NOAA Teacher at Sea
Onboard NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown
October 2 – 24, 2001
Mission: Eastern Pacific Investigation of Climate Processes
Geographical Area: Eastern Pacific
Date: October 15, 2001
Latitude: 19º S
Longitude: 85º W
Air Temp. 18.4º C
Sea Temp. 18.6º C
Sea Wave: 2 – 3 ft.
Swell Wave: 3 – 4 ft.
Visibility: 10 miles
Cloud cover: 8/8
The overall purpose of this cruise called EPIC on NOAA Ship BROWN is to collect data in a variety of forms that will allow scientists a better understanding of the science of climate change. In charge of this leg of the trip is a scientist from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts named Bob Weller. Although there is science going on all the time onboard, a major event of the cruise will be to retrieve and replace a mooring at 85W. A mooring is a type of buoy, something that is set into the ocean with a long rope that leads down to an anchor. Hopefully it stays put for a year and up to 4 years. Attached to the mooring are many, many scientific instruments that will collect data over a long time. This particular mooring is very large and has been in the ocean for a year. We expect to reach it sometime this afternoon and we will stay “on station” for 5 or 6 days until the job is done.
Much of the large equipment on board the ship is here solely for the purpose of retrieving this mooring. It weighs thousands of pounds and is extremely expensive. It is also a dangerous procedure when being lifted out of the water. Imagine the biggest crane you have ever seen at a construction site moving big things around. Now imagine that the crane and the items being moved are both bobbing on the water. That gives you an idea of what will be going on. Bob brought 3 men who are experts in this type of mooring operation along, Jeff, Willy and Paul. They have been training us on how to handle the ropes and the winches and some other equipment to make it go smoothly. It will take about a day just to lift it on board safely (several hours just to reel in the rope!). Then we spend the next day cleaning it and putting it away. I wonder what kinds of things will be stuck on it?
On board, there is a brand new mooring ready to be put into the same spot. That will take another whole day! Following that the scientists spend time making sure that all the instruments are working properly before we continue on our cruise.
During these days “on station” the other scientific groups will be launching balloons, studying clouds, taking water samples, and measuring wind speeds. The crew is hoping to go fishing near the mooring and have a bar-b-que! I’m just hoping for continued good weather.
As we travel east and change longitude we change time zones. So this morning, we “lost” an hour, which means we are now only 1 hour different that east coast time. Some people on board forgot to set their clocks and missed breakfast!
Question of the day: Sea life (mussels, barnacles, little fish) can be a problem for the scientists. They often attach themselves to the ropes and instruments and can interfere with the data being collected. Sharks may even bite into the cables and poke holes in them. Scientists are looking for ways to prevent this. Can you think of ways that might help?
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