Centre for Marine Microsystems

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Staff and students of CMM

Welcome to the website of the Centre for Marine µSystems. The multidisciplinary centre opened in 2008 and coordinates the development of robust high performance metrology systems for use in oceanographic science. Here you will find introductory material to the centre, its members and the research undertaken. The Centre is funded by NERC, EPSRC and the seventh European Framework Programme.

The oceans play a crucial role in the prosperity and future of civilisation. They provide essential natural resources such as fish, minerals, off-shore energy and a route for global transport of goods and resources. Natural biogeochemical cycles in the oceans, provide “ecosystem services” valued at US$19 trillion p.a., equivalent to the global GNP. The oceans play a key role in climate regulation  arguably the most important environmental issue facing mankind.

Despite their global importance, the vast (1.3 x 109 km3) oceans remain largely undersampled (in both space and time). This is particularly true for key biogeochemical processes which exhibit variations of two orders of magnitude on hourly and metre scales whereas current subsurface sampling with few isolated exceptions occurs on annual and kilometre scales. The oceans are opaque to electromagnetic radiation, which precludes the use of remote sensing beyond the surface. Water sampling is sparse, costly (>15k/ship/day), prone to contamination, unwanted processing and aging of the sample. In situ sensors have been identified by international consensus as offering the solution to this undersampling. Platforms such as Apex floats (3260 floats in service on 22/10/09), AUVs, and gliders, have the capability to address this data shortage, but only when the biogeochemical sensor systems have undergone a multiple order of magnitude change in size, power consumption, reliability, and robustness. It is this technology gap that the centre's research seeks to address.