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Metadata Report for BODC Series Reference Number 1262138

Metadata Summary

Data Description

Data Category Water sample data
Instrument Type
Niskin bottle  discrete water samplers
Instrument Mounting lowered unmanned submersible
Originating Country United Kingdom
Originator Prof Richard Sanders
Originating Organization Southampton Oceanography Centre (now National Oceanography Centre, Southampton)
Processing Status banked
Online delivery of data Download available - Ocean Data View (ODV) format
Project(s) Rapid Climate Change Programme

Data Identifiers

Originator's Identifier D279_CTD_NUTS_208:C099
BODC Series Reference 1262138

Time Co-ordinates(UT)

Start Time (yyyy-mm-dd hh:mm) 2004-05-02 12:58
End Time (yyyy-mm-dd hh:mm) -
Nominal Cycle Interval -

Spatial Co-ordinates

Latitude 24.49512 N ( 24° 29.7' N )
Longitude 30.81270 W ( 30° 48.8' W )
Positional Uncertainty Unspecified
Minimum Sensor or Sampling Depth 19.6 m
Maximum Sensor or Sampling Depth 5703.5 m
Minimum Sensor or Sampling Height 16.7 m
Maximum Sensor or Sampling Height 5700.6 m
Sea Floor Depth 5720.2 m
Sea Floor Depth Source -
Sensor or Sampling Distribution Unspecified -
Sensor or Sampling Depth Datum Unspecified -
Sea Floor Depth Datum Instantaneous - Depth measured below water line or instantaneous water body surface


BODC CODERankUnitsTitle
ADEPZZ011MetresDepth (spatial coordinate) relative to water surface in the water body
BOTTFLAG1Not applicableSampling process quality flag (BODC C22)
FIRSEQID1DimensionlessBottle firing sequence number
NTRZAATX1Micromoles per litreConcentration of nitrate+nitrite {NO3+NO2} per unit volume of the water body [dissolved plus reactive particulate phase] by colorimetric autoanalysis
PHOSAATX1Micromoles per litreConcentration of phosphate {PO43- CAS 14265-44-2} per unit volume of the water body [dissolved plus reactive particulate phase] by colorimetric autoanalysis
SAMPRFNM1DimensionlessSample reference number
SLCAAATX1Micromoles per litreConcentration of silicate {SiO44- CAS 17181-37-2} per unit volume of the water body [dissolved plus reactive particulate phase] by colorimetric autoanalysis

Definition of BOTTFLAG

0The sampling event occurred without any incident being reported to BODC.
1The filter in an in-situ sampling pump physically ruptured during sample resulting in an unquantifiable loss of sampled material.
2Analytical evidence (e.g. surface water salinity measured on a sample collected at depth) indicates that the water sample has been contaminated by water from depths other than the depths of sampling.
3The feedback indicator on the deck unit reported that the bottle closure command had failed. General Oceanics deck units used on NERC vessels in the 80s and 90s were renowned for reporting misfires when the bottle had been closed. This flag is also suitable for when a trigger command is mistakenly sent to a bottle that has previously been fired.
4During the sampling deployment the bottle was fired in an order other than incrementing rosette position. Indicative of the potential for errors in the assignment of bottle firing depth, especially with General Oceanics rosettes.
5Water was reported to be escaping from the bottle as the rosette was being recovered.
6The bottle seals were observed to be incorrectly seated and the bottle was only part full of water on recovery.
7Either the bottle was found to contain no sample on recovery or there was no bottle fitted to the rosette position fired (but SBE35 record may exist).
8There is reason to doubt the accuracy of the sampling depth associated with the sample.
9The bottle air vent had not been closed prior to deployment giving rise to a risk of sample contamination through leakage.

Definition of Rank

  • Rank 1 is a one-dimensional parameter
  • Rank 2 is a two-dimensional parameter
  • Rank 0 is a one-dimensional parameter describing the second dimension of a two-dimensional parameter (e.g. bin depths for moored ADCP data)

Problem Reports

No Problem Report Found in the Database

Data Access Policy

Open Data supplied by Natural Environment Research Council (NERC)

You must always use the following attribution statement to acknowledge the source of the information: "Contains data supplied by Natural Environment Research Council."

Narrative Documents

Niskin Bottle

The Niskin bottle is a device used by oceanographers to collect subsurface seawater samples. It is a plastic bottle with caps and rubber seals at each end and is deployed with the caps held open, allowing free-flushing of the bottle as it moves through the water column.

Standard Niskin

The standard version of the bottle includes a plastic-coated metal spring or elastic cord running through the interior of the bottle that joins the two caps, and the caps are held open against the spring by plastic lanyards. When the bottle reaches the desired depth the lanyards are released by a pressure-actuated switch, command signal or messenger weight and the caps are forced shut and sealed, trapping the seawater sample.

Lever Action Niskin

The Lever Action Niskin Bottle differs from the standard version, in that the caps are held open during deployment by externally mounted stainless steel springs rather than an internal spring or cord. Lever Action Niskins are recommended for applications where a completely clear sample chamber is critical or for use in deep cold water.

Clean Sampling

A modified version of the standard Niskin bottle has been developed for clean sampling. This is teflon-coated and uses a latex cord to close the caps rather than a metal spring. The clean version of the Levered Action Niskin bottle is also teflon-coated and uses epoxy covered springs in place of the stainless steel springs. These bottles are specifically designed to minimise metal contamination when sampling trace metals.


Bottles may be deployed singly clamped to a wire or in groups of up to 48 on a rosette. Standard bottles have a capacity between 1.7 and 30 L, while Lever Action bottles have a capacity between 1.7 and 12 L. Reversing thermometers may be attached to a spring-loaded disk that rotates through 180° on bottle closure.

RAPID Cruise D279 discrete nutrient sampling by originator Sanders

Nutrient data from D279 were collected and analysed by two originators working closely together. The full CTD sample data set of nitrate+nitrite (hereinafter nitrate), phosphate and silicate was provided by Dr Richard Sanders. Further nutrient data, including a subset of the data provided by Dr Richard Sanders, were provided by Dr Angela Landolfi. Differences between the full CTD data set and the data subset only occur in the nitrate data due to post cruise calibrations that were performed. As such, the data acquisition, onboard analysis and onboard data quality are identical. Dr Angela Landolfi also provided data from plastic carboy samples that were collected during the cruise. Data described below were supplied by Dr Richard Sanders.

Originator's data acquisition and analysis

Onboard processing and analysis

Inorganic nutrient concentrations (nitrate+nitrite hereinafter nitrate, phosphate and silicate) were measured immediately onboard using a Skalar San Plus autoanalyser according to standard colorimetric techniques (Kirkwood, 1995) with the exception that the pump rates through the phosphate line were increased by a factor of 1.5, which improves reproducibility and peak shape.

Samples were drawn from Niskin bottles into 25ml sterilin coulter counter vials and kept refrigerated at 4°C until analysis, which commenced within 24 hours. Stations were run in batches of 2-6 with most runs containing 3 or 4 stations. Overall, 34 runs were undertaken. An artificial seawater matrix (ASW) of 40 g/l sodium chloride was used as the intersample wash and standard matrix. The nutrient free status of this solution was checked by running Ocean Scientific International (OSI) nutrient free seawater on every run.

In a departure from previous methodology, a single set of mixed standards were made up at the start of the cruise and used throughout the cruise. These were made by diluting 5 mM solutions made from weighed dried salts in 1 litre of ASW into plastic 1 litre volumetric flasks that had been cleaned by soaking for 6 weeks in MQ water. This was in an effort to minimise the run to run variability in concentrations observed on previous cruises. OSI nutrient standard solutions were used sporadically during the cruise to monitor the degradation of these standards.

Data were transferred to another computer initially using a zip disk, and then after station 66 by means of a memory stick. The zip disk transfer route was unreliable and resulted in a delay between sample analysis and data work up of 8-10 stations. After station 66, data were worked up immediately. This delay had the effect that the problems with the nitrate line described below could not be evaluated in close to real time.

Data processing was undertaken using Skalar proprietary software. Generally this was straightforward, however a detailed examination of nitrate data from stations 20-60 was needed to achieve acceptable calibrations and bulk nutrient values. The wash time and sample time were 90 seconds, and the lines were washed daily with 0.25M NaOH (P) and 10% Decon (N, Si). Time series of baseline, bulk standard concentration, instrument sensitivity, calibration curve correlation coefficient, nitrate reduction efficiency and duplicate difference were compiled and updated on a daily basis.

  • Problems with the analyser

    1) In the early part of the cruise on runs 1-3 (stations 2-21), the phosphate baseline suffered frequent catastrophic baseline degradations. All the samples were rerun, but duplicates could not be run as the available duplicate time was used to reanalyse samples. This was alleviated mid run by removing the flow cell and shaking it vigorously, and eliminated over the longer term by refitting some elements of the line and reducing the pull through rate. Stations 49-52 were also affected by this problem and no phosphate data are available for stations 51 and 52. Stations 71-74 were compromised by a failure of the temperature water bath. These stations were reanalysed 24 hours later using samples from salinity bottles.

    2) The nitrate line was very noisy between stations 22 and 60. Initially this was suspected to be due to a fault with the reagents, which were renewed several times. However, after this failed to rectify the situation, the cadmium column was repacked on two occasions. This also failed to rectify the situation and a new cadmium column was therefore fitted, which gave no problems during the rest of the cruise. Stations 22-60 were reprocessed to give bulk nutrient values in line with those from the remainder of the stations. The effect of this on data quality has yet to be systematically evaluated.

  • Analyser performance

    The performance of the autoanalyser is monitored via the following parameters: baseline value, calibration curve slope, regression coefficient of the calibration curve and nitrate reduction efficiency.

    The instrument sensitivity for nitrate varied widely and unpredictably during the cruise by up to 40%. Phosphate and silicate sensitivity behaved much more reproducibly, with these parameters varying by about 10% over the 5 week period of observations.

    The quality of the calibration curves was generally good with 95% having regression coefficients better than 0.999. The reduction efficiency of the cadmium column was <100% during the early part of the cruise. The column was changed at station 66, after which the efficiency increased to approximately 100%.

    The baseline value of the instrument barely changed throughout the cruise, with the exception of phosphate, which declined after the first run from 6300 to about 5900.


Kirkwood, D. S., 1995. Nutrients: Practical notes on their determination in seawater. ICES Techniques in Marine Environmental Science report 17, International Council for the Exploration of the Sea, Copenhagen. 25p. ISSN 0903-2606.

BODC data processing procedures

Originator's parameter Description Units BODC parameter code Units Comments
no2+3 Nitrate+Nitrite µmol/l NTRZAATX µmol/l -
po4 Phosphate µmol/l PHOSAATX µmol/l -
sio3 Silicate µmol/l SLCAAATX µmol/l -

The data were supplied in PSTAR format, which was converted to ASCII. Units were converted, if necessary, to the BODC standard parameter units.

The data were then loaded into the project database under the ORACLE Relational Database Management System without modification.

Data that lay outside the permitted range for the parameter code were flagged suspect.

Data quality

Originator's onboard data quality

  • Precision of measurements

  • The short term precision of the measurements was evaluated by running one or two duplicate samples per station (thus 3-6 per run). The mean differences for silicate, nitrate and phosphate were 0.67, 1.63 and 2.04%, respectively. However, this conceals substantial variability in both nitrate and phosphate precision during the cruise. A group of stations from approximately 25- 60 had poor nitrate precision but the precision of the phosphate analyses improved over the course of the cruise from about 5% to about 1%.

  • Internal consistency of measurements

  • This was evaluated by using a deep water sample taken on station 1 and was run on every station.

    Nitrate concentration appeared to be invariant whereas the phosphate and silicate concentrations declined markedly over the cruise. The variability of bulk nutrient concentration from the mean is indicative of the internal consistency of the data set. For nitrate this is simple to evaluate, as the concentration appeared to be invariant. The residual concentration appears to be normally distributed and shows no significant trend over time. The absolute average residual value was 0.27 micromoles per litre or 1.2%.

    For phosphate and silicate, a linear function was fitted which predicted concentration as a function of elapsed day. This regression was used to generate values for phosphate and silicate for each day and the residual difference calculated.

    Both phosphate and silicate residuals appear to have a normal distribution, with silicate (and to a lesser extent phosphate) residuals displaying a sinusoidal pattern with time for unknown reasons. The mean residual values are 0.12 micromoles per litre or 1.17% for silicate and 0.03 micromoles per litre or 2.1% for phosphate.

  • Accuracy of measurements

  • The accuracy was monitored by the use of OSI nutrient standard solutions, which need to be diluted by the user. The analysis of these standards gave values of phosphate 1.01 +/- 0.02 micromoles per litre for a nominally 1 micromolar solution, nitrate 10.9 +/- 0.13 for a nominally 10 micromolar solution and silicate 21.4 +/- 0.1 micromoles per litre for a nominally 20 micromolar solution. These imply that the nitrate and silicate results are too low by about 10% and 5% respectively. The standards used on this cruise have been retained for further investigation and a comparison with historical data will also be used to address this issue.

Project Information

Rapid Climate Change (RAPID) Programme

Rapid Climate Change (RAPID) is a £20 million, six-year (2001-2007) programme of the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC). The programme aims to improve our ability to quantify the probability and magnitude of future rapid change in climate, with a main (but not exclusive) focus on the role of the Atlantic Ocean's Thermohaline Circulation.

Scientific Objectives

  • To establish a pre-operational prototype system to continuously observe the strength and structure of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (MOC).
  • To support long-term direct observations of water, heat, salt, and ice transports at critical locations in the northern North Atlantic, to quantify the atmospheric and other (e.g. river run-off, ice sheet discharge) forcing of these transports, and to perform process studies of ocean mixing at northern high latitudes.
  • To construct well-calibrated and time-resolved palaeo data records of past climate change, including error estimates, with a particular emphasis on the quantification of the timing and magnitude of rapid change at annual to centennial time-scales.
  • To develop and use high-resolution physical models to synthesise observational data.
  • To apply a hierarchy of modelling approaches to understand the processes that connect changes in ocean convection and its atmospheric forcing to the large-scale transports relevant to the modulation of climate.
  • To understand, using model experimentation and data (palaeo and present day), the atmosphere's response to large changes in Atlantic northward heat transport, in particular changes in storm tracks, storm frequency, storm strengths, and energy and moisture transports.
  • To use both instrumental and palaeo data for the quantitative testing of models' abilities to reproduce climate variability and rapid changes on annual to centennial time-scales. To explore the extent to which these data can provide direct information about the thermohaline circulation (THC) and other possible rapid changes in the climate system and their impact.
  • To quantify the probability and magnitude of potential future rapid climate change, and the uncertainties in these estimates.


Overall 38 projects have been funded by the RAPID programme. These include 4 which focus on Monitoring the Meridional Overturning Circulation (MOC), and 5 international projects jointly funded by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research, the Research Council of Norway and NERC.

The RAPID effort to design a system to continuously monitor the strength and structure of the North Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation is being matched by comparative funding from the US National Science Foundation (NSF) for collaborative projects reviewed jointly with the NERC proposals. Three projects were funded by NSF.

A proportion of RAPID funding as been made available for Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs) as part of NERC's Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI). The SBRI aims to stimulate innovation in the economy by encouraging more high-tech small firms to start up or to develop new research capacities. As a result 4 projects have been funded.

Monitoring the Meridional Overturning Circulation at 26.5N (RAPIDMOC)

Scientific Rationale

There is a northward transport of heat throughout the Atlantic, reaching a maximum of 1.3PW (25% of the global heat flux) around 24.5°N. The heat transport is a balance of the northward flux of a warm Gulf Stream, and a southward flux of cooler thermocline and cold North Atlantic Deep Water that is known as the meridional overturning circulation (MOC). As a consequence of the MOC northwest Europe enjoys a mild climate for its latitude: however abrupt rearrangement of the Atlantic Circulation has been shown in climate models and in palaeoclimate records to be responsible for a cooling of European climate of between 5-10°C. A principal objective of the RAPID programme is the development of a pre-operational prototype system that will continuously observe the strength and structure of the MOC. An initiative has been formed to fulfill this objective and consists of three interlinked projects:

  • A mooring array spanning the Atlantic at 26.5°N to measure the southward branch of the MOC (Hirschi et al., 2003 and Baehr et al., 2004).
  • Additional moorings deployed in the western boundary along 26.5°N (by Prof. Bill Johns, University of Miami) to resolve transport in the Deep Western Boundary Current (Bryden et al., 2005). These moorings allow surface-to-bottom density profiles along the western boundary, Mid-Atlantic Ridge, and eastern boundary to be observed. As a result, the transatlantic pressure gradient can be continuously measured.
  • Monitoring of the northward branch of the MOC using submarine telephone cables in the Florida Straits (Baringer et al., 2001) led by Dr Molly Baringer (NOAA/AOML/PHOD).

The entire monitoring array system created by the three projects will be recovered and redeployed annually until 2008 under RAPID funding. From 2008 until 2014 the array will continue to be serviced annually under RAPID-WATCH funding.

The array will be focussed on three regions, the Eastern Boundary (EB), the Mid Atlantic Ridge (MAR) and the Western Boundary (WB). The geographical extent of these regions are as follows:

  • Eastern Boundary (EB) array defined as a box with the south-east corner at 23.5°N, 25.5°W and the north-west corner at 29.0°N, 12.0°W
  • Mid Atlantic Ridge (MAR) array defined as a box with the south-east corner at 23.0°N, 52.1°W and the north-west corner at 26.5°N, 40.0°W
  • Western Boundary (WB) array defined as a box with the south-east corner at 26.0°N, 77.5°W and the north-west corner at 27.5°N, 69.5°W


Baehr, J., Hirschi, J., Beismann, J.O. and Marotzke, J. (2004) Monitoring the meridional overturning circulation in the North Atlantic: A model-based array design study. Journal of Marine Research, Volume 62, No 3, pp 283-312.

Baringer, M.O'N. and Larsen, J.C. (2001) Sixteen years of Florida Current transport at 27N Geophysical Research Letters, Volume 28, No 16, pp3179-3182

Bryden, H.L., Johns, W.E. and Saunders, P.M. (2005) Deep Western Boundary Current East of Abaco: Mean structure and transport. Journal of Marine Research, Volume 63, No 1, pp 35-57.

Hirschi, J., Baehr, J., Marotzke J., Stark J., Cunningham S.A. and Beismann J.O. (2003) A monitoring design for the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation. Geophysical Research Letters, Volume 30, No 7, article number 1413 (DOI 10.1029/2002GL016776)

Data Activity or Cruise Information

Data Activity

Start Date (yyyy-mm-dd) 2004-05-02
End Date (yyyy-mm-dd) 2004-05-02
Organization Undertaking ActivitySouthampton Oceanography Centre (now National Oceanography Centre, Southampton)
Country of OrganizationUnited Kingdom
Originator's Data Activity IdentifierD279_CTD_C099
Platform Categorylowered unmanned submersible

BODC Sample Metadata Report for D279_CTD_C099

Sample reference number Nominal collection volume(l) Bottle rosette position Bottle firing sequence number Minimum pressure sampled (dbar) Maximum pressure sampled (dbar) Depth of sampling point (m) Bottle type Sample quality flag Bottle reference Comments
158057   10.00   1 5817.40 5818.40 5703.50 Niskin bottle No problem reported    
158058   10.00   2 5719.40 5720.40 5608.70 Niskin bottle No problem reported    
158059   10.00   3 5615.60 5616.60 5508.10 Niskin bottle No problem reported    
158060   10.00   4 5406.80 5407.80 5305.80 Niskin bottle No problem reported    
158061   10.00   5 5142.90 5143.90 5049.80 Niskin bottle No problem reported    
158062   10.00   6 4684.50 4685.50 4604.50 Niskin bottle No problem reported    
158063   10.00   7 4276.40 4277.40 4207.20 Niskin bottle No problem reported    
158064   10.00   8 3867.60 3868.60 3808.60 Niskin bottle No problem reported    
158065   10.00   9 3459.00 3460.00 3409.50 Niskin bottle No problem reported    
158066   10.00   10 3049.80 3050.80 3009.00 Niskin bottle No problem reported    
158067   10.00   11 2642.20 2643.20 2609.40 Niskin bottle No problem reported    
158068   10.00   12 2235.20 2236.20 2209.60 Niskin bottle No problem reported    
158069   10.00   13 1879.70 1880.70 1859.80 Niskin bottle No problem reported    
158070   10.00   14 1625.60 1626.60 1609.40 Niskin bottle No problem reported    
158071   10.00   15 1371.70 1372.70 1358.90 Niskin bottle No problem reported    
158072   10.00   16 1117.90 1118.90 1108.30 Niskin bottle No problem reported    
158073   10.00   17  713.20  714.20  707.90 Niskin bottle No problem reported    
158074   10.00   18  513.30  514.30  509.90 Niskin bottle No problem reported    
158075   10.00   19  437.90  438.90  435.10 Niskin bottle No problem reported    
158076   10.00   20  362.10  363.10  360.00 Niskin bottle No problem reported    
158077   10.00   21  210.80  211.80  209.80 Niskin bottle No problem reported    
158078   10.00   22  110.50  111.50  110.30 Niskin bottle No problem reported    
158079   10.00   23   59.60   60.60   59.70 Niskin bottle No problem reported    
158080   10.00   24   19.20   20.20   19.60 Niskin bottle No problem reported    

Please note:the supplied parameters may not have been sampled from all the bottle firings described in the table above. Cross-match the Sample Reference Number above against the SAMPRFNM value in the data file to identify the relevant metadata.


Cruise Name D279
Departure Date 2004-04-04
Arrival Date 2004-05-10
Principal Scientist(s)Stuart A Cunningham (Southampton Oceanography Centre)
Ship RRS Discovery

Complete Cruise Metadata Report is available here

Fixed Station Information

No Fixed Station Information held for the Series

BODC Quality Control Flags

The following single character qualifying flags may be associated with one or more individual parameters with a data cycle:

Flag Description
Blank Unqualified
< Below detection limit
> In excess of quoted value
A Taxonomic flag for affinis (aff.)
B Beginning of CTD Down/Up Cast
C Taxonomic flag for confer (cf.)
D Thermometric depth
E End of CTD Down/Up Cast
G Non-taxonomic biological characteristic uncertainty
H Extrapolated value
I Taxonomic flag for single species (sp.)
K Improbable value - unknown quality control source
L Improbable value - originator's quality control
M Improbable value - BODC quality control
N Null value
O Improbable value - user quality control
P Trace/calm
Q Indeterminate
R Replacement value
S Estimated value
T Interpolated value
U Uncalibrated
W Control value
X Excessive difference

SeaDataNet Quality Control Flags

The following single character qualifying flags may be associated with one or more individual parameters with a data cycle:

Flag Description
0 no quality control
1 good value
2 probably good value
3 probably bad value
4 bad value
5 changed value
6 value below detection
7 value in excess
8 interpolated value
9 missing value
A value phenomenon uncertain
B nominal value
Q value below limit of quantification