Alignment of optical backscatter measurements from the EXPORTS Northeast Pacific Field Deployment

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Backscattering of light is commonly measured by ocean observing systems, including ships and autonomous platforms, and is used as a proxy for the concentration of water column constituents such as phytoplankton and particulate carbon. Multiple on-going projects involve large numbers of independent measurements of backscatter, as well as other biologically relevant parameters, to understand how biology is changing in time and space throughout the global ocean. Rarely are there sufficient measurements to test how well these instruments are inter-calibrated in real-world deployment conditions.This paper develops a procedure to align multiple independently calibrated backscatter instruments to each other using nearby profiling casts and applies this method to nine instruments deployed during a recent field campaign in the North Pacific during August-September of 2018. This process revealed several incorrect calibrations; post-alignment, all nine instruments aligned extremely well with each other. We also tested an alignment to a deep-water reference and found that this method is generally sufficient but has significant limitations; this procedure lacks the ability to correct instruments measuring only shallow profiles and can only account for additive offsets, not multiplicative changes. These findings highlight the utility of process studies involving several independent measurements of similar parameters in the same area.

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