Conductivity, temperature, and depth (CTD) vertical profiles collected from lakes in the McMurdo Dry Valleys, Antarctica (1993-2023, ongoing)


As part of the Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) project in the McMurdo Dry Valleys of Antarctica, a series of Taylor Valley lakes have been monitored for conductivity, temperature, and depth (CTD). A Seabird instrument was used to record CTD profiles in these perennial ice covered lakes.

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limno ctd

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The Seabird 25 CTD instrument (see below for updated instrument models) is cast in the Weatherport/Polar Haven sampling hole at locations where these structures are available (e.g., Fryxell, Hoare, East and West Lake Bonney), generally between 10 am and 2 pm on a day prior to or following limnological sampling; CTD profiles at lakes where these structures are not available are made from an outside hole. The CTD is deployed at all times using a depth calibrated wire on a manual winch. The instrument is lowered at a rate of 1 m sec-1 to a depth approximately 1 m above the bottom of the lake and retrieved at the same rate. Downcast data are compiled using SBE Data Processing software and current configuration files. Data are binned into 0.1 decibar intervals based on pressure, which equates to approximately 0.1 m intervals. Depth is derived using the freshwater derivation (d = p * 1.019716) using the SBE Data Processing software.    
The thickness of the ice varies between 3 and 6 m among lake and year, and the CTD starts recording data at the surface of the water, which is about 30-50 cm beneath the ice surface. Hence, the top 3-6 meters of each cast (depending on ice thickness) are in the ice melt hole, and are not representative of the liquid water column. It is advised that users of the data review the Lake Ice Thickness data package to find where the liquid water column starts for each cast.
Because of the high density of the bottom waters of East and West Lake Bonney, and the offset in the pressure sensor output compared to the winch measured depth at the surface of all lakes, a correction equation for each lake is applied to the depth calculated from the CTD pressure sensor to obtain the wire-corrected depth. The equations below relate the pressure-depth output by the CTD to actual depth measured with a calibrated wire, where x = CTD measured depth (m), and y = wire corrected depth (m):
FRX: y = 0.9957x + 0.6774
HOR: y = 0.9987x + 0.7478
ELB: y = -0.003x2 + 1.0431x + 0.5737
WLB: y = -0.0019x2 + 1.0162x + 0.8106
MIE: y = -0.9968x + 0.6932

During the 16-17 season, new equations were determined for ELB and WLB to account for lake level rise. These equations were better able to correct the CTD measured depths at the deeper depths of these lakes. The equations are as follows:

ELB: y = -0.0028x2 + 1.0437x + 0.5828
WLB: y = -0.0017x2 + 1.0179x + 0.6418

Note that the depth calculated from the CTD pressure sensor can vary by up to 0.6 m depending on atmospheric pressure at the time of the cast.

Note that no corrections have been determined for other lakes profiled.

For more details on wire corrected data, see Spigel and Priscu 1996.

4 Graphs not inserted here, since this XML specification cannot describe nor carry them adequately. (to be revised -- now we can include images)

A new CTD (Seabird 19plusV2) was purchased in 2019 and arrived halfway through the season. Some data from 2019 was collected with a Seabird SBE 19 CTD until the new instrument arrived. Depth correction equations (where x= CTD recorded depth in meters and y = wire corrected depth in meters) for both instruments are as follows:

SBE 19:

  • East Lobe Bonney: y = -0.0030x2 + 1.0593x + 0.6187
  • Hoare: y = 1.0045x + 0.7735
Seabird 19plusV2:
  • Fryxell: y = 0.9975x + 0.4236
  • Hoare: y = 0.9989x + 0.3939
  • East Lobe Bonney: y = -0.0030x2 + 1.0567x + 0.1440
  • West Lobe Bonney: y = -0.0018x2 + 1.0198x + 0.3919

There is no conductivity data for the deep waters of ELB during the 19/20 and 22/23 season because Seabird messed up the conductivity calibrations. 


2023 - There is no conductivity data for the deep waters of ELB during the 19/20 and 22/23 season because Seabird messed up the conductivity calibrations.
2015 - Data and metadata migrated to the Drupal Ecological Information Management System.
Data underwent revision on the spring of 2012, new depths are offered (WIRE CORRECTED CTD DEPTH) to reflect a different reference system to account for some problems. Additional parameters that were included in 2006 were dropped -- can be derived from the conductivity, depth and temperature values.
2012 onwards - Amy Chiuchiolo provided the revised data, Inigo San Gil prepared for the database and public services.


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