This past summer, a workshop gave a new generation of marine biogeochemists hands-on experience in the appropriate use of biogeochemical sensors and taught them best practices for ensuring the quality of the data produced. Here, workshop participants prepare sensors for deployment. Credit: Nancy Williams

Training the Next Generation of Marine Biogeochemists

Early-career scientists came together recently to learn to use a suite of ocean biogeochemical sensors, with the goal of closing the knowledge gap between ocean technology and potential end users.

Modern ocean technology provides scientists with cost-effective sensors that can automatically take measurements of essential ocean variables. Researchers can place these sensors on autonomous platforms, a practice that is complementary to traditional ship-based sampling and that furthers the goal of improving data coverage worldwide. However, a knowledge gap remains between ocean sensor technology and many end users. This gap is born out of a lack of training and community coordination, together with a disconnect between the data gathering and data quality assurance that are required for various ocean applications and data products created for societal benefit.

To help train a new generation of marine biogeochemists in the appropriate use of a suite of biogeochemical sensors and to ensure the best possible quality of the data produced, the International Ocean Carbon Coordination Project and the European Union’s BONUS Integrated Carbon and Trace Gas Monitoring for the Baltic Sea (INTEGRAL) project held a 10-day training workshop at the Sven Lovén Centre for Marine Sciences in Kristineberg, Sweden, this past June. The workshop was attended by 27 outstanding early-career scientists, including 18 women scientists, selected from almost 140 applicants. The attendees were joined by 20 dedicated instructors, who shared their practical expertise with a variety of sensors:

  • Multiple optode-type optical oxygen sensors
  • Chlorophyll fluorescence and backscatter/turbidity sensors for bio-optical measurements
  • Ion-sensitive field-effect transistor (ISFET)- and spectrophotometry-based pH sensors
  • Membrane-based sensors and an underway system (which moves through the water rather than being moored) for measuring partial pressure of carbon dioxide (pCO2)

This intensive workshop provided trainees with lectures and hands-on experience across the whole spectrum of operations—from deployment and interfacing, through troubleshooting and calibration, to data reduction, quality control, and data management.

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