Development of a Carbon Seaglider for ocean acidification Monitoring and Inorganic Carbon Processes Studies

Lead PI:  Claudine Hauri, University of Alaska Fairbanks
Start Year: 2018 | Duration: 3 years
Partners: Alutiiq Pride Shellfish Hatchery, Kongsberg Underwater Technology


The oceanic reservoir of carbon dioxide is large, dynamic, spatially variable, and of critical importance to Earth’s climate, biogeochemical cycles, and the health of marine ecosystems. At present, the partial pressure of carbon dioxide (pC02) is vastly undersampled throughout the oceans owing to conventional sampling approaches that rely primarily on discrete water sample collections from dedicated research cruises, underway measurements of surface ocean properties from transiting vessels, or time series measurements from in situ sensors on fixed moorings. This sparse sampling coverage greatly limits our understanding of the spatial and temporal variability of carbon dioxide, the processes that control its cycling, and how its accumulation in the ocean impacts marine life via ocean acidification. Here, we propose to develop an autonomous Carbon Seaglider by integrating a robust, proven and highly accurate pC02 sensor (Kongsberg CONTROS HydroC C02) into a highly capable, state-of-the-art autonomous coastal underwater glider (Kongsberg Seaglider C2).

This advanced integrated system will provide the ability to autonomously conduct high­ resolution and adaptively sampled pC02 measurements throughout the water column and across large range of spatial and temporal scales, thereby greatly improving observational constraints on this essential earth system parameter. The resulting capabilities will facilitate significant advances in the fields of biogeochemistry and climate, improving our understanding of the ocean’s biological pump, ocean acidification, ocean productivity, and ocean carbon uptake capacity. The primary products of this project will be a proven, science-ready pC02-sensing Seaglider that is commercially available for a variety of ocean observing missions. This Carbon Seaglider will be accompanied by all of the software packages and operational documentation necessary to ensure user-friendly operation and high-quality data products.

This project responds to BAA Topic 3C “Improving Technology Readiness Levels (TRL) of Existing & Emerging Autonomous In-situ Ocean Sensors”. Presently, the major components of the Carbon Seaglider are at science and consumer ready TRLs. These components have been integrated and tested in the laboratory, resulting in a working prototype of the Carbon Seaglider. Successful completion of this project will advance the Carbon Seaglider system to its final form and one that is proven to work effectively and reliably under a wide range of environmental conditions. This involves the final integration of these proven components into a fully functional system, optimization of its performance and operation, and rigorous developmental testing, evaluation, and operational demonstration during scientific missions in a complex and dynamic high latitude coastal environment. This effort will be accomplished through a close partnership between chemical oceanographers at the University of Alaska Fairbanks (academia}, engineers, and product managers at Kongsberg Underwater Technologies (industry}, and laboratory personnel at Alutiiq Pride Shellfish Hatchery (tribal/state agency).