its quality for integration into long-term research projects like OSNAP.”

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Expanding Reach of OOI Data

[caption id="attachment_21045" align="alignnone" width="640"] Pioneer Array data is now available on NERACOOS’ new Mariner’s Dashboard. This is but one example of how OOI data are integrated into other data repositories to maximize their benefit and use.[/caption]

OOI shares data with partner repositories and institutions that host similar data but have different user bases. These partnerships expand the data available for forecasting models, help provide insight into current ocean conditions, and serve as important resources for many ranging from fishers and other maritime users to land-based researchers and students.

With the exception of the Station Papa Array, the OOI Coastal and Global Arrays maintain surface buoys. Instruments deployed on these buoys measure meteorological variables such as air temperature, barometric pressure, northward and eastward wind velocities, precipitation, solar radiation, and surface water properties of sea surface temperature and salinity. Other instruments on the moorings collect wave data, such as significant wave height, period, and direction. These data are then consumed by national and regional networks to improve accuracy of weather forecasting models.

The Regional Cabled Array (RCA) consists of fiber-optic cables off the Oregon coast that provide power, bandwidth, and communication to seafloor instrumentation and moorings with instrumented profiling capabilities. A diverse array of geophysical, chemical, and biological sensors, a high-definition camera, and digital still cameras on the seafloor and mooring platforms, provide real-time information on processes operating on and below the seafloor and throughout the water column, including recording of seafloor eruptions, methane plume emissions and climate change. These data are available for community use. Since 2015, the RCA has fed data into Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology (IRIS), the primary source for data related to earthquakes and other seismic activity. In addition, data including zooplankton sonar data, are being utilized within the Pangeo ecosystem for community visualization and access and pressure data are incorporated into NOAA’s operational tsunami forecasting system.

Helping Improve Models and Forecasting

One of the recipients of OOI data is the National Data Buoy Center (NDBC), part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Weather Service. NDBC maintains a data repository and website, offering a range of standardized real-time and near real-time meteorological data. Data such as wind speed and direction, air and surface water temperature, and wave height and direction are made available to the broader oceanographic and meteorological community.

“Many researchers go to NDBC for their data, “said Craig Risien, a research associate with OOI’s Endurance Array and Cyberinfrastructure Teams, who helps researchers gain access to and use OOI data. “NBDC is a huge repository of data and it’s easy to access. So there’s a low barrier for researchers and students who are looking for information about wind speed, water temperature and a slew of other data. OOI contributing to this national repository significantly increases its data reach, allowing OOI data to be used by as many people as possible. “

OOI sea surface temperature data also make their way into the operational Global Real-Time Ocean Forecast System (RTOFS) at the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP), another part of NOAA’s National Weather Service. RTOFS ingests sea surface temperature and salinity data from all available buoys into the Global Telecommunications System (GTS). OOI glider data also are pushed in near real-time to the US Integrated Ocean Observing System Glider Data Assembly Center (DAC). From there, the data goes to the GTS where it can be used by the operational modeling centers such as NCEP and the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts.

The GTS is like a giant vacuum sucking up near real-time observations from all sorts of different platforms deployed all over the world. On a typical day, the GTS ingests more than 7,600 data points from fixed buoys alone. As a result of this vast input, researchers can go to the GTS, pull available data, and assimilate that information into any model to improve its prediction accuracy.

Advancing Forecasting of Submarine Eruptions

As the first U.S. ocean observatory to span a tectonic plate, RCA’s data are an invaluable contributor to IRIS’s collection. Since 2015, the user community has downloaded >20 Terabytes of RCA seismometer data from the IRIS repository. Fourteen different sampling locations include key sites at Axial Seamount on the Juan de Fuca mid-ocean ridge spreading center, near the toe of the Cascadia Margin and Southern Hydrate Ridge. RCA data are catalogued and available on the IRIS site, using the identifier “OO.”

[caption id="attachment_21046" align="alignleft" width="300"] Data from short period seismometers installed at RCA’s Axial Seamount and Southern Hydrate Ridge sites are streamed live to IRIS. Credit: UW/NSF-OOI/Canadian Scientific Submersible Facility, V13.[/caption]

“RCA is a critical community resource for seismic data. Axial Seamount, for example, which erupted in 1998, April 2011, was the site of more than 8,000 earthquakes over a 24-hour period April 24, 2015 marking the start of large eruption,” explained Deb Kelley, PI of the RCA. “Being able to witness and measure seismic activity in real time is providing scientists with invaluable insights into eruption process, which along with co-registered pressure measurements is making forecasting possible of when the next eruption may occur. We are pleased to share data from this volcanically and hydrothermally active seamount so researchers the world over can use it to better understand processes happening at mid ocean ridges and advance forecasting capabilities for the first time of when a submarine eruption may occur.”

Providing Data with Regional Implications

[caption id="attachment_21047" align="alignright" width="203"] Data from Endurance Array buoy 46100 are fed into WCOFS, where they are accessible to maritime users. Credit: OSU[/caption]

OOI also provides data to regional ocean observing partners. Data from two Endurance Array buoys (46099 and 46100), for example, are fed into a four-dimensional U.S. West Coast Operational Forecast System (WCOFS), which serves the maritime user  community.  WCOFS generates water level, current, temperature and salinity nowcast and forecast fields four times per day. The Coastal Pioneer Array is within the future Northeastern Coast Operational Forecast System (NECOFS).  Once operational, Pioneer’s observations will potentially be used for WCOFS data assimilation scenario experiments.

Coastal Endurance Array data are shared with the Northwest Association of Networked Ocean Observing Systems (NANOOS), which is part of IOOS, and the Global Ocean Acidification Observing Network (GOA-ON). Endurance data are ingested by the NANOOS Visualization System, which provides easy access to observations, forecasts, and data visualizations.  Likewise, for GOA-ON, the Endurance Array provides observations useful for measuring ocean acidification.

Data from three of the Pioneer Array buoys also are part of the Mariners’ Dashboard, a new ocean information interface at the Northeastern Regional Association of Coastal Ocean Observing Systems (NERACOOS). Visitors can use the Dashboard to explore the latest conditions and forecasts from the Pioneer Inshore (44075), Central (44076), and Offshore (44077) mooring platforms, in addition to 30+ other observing platforms throughout the Northeast.

“We are working hard to distribute the OOI data widely through engagement with multiple partners, which together are helping inform science, improve weather and climate forecasts, and increase understanding of the ocean,” added Al Plueddemann, PI of the Coastal and Global Scale Nodes, which include the Pioneer, Station Papa, and Irminger Sea Arrays.








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OOI Irminger Sea Data Helping Fill Critical Gap in Climate Models

[media-caption type="image" class="external" path="https://oceanobservatories.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/Screen-Shot-2020-10-07-at-4.52.42-PM.png" alt="Irminger Sea with ship" link="#"]The OOI surface buoy (shown here in 2018 being serviced by the WHOI-operated research vessel Neil Armstrong) is helping to provide crucial verification of USV and satellite-based models of air-sea interaction in difficult-to-reach high-latitude waters of the North Atlantic and Arctic Oceans. Credit: James Kuo ©Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.[/media-caption]

Researchers at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) were recently awarded a $500,000 grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Climate Observations and Monitoring (COM) program to develop machine learning tools to improve estimates of air-sea heat exchange in the Arctic Ocean and adjacent seas. These tools are expected to fill critical gaps in climate models, which currently show large disparities when simulating the rate of polar ice melt.

Recent advances in remote sensing technologies have provided researchers with the data they need to better understand the forces behind Arctic ice melt and the implications of that heat exchange between the ocean and the atmosphere. These real-world measurements will allow researchers to develop algorithms that will validate and improve satellite-based modeling of the Arctic and subarctic regions.

Due to the difficulty of accessing the Arctic Ocean—especially during the stormy winter months—and the complexity of measuring air-sea heat exchanges, there has previously not been enough quality data to incorporate ice melt and seasonal changes into climate models. This challenge was overcome by recent advances in long-term remote data collection at high latitudes. For the first time in 2019, an Ocean Observatories Initiative (OOI) surface buoy in the Irminger Sea collected over a year’s worth of sensor data, including icy and windy winter conditions. Located in an important area of ocean circulation, the data collected from the OOI surface buoy provides critical verification for satellite-based models.

Lisan Yu, a WHOI senior scientist and the project’s principal investigator, said a machine learning-based framework will improve the accuracy of ocean-surface forcing estimates used to model the global climate. She said it will also improve the accuracy of ice and weather forecasts in a region that is rapidly opening up to commercial exploration. WHOI Senior Scientist Al Plueddemann, who also serves as a co-principal investigator for OOI and project lead for its Coastal and Global Nodes, is a collaborator on this project.

Read the full release here.

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Partnerships Expand Use of OOI Data

The OOI’s primary mission is to make its data widely available to multiple users.  One way it achieves this, on a broad scale, is by establishing partnerships with other organizations that also distribute ocean observing data. For example, OOI currently partners with the Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS), which provides integrated ocean information in near real-time  and tools and forecasts to apply the data, the National Data Buoy Center (NDBC), which maintains a network of data collecting buoys and coastal stations as part of the National Weather Service, the Global Ocean Acidification Observing Network (GOA-ON), which uses international data to document the status and progress of ocean acidification, and Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology (IRIS), a consortium of over 120 US universities dedicated to the operation of science facilities for the acquisition, management, and distribution of seismological data.

NANOOS: Making data relevant for decision-making

NANOOS, the Northwest Association of Networked Ocean Observing Systems, which is part of IOOS, has been operational since 2003, establishing trusting, collaborative relationships with those who use and collect ocean data in the Pacific Northwest. NANOOS has been an exemplary partner in ingesting and using OOI data. Part of its success lies in advance planning. NANOOS, for example, had determined that  OOI assets, in addition to achieving the scientific goals for which they were designed, could fill a data void in IOOS assets running north and south in an area between La Push, WA, and the Columbia River, well before the OOI assets came online.

[media-caption type="image" class="external" path="https://oceanobservatories.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Screen-Shot-2020-09-22-at-2.25.24-PM.png" alt="Endurance Array" link="#"]OOI’s Coastal Endurance Array provides data from the north and south in an important upwelling area in the northeastern Pacific. Gliders also traverse this region, with glider data available through both the IOOS Glider Data Assembly Center and the NANOOS Visualization System. Credit: Center for Environmental Visualization, University of Washington.[/media-caption]

According to Jan Newton, NANOOS executive director at the University of Washington, “One of the reasons NANOOS is so effective is that our guiding principle is to be cooperative and not compete. If the public is looking for coastal data, for example, we want to make sure they can access it and use it, rather than having them trying to sort through whether it is a product of IOOS or OOI.  We operate with the philosophy of maximizing the discoverability and service of the data and OOI has been a great partner in our mission.  We’ve been really happy about how this partnership has played out.”

[media-caption type="image" class="external" path="https://oceanobservatories.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Regional-Cable-Array-revised-.jpg" alt="Revised RCA" link="#"]OOI’s Regional Cabled Array also contributes data in the NANOOS region from its Slope Base and the Southern Hydrate Ridge nodes. Credit: Center for Environmental Visualization, University of Washington.[/media-caption]

NANOOS has made a huge effort on its data visualization capabilities, so people can not only find data, but look at it in a relative way to use it for forecasting, modeling, and solving real-world problems. OOI data are integral in helping support some of these visualization and modeling efforts, which commonly play a role in situations facing a wide cross-section of society.

An example of this applicability played out in improved understanding of hypoxia (oxygen-deficient conditions) off the coast of Oregon, which had resulted in mass mortality events of hypoxia-intolerant species of invertebrates and fish, in particular, Dungeness crabs. Allowing access through NANOOS to near real-time oxygen data from OOI assets has allowed the managers and fishers to come up with some plausible solutions to maintaining this valuable resource. The Dungeness crab fishery is the most valuable single-species fishery on the U.S. West Coast, with landed values up to $250 million per year, and plays an enormous cultural role in the lives of tribal communities in the region, as well.

[media-caption type="image" class="external" path="https://oceanobservatories.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Dungeness-Crab.jpg" alt="Dungeness Crab" link="#"]OOI oxygen data have helped resource managers and fishers maintain the valuable Dungeness crab fishery, which is the most valuable single-species fishery on the U.S. West Coast.[/media-caption]

Researcher Samantha Siedlecki, University of Connecticut, reports that in late June of 2018, for example, fishers in the region were pulling up dead crabs in pots without knowing the cause. Scientists accessed near real-time OOI observations through the NANOOS data portal and found that the Washington Inshore Surface Mooring of the Coastal Endurance Array (EA) had measured hypoxia from June 7th onwards. So, the data confirmed real-life conditions and explained the crab mortalities.

This is important because such occurrences are helping to confirm models and enhance forecasting to better manage these events by providing guidance to fishers and resource managers. In this instance, the forecast indicates what regions will likely require reduced time for crabs to remain “soaking,” caged in the environment during hypoxia events, to ensure crabs are captured alive, and also aid in spatial management of the fishery itself. OOI data will play a role in continual improvements in forecasting in this region and the fishery by providing data during winter months, ensuring historical data are available and quality controlled for use in forecasting, and continuing to serve data in near real-time.

Adds Newton, “I can’t tell you how many OOI and other PIs come up and tell me how they love that their data are having a connection to real world problems and solutions.  It makes their research go farther with greater impact by being part of this NANOOS network.”

Explains Craig Risien, Coastal Endurance Array senior technician at Oregon State University, “OOI is collecting an incredible wealth of data, offering a treasure chest of material to write papers, write proposals, include in posters, and now it is being used in practical ways for finding scientific solutions to environmental problems. Every time we look at the data, there’s a new story to tell. We always find something new, something interesting, and encourage everyone to have a look and experience the same usefulness and excitement about OOI data.”

Sharing OOI data

The OOI is in talks with the IOOS regions serving the Northeast Atlantic and the Mid-Atlantic to see how OOI data might enhance their networks, as well.  The OOI also has been providing data to the National Data Buoy Center since 2016, supplementing the data collected by NDBC’s 90 buoys and 60 Coastal Marine Automated Network stations, which collectively provide critical data on unfolding weather conditions. And, the OOI has been providing data to Global Ocean Acidification Observing Network (GOA-ON), since mid-2019, ground-truthing on site conditions in real to near real-time, which is critical to understanding conditions contributing to ocean acidification and improving modeling capabilities to determine when it might occur. OOI’s Regional Cabled Array has been providing seismological, pressure and hydrophone data to Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology (IRIS) since 2014, providing a wealth of data from Axial Seamount and on the Cascadia Margin. For example, on April 24, 2015 a seismic crisis initiated at the summit of Axial Seamount with >8,000 earthquakes occurring in 24 hrs, marking the start of the eruption. Starting at 08:01 that same day, the network recorded ~ 37,000 impulsive events delineating underwater explosions, many of which were associated with the formation of a 127 meter thick lava flow on the northern rift.

Data examples

If you would like to test drive some of the OOI data in NANOOS, NDBC, and GOA-ON, here are some examples below:


·      OOI data in the NANOOS Visualization System (NVS)

·      OOI glider data in NVS

·      OOI data in IOOS glider DAC


·      Coastal Endurance Array data (Stations 46097, 46098, 46099, 46100)

·      Coastal Pioneer Array data  (Stations 44075, 44076, 44077)

·      Global Irminger Array data (Station 44078)


·      Coastal Endurance Array data


·      Regional Cabled Array (While searching within IRIS for OOI data, use the two-letter IRIS network designator “OO.”)



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A Collaborative Month in the Irminger Sea

A team of 10 Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution scientists, who spent the month of August aboard the RV Neil Armstrong, arrived at home port in Woods Hole on 4 September, having successfully skirted Hurricane Laura as she headed in their direction. The bumpy ride home capped the successful deployment of all OOI Irminger Sea Array moorings in sometimes  turbulent seas.

While onsite at the array, the team successfully met all of its mission objectives by recovering and deploying four moorings and deploying two gliders. One glider transits the individual moorings, which are spaced approximately 20 km apart, while the second glider samples the upper 200-meters of the ocean above the centrally located hybrid profiler mooring, which measures the remainder of the 2800-m water column. A third glider was recovered soon after deployment because it had a microleak. The team also conducted CTD casts at each of the moorings, which measure onsite temperature, salinity, and oxygen conditions and validate data being collected and sent to shore by the array.

“The Irminger Sea array presents both unique opportunities and challenges for reporting ocean data,“ explained Sebastien Bigorre, who served as chief scientist on the Irminger Seven expedition. “It is located in a remote area of the North Atlantic with high wind and large surface waves, which present operational challenges. The area is also of great interest for scientists and society because of the intense exchange of energy and gases between the atmosphere and the ocean. The ocean there captures heat and carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, thus it is an important component of the climate system. It is also a region of high biological productivity, making it an important fishery. Recent studies have shown that the data collected at the Irminger array are essential to correctly describe the ocean circulation of the North Atlantic.”

It is an eight-day transit from Woods Hole to the Irminger Sea Array and another eight-day transit to return to home port. To maximize the use of ship time, the Irminger Sea Array Team shared ship space and mission time with scientists from OSNAP (Overturning of the Subpolar North Atlantic Program). OSNAP is seeking to provide a continuous record of the horizontal transport  of heat, mass, and freshwater in the subpolar North Atlantic, and is complemented by the much longer-term records of water-column properties and air-sea transfer of momentum, heat, and moisture that are provided by the OOI Irminger Sea Array. Once on site, the expedition started with deployment of OOI moorings and gliders, switched its focus to recovery and re-deployment of OSNAP moorings, before finishing with the recovery of the previous year OOI Irminger Sea moorings.

“Our partnership with OSNAP is an example of how we try to maximize our resources for scientific research, from cruise planning, to operations at sea. During transits, we test and triple check our equipment to ensure that comes deployment day, everything goes as smooth as possible. On site, we coordinate operations to accommodate for weather conditions or to optimize shared equipment or personnel. When there is a lull in scientific activities, we plan for the ship’s instrumentation to collect data that is relevant to our scientific objectives, so every hour of the cruise is used to its full potential,” added Bigorre.

The following images show the many tasks undertaken during the month-long expedition:

[media-caption type="image" class="external" path="https://oceanobservatories.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/IMG_4208-scaled.jpg" alt="Irminger 7 masks" link="#"]OOI Irminger Sea cruise participants James Kuo (foreground), Jennifer Batryn, and Collin Dobson demonstrate proper social distancing and PPE use on the deck of the R/V Neil Armstrong during departure from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) dock Sunday 9 August. Photo credit: Rebecca Travis©Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.[/media-caption] [media-caption type="image" class="external" path="https://oceanobservatories.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/IMG_4215-scaled.jpg" alt="Armstrong awaiting departure" link="#"]The R/V Neil Armstrong is loaded with crew and equipment and ready to depart for the month-long expedition to the Irminger Sea Array. Photo credit: Rebecca Travis©Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.[/media-caption] [media-caption type="image" class="external" path="https://oceanobservatories.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Screen-Shot-2020-09-14-at-4.56.05-PM.png" alt="Drone overhead" link="#"]A place for everything, everything in its place. Aerial view of the R/V Neil Armstrong deck with equipment loaded for the OOI Irminger Sea Array service cruise. Photo credit: James Kuo©Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.[/media-caption] [media-caption type="image" class="external" path="https://oceanobservatories.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Glider-with-mask-scaled.jpg" alt="Glider with mask" link="#"]Even the gliders took precautions for the Irminger Sea Expedition! (The tape was removed before deployment). Photo credit: Diana Wickman©Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution .[/media-caption] [media-caption type="image" class="external" path="https://oceanobservatories.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/IMG_2081-scaled.jpg" alt="Off stern" link="#"]Global Surface Mooring loaded on the R/V Neil Armstrong deck. It replaced a mooring recovered at the site. Photo credit: James Kuo©Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.[/media-caption] [media-caption type="image" class="external" path="https://oceanobservatories.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/IR7_Dobson_lab-scaled.jpg" alt="Collin in lab" link="#"]Engineer Collin Dobson performs function checks on OOI gliders in the lab of the R/V Neil Armstrong during the transit out to the OOI Irminger Sea array. Photo credit: Jennifer Batryn©Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.[/media-caption] [media-caption type="image" class="external" path="https://oceanobservatories.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/IR7_glider_prep-scaled.jpg" alt="Glider prep" link="#"]Two OOI gliders sit in the lab of the R/V Neil Armstrong during the transit out to the Irminger Sea array. The location of the glider oxygen sensors (blue housings forward of the tail fin) was modified so the sensor is exposed to the air when the glider surfaces. Photo credit:Jennifer Batryn©Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.[/media-caption] [media-caption type="image" class="external" path="https://oceanobservatories.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/20200817_101902.cam3_.jpg" alt="Buoy camera" link="#"]Eyes at sea. This image was captured during the Irminger Global Surface Mooring deployment 17 August 2020 by a camera on the buoy shortly after the buoy was lowered into the water. The camera normally helps operators monitor ice buildup and storm conditions, but on that day it turned its lens on the action aboard the R/V Neil Armstrong. Photo credit:  Buoy camera©Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.[/media-caption] [media-caption type="image" class="external" path="https://oceanobservatories.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/SUMOsplice_NicoLlanos_20200811.jpg" alt="Nico splicing" link="#"]Nico Llanos splices lines together, in preparation for the OOI Global Surface Mooring deployment. The surface mooring will be deployed in almost 3,000 m (1.8 mile) of water off of Greenland. Together, the nylon and Colmega add up to almost one mile of rope line, and provide the bottom part of the mooring above its anchor. Photo credit: Heather Furey©Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution .[/media-caption] [media-caption type="image" class="external" path="https://oceanobservatories.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/whiteboard_AR46_20200811-1-scaled.jpg" alt="Whiteboard" link="#"]Just like on land, a whiteboard serves as a notice of ongoing and completed activities aboard the R/V Neil Armstrong during the Summer 2020 Irminger Sea month-long expedition. Photo credit: Heather Furey©Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution .[/media-caption] [media-caption type="image" class="external" path="https://oceanobservatories.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/IR7_Argo_float.jpeg" alt="Argo float" link="#"]Research Specialist Heather Furey prepares an Argo float for deployment off the stern of the R/V Neil Armstrong. The yellow straps are used to deploy the float while it is still in the box. The cardboard biodegrades in the water and releases the float. Photo credit: Jennifer Batryn©Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.[/media-caption] [media-caption type="image" class="external" path="https://oceanobservatories.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/DSC_0403-scaled.jpg" alt="James Kuo" link="#"]OOI Engineer James Kuo checks the inductive communications on the Irminger Sea Flanking Mooring B during deployment.  Most of the instruments on this subsurface mooring transmit data to the mooring controller inductively.  The data is then sent acoustically to OOI Gliders which transmit the data to shore via satellite. Photo Credit: Jennifer Batryn©Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.[/media-caption] [media-caption type="image" class="external" path="https://oceanobservatories.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/DSC_0908-1-scaled.jpg" alt="McClane Profiler" link="#"]The OOI team at the Irminger Sea Array deploying the Profiler Mooring. The yellow McLane Moored Profiler with a suite of science instruments is carefully lowered into the water.  It will measure water properties including temperature, salinity, fluorescence, dissolved oxygen and water velocity. Photo credit: Jennifer Batryn©Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.[/media-caption] [media-caption type="image" class="external" path="https://oceanobservatories.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/DSC_0012-scaled.jpg" alt="Profiler off stern" link="#"]The OOI Irminger Sea Hybrid Profiler Mooring is deployed top-first and trails behind the ship.  Once the ship is at the desired location, the anchor is slid off the back deck, making quite a splash as it falls to the seafloor, pulling the mooring into place.  Photo credit: Jennifer Batryn©Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.[/media-caption] [media-caption type="image" class="external" path="https://oceanobservatories.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Irminger-Sea-Posting--scaled.jpg" alt="Group shot" link="#"]The OOI and OSNAP science team poses on the back deck of the R/V Neil Armstrong on 27 August. 2020, after completing operations at the Irminger Sea Array. Using the last hours of good weather, equipment was secured before the eight-day voyage back to Woods Hole. Photo: Michael Sessa©Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.[/media-caption] [media-caption type="image" class="external" path="https://oceanobservatories.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/northernlights_dobson-scaled.jpeg" alt="Northern lights" link="#"]One of the advantages of going to the OOI Irminger Sea Array is the opportunity to see the northern lights (Aurora borealis).This photo was taken as the team transited home through the Labrador Sea. What a great reward for all of the hard work put in to have a successful cruise! Photo credit: Collin Dobson©Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.[/media-caption] Read More

Irminger Sea Intermediate Water Formation and Transport

[caption id="attachment_18947" align="aligncenter" width="640"] Figure 19. Planetary potential vorticity (PPV) at (a) OSNAP mooring CF5, within the Irminger Sea boundary current core (b) OSNAP mooring M1, at the edge of the boundary current and (c) OOI flanking mooring (FLMA) and Surface Mooring within the Irminger Sea gyre. From Le Bras et al. (2020).[/caption]

A two-year record from moorings in the Irminger Sea allowed researchers (Le Bras et al., 2020) to investigate both deep convection and transport of water masses associated with the Atlantic overturning circulation.  Using mooring data from the OOI Irminger Sea Array and the Overturning in the Subpolar North Atlantic (OSNAP) array, the authors were able to identify two types of Irminger Sea Intermediate Water (ISIW) formed by deep convection.  Upper ISIW is found near the edge of the Irminger Sea western boundary current, whereas Deep ISIW is formed in the basin interior.  Water masses were diagnosed using temperature-salinity properties and the planetary potential vorticity (PPV). Figure 19 shows PPV for three different locations, in the boundary current, at its edge, and in the Irminger Sea gyre.  Black lines in the figure indicate the isopycnals that bound upper and deep ISIW as defined by the authors, the red contours enclose water with low PPV (indicative of convection) and the green lines indicate the mixed layer depth.

Seasonal pulses of low PPV water in the boundary current occurring below the mixed layer (Figure 19a) suggest subduction from a non-local source offshore.  In contrast, low PPV water in the gyre interior is accompanied by a deep winter mixed layer and appears related to local convection.  Further analysis by the authors indicates that waters formed by convection in the interior gyre are entrained into the boundary current within a few months of formation.  Importantly, it appears that eddy dynamics are responsible for this transport of ventilated water from the interior to the boundary, and that the upper ISIW in the boundary current is a significant component of the Atlantic overturning circulation.

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