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Welcome to Biospherical Instruments Inc

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Biospherical Instruments Inc. (BSI) is an industry leader in providing research- grade radiometers for measuring ambient and artificial light in the water and the atmosphere. BSI’s multi-spectral instruments feature a state-of-the-art dynamic range of up to ten orders of magnitude with wide spectral coverage, ranging from the ultraviolet-B to the near infrared of the electromagnetic spectrum. BSI also has extensive experience with hyperspectral measurements and systems.

BSI serves the oceanographic, atmospheric, water quality, and biological sciences communities. Applications include the validation of data from ocean color satellites; measurements of the spectrally-resolved penetration and attenuation of light in natural and artificial waters such as the oceans, lakes, and drinking water reservoirs; the monitoring of UV radiation at the Earth’s surface in support of the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer; and the measurement of Photosynthetic Active Radiation, both in the laboratory and in the field through integrations on Argo profiling floats, gliders, and CTD rosettes.

In addition to our extensive catalog of standard radiometers, BSI specializes in the design and manufacture of custom instrumentation for a large number of use cases specified by our customers, and provides NIST-traceable calibrations for radiometers. Our customers include the US government (NASA, NOAA, NSF), domestic and international universities and research organizations, commercial fisheries, and many other private enterprises. BSI’s scientists regularly contribute in a leading role to environmental assessment reports such as NOAA’s annual “State of the Climate” reports and assessments in support the Montreal Protocol.

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BSI introduces the MPE-PAR for high-dynamic range optical measurements on Argo profilers and other autonomous platforms

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MPE radiometerMPE radiometer

The MPE-PAR (MICRO Class, Profiling (in-water), E (irradiance) PAR sensor) is a fifth-generation sensor that is sensitive over the Photosynthetically Active Radiation (PAR) spectral range (400-700 nm). The MPE-PAR has been optimized for integration into Argo profiling floats and features low mass and low power consumption. It combines the huge dynamic range and excellent signal-to-noise ratio of Biospherical In-struments’ (BSI) microradiometer technology with the proven performance and ruggedness of BSI’s line of Q-Series PAR sensors. The sensor is also suitable for deriving the CDOM spectral absorption coefficient at 440 nm using a newly developed method.

Download the MPE brochure or click here for more information.

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Compact Optical Profiling System (C-OPS with C-PrOPS)

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C-OPS is a next-generation optical profiling system for determining apparent optical properties in aquatic systems. It consists of two 7 cm diameter radiometers: one measures in-water upwelling radiance, and the other either downward irradiance or upward irradiance, pressure/depth, and dual axes tilts. Both radiometers are equipped with up to 19 optical-filter microradiometers (selected from 29 different wavelengths) and are mounted on a unique free-fall, kite-like backplane. To avoid influences from the shadow of the boat or dock, the frame can be optimized for either slow descent rates for work in very shallow (e.g. 3 m) and coastal waters, or faster descent rates for observations in the open ocean. C-OPS is so lightweight it can be hand deployed by almost anyone, and the system can be operated from either small or large vessels. The new Compact-Propulsion Option for Profiling Systems (C-PrOPS) thruster accessory is available to add ROV-like capabilites to the profiling system. An above-water reference irradiance instrument is also available to measure global irradiance.

Download: C-OPS from the NASA Technical Memorandum "Advances in Measuring the Apparent Optical Properties (AOPs) of Optically Complex Waters," NASA Tech. Memo. 2010–215856.


Measurements during the 2017 total solar eclipse

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Total solar eclipse of 21 August 2017 observed with GUVis-3511.Total solar eclipse of 21 August 2017 observed with GUVis-3511.

BSI performed measurements with a GUVis-3511 radiometer in Oregon during The Great American Eclipse of August 21, 2017. An in-depth article about the campaign is here.


The XRR – Adaptable instruments for optically diverse environments

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XRL being deployed in Mission Bay, CAXRL being deployed in Mission Bay, CA

Biospherical Instruments Inc (BSI) has released the newest member of the Expandable Technology for Radiometric Applications (XTRA) class of high performance field instruments called the XTRA Reflectance Radiometers (XRR). The XRR is an economically priced multiwavelength radiometer for determining apparent optical properties in aquatic systems. Belonging to the instrument class that also includes the Compact Optical Profiling system (C-OPS), among other microradiometer-based instruments, the XRR is designed to fill the niche that was occupied by the PRR-600 and PRR-2600 as well as the PRR-800; they are very similar in shape to the PRR-600/PRR-2600 instruments, but are smaller in diameter, weigh less, and have greatly improved performance.

XRRs are available in two measurement geometries: XRL and XRE. The XRL, the most common configuration, features 10 optical-filter microradiometer >wavebands (selected from 29 different optical filter wavelengths) of in-water downward  irradiance (Ed) and 10 wavebands of in-water upwelling radiance (Lu). The XRE nominally uses 10 wavebands of downward irradiance (Ed) and 10 wavebands of upward irradiance (Eu). XRRs also take advantage of a new free-fall flotation collar called the “X-SLOWS,” which affords excellent near-surface sampling in an instrument with a traditional "rocket-shaped" design.  XRRs use the same microradiometer detector technology as C-OPS, and thus has the same outstanding radiometric performance specifications as C-OPS. Microradiometers also mean that the XRR can use all of  the same software, surface solar reference, and all of the C-OPS cables and accessories such as the BioSHADE and BioGPS.  



GUVis-3511 Ground-based UV/Visible 19 Waveband Radiometer

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GUVis-3511 radiometer configured with BioSHADE and BioGPS.GUVis-3511 radiometer configured with BioSHADE and BioGPS.Biospherical Instruments has released the GUVis-3511, the latest member of BSI's line of atmospheric radiometers. The GUVis-3511 is based on BSI’s proprietary microradiometer technology and available with up to 19 channels, ranging from 305 to 1,640 nm.  The instrument can also be equipped with a shadowband accessory to determine the direct solar irradiance. Depending on configuration, the GUVis-3511 affords the measurement of the UV Index and the retrieval of aerosol optical depth, cloud optical thickness, and total column ozone. Click here for more information and here for a paper published in Atmospheric Measurement Techniques using the instrument for shipborne measurements of aerosol optical depth.


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