Image from the ARABESQUE CDROM cover showing cruise tracks
Image from the ARABESQUE CDROM cover showing cruise tracks ©

The aim of the ARABESQUE project was to study the upper ocean microbial biogeochemistry in the Arabian Sea. Its focus was carbon and nitrogen cycling processes linked to climate change. The project was a UK contribution to the Joint Global Ocean Flux Study (JGOFS) Process Studies of the Arabian Sea.

Who ran the project?

ARABESQUE was organised by Plymouth Marine Laboratory (PML) and involved scientists from

  • University of Wales, Bangor, UK
  • Queen's University of Belfast, UK
  • University of East Anglia, UK
  • University of Edinburgh, UK
  • University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, UK
  • Bedford Institute of Oceanography, Canada
  • Max Planck Institute for Limnology, Germany
  • Sultan Qaboos University, Oman

The data cruises ran from August until November 1994. The data set was published on CDROM by BODC in April 1998.

Data management support for the project was provided by BODC.


The fieldwork programme consisted of two cruises of RRS Discovery. Cruise 210 (from 27 August to 4 October 1994) was timed to coincide with the South West Monsoon. Cruise 212 (from 16 November to 19 December 1994) took place during the intermonsoon period through to the onset of the North East Monsoon.

The fieldwork programme included three repeated sections

  • one section along the Gulf of Oman
  • a section at 8°N 67°E to 14° 30N 67°E
  • a major section from 8°N 67°E to the coast of Oman

Other one-off sections were also crossed in the area.

Sections were covered by underway upper ocean measurements and by a total of 21 sites where CTD/water-bottle stations were taken, 14 of which were repeated.

What data were collected?

A wide range of data types were collected including

  • Physical (e.g. temperature, salinity and optics)
  • Biological (e.g. pigments, bacterial biomass/production, microzooplankton biomass/grazing, carbon cycling, nitrogen cycling, sedimenting fluxes, primary production)
  • Chemical (e.g. nutrients, tracers, dissolved gasses)

Data management

BODC had responsibility for assembling, calibrating, quality controlling and fully documenting all data collected for the project. The data were assembled into a database complete with supporting documentation and a user manual.

The ARABESQUE project data set

The data set consists of more than five million underway measurements (one minute sampling with up to 30 different parameters), 400 shallow CTD casts and 4500 water-bottle deployments from which up to 24 different parameters were measured.

The full data set has been published by BODC on CDROM complete with user interface and documentation.

The data are also stored in BODC's databanks and are part of the pool of data available to anyone interested in oceanographic research. Contact the BODC Enquiries Officer for further information.