Seawater-pH measurements for ocean-acidification observations

The uptake of anthropogenic CO2 by the oceans since the onset of the industrial revolution is considered a serious challenge to marine ecosystems due to ensuing carbonate-chemistry changes (ocean acidification). Furthermore, the CO2 uptake is reducing the ocean’s capacity to absorb future CO2 emissions. In order to follow the changes in the ocean’s carbonate system, high-quality analytical measurements with good spatial and temporal resolution are necessary. High-precision and accurate pH measurements are now possible, and allow us to determine the progression of ocean acidification. The spectrophotometric pH technique is now widely used and capable of the required high-quality measurements. Spectrophotometric pH systems are deployed on ships and in situ on remote platforms. Smaller and more rugged instruments are nevertheless required for more widespread in situ application to allow routine high-resolution measurements, even in the most remote regions.

We critically review oceanic pH measurements, and focus on state-of-the-art spectrophotometric pH measurement techniques and instrumentation. We present a simple microfluidic design integrated in a shipboard instrument featuring high accuracy and precision as a key step towards a targeted pH microsensor system.

Rérolle V. M. C., Floquet C. F. A., Mowlem M. C., Bellerby R. R. G. J., Connelly D. P. & Achterberg E. P., in press. Seawater-pH measurements for ocean-acidification observations. Trends in Analytical Chemistry. doi: 10.1016/j.trac.2012.07.016. Article (subscription required).


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