Exploring Oceanography in the Classroom Using Data from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute

Access Data from the MBARI Homepage
This webpage was created for SERC by Heather Rissler and Aleshia Mueller in consultation with George Matsumoto, Senior Education and Research Specialist at MBARI.

The Dataset

The Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) provides near real-time, quality controlled, oceanographic data in many places on it's website. Four of the main datasets include: mooring, mapping, MUSE (part of AOSN), and visual data. Moorings in the Monterey Bay provide real-time data for a number of parameters including surface and subsurface temperature and salinity; CO2 and O2 concentrations; atmospheric data; and relative fluorescence. Bathymetric data provides sea-floor surface maps from locations including Hawaii, the Monterey Bay region, and the Santa Barbara basin. Raw and processed data are available from the MOOS Upper-Water-Column Science Experiment (MUSE), which implemented a variety of methodologies and instrumentation to examine the impacts of natural iron enrichment on geochemical cycles and phytoplankton dynamics. An extensive visual data collection is also available, providing video and image data of organisms observed in the Monterey Bay region.

Use and Relevance

Vampire Squid Photo: Kim Reisenbichler (c) 1996 MBARI Image of a vampire squid from MBARI.
Scientists use these data sets to better understand the Monterey Bay ecosystem and draw parallels to the ocean as a whole. Their examinations span a diverse range of studies including sensing the land-sea nitrogen cycle; discovering new marine organisms; understanding phytoplankton primary production in response to ocean upwellings and climate change; monitoring population dynamics of marine organisms and impacts of the ocean environment on midwater and deep-living pelagic species; evaluating the presence and distribution of chemosynthetic microbes in the Monterey Bay ecosystem; examining the seismology of the ocean floor; and characterizing ocean nutrient cycling.

Use in Teaching

Central Oregon margin (43°50íN to 45°10íN) resulting from collision of the Juan de Fuca and North American plates. Image of the central Oregon margin from MBARI.
This data can be used to teach the following topics and skills in physical, environmental, and biological oceanography:



Exploring the Data

Data Type and Presentation

Processed data in the form of maps, graphs, and images are available for download in GIF format. Raw data is provided in HTML tabular formant and ascii, tab delimited format.

Accessing the Data

Data can be accessed by exploring specific projects at MBARI:

Manipulating Data and Creating Visualizations

Data in the form of graphs and images can be used to make temporal and spatial comparisons and correlations between biological and physical oceanographic data. For example, one could compare sea-floor features in different regions or compare the daily and weekly cycles of fluorescence to see whether they correlate with carbon dioxide concentrations. Raw data can be visualized in a spreadsheet application in order to make such temporal and spatial comparisons.

Tools for Data Manipulation

Raw data can be downloaded and imported into a spreadsheet application such as Excel for further processing. The Starting Point site provides an Excel tutorial.

About the Data

Collection Methods

There are three main vehicles for data collection at MBARI: remote vehicles, autonomous vehicles, and moorings. See below for more detailed information relating to the discussed datasets.

Limitations and Sources of Error

Most error is due to standard calibration errors or instrument failure. Presented data is usually not raw, but processed for quality control and presented in tabular format or as a visualization. MBARI provides data "as is", with no warranty, express or implied, of the data quality or consistency. It is provided without support and without obligation on the part of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute to assist in its use, correction, modification, or enhancement.

References and Resources

Scientific References that Use this Dataset

Publications highlighting MBARI research and development:

Education Resources that Use this Dataset

Other Related Scientific References

Other related Education Resources

Related Links