Debra Brice, November 25, 2003

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Debra Brice
Onboard R/V Roger Revelle
November 11-25, 2003

Debra Brice TAS 2003 on RV Roger Revelle
San Diego teacher Debra Brice on RV Roger Revelle

Mission: Ocean Observation
Geographical Area: Chilean Coast
Date: November 25, 2003

Data from the Bridge
1. 251500Z Nov 03
2. Position: LAT: 20-00.0’S, LONG: 073-36.0’W
3. Course: 090-T
4. Speed: 12.0 Kts
5. Distance: 83.7 NM
6. Steaming Time: 7H 00M
7. Station Time: 16H 00M
8. Fuel: 1661 GAL
9. Sky: OvrCst
10. Wind: 220-T, 6 Kts
11. Sea: 220-T, 1-3 Ft
12. Swell: 190-T, 4-6 Ft
13. Barometer: 1014.2 mb
14. Temperature: Air: 22.0 C, Sea 20.4 C
15. Equipment Status: NORMAL
16. Comments: Advanced clocks 1 hour @ 0500Z to conform with +3 time zone.
ETA Arica, Chile 261100Z Nov 03.

Science and Technology Log

“Oceanography is Fun.”

So Roger Revelle thought, and as I spend my last night on the ship that bears this remarkable man’s name I pause to reflect on my voyage of discovery. I have learned a great deal while I have been at sea; from the duties of a chief scientist and how to deploy a buoy to how aerosols are involved in precipitation in the atmosphere, and so much more. The experience of being hundreds of miles from shore with thousands of meters of water beneath you is indescribable. In my last log I wanted to talk about my impressions of oceanography and a little about the history of the vessel I am traveling on and what makes it so special.

The Research Vessel ROGER REVELLE is named after one of the most respected Oceanographers in the field. He was also a graduate of Scripps Institution of Oceanography and eventually, the director. I want to share a little bit of Roger Revelle the man and also the ship.

“The ocean holds me in an enduring spell. Part of the spell comes from mystery – the fourfold mystery of the shoreline, the surface, the horizon and the timeless motion of the sea. At the horizon, where my line of sight touches the edge of the great globe itself, I watch ships slowly disappear, first the hulls, then the tall masts bound on voyages to unknown ports 10,000 miles away. From beyond the horizon come the waves that break rhythmically on the beach, sounding now loud, now soft, as they did long before I was born and as they will far in the future. The restless, ever-changing ocean is timeless on a scale of life, and this also is a mystery.

Being an oceanographer is not quite the same as being a professional sailor. Oceanographers have the best of two worlds – both the sea and the land. Yet many of them find it extraordinarily satisfying to be far from the nearest coast on one of the small, oily and uncomfortable ships of their trade (the RV REVELLE is none of these things!), even in the midst of a vicious storm, let alone on those wonderful days in the tropics when the sea and the air are smiling and calm. I think the chief reason is that on shipboard both the past and the future disappear. Little can be done to remedy the mistakes of yesterday; no planning for tomorrow can reckon with the unpredictability of ships and the sea. To live in the present is the essence of being a seaman.

The work of an oceanographer, however, is inextricably related to time. To understand the present ocean he must reconstruct its history and to test and use his understanding he needs to be able to predict – both what he will find by new observations and future events in the sea.”

From “The Ocean” by Roger Revelle, Sept 1969, Scientific American

Revelle was considered as the director who took the institution to sea. He supported and encouraged and personally participated in many oceanographic voyages and deeply believed in the value of personally collected data. An oceanographer had to spend time in the ocean he studied. Even today with our satellite data and computers the data that is being collected at sea by oceanographers is absolutely irreplaceable. Oceanography is one of the few fields where you can still experience the adventure of exploration and discovery. There is still so much we do not know and for a young person is is an exciting and challenging field. With our new technology we can probe and explore more deeply and with greater accuracy than ever before, but still we need to go to sea to collect our data.

I hope that in the interviews with the scientists and crew of the REVELLE I have been able to share a little bit of the excitement and enthusiasm that these people have for what they do. Everyone I spoke with shared with me that they really enjoy the idea that their jobs, either the actual science itself or the support of the science makes them feel that they are part of a real contribution to our future knowledge. The spirit of Roger Revelle lives on in the ship that bears his name and in the scientists, like Dr. Robert Weller, who follow his dream. There is still so much left for the young oceanographers to come and I look forward to sharing this spirit of exploration and discovery with my students.

Thanks for joining me.

Debra Brice

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