Dana Tomlinson: Day 7, March 7, 2002

NOAA Teacher at Sea

Dana Tomlinson

Aboard NOAA Ship Ka’imimoana

March 1 – 27, 2002

Date: Thursday, March 7, 2002

Lat: 8°N
Long: 110°W
Seas: waves 4-6 ft., swells 8-10 ft
Visibility: unrestricted
Weather: cloudy, partly cloudy
Sea Surface Temp: 27.6°C
Winds: 15 knots
Air Temp: 27.2°C

I was asked by a student in Mr. Whitham’s class in San Diego what it feels like to be on a ship. Today, it feels like a roller coaster!! The seas are really rolling, but at the risk of jinxing myself, I might be past my queasy moments. Which is good, because at times today we’ve had 10 foot swells and winds of up to 24 knots. It’s been a wild one.

Today, I did my first CTD with Amy looking over my shoulder. Like I said yesterday, this is very important work which cumulatively helps to predict the El Niño condition (which can cause millions of dollars in damage and take thousands of lives with the bad weather and droughts it brings), so I take it very seriously. There are many steps to remember in the collection of the water samples as well as the data. I will be working with Amy again before I do this on my own, so I feel confident that I can perform it all correctly. See the photo album for shots of the CTD casting being done by Amy and I.

I want to take this opportunity to acknowledge Larry Wooten. He is the technical specialist on board – he’s the fix-it man. And on this trip, I’ve been calling him the “most overworked techie in history.” Keep in mind that we are hundreds of miles from the nearest shop like Home Depot or Fry’s so we’ve got to have someone to depend on to fix things, and Larry has stepped up to the plate, big-time. Today, he was trouble-shooting our live video broadcasts, he completely removed and re-installed a new triggering mechanism on the CTD (it wasn’t firing the bottles closed properly), and he had to install new software onto a computer so that I could send my photos to you. And that’s just three things I know about! Great job, Larry – the Ka’imimoana is lucky to have you.

Questions of the Day: 

You’ll notice that I listed the SST and Air Temp above in Centigrade today. How does one change a Centigrade reading into a Fahrenheit reading? What would the readings for SST and Air Temp be in degrees Fahrenheit?

Answer of the Day: 

The other day I asked what SST stood for and many of you said Sea Surface Temperature, but Angelique D. of San Diego was first! Great job. And did you know that just by going down a few feet, the water temp gets colder? The ship has sensors that tell us SST and water temp at 3 meters. And of course, the CTD can tell the temp at depths in the thousands of meters. And the buoys along the 110°W line that we’ll be visiting have temperature sensors down the cables that anchor them to the bottom. But that’s a story for another day. 🙂

Tomorrow, we pull up our first buoy – it’ll be all about barnacles for me.

Til then! 🙂 Dana

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