McLane: Part II
We just got our hands on our newest instruments for Antarctica! Our latest and greatest tools are expensive autonomous lake profiling systems custom made by our friends at McLane Research Labs out in Massachusetts.
The profilers are based around a CTD, which is a common instrument in limnology used to record Conductivity, Temperature, and Depth (pressure). As sensor technology has improved over the years, CTDs have begun to get souped up. Our two profilers will measure CO2, PAR (photosynthetically active radiation), DO (dissolved oxygen), and even include a fluorometer.
But just wait, it gets better. Our profilers are autonomous! Typically, CTDs need to be lowered slowly on a rope by whoever is willing to act as a human-winch.
With autonomous profilers, we will be able to record the physical properties our our lakes year-round without human interaction. This has never been done (reminder: it’s Antarctica).
Unlike a standard CTD, these are a little more unwieldy. Part of the reason is that we need a large volume to insure that the instrument will remain neutrally buoyant. Air space offsets the weight of the sensors. The casing also houses a large battery pack and internal motor. This doesn’t even include the 300+ lbs of weight required at the bottom of the cable to keep it taut.
Deploying it in an indoor test tank with 1-ton power winches was a relatively easy procedure. Next stop Antarctica. I’ll keep you posted.