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Riding the Waves of Climate Change, Part 2: Flowmeter Precision is Essential

Mar 05, 2012

Recently, I wrote about how Stanford researcher David Mucciarone is helping redefine the way climate-change research is conducted  Riding Waves of Climate Change, Part 1. In making a break from traditional discrete sampling, which provides only a tiny snapshot of water conditions, Mucciarone has created his own chromatography-based, flow-through device that can sample a variety of areas and depths and take measurements around the clock. The two key components of his system are a digital syringe pump and a Sierra Instruments Smart-Trak 100 digital flow meter that he’s been using extensively since 2006.

When I talked to Mucciarone, I asked him what flowmeter features are essential to him in his research. Without hesitation, he said: “Accuracy in any weather condition.”

Indoor Laboratory Results in Outdoor Environments

That’s because the lab Mucciarone is using to conduct ocean acidification research is on a boat that’s rocked by every wave of the ocean he happens to be on. His work has taken him all over the world – Antarctica, Austalia, Hawaii and other exotic locales – and he’s roughed it in all kinds of weather. If his measurements are to be precise, he can’t afford to have a flow rate that goes up and down with the boat.

He says, “If my flow rate is moving with the ocean, I can’t get a stable baseline. My system uses an infrared detector and carrier flow, which also must be stable. If the carrier flow isn’t stable, then my baseline’s not stable and my analyticals aren’t stable. Precision is the backbone of the system. In the lab, you can control everything. But in the field, stuff happens. I need a flow meter that will give me indoor laboratory results no matter what the environmental conditions are.”

Not only does Mucciarone need accuracy, but also high resolution, especially because the data must stand before tough critics who question the reality of global warming. He says the Smart-Trak flowmeter provides the data quality he needs, even in stormy seas.

He believes continuous, real-time testing is here to stay. “We’ll have to do this for at least 10 years before we can convince the community – and even ourselves – that we are on the right track with our research,” he adds.

Erica Giannini, Marketing Manager
Written By:
Erica Giannini, Marketing Manager
Sierra Instruments

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