Over the last 20 years, flow cytometric analysis of phytoplankton based on chlorophyll fluorescence and scattered light has enabled their enumeration and quantification, with a degree of taxonomic discrimination. Yet despite the wealth of data provided by these instruments, the scarcity of sampling is either limited to on-ship or confined to discrete geographical points. For widespread deployment, the instrument needs to be small, consume a few watts of power and be capable of operating at depth.
Quantifying marine pollutants in the ocean is becoming increasingly important as anthropogenic activities continue to fundamentally change our marine environment. Current approaches for monitoring such targets require spot samples and analytical separations, complex fluid handling and sub-zero reagent storage, yet this approach does not allow for (near) real-time monitoring. Delays between sampling and analysis make for unrepresentative results; and a lack of automation requires high levels of effort in personnel, ships, and labs to acquire and process samples.
Macro-nutrients (nitrogen, phosphorus, silicon) are essential for the growth of aquatic organisms and of key importance to understanding biogeochemical cycling. Measurements of their dominant inorganic forms are routine in oceanographic studies, they are included in models of the global climate and carbon systems, and they also feed into ecosystem and fisheries models. The importance of the oceanic distribution of these variables requires systematic investigations of high spatial-temporal resolution, which cannot be achieved through ship-based measurements alone.