Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute

2012 projects

In situ instruments

Application of Chemical Sensors

Project lead/manager: Ken Johnson
Project website

The goal of this project is to develop low-cost chemical sensor networks that can monitor significant expanses of the ocean. With National Science Foundation (NSF) and National Oceanographic Partnership Program (NOPP) funding, the Johnson lab continues to equip eight to 10 profiling floats per year and deploy them in the open ocean.

Benthic Event Detectors

Project leads: Charlie Paull, Alana Sherman, Bill Ussler
Project manager: Brian Kieft

Objectives of this project are to design and develop an instrument that will provide better understanding of temporal and spatial changes in canyon sediment dynamics. Prototype instruments will be developed and deployed in the upper canyon where sediment transport events happen regularly. Work will continue on three-dimensional visualization of the data.

Chemical Sensor Program

Project lead/manager: Ken Johnson
Project website

The project team will continue work on a pH sensor to operate at high pressure. This ion-sensitive, field-effect transistor (ISFET) sensor appears well suited for directly measuring seawater pH over long time periods. The team will develop the pressure-tolerant reference electrode and the pressure-and-temperature-controlled test facility for integration of the pH sensor on Apex profiling floats. The lab will also revise control electronics of phosphate and ammonia sensors.

Coastal Profiling Float

Project lead: Ken Johnson
Project manager: Gene Massion

Much of the global ocean carbon cycling occurs in relatively shallow coastal waters where nutrients are upwelled to the surface. Traditional observations of coastal upwelling systems have relied on ships and moorings, but coverage is limited due to the costs and logistical limitations of those approaches. To meet the need for enhancing observations in the coastal zone, a profiling float equipped with sensors capable of characterizing fundamental biogeochemical properties will be designed and developed for operation in relatively shallow waters.

Enhancing Detection Chemistries for Investigating Microbial Ecology

Project leads: Roman Marin III, Chris Preston, Chris Scholin, Bill Ussler
Project manager: Jim Birch

The goal of this project is to develop techniques for processing seawater autonomously, allowing for the end-to-end integration of sample collection to application of multiple microfluidic and/or nanofluidic analysis such as quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) and high-density DNA probe arrays. The research team will experiment to develop methods for concentrating target organisms and stabilizing molecular analytical reagents for use onboard autonomous systems that will be deployed for extended periods in the field.

Lagrangian Sediment Trap/Vertical Profiler

Project leads: Larry Bird, Ken Smith
Project manager: Alana Sherman

Lagrangian sediment traps will be upgraded with acoustic profiling capabilities and new batteries. The traps will contribute data to the CANON initiative and will also be deployed during Station M cruises to assess the vertical flux of material from surface waters to the deep sea. The research team will correlate the acoustic data with CTD (conductivity-temperature-depth) and sediment flux measurements.

Modification of in situ Respirometers

Project leads: Jim Barry, Kurt Buck, Craig Okuda, Kim Reisenbichler, Bruce Robison
Project manager: Bob Herlien

MBARI’s respirometers will be upgraded with reliable pumps, quartz chambers, and pH sensors. The upgrades will allow for perturbation experiments on midwater and benthic animals under controlled conditions of CO2 enrichment, as means to enhancing our understanding of the limits to life and for projecting consequences of predicted ocean change

Power Buoy/Renewable at-sea Power

Project lead: Andy Hamilton

Development continues on a self-contained wave-energy harvesting device for the purpose of providing electrical power to remote oceanographic equipment. In 2012, the power take-off and buoy systems will be refined for longer term demonstration, the electrical power conversion device needed to charge batteries will be completed and tested, and the entire system will be tested over a two- to four-week deployment.

Self-Contained Plankton Imager

Project lead: Steve Haddock
Project manager: Chad Kecy

Based on functional requirements developed with science users, an affordable, flexible imaging system will be designed that can provide data that are not currently available such as species abundance and diversity, two factors for establishing a baseline and evaluating the health of marine ecosystems. Such an imaging system would enable cost-effective monitoring and evaluation of marine protected areas.

Sensors: Underwater Research of the Future (SURF) Center

Project leads: Scott Jensen, Doug Pargett, Brent Roman, Chris Scholin
Project manager: Jim Birch
Project website

Funding from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation is utilized synergistically with funds from the Moore Foundation, the National Science Foundation, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), industry, and various states to continue to develop, deploy, enhance, and transfer the Environmental Sample Processor (ESP) technology. In 2012, engineering activities will concentrate on developing the next generation instrument, which will be a smaller instrument suitable for use on the long-range AUV and other free-ranging platforms.

Last updated: Mar. 13, 2012