Glossary and acronyms

We use many acronyms, words and phrases that are peculiar to BODC and oceanographic research. If you have seen any acronyms or words used in our web site that you do not understand and you think should be included here, please email the BODC Web Master or complete our comment form.

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36 North An effort to investigate and understand the influences on global climate regulation, with a focus on the current role of the North Atlantic subtropical gyre. A NERC consortium project.


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ABS Acoustic Backscatter Sensor.
ACCLAIM Antarctic Circumpolar Current Levels by Altimetry and Island Measurements. A NOC Liverpool research programme carried out in the South Atlantic and Southern Ocean.
ACE Aerosol Characterisation Experiment. A study of the processing of gases and aerosols through hill cap clouds on Tenerife and sub-tropical marine stratocumulus.
ACE Autumn Circulation Experiment. Took place between October 1987 and March 1988 in the North Sea.
ACMME Aerosol Characterisation and Modelling in the Marine Environment. Part of the UK SOLAS programme, funded by NERC.
Acoustic Backscatter How much of a transmitted acoustic signal is bounced back to a transducer.
Acoustic Pinger A battery-powered automatic acoustic transmitter that emits a pulse ('ping') of acoustic sound at a regular interval and at a particular frequency.
ACSOE Atmospheric Chemistry Studies in the Oceanic Environment. A NERC thematic research programme.
ADCP Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler. An instrument used to measure ocean currents at multiple depths through the transmission of high-frequency acoustic signals.
ADV Acoustic Doppler Velocimeter. A versatile, high-precision instrument for water motion measurements in laboratories, lakes, rivers and oceans.
Aeolian Relating to or caused by wind.
Agassiz trawl A fine meshed net used to sweep a corridor of the sea floor and collect all the species living along that line.
ALACE Autonomous LAgrangian Circulation Explorer. An instrument that can be programmed to cycle up and down through the water column at predetermined intervals to provide measurements of temperature and salinity at a prescribed depth. The predecessor to PALACE floats.
Altimeter An instrument that measures the height above sea level or, for marine applications, the height above the sea bed.
AMMA-UK The UK's contribution to the African Monsoon Multidisciplinary Analysis (AMMA) programme. AMMA-UK has links with UK SOLAS through the DODO project.
AMT Atlantic Meridional Transect. A NERC research project.
Anemometer An instrument for measuring wind speed and direction.
ARABESQUE A study of the upper ocean microbial biogeochemistry in the Arabian Sea. A UK research project.
Arakawa grid This is a series of 5 grids (A-E) used by modellers within numerical models to provide a framework for calculations of various physical quantities.
Argo A global array of 3000 free-drifting profiling floats. An international research project.
ASPeCt Antarctic Sea-ice Processes and Climate. A database of sea ice observations.
Atomic Absorption Spectrometer An instrument that provides accurate quantitative analyses for metals in water, sediments, soils or rocks.
Attenuate To reduce in force, value, amount or degree; weaken.
Audit To examine, verify or correct.
AUI Autosub Under Ice. A NERC thematic research programme.
Authigenic One of three major components of deep sea sediments, the other two being detrital and biogenic. Authigenic minerals are those formed by spontaneous crystallisation within the sediment or water column and make up only a small fraction of the total sediment volume. It can also be produced as a by-product of hydrothermal activity near ridge crests.
AutoAnalyser An instrument used to measure the concentrations of dissolved nutrients.
Automated Flow Cytometer An instrument used to measure the biomass of phytoplankton, bacteria and microzooplankton.
Autosub A world-leading unmanned Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV), developed by engineers and scientists at National Oceanography Centre.
AUV Autonomous Underwater Vehicle.


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B-grid A "staggered" Arakawa grid that separates the evaluation of two quantities rather than evaluating all quantities at the same point in each grid cell. For example velocities may be measured at the grid centre and masses at the grid corners.
BADC British Atmospheric Data Centre. NERC designated UK data centre for atmospheric sciences.
Baroclinic flow The current flow in the water column is associated with density differences between water masses. This can arise from both salinity and temperature differences.
BAS British Antarctic Survey. NERC environmental research centres responsible for UK scientific activities in Antarctica.
Bathymetry The measurement of the depth of bodies of water.
Beach profile A cross-section taken perpendicular to a given beach contour. The profile may include the face of a dune or sea wall, extend over the backshore, across the foreshore and seaward underwater into the near-shore zone.
Benthic Relating to, or happening on, the bottom of a body of water.
Benthic lander Autonomous vehicle used to obtain high-quality measurements at the sea floor.
Benthic nepheloid layers Layers of increased suspended matter concentration extending upwards from the bed.
Biodiversity The number and variety of organisms found within a specified geographic region.
Biogenic Produced by living organisms or biological processes.
Biomass The total mass of living matter within a given unit of the environment.
BODC British Oceanographic Data Centre. UK national facility for preserving and distributing oceanographic and marine data.
BOFS Biogeochemical Ocean Flux Study. A NERC Community Research Project.
BPR Bottom Pressure Recorder.
Bubble clouds Bubble clouds are clusters of air bubbles in the water column generated by breaking waves.
Bubble resonator An instrument for measuring bubble size.
BUDS BODC's Underway Data processing System.


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Calibrate To check, adjust, or determine by comparison with a standard.
CDI Common Data Index. Developed by SEA-SEARCH
CDOM Chromophoric Dissolved Organic Matter.
Cephalopod Marine mollusc characterised by well-developed head and eyes and sucker-bearing tentacles e.g. squid or octopus.
Cetaceans Marine mammals that live in oceans, seas, and even a few rivers around the world. Whales, dolphins and porpoises are part of this group.
CF-netCDF A netCDF format file following the Climate and Forecast (CF) metadata convention.
Chlorophyll fluorescence Fluorescence due to plant pigments.
CHN Carbon, Hydrogen, Nitrogen.
CLIPC Climate Information Platform for Copernicus. One of five EU funded projects within the Copernicus climate theme. Copernicus is the European Earth Observation Programme.
CLIVAR Climate Variability and Predictability, part of the World Climate Research Programme (WCRP). An international research programme.
CMDAC Current Meter Data Assembly Centre.
COAPS Center for Ocean-Atmosphere Prediction Studies, Florida State University, USA.
COD Chemical Oceanographic Department.
CoFEE Coastal Flooding by Extreme Events. A NERC research project that aims to improve understanding of how coastlines will change in response to variations in climate, sea level, storm and wave frequency.
Collaborating To work together, especially in a joint intellectual effort.
Controlled vocabulary A standardised list of words and phrases for describing phenomena.
CoSIM A Coastal Storm Impact Model, which is capable of predicting the extent and magnitude of a flood and predicting and adjusting for morphological change at the land/sea interface.
COSRAD Coastal Ocean Surface Radar.
Coulometer A device for determining the amount of a substance released during electrolysis by measuring the electrical charge.
Coulter A technique for determining the size of suspended particles based on measurable changes in electrical resistance produced by nonconductive particles suspended in an electrolyte.
CPR Continuous Plankton Recorder.
CRP Community Research Programme. This brings together scientists from NERC institutes and universities to work together on a common problem.
Cruise inventory A low-level inventory for tracking oceanographic data collected on research vessels.
CSR Cruise Summary Report. Used to populate the cruise inventory. Formerly known as ROSCOP.
CTD Conductivity, Temperature and Depth. An instrument measuring profiles of temperature and salinity.
CTD-rosette water samplers An array of typically 12 or 24 water bottles attached to a CTD. The water bottles, which usually have a capacity of 10-30 litres, can be individually triggered to close to 'trap' a sample of water at a chosen depth.
Current meter An instrument for measuring the speed and direction of ocean currents.


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DABEX Dust and Biomass EXperiment. A NERC funded project investigating the effects of Sahelian dust and biomass aerosols.
DAC Data Assembly Centre.
Defra Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
Delta Flume A joint experiment funded by the European Union and NERC.
Densitometer Instrument for measuring the darkness, or light-stopping power, of exposed and processed photographic material.
DERA Defence Evaluation and Research Agency (now QinetiQ).
Detrital Loose fragments or grains that have been worn away from rock.
DISCO DImethyl Sulphide biogeochemistry within a COccolithophore bloom. A project funded by NERC and QinetiQ.
Dissipating To attenuate to (or almost to) the point of disappearing.
Diurnal Relating to or occurring in a 24 hour period. Daily.
DML Dunstaffnage Marine Laboratory (now SAMS).
DMS Dimethyl Sulphide. An organic sulphur compound, produced by marine phytoplankton and important in cloud formation.
DOC Dissolved Organic Carbon.
DODO Dust Outflow and Deposition to the Ocean. Part of the UK SOLAS research programme, funded by NERC.
DOGEE The Deep Ocean Gas Exchange Experiment. Part of the UK SOLAS research programme, funded by NERC.
DON Dissolved Organic Nitrogen.
DOP Dissolved Organic Phosphorous.
Doppler effect A shift in the observed frequency of waves produced whenever the source of waves is moving with respect to an observer.
Doppler sensor A sensor that measures velocity from the Doppler frequency shift.
Downwelling The process of accumulation and sinking of, for example, surface waters along a coastline or at a front.
DPA Data Protection Act 1998.
Drifting buoys Instruments that float at predetermined depths in the ocean and drift with the currents, showing the direction and speed of movement.


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Earth system model A computer model simulating the entire Earth as a single system, resolving feedbacks between its constituent parts, e.g. the atmosphere and ocean.
Echo Sounder A measuring instrument that sends out an acoustic pulse in water and measures distances in terms of the time for the echo of the pulse to return.
EDIOS European Directory of the Initial Ocean-observing System.
EDMED European Directory of Marine Environmental Data.
EGO Everyone's Gliding Observatories. A European initiative to coordinate the glider community.
EIR Environmental Information Regulations 2004.
EM31 ground system An instrument to measure electrical conductivity of the ground using an electromagnetic inductive technique that makes continuous measurements without electrodes or ground contact, used to map geological variations, groundwater contaminants or any subsurface feature associated with changes in the ground conductivity.
EMBL European Molecular Biology Network.
EMIS European Marine Information System, a prototype toolkit for building marine environmental data portals developed under the NETMAR programme.
EnParDis Enabling Parameter Discovery. A NERC funded project.
Ensemble-based forecasting A numerical prediction method used to attempt to generate a representative sample of the possible future states of a dynamic system. Ensemble forecasting is a form of Monte Carlo analysis.
Epibenthic Living on the surface of bottom sediments in a water body.
EPSRC Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.
ESDI European Spatial Data Infrastructure.
ESEAS European Sea Level Service.
ESEAS-RI The ESEAS-RI (Research Infrastructure) project was established by ESEAS to support the research infrastructure of the ESEAS and facilitate full scientific exploitation of European sea level observations.
EST Expressed Sequence Tags.
Eulerian velocity A measurement of ocean currents flowing past a fixed point, such as a moored current meter.
EuroGOOS European Global Ocean Observing System. A program to support the European component of GOOS. It exists to maximise the benefits to Europe from operational oceanography.


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FAAM Facility for Airborne Atmospheric Measurements. A collaborative venture of the Met Office and NERC. FAAM provides an aircraft measurement platform for the UK atmospheric research community.
FASTNEt Fluxes Across Sloping Topography of the North East Atlantic. A a href="#nerc">NERC funded research consortium.
Flame Ionisation Detection Equipment used in gas chromatography. Uses a flame to decompose neutral solute molecules into charged particles, then measures any changes in conductivity.
Floe A small iceberg.
Flow Cytometer An instrument that is used to measure the biomass of phytoplankton, bacteria and microzooplankton.
Fluorescence The re-emission of light energy at a lower frequency by an absorber illuminated with optical energy.
Fluorometer An instrument for measuring fluorescence.
FOI Freedom of Information Act 2000.
FREE Flood Risk from Extreme Events. A NERC programme looking at the physical processes involved in generating floods from extreme weather events, with the aim in improving forecasting and quantification of flood risk.
Front A distinct change in the properties of adjacent water masses.


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Gas Chromatography A technique used to separate volatile or gaseous substances for subsequent analysis.
GCMD Global Change Master Directory. A directory of information about Earth and Ocean Science data.
GCOS Global Climate Observing System.
GDAC Global Data Assembly Centre.
GEBCO General Bathymetric Chart of the Oceans. A global digital atlas maintained by BODC.
GIS Geographic Information System.
GLOBEC Global Ocean Ecosystem Dynamics project. A component of IGBP. Its goal is to advance our understanding of the structure and functioning of the global ocean ecosystem.
GLOMAP Global Model of Aerosol Processes. An initiative at the University of Leeds to develop an advanced global model of aerosol microphysical and chemical processes.
GLOSS Global Sea Level Observing System. Aims to establish a strategic global core network of 300 tide gauges around the world for long-term climate change and oceanographic sea level monitoring.
Glyoxal An organic chemical (chemical formula OCHCHO), the smallest dialdehyde. Glyoxal is potentially important in the oxidative chemistry of the atmosphere.
GMES Global Monitoring for Environment and Security. Now renamed Kopernikus.
GML Geography Markup Language. A schema for the distribution and storage of geographic information.
GODAE Global Ocean Data Assimilation Experiment.
GODAR Global Oceanographic Data Archaeology and Rescue. An IODE project started in 1993 to increase the volume of historical oceanographic data available to climate change and other researchers.
GOOS Global Ocean Observing System. A program whose main elements are the collection and timely distribution of oceanic data and products.
GOOSAG IACMST Global Ocean Observing System Action Group.
GPS Global Positioning System. A system of satellites, computers and receivers able to determine the latitude and longitude of a receiver on Earth by calculating the time difference between different satellite signals to reach the receiver.
GROOM Gliders for Research, Ocean Observation & Management. A project funded by the European Union to develop infrastructure for glider operations.
GSDC Global Subsurface Data Centre, Brest, France.
GTS Global Telecommunication System.
Gyre A large, permanent, circular rotation of surface ocean water.


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Halocline A relatively sharp change in salinity with depth.
HGA 600 A graphite furnace atomic absorption spectrometer.
Hindcast A way of testing a numerical model. Known or closely estimated inputs for past events are entered into the model to see how well the modelled output matches the known results.
HiWASE High Wind Air-Sea Exchanges. Part of the UK SOLAS research programme, funded by NERC.
HPLC High Performance Liquid Chromatography. A technique used to measure the concentration of up to 50 different plankton pigments.
HUMBOLDT A project to help provide a framework for geo data harmonisation and service integration across Europe.
Hygroscopicity The ability of a substance to attract water molecules from its environment and to bind to water molecules by absorption or adsorption.
Hypoxia Occurs when a body of water has a reduced oxygen content.


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IACMST Inter-Agency Committee on Marine Science and Technology.
IAPSO International Association for the Physical Sciences of the Ocean.
Ice draught Sea ice thickness below the water surface.
ICES International Council for the Exploration of the Sea.
IGBP International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme.
IHO International Hydrographic Organization.
INDIA Inlet Dynamics Initiative Algarve. A MAST research project.
INSPIRE Investigation of Near-Surface Production of Iodocarbons - Rates and Exchange. Part of the UK SOLAS research programme, funded by NERC.
INSPIRE Infrastructure for Spatial Information in Europe. An EU directive.
IOC Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission.
IODE International Oceanographic Data and Information Exchange.
Irradiance The amount of radiation incident on a given surface, usually expressed in watts per square centimetre or square metre.
ISO International Organization for Standardization.


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JASL Joint Archive for Sea Level Data.
Java A platform-independent programming language used to develop applications, especially ones for the internet.
JCOMM WMO/IOC Joint Technical Commission for Oceanography and Marine Meteorology.
JGOFS Joint Global Ocean Flux Study.
JODC Japan Oceanographic Data Center, Tokyo, Japan.
JSP Java Server Pages. JSP technology enables rapid development of server and platform independent web-based applications.


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Kopernikus Formerly known as Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES).
Kymatology The science of waves and wave motion.


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LADCP Lowered Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler. An ADCP operating in a profiling model, usually as part of the CTD package. The standard range for an ADCP instrument is 600 m. In lowered mode continuous measurements can be made to depths of 6000 m plus.
Lagrangian velocity A measurement of ocean currents made by tracking a section of water as if flows, i.e. using dyed particles.
Landry-Hassett dilution experiments A technique to measure the rate at which microzooplankton graze on phytoplankton.
Langmuir circulation The movement of water caused by wind speeds of at least 8 ms-1 that results in streaks of floating material and bubbles collecting on the surface of water.
LEACOAST2 Liverpool - East Anglia Coastal Study 2. An EPSRC funded research project.
Lead Line A line with a lead weight at one end used for measuring the depth of water.
LHPR Longhurst-Hardy Plankton Recorder.
LLO Laboratory Liaison Officer. A key role in our data management partnerships with marine research centres.
LOEPS Land-Ocean Evolution Perspectives Study (one of seven components of LOIS).
LOICZ Land-Ocean Interactions in the Coastal Zone. An IGBP programme.
LOIS Land-Ocean Interaction Study. Project aiming to quantify and simulate the fluxes and transformations of materials, e.g. sediments, nutrients, contaminants, into and out of the coastal zone, extending from the catchment to the edge of the continental shelf. A NERC funded project.


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M&FMB Marine and Freshwater Microbial Biodiversity. A NERC Research Project.
Macrofauna Animals large enough to be seen by the naked eye.
MAGE Marine Aerosol and Gas Exchange. A study of aspects of air sea exchange relevant to atmospheric chemistry and aerosol production. A component of ACSOE.
MAIA Monitoring the Atlantic Inflow toward the Arctic.
MarProd Marine Productivity programme. A NERC Research Project.
Marsden Squares A mechanism for expressing spatial coordinates. They are mainly used for identifying the geographic position of meteorological and oceanographic data.
Mass Spectrometer An instrument that produces charged particles from the chemical substances to be analysed. The mass spectrometer then uses electric and magnetic fields to measure the mass of the charged particles.
MAST EU Marine Science and Technology.
MEDAG IACMST Marine Environmental Data Action Group.
MEDALPLEX Mediterranean Alpine Experiment.
Mesocosm An experimental system that simulates real-life conditions as closely as possible.
Metadata In data processing, metadata is definitional data that provides information about or documentation of other data managed within an application or environment.
Metocean data Combines meteorological and oceanographic variables to form an important category of oceanographic and marine data. Parameters include sea level, wave, currents, sea temperature, conductivity, air temperature, air pressure and wind.
MIAS Marine Information and Advisory Service. BODC evolved from the MIAS Data Banking Service.
Microstructure probe A probe that measures fluctuations in temperature and salinity at the centimetre scale, enabling estimation of ocean turbulence.
Microzooplankton Zooplankton between 20 and 200 μm in size.
MIDAC Moored Instrument Data Assembly Center.
MIZ Marginal Ice Zone.
Model (numerical) A computer program, or network of computers, that attempts to represent, through computed outputs, a particular system. Numerical models are used in numerous disciplines including physics, chemistry, biology, economics and engineering.
Monte Carlo analysis A class of computational algorithms that rely on repeated random sampling to compute their results.
Moored instruments Instruments deployed in the ocean for a period of time before being collected at a later stage.
Morphodynamics Study of forces or processes that influence form.
MRI Marine Research Institute.
MSL Mean Sea Level.
Multicorer An instrument that can be used to obtain samples of both sediment and genuine bottom water.
MultiMet A meteorological instrument and data logging package fitted to the NERC research vessels.


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NASA Ames An ASCII data format used by the British Atmospheric Data Centre.
NATRE North Atlantic Tracer Release Experiment.
NCMR National Centre for Marine Research, Athens, Greece.
NDG NERC DataGrid.
NEMO Nucleus for European Modelling of the Ocean. A modelling framework for oceanographic and meteorological studies.
Nepheloid layers Layers of enhanced suspended particulate material concentration in the water column.
Nephelometer An instrument that measures the concentration of suspended particulate matter.
NERC Natural Environment Research Council.
netCDF Network Common Data Format. An interface for array-oriented data access and a library that provides the tools for the interface. Developed at the Unidata Program Center, Boulder, Colorado.
netCDF Network Common Data Format. An interface for array-oriented data access and a library that provides the tools for the interface. Developed at the Unidata Program Center, Boulder, Colorado.
NETMAR Open Service Network for Marine Environmental Data programme.
Neuston net A net designed to sample the organisms living at the very surface layer of the ocean.
NIOZ Netherlands Institute for Sea Research.
NOAA National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
NOC National Oceanography Centre. Formed on 01 April 2010 by bringing together into a single institution the NERC-managed activity at the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton (NOCS) and the Proudman Oceanographic Laboratory (POL) in Liverpool.
NOCS National Oceanography Centre, Southampton (formerly SOC).
NODB National Oceanographic Database.
NODC National Oceanographic Data Centre.
NORMS North Sea Modelling Study (One of seven components of LOIS).
NRT Near real-time.
NTSLF National Tidal and Sea Level Facility.


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OBS Optical Backscatter Sensor. Used to estimate in situ concentrations of suspended particulate matter in aquatic systems.
Ocean glider An unmanned AUV platform that uses small changes in buoyancy and internal weight distribution to traverse horizontally and vertically through the water column.
Oceanography The branch of Earth Science concerning the oceans and seas. It covers a wide range of topics, including marine organisms and ecosystem dynamics; ocean currents, waves, and geophysical fluid dynamics; plate tectonics and the geology of the sea floor and fluxes of various chemical substances and physical properties within the ocean and across its boundaries.
Oceans 2025 A NERC funded research programme which involves all of NERC's marine centres and national facilities, and draws together the strengths of the individual organisations. Its aim is to improve understanding of ocean behaviour, response to climate change and subsequent impacts on society through cross-disciplinary partnership research.
OED Ocean Engineering Division, National Oceanography Centre, Southampton.
OGC Open Geospatial Consortium.
OMEX Ocean Margin Exchange project. A MAST research project.
Ontology A representation of the knowledge within a domain (e.g. marine science) by defining a series of concepts (e.g. waves, currents) and the relationships between those concepts.
OPeNDAP Open-source Project for a Network Data Access Protocol. A data transport system and protocol widely used by earth scientists.
OSBL Ocean Surface Boundary Layer. The shallow water interface between the atmosphere and ocean important for nutrient and greenhouse gas exchange.
OSMOSIS Ocean Surface Mixing, Ocean Sub-mesoscale Interaction Study. A NERC funded research consortium.
OXICOA Oxidising Capacity of the Ocean Atmosphere. A study of oxidant, radical and related gas-phase chemistry in the clean and moderately polluted marine atmosphere. A component of ACSOE.
Oxygen probe Instrument that measures the concentration of dissolved oxygen in water.


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PALACE Profiling Autonomous LAgrangian Circulation Explorers. An instrument that can be programmed to cycle up and down through the water column at predetermined intervals to provide vertical profiles of temperature and salinity. A successor to the ALACE floats.
PAR Photosynthetically Available Radiation. The amount of visible light available for photosynthesis.
Parameterisation In the context of modelling, the process of assigning values to variables within the model to provide the best possible representation of the real world.
PDV Parameter Discovery Vocabulary. A BODC controlled vocabulary to group Parameter Usage Vocabulary (PUV) terms into logical subsets.
Pelagic Relating to, or living in open oceans or seas rather than waters adjacent to land or inland waters.
Perl Practical Extraction and Report Language. Perl is an interpreted programming language known for its power and flexibility.
pH A measure of the acidity or alkalinity of a solution, numerically equal to 7 for neutral solutions, increasing with increasing alkalinity and decreasing with increasing acidity. The pH scale commonly in use ranges from 0 to 14.
Photometer An instrument for measuring the intensity of light, or, more especially, for comparing the relative intensities of different lights, or their relative illuminating power.
Photometrically Measurement of the intensities of light, especially luminous intensity.
Phytoplankton Minute, free-floating aquatic plants.
Plankton Minute, free-floating aquatic plants, animals and bacteria.
PML Plymouth Marine Laboratory.
PMP POL Mooring Platform.
POC Particulate Organic Carbon.
POL Proudman Oceanographic Laboratory (now National Oceanography Centre, Liverpool).
Polarfront A Norwegian weathership contributing data to the HiWASE project as part of UK SOLAS.
POLCOMS A Proudman Oceanographic Laboratory Coastal Ocean Modelling System. This comprises a baroclinic three-dimensional model, which can run in deep ocean and the continental shelf regions, together with linked sediment and ecosystem models.
POLCOMS-WAM A coupled wave-current model component of POLCOMS.
PON Particulate Organic Nitrogen.
Pore-water The water between the grains of unconsolidated sediment.
Potentiometer A variable resistor containing a high-stability wire wound resistor and a reference cell.
Pressure transducer An instrument that converts pressure into an analogue electrical signal.
PRIME Plankton Reactivity in the Marine Environment. A NERC funded project.
Profiling Radiometer An instrument that records a vertical profile of the amount of light at different wavelengths travelling down through the water or being reflected back up through the water.
PROMISE Pre-operational Modelling in the Seas of Europe. A project whose primary objective is to optimise the application of existing dynamical models of the North Sea such that the rate and scales of sediment exchange between the coast and nearshore zone can be quantified for management applications.
PROVESS Processes of Vertical Exchange in Shelf Seas. A MAST research project.
PSMSL Permanent Service for Mean Sea Level.
PUV Parameter Usage Vocabulary. A BODC controlled vocabulary for labelling data with unique and precise definitions.


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QinetiQ One of the world's leading defence technology and security companies (formerly DERA).
QUEST Quantifying and Understanding the Earth System. A NERC funded programme aiming to improve understanding of processes and feedbacks within the Earth system.


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RACS Rivers, Atmosphere and Coasts Study (accountable for three of the seven components of LOIS).
Radiometer A device that measures the intensity of radiant energy.
RAFOS A subsurface float that provides direct measurements of the ocean circulation by listening to and recording acoustic signals sent by sources at known geographical positions. The inverse of SOFAR.
RAPID Rapid Climate Change. A NERC funded research project.
RAPID-WATCH RAPID - Will the Atlantic Thermohaline Circulation Halt? The continuation of the RAPID programme.
RDBMS Relational Database Management System. Software that performs general purpose data storage and retrieval. Information is organised into tables consisting of rows and columns.
RHaMBLe Reactive Halogens in the Marine Boundary Layer. Part of the UK SOLAS research programme, funded by NERC.
RMT Rectangular Midwater Trawl. A net system used to collect water samples.
ROSCOP Reports of Observations/Samples Collected by Oceanographic Programmes. A program conceived by the IOC in the late 1960s to provide a low level inventory for tracking oceanographic data collected on research vessels. Now officially known as the Cruise Summary Report (CSR).


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Salinometer An instrument that measures the amount of salt dissolved in a water sample.
Saltiphone A robust saltation sensor that records particle impacts with a microphone.
SAMS Scottish Association for Marine Science (formerly DML).
Scintillation counters A radiation detector triggered by the flash of light produced when ionising radiation traverses certain solid or liquid substances (phosphors).
SDC The UK SOLAS Data Centre. A collaboration between the British Oceanographic and Atmospheric Data Centres (BODC and BADC).
Sea ice drifter A satellite-tracked buoy placed on thick sea ice, which measures the movement of the ice.
SEA-SEARCH A pan-European network of national oceanographic data centres and marine information services. A forerunner to SeaDataNet.
SeaDataNet An EU funded project aiming to create and operate a pan-European, marine data management infrastructure, accessible online through a portal. Building on work from SEA-SEARCH.
Seaglider An ocean glider manufactured initially by the University of Washington, subsequently by iRobot.
SEASAW Field observations of sea spray, gas fluxes and whitecaps. Part of the UK SOLAS research programme, funded by NERC.
SeaSoar A towed vehicle equipped with impeller-forced wings that can be rotated to allow the vehicle to undulate in the upper ocean. It can carry a range of oceanographic sensors.
Sediment Traps An instrument that catches material on its way down through the water column.
Semantic framework A set of software tools for the creation, viewing and editing of controlled vocabularies and ontologies.
Service chaining A chain of software tools that takes data input to the first program, and passes it along the chain to generate a new data product.
SES Shelf Edge Study (one of seven components of LOIS.)
Sidescan sonar Uses ultrasonic waves to locate objects and record bottom structure in a swath on one or both sides of its sensors.
SIMORC System of Industry Metocean data for the Offshore and Research Communities. An EU-funded project.
Simrad EK500 A scientific multi-frequency echosounder.
Simulation An imitation of a real world process or system over time in a particular numerical model. The model represents the system itself, whereas the simulation represents the changing state of the system under certain conditions over time.
Simulation layer In some physical numerical models, changes in depth/height can influence how the simulation unfolds over time. These groupings in a simulation are known as layers. Layers, however, can be arbitrary and not directly related to a specific physical dimension.
SIO Scripps Institution of Oceanography.
SLDAC Sea Level Data Assembly Centre.
Slocum An ocean glider manufactured by Teledyne Webb Research.
SMRU Sea Mammal Research Unit.
SOC Southampton Oceanography Centre (now part of NOC).
SOEST School of Ocean and Earth Sciences and Technology, University of Hawai'i, USA.
SOFAR SOund Fixing And Ranging subsurface float used since the mid 1970s that freely drift at prescribed pressures. These provide direct measurements of the ocean circulation by sending acoustic pulses, once a day which can be used to calculate their positions at listening stations. The inverse of RAFOS.
Solarimeter An instrument used to measure the flux of solar radiation through a surface.
SOLAS The Surface Ocean - Lower Atmosphere Study. An international collaborative initiative.
SOP Standard Operating Procedure.
SOP Special Observing Period.
Spectrophotometer An instrument for measuring the intensity of light of a definite wavelength transmitted by a substance or a solution, thus providing a measure of the amount of material in the solution absorbing the light.
SPM Suspended Particulate Matter.
Spurious data Data that lack authenticity or validity.
SSCAPA Subsurface Single Cell and Particle Analysis.
STABLE Sediment Transport and Boundary Layer Equipment.
Stand-Alone Pumps Pumps that are moored at a particular depth in the water and filter large volumes of water to collect suspended particulate matter.
STD Salinity, Temperature and Depth. An instrument measuring profiles of temperature and salinity.
Swath bathymetry The measurement of water depth beneath a ship using a sophisticated Echo Sounder. A transducer emits a signal composed of multiple straight beams, which form a band perpendicular to the ship's axis.


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Tangential Flow Filtration A filtration system in which the feed stream flows across the filter media and exits as a retentive stream. The retentive stream is recycled to merge into the feed stream, while a portion of it passes through the filter media, resulting in concentration of the feed stream.
TDN Total Dissolved Nitrogen.
Thermistor Chain A moored instrument that measures temperatures in the water column at a number of different depths.
Thermohaline circulation A global ocean circulation. It is driven by differences in the density of the sea water, which is controlled by temperature (thermal) and salinity (haline).
Thermosalinograph (TSG) A sea surface temperature and salinity measurement system.
TOPAS A system for remotely identifying sand or mud layers in the seabed. It is used to measure the thickness of the layers over the bedrock and for locating buried objects.
Topography Graphic representation of the surface features of a place or region on a map, indicating their relative positions and elevations.
Transducer A substance or device that converts input energy of one form into output energy of another.
Transmissometer An instrument that measures the concentration of suspended particulate matter indirectly through water transparency.
Turbulence Unstable flow of a liquid or gas. Common examples are wind and water swirling around obstructions, or fast flow of any sort.


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UHSLC University of Hawai'i Sea Level Centre.
UK SOLAS The UK's contribution to the international Surface Ocean - Lower Atmosphere Study (SOLAS) project. A NERC funded programme.
UK WOCE United Kingdom World Ocean Circulation Experiment.
UKDMAP United Kingdom Digital Marine Atlas. A reference source for information on the coasts and seas around the UK. Developed by BODC.
UKHO United Kingdom Hydrographic Office.
UKMED United Kingdom National Marine Environmental Data Network. The network aims to improve the availability of UK marine data.
UKOA UK Ocean Acidification programme
UKOOA United Kingdom Offshore Operators Association. Now known as Oil & Gas UK.
Underwater PAR sensor An instrument that measures the intensity of visible light (PAR) underwater.
Underway shipborne ADCP An instrument measuring current speed and direction at different depths. Works continuously whether the ship is moving or stationary.
UNESCO United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.
UOR Undulating Oceanographic Recorder. An instrument that is towed behind a ship and goes up and down between the surface and a few hundred metres depth. It can carry a range of oceanographic sensors.
USIPS Under Sea Ice and Pelagic Surveys.


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Visualisation A system used to display information in a graphic and pictorial form. For example, these are used with numerical model data to convert the numeric data into easily understood images.
VMADCP A vessel mounted Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler (ADCP).
Vocabulary Server A Web Service hosted by BODC that provides controlled vocabularies for the oceanographic and wider community.
Vorticity A measure of the rate of rotational spin in a fluid. A measure of the spin of an air or water mass such as a low or high-pressure weather system.


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WAM A 3rd generation WAve Model, developed by the Wave Model Development and Implementation Group (WAMDI, 1988)
WASP Wide-Angle Seabed Photography system.
Water Bottles Used to collect water samples at specific depths.
Water Column The water between sea surface and sea bed in which physical, chemical and biological properties can be measured.
WCRP World Climate Research Programme.
Web Service A software application that makes itself available over the internet and can be plugged into any other software application.
WHPO WOCE Hydrographic Program Office, Scripps Institute of Oceanography, USA.
Winkler technique A laboratory method used to measure the concentration of dissolved oxygen in seawater.
WMO World Meteorological Office.
WOCE World Ocean Circulation Experiment. A cooperative scientific effort by more than 30 nations to provide essential strategic research on ocean circulation.
WSDL Web Services Description Language. A standard XML format for describing Web Services (usually pronounced 'whizz-dul').


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Xbeach A two-dimensional model for wave propagation, long waves and mean flow, sediment transport and morphological changes of the near-shore area, beaches, dunes and back-barrier during storms.
XBT eXpendable BathyThermograph. An instrument that is thrown over the back of a ship while it is moving. It sinks to a depth of several hundred metres, recording temperature as it goes.
XCP eXpendable Current Profiler. An instrument that uses electric field measurements to estimate horizontal velocity relative to an unknown offset.
XML eXtensible Markup Language. This allows information and services to be encoded with meaningful structure and semantics that computers and humans can understand.


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Zooplankton Minute, free-floating aquatic animals.