Seawater Technical Papers

IAPSO Standard Seawater: Definition of the Uncertainty in the Calibration Procedure, and Stability of Recent Batches


Written by:
National Oceanography Centre, Southampton, Southampton, United Kingdom
Ocean Scientific International Ltd., Havant, United Kingdom

First published in the Journal of Atmospheric and Ocean Technology (October 2007).
Standard seawater (SSW) has been employed by oceanographers as a reference material in the determination of salinity for over a century. In all that time, this is the first study to determine the uncertainty of the SSW manufacturing process. SSW is calibrated in reference to carefully prepared solutions of potassium chloride (KCl). All uncertainties in the preparation and measurement of KCl solutions and of new SSW are calculated. The expanded uncertainty of the SSW conductivity ratio is found to be 1_ 10_5, based on a coverage factor of 2, at the time of manufacture.
There is no discernible “within batch” variability. No significant variability of quality within or between batches of KCl is found. Measurement of SSW “offsets” from the label conductivity ratio as long as 5 yr after the SSW batch manufacture are reported, and no significant change in label conductivity ratio for SSW batches P130 through P144 outside the expanded uncertainty of 1 _ 10_5 is found. This last result is in contrast to some other studies, and herein are suggestions as to why this may be the case.

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