Metadata Report for BODC Series Reference Number 830907

Metadata Summary

Data Description

Data Category CTD or STD cast
Instrument Type
Neil Brown MK3 CTD  CTD; water temperature sensor; salinity sensor; dissolved gas sensors
SeaTech transmissometer  transmissometers
Chelsea Technologies Group 2-pi PAR irradiance sensor  radiometers
Instrument Mounting research vessel
Originating Country United Kingdom
Originator Prof David Huntley
Originating Organization Polytechnic South West Institute of Marine Studies (now University of Plymouth, School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences)
Processing Status banked
Project(s) North Sea Project 1987-1992
NSP Sandwaves/Sandbanks Process Study

Data Identifiers

Originator's Identifier 1443
BODC Series Reference 830907

Time Co-ordinates(UT)

Start Time (yyyy-mm-dd hh:mm) 1989-02-23 10:52
End Time (yyyy-mm-dd hh:mm) -
Nominal Cycle Interval 1.0 decibars

Spatial Co-ordinates

Latitude 52.64867 N ( 52° 38.9' N )
Longitude 3.67717 E ( 3° 40.6' E )
Positional Uncertainty 0.05 to 0.1 n.miles
Minimum Sensor Depth 0.5 m
Maximum Sensor Depth 23.29 m
Minimum Sensor Height 6.71 m
Maximum Sensor Height 29.5 m
Sea Floor Depth 30.0 m
Sensor Distribution Variable common depth - All sensors are grouped effectively at the same depth, but this depth varies significantly during the series
Sensor Depth Datum Instantaneous - Depth measured below water line or instantaneous water body surface
Sea Floor Depth Datum Instantaneous - Depth measured below water line or instantaneous water body surface


BODC CODE Rank Units Short Title Title
ATTNZR01 1 per metre Atten_red Attenuation (red light wavelength) per unit length of the water body by transmissometer
IRRDPP01 1 MicroEinsteins per square metre per second DwIrr_2-piPAR Downwelling 2-pi scalar irradiance as photons (PAR wavelengths) in the water body by 2-pi scalar radiometer
IRRUPP01 1 MicroEinsteins per square metre per second UwIrr_2-piPAR Upwelling 2-pi scalar irradiance as photons (PAR wavelengths) in the water body by 2-pi scalar radiometer
POTMCV01 1 Degrees Celsius WC_Potemp Potential temperature of the water body by computation using UNESCO 1983 algorithm
PRESPR01 1 Decibars Pres_Z Pressure (spatial co-ordinate) exerted by the water body by profiling pressure sensor and corrected to read zero at sea level
PSALST01 1 Dimensionless P_sal_CTD Practical salinity of the water body by CTD and computation using UNESCO 1983 algorithm
SIGTPR01 1 Kilograms per cubic metre SigTheta Sigma-theta of the water body by CTD and computation from salinity and potential temperature using UNESCO algorithm
TEMPST01 1 Degrees Celsius WC_temp_CTD Temperature of the water body by CTD or STD
TSEDTR01 1 Milligrams per litre TSPMTr Concentration of suspended particulate material {SPM} per unit volume of the water body [particulate >unknown phase] by in-situ optical attenuance measurement and calibration against sample data

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

Neil Brown MK3 CTD

The Neil Brown MK3 conductivity-temperature-depth (CTD) profiler consists of an integral unit containing pressure, temperature and conductivity sensors with an optional dissolved oxygen sensor in a pressure-hardened casing. The most widely used variant in the 1980s and 1990s was the MK3B. An upgrade to this, the MK3C, was developed to meet the requirements of the WOCE project.

The MK3C includes a low hysteresis, titanium strain gauge pressure transducer. The transducer temperature is measured separately, allowing correction for the effects of temperature on pressure measurements. The MK3C conductivity cell features a free flow, internal field design that eliminates ducted pumping and is not affected by external metallic objects such as guard cages and external sensors.

Additional optional sensors include pH and a pressure-temperature fluorometer. The instrument is no longer in production, but is supported (repair and calibration) by General Oceanics.


These specification apply to the MK3C version.

Pressure Temperature Conductivity

6500 m

3200 m (optional)

-3 to 32°C 1 to 6.5 S cm -1

0.0015% FS

0.03% FS < 1 msec


0.003°C < 30 msec

0.0001 S cm -1

0.0003 S cm -1 < 30 msec

Further details can be found in the specification sheet .

Chelsea Technologies Photosynthetically Active Radiation (PAR) Irradiance Sensor

This sensor was originally designed to assist the study of marine photosynthesis. With the use of logarithmic amplication, the sensor covers a range of 6 orders of magnitude, which avoids setting up the sensor range for the expected signal level for different ambient conditions.

The sensor consists of a hollow PTFE 2-pi collector supported by a clear acetal dome diverting light to a filter and photodiode from which a cosine response is obtained. The sensor can be used in moorings, profiling or deployed in towed vehicles and can measure both upwelling and downwelling light.


Operation depth 1000 m
Range 2000 to 0.002 µE m -2 s -1
Angular Detection Range ± 130° from normal incidence
Relative Spectral Sensitivity

flat to ± 3% from 450 to 700 nm

down 8% of 400 nm and 36% at 350 nm

Further details can be found in the manufacturer's specification sheet .

SeaTech Transmissometer


The transmissometer is designed to accurately measure the the amount of light transmitted by a modulated Light Emitting Diode (LED) through a fixed-length in-situ water column to a synchronous detector.



The instrument can be interfaced to Aanderaa RCM7 current meters. This is achieved by fitting the transmissometer in a slot cut into a customized RCM4-type vane.

A red LED (660 nm) is used for general applications looking at water column sediment load. However, green or blue LEDs can be fitted for specilised optics applications. The light source used is identified by the BODC parameter code.

Further details can be found in the manufacturer's Manual .

RRS Challenger 46 CTD Data Documentation


The CTD unit was a Neil Brown Mk. 3 incorporating a pressure sensor, conductivity cell, platinum resistance thermometer and a Beckmann dissolved oxygen sensor. This was mounted vertically in the centre of a protective cage approximately 1.5m square.

Attached to bars of the frame were an Aquatracka logarithmic response fluorometer and a Seatech red light (661 nm) transmissometer with a 25 cm path length.

Above the frame was a General Oceanics rosette sampler fitted with 12, 10 litre water bottles. These comprised a mixture of Niskin, general purpose Go-Flo and ultra-clean teflon lined Go-Flo bottles as dictated by sampling requirements. The base of the bottles were 0.75m above and the tops 1.55m above the pressure head. One bottle was fitted with a holder for twin reversing thermometers mounted 1.38m above the CTD temperature sensor.

Above the rosette was a PML 2-pi PAR (photosynthetically active radiation) sensor pointing upwards to measure downwelling irradiance. A second 2-pi PAR sensor, pointing downwards, was fitted to the bottom of the cage to measure upwelling irradiance. It should be noted that these sensors were vertically separated by 2m with the upwelling sensor 0.2m below the pressure head and the downwelling sensor 1.75m above it.

No account has been taken of rig geometry in the compilation of the CTD data set. However, all water bottle sampling depths have been corrected for rig geometry and represent the true position of the midpoint of the water bottle in the water column.

Operational procedure and data logging

On each cast the CTD was lowered to a depth of approximately 5 metres and held until the oxygen reading stabilised. It was then raised to the surface and lowered continuously at 0.5 to 1 m/s to as close as possible to the sea floor. The upcast was done in stages between the bottle firing depths.

Data were logged by the Research Vessel Services ABC data logging system. The deck unit outputs were sampled at 32 Hz by a microprocessor interface (the Level A) which passed time stamped averaged cycles at 1 Hz to a Sun workstation (the Level C) via a buffering system (the Level B).

Data processing

The raw data comprised ADC counts. These were converted into engineering units (Volts for PAR meters, fluorometer and transmissometer: ml/l for oxygen: mmho/cm for conductivity: °C for temperature) by the application of laboratory determined calibrations and salinity was computed using the algorithm in Fofonoff and Millard (1983). The data were submitted to BODC in this form.

Within BODC the data were reformatted on an IBM main-frame. At this stage transmissometer air readings recorded during the cruise were used to correct the transmissometer voltage to the manufacturer's specified voltage by ratio. The voltages were then converted to percentage transmittance (multiplied by 20.0) and dissolved oxygen converted to µM (multiplied by 44.66).

Next the data were loaded onto a Silicon Graphics workstation. A sophisticated interactive screening program was used to delimit the downcast, mark the depth range of water bottle firings and flag any spikes on all of the data channels.

The data were returned to the IBM and the downcasts loaded into a database under the Oracle relational database management system. At this stage percentage transmittance was converted to attenuance to eliminate the influence of instrument path length using the equation:

Attenuance = -4.0 * log e (% trans/100)

Calibration sample data were merged into the database and files of sample value against CTD reading at the bottle depth were prepared for the Principal Investigators to determine the calibrations. Due allowance was made for rig geometry. Note that CTD downcast values were generally used although the bottles were fired on the upcast. The validity of an assumed static water column for the duration of the cast was checked on the graphics workstation and upcast values substituted if necessary.

Sigma-T values were calculated using the algorithm presented in Fofonoff and Millard (1983).


For each cast the mean pressure reading logged whilst the instrument was in air was determined. The average of these, determined as -1.8 db, was added to each pressure value.

Two digital reversing thermometers were fired at the bottom of each cast. The mean difference, determined for all casts on the cruise, between the averaged calibrated readings and the CTD temperature, 0.004 °C, was added to the CTD temperatures.

A sample was taken from the bottom bottle of each cast and salinity was determined using a Guildline Autosal. The mean difference, determined for all casts on the cruise, between the bottle values and the CTD salinity, 0.033 PSU, was added to the CTD salinities.

No chlorophyll calibration was possible for this cruise. The calibration from the following survey cruise, Challenger 47, has been applied to give the best possible estimate of the distribution of chlorophyll with depth.

No dissolved oxygen calibration was possible for this cruise. Consequently, all dissolved oxygen data have been flagged suspect.

Attenuance was regressed against total suspended matter determinations to derive the equation below to allow attenuance to be expressed in terms of suspended matter.

Total suspended matter (mg/l) = (Attenuance-0.505)/0.309 (n=6; r2=98.6%)

The PAR meters were calibrated using the following laboratory determined calibrations:

Upwelling: PAR (µE/m 2 /s) = exp (-5.151*V + 6.6035) * 0.0375
Downwelling: PAR (µE/m 2 /s) = exp (-5.122*V + 6.5739) * 0.0375


The chlorophyll calibration has been taken from another cruise.

There are no calibrated dissolved oxygen data.


Fofonoff, N.P and Millard, R.C. Jr. (1983). Algorithms for the computation of fundamental properties of sea water.

Project Information

North Sea Project

The North Sea Project (NSP) was the first Marine Sciences Community Research project of the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC). It evolved from a NERC review of shelf sea research, which identified the need for a concerted multidisciplinary study of circulation, transport and production.

The ultimate aim of the NERC North Sea Project was the development of a suite of prognostic water quality models to aid management of the North Sea. To progress towards water quality models, three intermediate objectives were pursued in parallel:

Proudman Oceanographic Laboratory hosted the project, which involved over 200 scientists and support staff from NERC and other Government funded laboratories, as well as seven universities and polytechnics.

The project ran from 1987 to 1992, with marine field data collection between April 1988 and October 1989. One shakedown (CH28) and fifteen survey cruises (Table 1), each lasting 12 days and following the same track, were repeated monthly. The track selected covered the summer-stratified waters of the north and the homogeneous waters in the Southern Bight in about equal lengths together with their separating frontal band from Flamborough head to Dogger Bank, the Friesian Islands and the German Bight. Mooring stations were maintained at six sites for the duration of the project.

Table 1: Details of NSP Survey Cruises on RRS Challenger
Cruise No. Date
CH28 29/04/88 - 15/05/88
CH33 04/08/88 - 16/08/88
CH35 03/09/88 - 15/09/88
CH37 02/10/88 - 14/10/88
CH39 01/11/88 - 13/11/88
CH41 01/12/88 - 13/12/88
CH43 30/12/88 - 12/01/89
CH45 28/01/89 - 10/02/89
CH47 27/02/89 - 12/03/89
CH49 29/03/89 - 10/04/89
CH51 27/04/89 - 09/05/89
CH53 26/05/89 - 07/06/89
CH55 24/06/89 - 07/07/89
CH57 24/07/89 - 06/08/89
CH59 23/08/89 - 04/09/89
CH61 21/09/89 - 03/10/89

Alternating with the survey cruises were process study cruises (Table 2), which investigated some particular aspect of the science of the North Sea. These included fronts (nearshore, circulation and mixing), sandwaves and sandbanks, plumes (Humber, Wash, Thames and Rhine), resuspension, air-sea exchange, primary productivity and blooms/chemistry.

Table 2: Details of NSP Process cruises on RRS Challenger
Cruise No. Date Process
CH34 18/08/88 - 01/09/88 Fronts - nearshore
CH36 16/09/88 - 30/09/88 Fronts - mixing
CH56 08/07/89 - 22/07/89 Fronts - circulation
CH58 07/08/89 - 21/08/89 Fronts - mixing
CH38 24/10/88 - 31/10/88 Sandwaves
CH40 15/11/88 - 29/11/88 Sandbanks
CH42 15/12/88 - 29/12/88 Plumes/Sandbanks
CH46 12/02/89 - 26/02/89 Plumes/Sandwaves
CH44 13/01/89 - 27/01/89 Resuspension
CH52 11/05/89 - 24/05/89 Resuspension
CH60 06/09/89 - 19/09/89 Resuspension
CH48 13/03/89 - 27/03/89 Air/sea exchanges
CH62 05/10/89 - 19/10/89 Air/sea exchanges
CH50 12/04/89 - 25/04/89 Blooms/chemistry
CH54 09/06/89 - 22/06/89 Production

In addition to the main data collection period, a series of cruises took place between October 1989 and October 1990 that followed up work done on previous cruises (Table 3). Process studies relating to blooms, plumes (Humber, Wash and Rhine), sandwaves and the flux of contaminants through the Dover Strait were carried out as well as two `survey' cruises.

Table 3: Details of NSP `Follow up' cruises on RRS Challenger
Cruise No. Date Process
CH62A 23/10/89 - 03/11/89 Blooms
CH64 03/04/90 - 03/05/90 Blooms
CH65 06/05/90 - 17/05/90 Humber plume
CH66A 20/05/90 - 31/05/90 Survey
CH66B 03/06/90 - 18/06/90 Contaminants through Dover Strait
CH69 26/07/90 - 07/08/90 Resuspension/Plumes
CH72A 20/09/90 - 02/10/90 Survey
CH72B 04/10/90 - 06/10/90 Sandwaves/STABLE
CH72C 06/10/90 - 19/10/90 Rhine plume

The data collected during the observational phase of the North Sea Project comprised one of the most detailed sets of observations ever undertaken in any shallow shelf sea at that time.

North Sea Project Sandwaves and Sandbanks Process Study

Sandwave fields cover at least 15000 km2 of the Southern Bight of the North Sea. Drag coefficients based on measured pressure gradients were recorded and sea bed photography used to test bedload prediction formulae. The sand covering much of the southern North Sea is mobile forming banks that are interleaved with mud. Current meter moorings placed either side of a bank were used to estimate its associated circulation and contribution to dispersion. A 3 dimensional model using wave-current interaction enhancing bed stress is being applied to fine grid (~100m) bathymetry and is being tested using detailed measurements of near-bed currents and turbulence obtained from the STABLE (Sediment Transport And Boundary Layer Equipment) rig.

Data Activity or Cruise Information


Cruise Name CH46_2
Departure Date 1989-02-20
Arrival Date 1989-02-26
Principal Scientist(s)David Huntley (Polytechnic South West Institute of Marine Studies)
Ship RRS Challenger

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