Monday, 21 July 2008

Seals aid climate modelling

Oceanographic data collected by seals as part of the ‘Marine Mammals Exploring the Oceans – Pole to Pole’ (MEOP) project are now quickly made available to climate modellers.

State of the art instrumentation (CTD tags) developed by the Sea Mammal Research Unit (SMRU) are attached to over 150 individual seals worldwide. These instruments record the temperature and salinity profile of the water column as the seals dive. On surfacing, the data are transmitted via satellites to SMRU.

A seal with a CTD tag attached ©

Through our liaison partnership, the British Oceanographic Data Centre (BODC) have been working with SMRU to make these data available via the Global Telecommunications System (GTS). We are responsible for downloading, encoding and delivering data to the GTS on a daily basis. This allows the near real-time data collected by the seals to be incorporated into various meteorological and oceanographic models.

More about MEOP

MEOP, an international project, started in July 2007 as part of the fourth International Polar Year (IPY). It involves tagging deep-diving seal species to provide data on their location and behaviour, and information relating to the waters they inhabit.

The project's aims are two-fold
  • to gain a better understanding of the behaviour of seals
  • to collect unique and valuable oceanographic data from logistically difficult Polar areas
It builds on the previous projects, Southern Elephant Seals as Oceanographic Samplers (SEaOS) and the South Atlantic Variability Experiment (SAVEX) which sought to gain a better understanding of how elephant seals interact with their physical environment.

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Friday, 18 July 2008

UK Directory of Marine Observing Systems (UKDMOS) launched

The UK Directory of the Marine Observing Systems (UKDMOS), is a unique searchable database of information relating to UK marine monitoring activities. It provides a new internet-based tool for searching monitoring programmes. This will result in
  • interested parties gaining a better understanding of marine monitoring carried out in the UK.
  • a means to identify where sampling can be better coordinated between organisations, leading to a more efficient use of resources.
  • the means to assess if current monitoring is sufficient to meet the UK Marine Monitoring and Assessment Strategy (UKMMAS) contributory objectives

UKDMOS - a searchable database of information relating to UK marine monitoring activities ©

Monitoring activities may be searched for via Geographic Information System (GIS) maps and/or by organisation, parameter groups, frequency, start dates and other fields by use of the drop down menus within the search. The results are presented on maps along with further details, related links and contact information.

UKDMOS is available for the wider marine community and is expected that entries will be completed by October 2008.

Who is involved?

The technology used has relied heavily on the outputs from the EU funded SeaDataNet project. Database content submission is funded by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the Scottish Government.

The Marine Environmental Data and Information Network (MEDIN) will be responsible for maintaining the entries. All content will be reviewed annually, or as required, through liaison with the person responsible for each monitoring programme. Members of the Marine Assessment and Reporting Group (MARG) will also be required to notify MEDIN of any new monitoring programmes within their organisation.

In the longer term it is hoped that a database content management system, currently being developed by the SeaDataNet project, will be available to allow organisations to update their entries directly.

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Thursday, 17 July 2008

GEOTRACES International Data Assembly Centre (GIDAC)

The British Oceanographic Data Centre (BODC) has been chosen to host the GEOTRACES International Data Assembly Centre, which is funded by the US National Science Foundation and the UK Natural Environment Research Council.

Understanding biogeochemical cycling of important trace elements and isotopes in the oceans
Understanding biogeochemical cycling of important trace elements and isotopes in the oceans ©

As part of this commitment, BODC will receive data from national oceanographic data offices and compile datasets for all GEOTRACES key parameters.

Edward Mawji has been appointed the BODC's coordinator. He will be working closely with the GEOTRACES scientists to establish common metadata and format protocols and will also be responsible for the quality control and secure archiving of the data that will be collected during cruises.

GEOTRACES is an international programme focused on understanding biogeochemical cycling of important trace elements and isotopes in the oceans. It is anticipated that the programme will run for approximately ten years and involve in excess of twenty research cruises, run by a variety of nations.

For more information go to the GEOTRACES web site or the BODC GEOTRACES announcement.

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