, Volume 110, Issue 1–3, pp 147–161 | Cite as

Global oceanic DMS data inter-comparability

  • T. G. Bell
  • G. Malin
  • G. A. Lee
  • J. Stefels
  • S. Archer
  • M. Steinke
  • P. Matrai


The global surface seawater dimethylsulphide (DMS) database ( contains >50,000 data points and is the second largest trace gas database after carbon dioxide. However, there has been relatively little quality control on the data that have been collated to date. Furthermore, the recent development of technologies capable of high frequency (>1 Hz) DMS measurements will have a disproportionate effect on the database in future years. At this juncture, the comparability of analytical techniques, sample handling methodologies and standards are pressing issues that the DMS community needs to address. In October 2010, during the Fifth International Symposium on Biological and Environmental Chemistry of DMS(P) and Related Compounds held in Goa, India, attendees participated in a discussion concerning the current DMS database and its future development. We develop some of the ideas from that session and combine them with available data. From the few inter-comparison exercises that have been conducted we show that variability between existing measurements within the DMS database is likely to be ≤25%. Tests comparing different DMSP·HCl standards demonstrate that a reference calibration standard would be beneficial for the DMS community. Confidence in future data collation would be substantially improved with a comprehensive inter-comparison experiment between new analytical techniques and sampling methodologies (e.g., mass spectrometers with equilibrators attached to a continuous flow of seawater) and more established methods (i.e., filtered samples analysed with purge and trap gas chromatography). We conclude with recommendations for the future expansion of the DMS database and its data quality control.


DMS Dimethylsulphide DMSP Dimethylsulphoniopropionate Data comparability Quality control Reference standard 



We thank Sue Turner, who identified many of the issues within this manuscript as early as the late 1980s and has always had the time for many an insightful discussion on the subject. We are also grateful to Peter Liss and Rafel Simó, whose enthusiasm for the development of the DMS database and L10 climatology stimulated many of the thoughts leading to the discussion session in Goa, India, and this manuscript. Thanks to J. Dacey, L. Darroch, G. DiTullio, D. Kieber, R. Kiene, R. Simó and G. Smith for their kind contributions of unpublished inter-comparison data toward this manuscript. Thanks to J. Todd, Y. Chan and P. Page (UEA), and R. Ranson (University of Essex) for providing the DMSP·HCl solid standards and advice on NMR analysis. Thank you to J. Moffat (UEA) for the thermogravimetric analysis and R. Utting (UEA) for his help preparing DMSP·HCl standards in the MTGB laboratory. The DMS(P) community who attended the discussion session in Goa, India, helped stimulate the thoughts behind many of the issues in this article. Finally, we thank two anonymous reviewers who provided constructive criticism, which helped us to improve on the original manuscript. Bell’s attendance at the meeting in Goa was supported by a Royal Society Travel fund (2010/R2—TG101260) and his work on data collation and integration was funded by a NERC UK SOLAS KT grant (NE/E001696/1).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • T. G. Bell
    • 1
    • 2
  • G. Malin
    • 1
  • G. A. Lee
    • 1
  • J. Stefels
    • 3
  • S. Archer
    • 4
  • M. Steinke
    • 5
  • P. Matrai
    • 6
  1. 1.Laboratory for Global Marine and Atmospheric Chemistry (LGMAC), School of Environmental SciencesUniversity of East AngliaNorwichUK
  2. 2.University of CaliforniaIrvineUSA
  3. 3.Laboratory of Plant Physiology, Centre for Ecological and Evolutionary Studies (CEES), University of GroningenGroningenThe Netherlands
  4. 4.Plymouth Marine LaboratoryPlymouthUK
  5. 5.Department of Biological SciencesUniversity of EssexColchesterUK
  6. 6.Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean SciencesW. Boothbay HarborUSA

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