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Biogeochemical profiling floats developed by researchers (shown being deployed above) at Laboratoire d’Océanographie de Villefranche-sur-Mer (LOV) and outfitted with biogeochemical sensors from Sea-Bird Scientific have helped characterize the true start of seasonal North Atlantic phytoplankton blooms. Once limited by infrequent field sampling and spotty satellite data, researchers were unclear whether phytoplankton productivity would ramp up in the winter (implied by previously observed jumps in productivity), or later in the spring.

To answer this questions, they deployed 9 floats equipped with sensors for chlorophyll, nitrate, oxygen, and photosynthetically active radiation for a multi-parameter analysis of the spring bloom. Years of autonomous data from these instruments revealed that early winter productivity was not the start of the bloom, but the result of unexpectedly favorable weather conditions driving temporary productivity in the colder months. The result is that North Atlantic seasonal bloom truly begins when weather conditions are consistently milder and sunlight is more available. Read more here.

Biogeochemical profiling floats around the world can provide similar insights; by operating autonomously in hard-to-reach locations, these instruments provide new research angles to otherwise difficult research topics. Sea-Bird Scientific’s line of profiling floats and accessories aims to expand the sampling capabilities of the global float network.