Observing Changes in Ocean Carbonate Chemistry: Our Autonomous Future

Last modified: 
June 4, 2019 - 2:00pm
Type: Journal Article
Year of publication: 2019
Date published: 05/2019
Authors: Seth Bushinsky, Yuichiro Takeshita, Nancy Williams
Journal title: Current Climate Change Reports

Purpose of Review

We summarize recent progress on autonomous observations of ocean carbonate chemistry and the development of a network of sensors capable of observing carbonate processes at multiple temporal and spatial scales.

Recent Findings

The development of versatile pH sensors suitable for both deployment on autonomous vehicles and in compact, fixed ecosystem observatories has been a major development in the field. The initial large-scale deployment of profiling floats equipped with these new pH sensors in the Southern Ocean has demonstrated the feasibility of a global autonomous open-ocean carbonate observing system.


Our developing network of autonomous carbonate observations is currently targeted at surface ocean CO2 fluxes and compact ecosystem observatories. New integration of developed sensors on gliders and surface vehicles will increase our coastal and regional observational capability. Most autonomous platforms observe a single carbonate parameter, which leaves us reliant on the use of empirical relationships to constrain the rest of the carbonate system. Sensors now in development promise the ability to observe multiple carbonate system parameters from a range of vehicles in the near future.

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