Help Save Our Oceans with the OpenCTD Project


The ocean is three-quarters of Earth’s surface—don’t you want your share of it?

Oceanography for Everyone is a fund-raising effort to build devices to measure the conductivity and temperature of the ocean at different depths. The project also promises instructions for building your own device, which is the everyone part. Called CTDs (which stands for Conductivity, Temperature, Depth), these devices are the instruments most frequently used by scientists who study the ocean, from marine biologists (who focus on life forms) to physical oceanographers (who monitor and model circulation patterns).

Even from above, looking at the waves chop and the tide coming in, you can see that the ocean is constantly changing. This is also true of the vast amount of water you can’t see, where the elasmobranches migrate and the krill dine at ice shelves. Under the surface, the salinity and temperature of the ocean changes, causing massive volumes of water to tumble and rise based on its density. The ocean has layers—similar to the atmosphere’s troposphere and stratosphere—but how do those boundaries change? How does ocean life survive and respond to the changing boundaries? And how is the weather, which affects us land-locked lubbers, affected as the ocean exchanges heat with the atmosphere?

The CTD may be small, often just a few meters long, but it helps to answer these questions.

But CTDs are expensive, excluding younger scientists as well as educators and the interested public from experimentation. The OpenCTD project will build and test new devices, create a blueprint and instructions for building more, and also donate some of its finished CTDs to educators and scientists.

Think of the Girl Scout troops who learn to solder then take a field trip to the beach! Or of the peace-time activities of Pacific Rim‘s Jaegers, walking into the depths with CTDs dangling from their fingers! So go on, be a cuttlefish, a nautilus, or even a colossal squid—just some of the donor levels available in the OpenCTD project. You’ve got until 17 August to make a difference.

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