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Stepping up high quality measurement capabilities for core biogeochemical Essential Climate Variables (ECVs), including carbon system

Lead Partner:

The requirement for an enhanced ocean biogeochemistry ECV observing capacity has been well flagged (EPA Climate Status 2020; MI Ocean climate and Ecosystem Status Report; MI ECV report). Observations contribute to development of ocean climate and ocean acidification indicators, global and regional carbon budgets, and underpin computer models as key decision tools for marine management. Obtaining consistent measurements, using both in situ (sensor based) and ex situ (analyses of collected water samples) methods, to the required accuracy and precision can be challenging but is essential for sound management/decision making. This project will step-up national capabilities by developing three key elements:

1. Enhancing reference laboratory capabilities for biogeochemical ECVs – Reference Salinity
Salinity is a primary ECV and high accuracy measurements are critical for identifying ocean water masses and properties, and for understanding and modelling ocean dynamics and currents. A high accuracy benchtop salinometer, traceable to certified salinity standards, will provide reference measurements on collected water (bottle) samples. Such reference measurements are necessary for calibration, verification and correction of routine sensor (CTD) salinity data collected on the Research Vessels during multiple surveys and other platforms, thus enhancing quality assurance of very widely used datasets that submitted to multiple data centres.

2. Bringing ship-based underway CO2 measurements to ICOS standard.
Ireland has joined ICOS ERIC in 2023 and the RV Celtic Explorer has been identified as an ICOS “Station” for surface seawater CO2 measurements under the Ocean Thematic Centre. The data are reported to the Surface Ocean Co2 Atlas (SOCAT) and feed into many key regional and global climate products, such as the annual Global Carbon Budget and various indicators. The RV Tom Crean now also has an underway CO2 system installed but this is not fully operational. This project element will support enhancement of the underway data collection systems to bring data collection up to ICOS standard on both vessels though the purchase of calibration gases, regulators and other consumables and also provide external support for data processing.

3. Transitioning the pilot Mace Head coastal mooring to an operational integrated ECV observatory.
This site was set up under the COMPASS project at a key coastal location that is also proximate to the University of Galway Mace Head Global Atmosphere Watch station. This observational platform allows for the integrated continuous monitoring of ECVs and specifically parameters associated with ocean acidification and air-sea CO2 flux. This site has demonstrated its value to date. This will be more evident as the data collection time series is extended.

This project element will enable the continuation of data collection of ECVs at this site through:

- The purchase of in situ sensors for CO2, pH, fluorescence, dissolved oxygen and nutrients. Current sensors are now over 5 years’ old.
- By providing support costs for regular maintenance and sampling visits (Sampling ECVs to verify sensor performance and collect additional ECVs as part of an integrated parameter suite).
- Supporting specialist external analyses for phytoplankton, zooplankton and carbon samples collected at this site.
- Developing data processing and dissemination capabilities.

Project Status:
Project Outputs:

Improved national climate-observing capability as follows:

- Real time data from monitoring of ECVs both underway and from fixed platforms will be publicly available and accessible.
- Reference data against which to critically evaluate the performance of in situ sensor measurements deployed on vessels/fixed platforms to ensure the data are fit for purpose in the context of evaluating ocean climate change.
- Contribution to national reporting under UN SDG 14.3.1 and to SOCAT and GLODAP.

Project Cost - Projected: