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Metadata Report for BODC Series Reference Number 957933

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
Chelsea Technologies Group Aquatracka fluorometer  fluorometers
Instrument Mounting research vessel
Originating Country United Kingdom
Originator Prof Graham Shimmield
Originating Organization University of Edinburgh Department of Geology and Geophysics (now University of Edinburgh School of GeoSciences)
Processing Status banked
Online delivery of data Download available - Ocean Data View (ODV) format
Project(s) BOFS
Joint Global Ocean Flux Study (JGOFS)

Data Identifiers

Originator's Identifier 28#8
BODC Series Reference 957933

Time Co-ordinates(UT)

Start Time (yyyy-mm-dd hh:mm) 1990-10-12 09:19
End Time (yyyy-mm-dd hh:mm) -
Nominal Cycle Interval 2.0 decibars

Spatial Co-ordinates

Latitude 24.62633 N ( 24° 37.6' N )
Longitude 22.79550 W ( 22° 47.7' W )
Positional Uncertainty 0.0 to 0.01 n.miles
Minimum Sensor or Sampling Depth 6.96 m
Maximum Sensor or Sampling Depth 171.82 m
Minimum Sensor or Sampling Height 4699.94 m
Maximum Sensor or Sampling Height 4864.8 m
Sea Floor Depth 4871.76 m
Sea Floor Depth Source GEBCO1901
Sensor or Sampling Distribution Variable common depth - All sensors are grouped effectively at the same depth, but this depth varies significantly during the series
Sensor or Sampling Depth Datum Instantaneous - Depth measured below water line or instantaneous water body surface
Sea Floor Depth Datum Chart reference - Depth extracted from available chart


BODC CODERankUnitsTitle
CPHLPR011Milligrams per cubic metreConcentration of chlorophyll-a {chl-a CAS 479-61-8} per unit volume of the water body [particulate >unknown phase] by in-situ chlorophyll fluorometer
POTMCV011Degrees CelsiusPotential temperature of the water body by computation using UNESCO 1983 algorithm
PRESPR011DecibarsPressure (spatial coordinate) exerted by the water body by profiling pressure sensor and correction to read zero at sea level
PSALST011DimensionlessPractical salinity of the water body by CTD and computation using UNESCO 1983 algorithm
SIGTPR011Kilograms per cubic metreSigma-theta of the water body by CTD and computation from salinity and potential temperature using UNESCO algorithm
TEMPST011Degrees CelsiusTemperature of the water body by CTD or STD

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

These data have no specific confidentiality restrictions for users. However, users must acknowledge data sources as it is not ethical to publish data without proper attribution. Any publication or other output resulting from usage of the data should include an acknowledgment.

If the Information Provider does not provide a specific attribution statement, or if you are using Information from several Information Providers and multiple attributions are not practical in your product or application, you may consider using the following:

"Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v1.0."

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.

Aquatracka fluorometer

The Chelsea Instruments Aquatracka is a logarithmic response fluorometer. It uses a pulsed (5.5 Hz) xenon light source discharging between 320 and 800 nm through a blue filter with a peak transmission of 420 nm and a bandwidth at half maximum of 100 nm. A red filter with sharp cut off, 10% transmission at 664 nm and 678 nm, is used to pass chlorophyll-a fluorescence to the sample photodiode.

The instrument may be deployed either in a through-flow tank, on a CTD frame or moored with a data logging package.

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

RRS Charles Darwin 53 CTD Data Documentation


The CTD profiles were taken with an RVS Neil Brown Systems Mk3B CTD 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 the bars of the frame were a Chelsea Instruments Aquatracka fluorometer, and a SeaTech red light (661nm) transmissometer with a 25cm path length.

Above the frame was a General Oceanics rosette sampler fitted with 12, 10 litre Niskin bottles. The bases of the bottles were 0.75m above the pressure head with their tops 1.55m above it. One of the bottles was fitted with a holder for up to three digital reversing thermometers mounted 1.38m above the CTD temperature sensor. On deep casts, a second bottle was sometimes similarly equipped.

All casts on this cruise were to depths beyond the limit for PML PAR meters. Consequently, no PAR meters were fitted.

Lowering rates of up to 1.5 m/sec were used, although rates were generally in the range 0.5 - 1 m/sec. Bottle samples and reversing thermometer measurements were acquired on the ascent of each cast.

Data Acquisition

CTD data were sampled at a frequency of 32 Hz. Data reduction was in real time, converting the 32 Hz data to a 1-second time-series (done by the RVS Level A system) which was then passed through an Analogue-Digital Converter and logged as digital counts on the Level C.

On-Board Data Processing

RVS software on the Level C (a Sun workstation) was used to convert the raw counts into engineering units (Volts for fluorometer and transmissometer: ml/l for oxygen: mmho/cm for conductivity: °C for temperature) and to apply a nominal calibration to the chlorophyll channel.

Salinity (Practical Salinity Units, as defined by the Practical Salinity Scale, Fofonoff and Millard (1982)) was calculated from conductivity ratios (conductivity / 42.914) and a lagged temperature using the function described in Unesco report 37 (1981).

Data were written onto magnetic tape in GF3 format and submitted to BODC.

Post-Cruise Processing


The data were converted into the BODC internal format (PXF) to allow the use of in-house software tools, notably the workstation graphics editor. In addition to reformatting, the Transfer Program applied the following modifications to the data:

The nominal chlorophyll channel was converted back into Volts using the equation

Volts = log(nominal chlorophyll) + 0.00001109

determined from the RVS Level C calibration file.

Dissolved oxygen was converted from ml/l to µM by multiplying the values by 44.66.

Transmissometer voltages were converted to percentage transmission by multiplying them by 40. Note that this is not the usual value of 20 because the CTD deck unit scaled the voltages on a range of 0-2.5 not 0-5. No correction was possible for light source decay because no air voltage data were available. Consequently, attenuance values will be overestimates.


Reformatted CTD data were transferred onto a high-speed graphics workstation. A number of tasks was performed here, using an in-house graphics editor. Initially, downcasts and upcasts were differentiated and the limits of the downcast were manually flagged.

Secondly, spikes on the downcast data were manually flagged. No data values were edited or deleted; flagging was achieved by modification of the associated quality control character flags.

Finally, the pressure ranges over which bottle samples were being collected, were logged by manual interaction with the software. Usually, the marked reaction of the oxygen sensor to the bottle firing sequence was used to determine this.

These pressure ranges were subsequently used, in conjunction with a geometrical correction for the position of the water bottles with respect to the CTD pressure transducer, to determine the pressure range of data to be averaged for calibration values.

Once screened on the workstation, the CTD downcasts were loaded into a database under the Oracle relational database management system. During the loading process, the transmissometer data were converted to attenuance using the algorithm:

attenuance = -4.0 * ln (percent transmittance / 100.0)


With the exception of pressure, calibrations were done by comparison of CTD data against measurements made on water bottle samples or from reversing thermometers mounted on the water bottles. In general, values were averaged from the CTD downcasts. This was followed by checking of each calibration point on a graphics workstation. If the upcast value differed significantly from the downcast, the value used in the calibration was modified accordingly.

All calibrations described here have been applied to the data.


The pressure offset was determined by looking at the pressures recorded when the CTD was clearly logging in air (readily apparent from the conductivity channel). Initially, the pressure offset was stable and sensible. After 2/10/1990, the pressure logged in air started to drift alarmingly. On one cast, the CTD was clearly logging 15 db in air. The problem was noticed during the cruise as a marked discrepancy between wire out and CTD pressure readings.

The problem bears all the hallmarks of an intermittent fault in the CTD pressure sensor. Whilst every effort has been made to fix the problem by varying the pressure correction factor as detailed below, it should be borne in mind when using the data that the pressure data (and hence water bottle depths) may be prone to error.

The pressure correction factors applied were:

CTD SS#3 (22/09/1990) to CTD 22#5 (01/10/1990): Pcorr = Pobs + 0.95
CTD 23#5 (02/10/1990): Pcorr = Pobs - 2.3
CTD 23#8 (03/10/1990) to CTD 24#1 (04/10/1990): Pcorr = Pobs - 1.4
CTD 27#1 (08/10/1990): Pcorr = Pobs + 1.6
CTD 27#2 (08/10/1990): Pcorr = Pobs - 0.1
CTD 28#5 (11/10/1990) to CTD 29#7 (14/10/1990): Pcorr = Pobs + 1.0
CTD 30#7 (16/10/1990): Pcorr = Pobs - 15.0
CTD 31#4 (17/10/1990): Pcorr = Pobs - 1.4
CTD 31#10 (19/10/1990): Pcorr = Pobs + 0.4
CTD 31#11 (19/10/1990): Pcorr = Pobs - 0.6

The CTD temperature sensor was calibrated against deep sea digital reversing thermometers (type RTM 4002, calibrated by Sensoren Instrumente Systeme GmbH, Kiel in March 1989).

Tcorr = Tobs - 0.003

Salinity was calibrated against water bottle samples measured on the Guildline 55358 Autolab Salinometer during the cruise. Samples were generally taken from the first bottle fired on each cast which would normally be at the maximum depth sampled. On some casts, one or even two additional samples were taken spaced through the water column.

Samples were collected in glass bottles filled to just below the neck and sealed with plastic stoppers. Batches of samples were left for at least 24 hours to reach thermal equilibrium in the constant temperature laboratory containing the salinometer before analysis.

The salinity correction determined for this cruise is:

Scorr = Sobs + 0.026

No oxygen calibration samples were taken on this cruise. Consequently, all oxygen values were flagged suspect in the full resolution data set and hence have been excluded from the binned data set.


The fluorometer was calibrated in terms of chlorophyll using a regression technique against extracted chlorophyll. The extracted chlorophyll data set (limited to 15 points) was obtained during the cruise by extraction into acetone followed by determination using a calibrated Turner Designs bench fluorometer.

The calibration data set poses a severe problem. Not only were there only 15 data points but they were restricted to the range 0.03 to 0.21 mg/m3. Consequently, any CTD chlorophyll values computed using this calibration in excess of 0.5 mg/m3 have been determined through a massive exponential extrapolation and should therefore be treated with EXTREME CAUTION.

As no PAR meters were fitted to the CTD, derivation of a quench correction was not possible.

The calibration equation obtained was:

Chlorophyll (mg/m3) = exp (V*3.96 - 4.51) (r2 = 76.2%)


The CTD data present on the CD-ROM have been binned by averaging over 1 db intervals for casts shallower than 100m and 2 db intervals for casts deeper than 100m. The binning algorithm only included data values associated with good flags. If no good data were available for a bin, linear interpolation was used to fill gaps of up to 3 bins. Gaps larger than this were left null.

The result of this algorithm is that data points are either considered good, in which case there is a value, or null, in which case the field is left blank. This removes the need for quality control flags which are often ignored and consequently make the data much easier to handle. The disadvantage is that some information is lost. The full resolution data have been archived by BODC and may be obtained on request.

Quality Control

Checks were performed on the analytical precision of the CTD conductivity cell, which exploited the canonical relationship between potential temperature and salinity observed by Saunders and Manning (1984) and given in Saunders (1986).

For deep water in the N.E. Atlantic, observations of salinity, S at potential temperature, theta (defined in Bryden, 1973) less than 2.6 °C have been documented as revealing a linear theta-S relationship : S = 34.968 + 0.098*theta.

This algorithm was used to compute expected salinities from CTD temperature measurements at depth, which were compared to measured salinities, to give an indication of the internal consistency of CTD measurements:

Cast 18#6: Maximum diff : 0.0132 PSU observed at 3213 decibars.
  Minimum diff : 0.0000 PSU observed at 3745 decibars.
Cast 23#8: Maximum diff : 0.0150 PSU observed at 3767 decibars.
  Minimum diff : 0.0000 PSU observed at 3051 decibars.
Cast 24#1: Maximum diff : 0.0155 PSU observed at 3901 decibars.
  Minimum diff : 0.0000 PSU observed at 3229 decibars.

It can be seen from these comparisons that the JGOFS target accuracy for salinity of 0.02 PSU has been achieved for this cruise. However, the data are still unsuitable for any purpose requiring accurate salinities.

Data Warnings

Salinity accuracy is of the order of 0.01 to 0.02 PSU.

No quench term could be determined for the chlorophyll calibration. The calibration is also based on concentrations less than 0.2 mg/m3 and hence should be regarded as totally unreliable for chlorophyll concentrations in excess of 0.5 mg/m3.

There are no dissolved oxygen or PAR data for this cruise.


BRYDEN H. 1973. New polynomials for thermal expansion, adiabatic temperature gradients and potential temperature of sea water. Deep Sea Research 20 : 401-408.

FOFONOFF N.P., MILLARD R.C. 1982. Algorithms for computation of fundamental properties of seawater. UNESCO Technical papers in Marine Science 44.

SAUNDERS P.M., MANNING A. 1984. CTD Data from the Northeast Atlantic Ocean, 22N-33N, 19-24W, July 1983 during RRS Discovery cruises 138,139. IOS Deacon Laboratory technical report 188.

SAUNDERS P.M. 1986. CTD data from the Madeira and Iberian abyssal plains, Charles Darwin cruises 3/85 and 9A/85. IOS Deacon Laboratory technical report 227.

UNESCO 1981. Background papers and supporting data on the Practical Salinity Scale, 1978. Unesco Technical Papers in Marine Science 37 144pp.

Project Information

Biogeochemical Ocean Flux Study (BOFS)

The Biogeochemical Ocean Flux Study (BOFS) was a Community Research Project within the Marine and Atmospheric Sciences Directorate (MASD) of the Natural Environment Research Council. The project provided a major United Kingdom contribution to the international Joint Global Ocean Flux Study (JGOFS). The project ran from April 1987 until March 1992 but was extended through bridging funds until March 1993. The BOFS North Atlantic Data Set was collected during the initial five year period. Fieldwork in the bridging year focused on the Antarctic in late 1992. These data will form part of a subsequent electronic publication of Antarctic data and are not included on this CD-ROM.

The primary aims of the BOFS programme were:

  • To improve the understanding of the biogeochemical processes influencing the dynamics of the cycling of the elements in the ocean and related atmospheric exchanges with particular reference to carbon.

  • To develop, in collaboration with, other national and international programmes. models capable of rationalising and eventually predicting the chemical and biological consequences of natural and man-induced changes to the atmosphere ocean system.

A Community Research Project brings together scientists from NERC institutes and UK universities to work on a common problem. In this way resources far beyond the scope of individual research groups may be brought to bear on a common problem. The project is coordinated through a host laboratory which has responsibility for financial management, organisation and logistics. The host laboratory for BOFS was the Plymouth Marine Laboratory (PML).


The BOFS North Atlantic data set was the result of fieldwork carried out on 11 research cruises. Four studies were carried out during three field seasons in 1989, 1990 and 1991; the 1989 North Atlantic Bloom Experiment, the 1990 Lagrangian Experiment, the 1990 BOFS Benthic Study and the 1991 Coccolithphore Study. Measurements taken include:

Physical (e.g. temperature, salinity and optics)
Meteorology and positioning
Chemical (e.g. dissolved oxygen, organic carbon and nitrogen)
Biological (e.g. biomass, pigments and bacteria production)
Geological (sediment traps)

The Sterna 1992 project (the Southern Ocean component of BOFS) aimed to measure the size and variability of carbon and nitrogen fluxes during early summer in the Southern Ocean, with particular emphasis on rates and processes in the marginal ice zone. Fieldwork was carried out between October and December 1992 in the Southern Ocean area, approximately 55°S to 70°S, 60°W to 85°W. A wide range of physical, chemical and biological parameters were measured.

Data Management

Data management services to BOFS were provided by the British Oceanographic Data Centre, funded by the UK Natural Environment Research Council.

Joint Global Ocean Flux Study (JGOFS)

JGOFS was an international and multi-disciplinary programme, which ran from February 1987 to December 2003, with participants from more than 20 nations. JGOFS was launched at a planning meeting in Paris under the auspices of the Scientific Committee of Oceanic Research (SCOR), a committee of the International Council for Science (ICSU) and later became one of the first core projects of the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (IGBP) in 1989.

The primary aims of the JGOFS programme were:

  • To determine and understand on a global scale the processes controlling the time-varying fluxes of carbon and associated biogenic elements in the ocean, and to evaluate the related exchanges with the atmosphere, sea floor and continental boundaries.
  • To develop a capacity to predict on a global scale the response to anthropogenic perturbations, in particular those related to climate change.

JGOFS consisted of fieldwork, synthesis and modelling phases. Further information about JGOFS may be found at the international Joint Global Ocean Flux Study web site.

JGOFS fieldwork

Date Fieldwork
1988 - 1990 Long-term time series stations established near Bermuda, Hawaii and in the Ligurian Sea
1989 - 1991 North Atlantic Bloom Experiment (NABE)
1991 - 1994 Equatorial Pacific Process Study
1992 - 1998 Southern Ocean Process Study
1994 - 1995 Indian Ocean (Arabian Sea) Process Study
1998 North Pacific Process Study

Synthesis and modelling phase

From 1998, as the fieldwork for most process studies were being completed, JGOFS focused on:

  1. Integrating regional synthesis and modelling activities
  2. Maintaining links to other ocean observing and global change programmes
  3. Developing a global synthesis and modelling phase

Data availability

The field data collected during JGOFS has been published on two DVDs. These are available via the World Data Center for Oceanography, Silver Spring and are entitled:

  • JGOFS International Collection, Volume 1: Discrete Datasets (1989-2000) DVD
  • JGOFS Arabian Sea Process Study, CTD, XBT and SeaSoar Data from 1990-1997

Data sets making up the UK contribution to JGOFS, for which BODC provided data management support, are also available directly from BODC.

Data Activity or Cruise Information


Cruise Name CD53
Departure Date 1990-09-18
Arrival Date 1990-10-24
Principal Scientist(s)Graham B Shimmield (University of Edinburgh Department of Geology and Geophysics)
Ship RRS Charles Darwin

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