BOC has sealed an agreement with the University of East Anglia (UEA) to supply a technologically complex and rare reference gas for a scientific expedition to Antarctica which will research the role of the Southern Ocean in the global climate system.
BOC, a member of The Linde Group, is providing an HiQ® calibration gas mixture with 30 parts per trillion (ppt) of sulphur hexafluoride (SF6). A research team from the university’s School of Environmental Sciences will take this on its voyage to the Weddell Sea in Antarctica in March 2010. The research is part of the ANDREX (Antarctic Deep Water Rates of Export) project.
Since the Industrial Revolution, the world’s oceans have absorbed approximately 30% of all anthropogenic – or human-derived – carbon dioxide (CO2) emitted to the atmosphere. As global emissions have increased ocean uptake has also grown, but concern exists about the oceans’ ability to absorb CO2 at the pace it is being added to the atmosphere. As anthropogenic CO2 cannot be measured directly, tracer chemicals help to assess the rate of absorption: SF6 can act as a proxy for the absorption of anthropogenic CO2 by seawater over the last 30 years. The 30 ppt gas mixture will be used as both a reference and calibration gas for determining SF6 concentrations in seawater samples. The gas mixture is very rare and complex by the nature of its blend, which at 30 ppt involves miniscule concentrations of SF6 – to draw an analogy, as tiny as 1 second of time in 1,000 years.
“We are very proud to support the ANDREX project,” said Piers Capper, Product Manager, Specialty Gases and Specialty Equipment, BOC. “As the global community works towards reducing CO2 emissions, there is growing urgency in monitoring and quantifying the impact it has on the environment. The accuracy and reliability in measurement has become critical. Our ability to develop such a technologically complex next generation gas standard is testament to our strengths as a world-leading gas technology supplier.”
“It is critical to improve our understanding of the oceans’ ability to absorb anthropogenic carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store it over long timescales,” said Dr Peter Brown, of the British Antarctic Survey and the Laboratory for Global Marine and Atmospheric Chemistry at the University of East Anglia. “ANDREX will make a valuable contribution to this and we are excited to have sourced such a technologically complex gas standard from a competent and supportive technology partner.”
Notes to Editors
The Southern Ocean is a key region for the uptake and long term storage of atmospheric gases from the atmosphere. These processes are thought to be especially strong in the Weddell Sea, where wintertime heat loss and sea ice formation increase the density of the surface water, which sinks to the bottom taking with it gases – such as CO2 – absorbed from the atmosphere, with a unique time signature imprint. This effectively ‘removes’ the gases from the atmosphere, transporting them away from the surface on millennial timescales. In the interior ocean, the concentrations of these gases – or tracers – can be used as a record of the behaviour of both the oceans and the atmosphere over the last 200 years, and track how this is changing over time. Information regarding when a water mass was last at the surface is critical to understand and assess the role of the oceans in the global climate system, and their ongoing capacity to absorb human-derived constituents such as CO2 from the atmosphere. As anthropogenic CO2 cannot be measured directly, a variety of tracer chemicals can instead be used to estimate the water mass age, and thus act as a proxy for the absorption of human-derived CO2. Of these, SF6 is increasingly being used to give information about air-to-sea gas transfer processes over the last 30 years, as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) – the chemicals historically used in this respect – have become less useful over time. The ANDREX project will measure and analyse for SF6 and compare the results to previous CFC measurements obtained during the 1990s, thereby providing valuable information on the absorption of human-derived CO2 in this region.
ANDREX is funded by the UK Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and is a joint project between the University of East Anglia, British Antarctic Survey, the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton and the University of Manchester.
The HiQ® specialty gases product range from Linde includes high purity gases, gas mixtures, precision engineered equipment and gas distribution systems, and services and support. It is supplied to a wide range of industries employing specialty gases applications. It encompasses, but is not limited to, REDLINE® specialty gases equipment and BASELINE® specialty gases regulators, SPECTRA-SEAL® calibration gas mixtures, ECOCYL® portable specialty gases solutions and VERISEQ® pharmaceutical grade gases. HiQ® represents Linde’s commitment to the highest available quality and global consistency across gases, equipment and services.
The University of East Anglia
The University of East Anglia has a longstanding reputation for its world-class environmental research. It is also well known for the energy efficiency of its newer buildings. Its new biomass plant is the biggest carbon-reducing project in the higher education sector and will reduce campus carbon emissions by at least 34%. For more information, contact Simon Dunford in the University of East Anglia Communications Office: 01603 592203 or s.dunford@
British Antarctic Survey
British Antarctic Survey (BAS), a component of the Natural Environment Research Council, delivers world-leading interdisciplinary research in the Polar Regions. Its skilled science and support staff based in Cambridge, Antarctica and the Arctic, work together to deliver research that underpins a productive economy and contributes to a sustainable world. Its numerous national and international collaborations, leadership role in Antarctic affairs and excellent infrastructure help ensure that the UK maintains a world leading position. BAS has over 450 staff and operates five research stations, two Royal Research Ships and five aircraft in and around Antarctica.
BOC is a member of The Linde Group. An industrial, medical and special gases provider, the company supplies compressed and bulk gases, chemicals and equipment. For more than a century the company's gases and expertise have contributed to advances in many areas of everyday life, and industries including steelmaking, refining, chemical processing, environmental protection, wastewater treatment, welding and cutting, food processing and distribution, glass production, electronics and health care. For more information visit: www.boconline.co.uk
The Linde Group
The Linde Group is a world leading gases and engineering company with almost 50,000 employees working in around 100 countries worldwide. In the 2008 financial year it achieved sales of EUR 12.7 billion. The strategy of The Linde Group is geared towards sustainable earnings-based growth and focuses on the expansion of its international business with forward-looking products and services. Linde acts responsibly towards its shareholders, business partners, employees, society and the environment – in every one of its business areas, regions and locations across the globe. Linde is committed to technologies and products that unite the goals of customer value and sustainable development.