Linde Gases, a division of The Linde Group, has announced an agreement with the University of East Anglia (UEA) in the UK to support Antarctic research into the growing environmental impact of CO2 emissions.

Linde will support project ANDREX (Antarctic Deep Water Rates of Export) by supplying a technologically complex and rare reference gas required for the expedition to Antarctica to research the role of the Southern Ocean in the global climate system.

A cylinder containing a HiQ® calibration gas mixture with 30 parts per trillion (ppt) of sulphur hexafluoride (SF6) will accompany the research team from the University’s School of Environmental Sciences on its voyage to the Weddell Sea in Antarctica in March 2010.

Since the Industrial Revolution, the world’s oceans have absorbed approximately 30% of all anthropogenic – or human-derived – carbon dioxide (CO2) emitted into the atmosphere.

As global emissions have increased, oceanic uptake has also grown in magnitude, but concern exists as to the oceans’ continued ability to absorb CO2 at the pace at which it is being added to the atmosphere.

As anthropogenic CO2 cannot be measured directly, tracer chemicals are used instead to help assess the rate of absorption, and SF6 can act as a proxy for the absorption of anthropogenic CO2 in the sea water over the last 30 years.

The 30 ppt gas mixture will be used as both a reference and calibration gas for determining SF6 concentrations in seawater samples. The gas mixture is very rare and complex by the nature of its blend, which at 30 ppt, involves extremely miniscule concentrations of SF6 – as tiny as 1 second of time when compared to a period of 1000 years, to draw an analogy.

“We are very proud to support the ANDREX project,” says Stephen Harrison, Head of Specialty Gases and Specialty Equipment, Linde.

“As the global community works towards reducing CO2 emission, there is growing prioritisation in monitoring and quantifying the impact it has on the environment. The accuracy and reliability in measurement has become critical. Our ability to develop and supply the project with such a technologically complex next generation gas standard is testament to our strengths as a world-leading gas technology supplier.”

Dr Peter Brown, of the British Antarctic Survey and the Laboratory for Global Marine and Atmospheric Chemistry at the University of East Anglia commented, “It is critical to improve our understanding of the oceans’ ability to absorb anthropogenic carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store it over long timescales.”

“ANDREX will make a valuable contribution to this, and despite its many challenges, we are excited to have sourced such a technologically complex gas standard from a competent and supportive technology partner.”