The development of instruments and apparatus for physical oceanography 1800-1914.
thesisposted on 19.11.2015, 09:13 by Anita. McConnell
Early attempts to formulate a science of the sea were stimulated by the scientific revolution of the 17th century, but were far ahead of the technical capabilities and achieved little as instruments produced were unsuited to use within all but the shallowest waters. During the first half of the 19th century impetus was given by the Navy's specific demand for oceanographic information as part of their search for a Northwest Passage through Arctic waters. Despite the provision of ships and crews together with many newly-devised instruments the observations were recognised to be unsatisfactory. In the second half of the 19th century telegraph companies commenced laying submarine cables across the seas. Under commercial pressure they drew on newly -developed materials and techniques and the steam engine in order to construct and use the first efficient deep-sea sounders and samplers. Later in the same century marine zoologists obtained the backing of scientific societies and the Admiralty, which enabled them to develop waterbottles and thermometers suitable for deep sea work. They were thereby enabled to elucidate the structure of various water-masses within the body of the ocean. This work culminated in a series of long transoceanic research cruises. Commercial demands came to the fore again in the attempt to halt the decline in the fisheries of the North Atlantic and adjacent seas. Thermometers, waterbottles and current meters were designed to record the fine detail of water quality and movement so that the slight but important variations occurring seasonally and annually could be accurately registered. International cooperation and standardization of instruments was recognised as an important factor. Details of apparatus are scattered throughout a wide range of literature, often not that in which the scientific results are discussed.