Exploring ocean biogeochemistry using a lab-on-chip phosphate analyser on an underwater glider

Antony J. Birchill*, A. D. Beaton, Tom Hull, Jan Kaiser, Matt Mowlem, R. Pascal, A. Schaap, Yoana G. Voynova, C. Williams, M. Palmer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Downloads (Pure)


The ability to make measurements of phosphate (PO43–) concentrations at temporal and spatial scales beyond those offered by shipboard observations offers new opportunities for investigations of the marine phosphorus cycle. We here report the first in situ PO43– dataset from an underwater glider (Kongsberg Seaglider) equipped with a PO43– Lab-on-Chip (LoC) analyser. Over 44 days, a 120 km transect was conducted in the northern North Sea during late summer (August and September). Surface depletion of PO43– (<0.2 μM) was observed above a seasonal thermocline, with elevated, but variable concentrations within the bottom layer (0.30–0.65 μM). Part of the variability in the bottom layer is attributed to the regional circulation and across shelf exchange, with the highest PO43– concentrations being associated with elevated salinities in northernmost regions, consistent with nutrient rich North Atlantic water intruding onto the shelf. Our study represents a significant step forward in autonomous underwater vehicle sensor capabilities and presents new capability to extend research into the marine phosphorous cycle and, when combined with other recent LoC developments, nutrient stoichiometry.

Original languageEnglish
Article number698102
Number of pages18
JournalFrontiers in Marine Science
Publication statusPublished - 13 Jul 2021


  • autonomous and remotely operated underwater vehicle
  • lab on a chip (LoC)
  • North Sea
  • phosphate
  • seaglider observations
  • shelf sea biogeochemistry
  • UKRI
  • NERC
  • NE/P013899/1


Dive into the research topics of 'Exploring ocean biogeochemistry using a lab-on-chip phosphate analyser on an underwater glider'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this