Kirk Beckendorf, July 31, 2004

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Kirk Beckendorf
Onboard NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown

July 4 – 23, 2004

Mission: New England Air Quality Study (NEAQS)
Geographical Area:
Northwest Atlantic Ocean
Date:
July 31, 2004

Daily Log

This will be my last day in New England with NEAQS-ITCT. Tomorrow morning I leave my hotel at 3:00 AM to drive to the airport to fly home to Oregon. The past month has been an amazing experience. I have been continually amazed at the complexity, cooperation and coordination involved in this massive air quality study. I have seen that the scientists are an extremely intelligent and hardworking group of men and women. They are truly committed to obtaining a thorough and accurate understanding of our global society’s air pollution problem so that solutions can be obtained.

Today Fred took me onto the WP-3, another of NOAA’s planes being used in NEAQS. Unlike the DC-3 which only has a LIDAR on board, the P3 is packed with many different scientific instruments. To be able to make as many measurements as possible, equipment is also attached underneath the wings, under the fuselage and even sticking out from the tail is a special cloud radar. The windows and body have been modified so that specially designed tubes stick out and suck air from the outside and feed it to the instruments inside the plane. Once we have climbed up the ladder and are inside, we can barely get passed the door.

In a couple of hours the P3 will take off for a night flight, but right now the plane is not only packed with the equipment, it is also packed with scientists making last minute adjustments to their instruments. Because there are so many air quality measurement instruments on board, there is very little room for people during the flight. Therefore the instruments need to be ready to run on their own with very little supervision.

Much of the equipment is similar to that found on the BROWN, but the plane will obviously be taking measurements higher in the atmosphere and over a larger area in a shorter amount of time, than can the BROWN. Also, because the plane is traveling a lot faster than the BROWN, if a measurement is made every 30 seconds and the P3 passes through a narrow plume of pollution the plume may not even be measured. It is therefore important for the measurements to be made very quickly and often.

The flight is intentionally leaving late in the day so that most of the flight will be after sunset. Sunlight is necessary for a lot of the chemical reactions that cause pollutants to change once they are in the air. Tonight’s flight is designed largely around a single instrument measuring the specific chemicals that are more likely to be in the atmosphere at night. During the day the sunlight breaks these chemicals down, yet they are a very important part of the pollution problem.

Since the beginning of July until about the end of August, for almost two months, the men and women involved in NEAQS will be making measurements from airplanes, from the BROWN, from satellites, from the top of Mt. Washington and other spots on land. But when I asked Fred what is the one thing my students should know about this project, he said that they need to realize that the real work starts after everyone is out of the field. The “Ah-ha” moments will occur over the next 8 -12 months as the data is being analyzed, that is when the real learning and understanding will happen.

Finally I would like to thank all of the scientists who were so generous, cooperative and patient with my many questions.

Kevin McMahon, July 31, 2004

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Kevin McMahon
Onboard NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown

July 26 – August 7, 2004

Mission: New England Air Quality Study (NEAQS)
Geographical Area:
Northwest Atlantic Ocean
Date:
July 31, 2004

Weather Data from the Bridge
Lat. 43 deg 38.20 N
Lon. 69 deg 57.97 W
Speed 8.9 kts
Barometer 1016.68 mb
Rel Humidity 97.27%
Temp. 18.16 C

Daily Log

0835 hours. The wind speed has increased and is now at about 16 kts which lend a slight roll the ship.

We came within a couple of miles of Fletcher Point, ME. Before turning around, at present we are heading in an easterly direction.

Helped to launch an ozonesonde at 1000. The winds had kicked up to about 20 kts out of the southwest which made it somewhat tricky. In all though it was a successful launch.

I learned later that the ozonesonde made it to an altitude of 39.9 kilometers, not the record but pretty close.

I’ve been up on the bridge. The views of the Maine coastline are spectacular.

Talking to some of the men and women who operate the ship I am amazed at the complexity of the vessel. Aside form the scientific aspect, the bridge alone seems to have more in common with a Boeing 747 than it does with a ship on the sea. Gone are the ships wheel and binnacle and the entire nautical flavor as described by Melville.

The RONALD H. BROWN is as modern a ship as you will find on the ocean.

She is 274 feet in length with a beam of 52.5 feet and a draft of 19 feet.

Its diesel engines do not drive the propellers directly, rather they produce electricity which intern powers electric motors that drive the ships twin aft thrusters and single bow thruster. The ship does not have rudders but is instead maneuvered by the thrusters which have the ability to rotate 360 degrees.

The ships wheel has been replaced by a joystick type apparatus which allows for minute movement in all direction. The GPS navigational system allows the ship to maintain a fixed course over an extended period of time or, hold a steady fixed position within one meter of a desired location.

Questions

How does a GPS system work?

Does the GPS system on the ship differ from the one we use for class fieldwork?

Kirk Beckendorf, July 30, 2004

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Kirk Beckendorf
Onboard NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown

July 4 – 23, 2004

Mission: New England Air Quality Study (NEAQS)
Geographical Area:
Northwest Atlantic Ocean
Date:
July 30, 2004

Daily Log

Besides the BROWN, the satellites, and the Airmap sites, there are thirteen different airplanes being used to collect air quality data for NEAQS. Several of these planes are currently flying out of Pease. Today, while the scientists and pilots were prepping the plane and the science instruments, I went on board the DC-3. The DC-3 is an airplane that is about 50 years old. The inside has been gutted and now there are just three seats, besides the two in the cockpit, and a LIDAR. The LIDAR is like the one that is on the BROWN but this one looks down, not up. It sends out a laser which can be used to determine the amount of ozone in the atmosphere below the plane. A large square hole, about 2 feet by two feet, has been cut through the bottom of the plane for the laser to shine down through and then for the light to bounce back into the instrument. The plane does not have a pressurized cabin so it is limited on how high it can fly. Most of the time during this flight, it will be at about 8000 ft. The DC-3 will also be flying slowly, about 100 miles per hour. This flight will take the crew and plane south and east and then out over the Atlantic, close to the BROWN.

This morning I talked to Fred . After we visited for a bit he recommended that I attend this afternoon’s planning meeting for tomorrow’s WP-3 flight. The meeting started at 5:30 with a brief discussion of the flight planned for tomorrow. Following that, in turn three of the scientists each explained to the rest of those attending the meeting what exactly each is studying and why. Remember the big elephant (from previous logs) that is being observed. Each scientist specializes on one very specific part of the pollution problem. To get a complete understanding of the problem all of these observations must be pieced together to a get a complete picture, which is the point of these science show and tells.

Kevin McMahon, July 30, 2004

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Kevin McMahon
Onboard NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown

July 26 – August 7, 2004

Mission: New England Air Quality Study (NEAQS)
Geographical Area:
Northwest Atlantic Ocean
Date:
July 30, 2004

Weather Data from the Bridge
Lat. 42 deg 37.86 N
Lon. 70 deg 12.37 W
Speed 8.6 kts
Barometer 1018.96 mb
Rel Humidity 93.16%
Temp. 18.9 C

The seas are calm. The skies have a distant haze. The New England atmosphere so common at this time of year. As is usual for the day, at 0700 we sent aloft a radiosonde, and then at 1000 an ozonesonde.

I was lucky enough to see a couple of finback whales; but unfortunately I had left my camera on my bunk, before beginning a discussion with Drew Hamilton about alternative power generation. Many of the scientists lead very diverse lives. Drew has a house in Seattle and wants to get off the electrical grid. He has worked for NOAA for 25 years and has seen much of the world. Thirty years ago he started out at the University of Miami, never in a thousand years dreaming he’d be involved in the kind of research he’s doing.

Ever hear of di-methyl sulfide DMS? As chemistry teacher I’d heard the name but never understood its significance to the atmospheric work the scientist aboard the ship are undertaking. It turns out that di-methyl sulfide is produced by plankton and is part of a planktons waste process. DMS is one of the major contributors of atmospheric sulfur. Overly high levels in the atmosphere can act as a reflective unit not allowing enough sunlight through our atmosphere. As a result, in certain areas the Earth does not receive the needed heat for some of the biological processes to take place.

Weather Data from the Bridge
Lat. 43 deg 17.84 N
Lon. 69 deg 33.83 W
Speed 9.3 kts
Barometer 1018.3 mb
Rel Humidity 86.16%
Temp. 20.65 C

1530 hours and there seems to be a flurry of activity among many of the scientist. A radiosonde is being rapidly readied to be sent aloft. It seems that the ship has reached a position somewhat east of Portland, ME and we have found a plume of ozone. The initial spike on the instrumentation showed 80-85 ppb (parts per billion) but then it jumped again to 101 ppb. This spike in the ozone was enough to request that another ozonesonde be readied and sent aloft. They have also requested a fly over by the DC3 out of Pease. Onboard the DC3 is a LIDAR (Light Radar) which measures atmospheric ozone. I am told that the cost of one ozonesonde is approximately one thousand dollars, so I assume that the readings on the instrumentation are justifying the expense. It will be interesting to see what they all have to say at the evening science meeting which is held each evening at 1930 hours.

We seemed to have found a large plume of ozone. It is as everyone, the science staff at least, had assumed. We have indeed found a large plume of ozone.

1930 hours. We are now heading in a westerly direction for Cape Elizabeth, ME.

Kirk Beckendorf, July 29, 2004

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Kirk Beckendorf
Onboard NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown

July 4 – 23, 2004

Mission: New England Air Quality Study (NEAQS)
Geographical Area:
Northwest Atlantic Ocean
Date:
July 29, 2004

Daily Log

How can you map air?

Air moves and so does pollution. Some areas of the country which produce very little pollution may actually record high levels of pollution, because pollution from somewhere else moves there. A program called Airmap is a joint program of NOAA and the University of New Hampshire is seeking to look at some of that pollution. Check out their website at http://www.airmap.unh.edu. The goal of Airmap is to learn as much as they can to try and understand New England’s changing climate and air quality. Airmap has a number of year round monitoring stations, which this summer are also part of NEAQS. Their stations measure the normal weather data as well as a number of pollutants such as ozone.

Today I visited one of those sites in northern New Hampshire, at the top of Mt. Washington, the highest mountain in New England. The mountains are a lot larger than I had expected and are very densely forested. Mt. Washington is known to have some of the worst weather in the world and the monitoring station that I visited recorded the strongest winds ever recorded on Earth, 231 miles per hour. http://www.mountwashington.org/bigwind/. The buildings at the summit are specially designed to keep from them from blowing off of the mountain. One is even chained down. The observatory building is designed to survive winds of 300 mile per hour.The monitoring station at the top of the mountain is manned by a staff of about 8 during the summer and 4-5 during the winter. Every hour the observers go outside and take weather measurements, this takes them about 15 minutes. Most of the observers are college students or recent graduates. One of those who showed me around will be a freshman in college this next year. In addition to the weather data being collected, a bank of Airmap instruments also measure pollution. Some of the instruments are the same as those I saw on the Brown. The instruments are making constant automatic measurements.

I have become well aware that pollution can travel to unpolluted areas but today, here at the top of Mt. Washington, it really struck home. I drove three hours through fairly remote forest to get to the top of this mountain in northern New Hampshire. Looking out from the top, when the fog is not blowing through, one sees very little except for forest. But at this remote spot, several times a year, ozone reaches levels higher than the amount allowed by the EPA. I ask where it comes from, the answer I receive is that a lot of the pollution seems to from the Midwest, (the Chicago and Detroit area) some also comes from Boston and New York. Part of the goal of NEAQS is to learn more about the pollution as it travels from the areas which produce the pollution, to the areas that receive it.

Questions of the Day

How far would the pollution have to travel from Detroit to Mt. Washington?

Where are the rest of the Airmap monitoring sites?

Kevin McMahon, July 29, 2004

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Kevin McMahon
Onboard NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown

July 26 – August 7, 2004

Mission: New England Air Quality Study (NEAQS)
Geographical Area:
Northwest Atlantic Ocean
Date:
July 29, 2004

Weather Data from the Bridge
Lat. 42 deg 43.99
Lon. 70deg 02.99
Barometer 1015.71 mb
Rel Humidity 94.6%
Temp. 17.1 C
Radiosond aloft at 0710.

Daily Log

Science meeting at 0800. It has been decided that we will try to rendezvous with the J31 out of Pease at approximately 1130 and if all goes well send another radiosonde aloft.

Since I came onboard the RONALD H. BROWN on the 26th of July I have been completely amazed at how sophisticated life onboard a modern research vessel has become. On the first day waiting in line for lunch I inquired as to how long we can expect to have the fresh fruits and vegetables? Mr. Whitehead, the chief steward answered me that, “we always serve up fresh salads, very little of our produce is frozen.” When I inquired as to how they do it, I was informed that the ships refrigeration system was equipped with a device which filters out the Ethylene, a compound which causes produce to rot. As a result we can expect to have fresh salads on a daily basis.

This little tidbit of information got me to thinking about the possibility of a lesson plan which would incorporate some chemistry and some biology.

Questions

1. Can you draw the molecular structure of Ethylene?

2. What bacteria are involved in the spoilage of food and how does the elimination of ethylene play a part in this process?

Most of my time over the last 3 days has been spent getting to know the ship, the crew, and the scientific staff. It is odd in that I am being drawn more towards the operation of the vessel than I am to the scientific community. But both aspects are keeping me busy.

I have been working with Dan Wolfe, one of the main meteorologists onboard. I had thought that because I teach Earth Science, I knew something about weather forecasting. I have a long way to go. It has been an education. We have been sending aloft four radiosonde balloons per day. One every six hours. Each device is carried aloft by a balloon filled with helium. The radiosonde sends back to the ship its location, direction of travel, velocity, and altitude as a result of the barometric pressure.

Question

Which gas law equation does one use to calculate the relationship between pressure and volume?

1400 hours and I have just been informed that my hands are needed to assist with the preparation and launch of an ozonesonde. 1500 hours and we have been informed that a DC3 out of Pease will rendezvous with us in about 30 minutes. An ozonesonde has many of the characteristics of the radiosonde but also has the capability to measure ozone levels at various altitudes. It also has a longer life span and stays aloft about 2 hours and 45 minutes. The DC3 is really an aerial platform which has equipment onboard to measure ozone. I have been informed that the DC3 is nearing our location so it is time to fill the balloon.

Kathy Virdin, July 28, 2004

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Kathy Virdin
Onboard NOAA Ship Rainier

July 20 – 28, 2004

Mission: Hydrographic Survey
Geographical Area:
Eastern Aleutian Islands, Alaska
Date:
July 28, 2004

Latitude:58 degrees 01.110 N.
Longitude: 153 degrees 16.529 W.
Visibility: Less than 1 nautical mile
Wind direction: Light
Wind speed: Airs
Sea wave height: 0 ft.
Swell wave height: 0 ft.
Sea water temperature: 9.4 C.
Sea level pressure: 1003.9 mb.
Cloud cover: Cloudy/ foggy

Science and Technology Log

Today we have the exciting assignment of surveying the site of an 1860’s wreck of a Russian vessel. We’ll be making black and white images of the site of the wreck, giving archaeologists the depths of the whole area of wreckage. What makes this find so unusual, according to the Kodiak News, July 16, 2004, is that divers have already found a cylinder that spells out the name of the vessel “Kad’yak”. It is so rare to find an identifying object, that it happens in only about one out of a hundred sunken wreck findings. The Maritime Studies Program of Eastern Carolina University has a permit form the Alaska Department of Natural Resources, the National Science Foundation, and NOAA to do research on the site. They have sent down divers through the month of July and they have found a cannon, deck braces, a ballast pile, and three anchors. This has been identified as the oldest wreck ever found in Alaska waters. These samples all help to identify and date the wreck. After careful cleaning and preservation treatments, they will be put on display in various museums. Our survey will be a multi-beam swath survey, made from several of our launches, that will take several hours. We may not know much immediately from our survey, because all the data will need to be processed, cleaned and sent to the cartographers for charting. Perhaps we’ll read more about it in days to come in the newspapers or scientific journals.

Virdin 7-28-04 image1

Personal Log

I was excited to know that we were traveling through Whale Pass today and when I went out to the flying bridge to get a good look at the area, I saw a whale, quite near the ship. It was the first time I’ve seen a whale that close and it stayed on the surface for several minutes. When a whale is spotted, they make an announcement to all hands that a whale is spotted on port side or starboard side. Everyone grabs their cameras to try and get a good picture. I tried too, but I don’t know if it’ll turn out, as they are notoriously hard to film. They move through the water so gracefully and quickly that photographs are hard to come by. As we are moving through an area of straits, the weather is cloudy and foggy, but when the fog lifts, it brings a lovely view of the mountains. I’ll be headed to Homer, Alaska tomorrow for a few days of sightseeing, then home and back to the classroom. What an adventure this has been! Thank you NOAA!!

Virdin 7-28-04 image2

Kirk Beckendorf, July 28, 2004

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Kirk Beckendorf
Onboard NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown

July 4 – 23, 2004

Mission: New England Air Quality Study (NEAQS)
Geographical Area:
Northwest Atlantic Ocean
Date:
July 28, 2004

Daily Log

How do you decide where to fly to find and measure pollution?

I spent today at the NEAQS Operation Center at Pease International Tradeport in Portsmouth. The Op Center is the temporary “headquarters” for the air quality study. It is located in a college campus. About 15 large classrooms are being used as group offices for the approximately 100 scientists. I arrived just in time for the morning DC-8 briefing. The DC-8 is a NASA research plane which is loaded with equipment similar to what is on the RON BROWN. This morning about 20 scientists are planning tomorrow’s flight.

To begin the meeting several meteorologists showed some current weather movements and their predictions for tomorrow. Then the modelers who predict pollution motion and chemical changes explain what they expect to be happening to some pollution tomorrow. What this group plans to study tomorrow is a large bunch of pollution moving out of the New England and out across the Atlantic Ocean. About half way to Europe the pollution makes a large loop to the south and then loops back north. They want to fly through all of the pollution and see how the chemicals change as the pollution ages. There are three satellites that will be passing overhead at specific times and they want to be under them. So they have to time their flight schedule accordingly. Once everyone is on the same page of the general plan, they start planning the actual flight. The main idea is to fly out over the Atlantic following the looping band of pollution. At several points they want to spiral up and down to take measurements close to the ocean surface all of the way to the top of the pollution.

With a computer image of the NE US and the N. Atlantic being projected onto a screen, one of the scientists begins to type in a flight plan, as he types in latitudes and longitudes the route shows up on the map. As the route is being plotted, there continues to be discussion about where they should go to get the best measurements. Because of the points brought up in the discussion, the route and where they will spiral up and down are changed a number of times. Finally they have a flight plan. However, it is about an hour longer than they should be in the air. So the route is modified and remodified a number of times, until everyone feels that they will be able to make the measurements needed, and still have enough fuel to get back.

Question of the Day

What is your latitude and longitude?

The pollution being sampled by the DC-8 is also being measured in the Azores? Where and what are the Azores?

 

Kirk Beckendorf, July 27, 2004

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Kirk Beckendorf
Onboard NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown

July 4 – 23, 2004

Mission: New England Air Quality Study (NEAQS)
Geographical Area:
Northwest Atlantic Ocean
Date:
July 27, 2004

Daily Log

Jim Koermer invited me to come up today and “work” a session with him. Jim is a Professor of Meteorology at Plymouth State in Plymouth, New Hampshire. During NEAQS he is responsible for providing the scientist on the BROWN twice daily forecast of the weather conditions. Yesterday evening I drove the 2 hours to Plymouth and went to Jim’s house. After a short visit with Jim and his wife it was about 9:00 PM. It was time for a nap, only a nap because his work session today started at midnight.

One of Jim’s students had worked the previous session. After we arrived he gave Jim a brief summary of what he had been doing. Rachel, another of Jim’s students soon joined us and she went to work immediately gathering some of the data necessary to make the forecast.

Along one wall of the long room, where they build the forecast, is a bank of 34 displays each continually updating satellite images, radars, computer models, webcams and other global and local weather information. On the desk are four computers which are used to gather other weather data and computer models which give real time, delayed time and computer models which predict general weather patterns.

Rachel and Jim are writing a very specific forecast for the area of the Gulf of Maine in the location of the BROWN. Their predictions give details such as wind speed and direction, air temperature, rainfall, cloud cover and where pollution will be starting from and then will move to. Even though they send the BROWN these predictions twice a day the forecast are for the next 48 hours, at six hour intervals. Until 6:00AM the two of them analyze the information from all of the different sources and then they hand draw some of the predictions on maps and type the rest. The drawn maps are scanned and merged with the typed predictions and the entire file is loaded to a website for the BROWN to access when it connects to the web by satellite at 7:00. You can see one of the hand drawn predictions in one of the pictures I sent in earlier from the BROWN.

The scientists on the BROWN will then use the predictions to determine what will be the best place for them to sample pollution. The BROWN does not travel very fast so plans have to be made ahead of time to catch certain pollution events.

You can also use a lot of the tools that Jim uses. His website is at http://vortex.plymouth.edu/

Question of the Day

What is a vortex?

Kathy Virdin, July 26, 2004

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Kathy Virdin
Onboard NOAA Ship Rainier

July 20 – 28, 2004

Mission: Hydrographic Survey
Geographical Area:
Eastern Aleutian Islands, Alaska
Date:
July 26, 2004

Latitude:55 degrees 17.192 minutes N.
Longitude: 160degrees 32.214 minutes W.
Visibility: 6 nautical miles
Wind direction: Light
Wind speed: Airs
Sea wave height: 0-1 ft.
Swell wave height: 0-1 ft.
Sea water temperature:10.6 C.
Sea level pressure:998.9 mb.
Cloud cover: Cloudy

Science and Technology Log

Today I interviewed Nicola Samuelson, who is an ensign. Her job on the RAINIER is multi-faceted. She is responsible for the ship’s safety, must represent the Captain when he is not here, drive the ship from point A to B as assistant navigation officer, preparing the ship’s sail plan, and is also a morale officer, who plans activities for the crew when they are in port. She has an undergraduate degree and a master’s degree in ocean engineering. She works in four hour shifts and as an officer, may be on 24-hr. duty when the ship is in port. She chose this job because she enjoys the beautiful scenery, likes the important survey work they do, and enjoys working in a setting where you must bring a camera. She also has an interesting background that steered her in the direction of working for NOAA. She grew up on a sailing vessel as her parents sailed around the world. She was home schooled on the boat and sailed around the South Pacific from the time she was three years old until she was twelve years old. They would stop in various ports, such as New Caledonia, Fiji Islands, Samoa, New Zealand, Singapore, Malaysia, New Guinea, and Thailand when they needed to pick up supplies or work for a while. She only lived on land for the first time when she was 17 years old. She grew up speaking English and French as her parents spoke both languages. Because of her upbringing, she knew she wanted a job where she would be on the ocean. After graduate school, she received three months of NOAA officer training, where she learned firefighting skills, first aid, navigation, and how to drive a ship. She feels that her job is extremely significant, since some of the waters in Alaska have never been surveyed.

Virdin 7-26-04 map

An area that the RAINIER just surveyed, that covered 30 miles by 50 miles only had about 5 depth soundings. Ships would have to go around that area, because it’s just too dangerous to navigate through without the true depth measurements on the charts. A ship needs 40 feet of water clearance below deck level in order to successfully navigate the waters. Lack of accurate charts means that cruise and cargo ships are limited in where they can sail in the Alaskan waters. Opening up new areas, because of their surveys, means NOAA is contributing toward improvement of safety, commerce and tourism.

Personal Log

We have learned today, that because of an oil leak, the RAINIER will go into port early. We’ll have an all hands on deck meeting this afternoon to find out the exact plans. It will be interesting to find our how a ship this size will handle repairs. The weather has turned off pretty this afternoon, so those of the crew who are not working have gone on deck to fish. They will pack their catches in ice to mail back to their families. Fishing in Alaska is some of the best in the world!

Kirk Beckendorf, July 26, 2004

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Kirk Beckendorf
Onboard NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown

July 4 – 23, 2004

Mission: New England Air Quality Study (NEAQS)
Geographical Area:
Northwest Atlantic Ocean
Date:
July 26, 2004

Daily Log

This morning there was a big press conference at the BROWN. A lot of very important people were here. I got to meet the head of NOAA, Admiral Lautenbacher. I found out his wife is a middle school science teacher. Senator Judd Gregg from New Hampshire was also here. Since the BROWN is sailing out today everyone who will be out on the second leg of the research cruise had to be on board at 1:00. I took some pictures of Kevin as he boarded. This time as the BROWN pulled away from the docks, went under the drawbridge and headed out of port I was standing on shore taking pictures and waving to those on the ship. Three weeks ago I was the one standing on the ship deck waving to those still on shore. I’ll sure miss being out there. I just hope they don’t have fog all of the time.

Kathy Virdin, July 25, 2004

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Kathy Virdin
Onboard NOAA Ship Rainier

July 20 – 28, 2004

Mission: Hydrographic Survey
Geographical Area:
Eastern Aleutian Islands, Alaska
Date:
July 25, 2004

Latitude:55degrees 17.215 N.
Longitude: 160 degrees 32.231 W.
Visibility:1 nautical mile
Wind direction:140 degrees
Wind speed: 10 kts.
Sea wave height: 0-1 ft.
Swell wave height: 2-3 ft.
Sea water temperature:10 degrees C.
Sea level pressure: 997.4 mb.
Cloud cover:Cloudy, light rain

Science and Technology Log

Today we had a visitor from Tenix Lads, Inc. named Mark Sinclair who does LiDAR depth readings for NOAA. LiDAR means light detection and ranging. It is done from a small aircraft, flying at an altitude of 1800-2200 ft. They over fly an area with two laser beams that measure the surface of the water and the depth of the water. They get the difference in these heights, with geometric corrections for tides and other factors, to give them the ocean floor depths. They are able to take an incredible 324 million soundings in an hour! Their information is used for nautical charting, coastal zone management, coastal engineering, oil and gas development, military applications and research and development. They will identify depths, buoys, beacons, lighthouses, kelp areas on digital display (via computers) and on spreadsheets. The benefits of the LiDAR technology is that it is very cost effective, has amazing speed, and greater safety. They do 200% coverage of an area by measuring lines and then taking new lines in between the first lines. They run a swath beam that is 192 meters, which is larger than the ones that the RAINIER does. Each beam of pulsar light is 15 meters with 4 meters in between.

They are finding changes that need to be made on maps that date back to the 1940s. NOAA contracts with this company to do soundings for them and NOAA picks small segments of these areas to do spot checks with the ship to compare accuracy. So far, they have been extremely accurate. At this point in time, they are not comfortable with the greater depth measurements that the RAINIER does, but expect that to change in the future. Various crew members that I’ve spoken with foresee this becoming the depth measurement instrument of the future. Eventually, all depth readings may be done from satellites, which could become very accurate, as well as safe. Right now, NOAA will continue to use both methods.

Personal Log

I spent the day working on the computer, listening to the LiDAR presentation and reading the information about this new system. It’s very interesting to predict how useful this will become in the next 10-20 years. I’d love to see some of my students flying the airplanes that will send back this newer technology. Right now, the RAINIER is anchored while launches go out to do shallow survey each day. It’s fascinating to watch them lower the launches and bring them back onto the boat. They use hydraulic winches that raise and lower the boats. Everyone has to be very careful at this point, wearing hard hats, because it’s a time when equipment failure could bring a dangerous situation. Generally three or four people go out on each day’s launch. They have several more days of launches scheduled, then they must go to the Kodiak Coast Guard base to refuel.

Virdin 7-25-04 screenshot

Kirk Beckendorf, July 25, 2004

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Kirk Beckendorf
Onboard NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown

July 4 – 23, 2004

Mission: New England Air Quality Study (NEAQS)
Geographical Area:
Northwest Atlantic Ocean
Date:
July 25, 2004

Daily Log

There was a big open house on the BROWN, so I went back to the ship for that. This evening for dinner Kevin and I meet with a group of teachers who were interested to know what it is like to be a Teacher at Sea. I will be visiting some of the land based parts of NEAQS this week so I met and visited with some of the people that I will be seeing. I scheduled a time with Jim Koermer a meteorologist at Plymouth State University. He is the scientist in charge of developing weather predictions received twice daily by the BROWN. I will go to Plymouth, New Hampshire on Monday evening. From midnight until 6:00 AM I will be watch how he makes his predictions.

Kathy Virdin, July 24, 2004

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Kathy Virdin
Onboard NOAA Ship Rainier

July 20 – 28, 2004

Mission: Hydrographic Survey
Geographical Area:
Eastern Aleutian Islands, Alaska
Date:
July 24, 2004

Latitude: 55 degrees 17.194 N.
Longitude: 160 degrees 32.23 W.
Visibility: 3 nautical miles
Wind direction: 100 degrees
Wind speed: 10 kts.
Sea wave height: 1-2 ft.
Swell wave height: 2-3 ft.
Sea water temperature: 10 degrees C.
Sea level pressure: 1002.0
Cloud cover: Cloudy with rain

Science and Technology Log

Today we went out on a launch (my first in the Shumagin Islands). We traveled near the area of Simeon Bight to run lines to check depth measurement. An example of why this is so important is that in one of their launches, they found after an earthquake, a 30 meter drop-off near a fault line. This wasn’t on any charts because it had been caused by the earthquake itself. Before they begin the depth measurements, it’s vital that they take a cast with the salinity, pressure and temperature instrument. This information is then hooked directly into the computer to be calculated into the depth findings, so that the depth can be corrected by these factors. We ran cross lines (lines that cris-crossed each other) as a quality check to be sure that no area had been missed. The transducer (which sends out a multi-beam swath of sound) is lowered into the water by a mechanical arm. This is high-tech stuff! The computers are also recording the GPS (global position system) location of our boat at all times. When we learn the depths of the waters we pass over, we have to know exactly where we are in order to record this on nautical charts. Out of 24 satellites, we need at least 5-7 within range plotting our location to ensure accuracy. The computers divide the screen into sections which show our depth reading, a picture of the ocean floor by sonar calculations and the range our instruments will accurately reflect. We have traveled a range of 88 meters in depth to 6.7 meters in depth. Interestingly, one possible technology that is being tested and may be the best method of the future is called Lidar, which means sonar transmitted from an airplane, which flies over coastal areas and can give a depth reading on land and in the ocean. The RAINIER is testing one area that has been measured by Lidar to compare our measurements with theirs to check their accuracy. This would be a safer method, since lowering the launch boats and retrieving them has a certain amount of risk.

We’ve just seen some lazy puffins that are swimming on top of the water, which makes them look like sitting ducks. As we return to the RAINIER in the late afternoon, we bring back a lot of data that the survey technicians will assess and correct to be submitted to the cartographers.

Personal Log

We had a rainy, foggy afternoon on the water while we were surveying, with clouds that hovered over the green, craggy cliffs. It makes a beautiful sight. We felt we got a lot accomplished and returned with some good data. In talking with various members of the crew, I’ve gotten some good ideas to use in my lesson plans as they help me think of ways to explain their operations that will simplify it, such as flashlights taped together to represent a multi-beam sonar swath. I’m going to catch up tonight on correspondence, and refine my lesson plan ideas tomorrow. I can’t wait to take all these ideas back to the classroom!

Kirk Beckendorf, July 24, 2004

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Kirk Beckendorf
Onboard NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown

July 4 – 23, 2004

Mission: New England Air Quality Study (NEAQS)
Geographical Area:
Northwest Atlantic Ocean
Date:
July 24, 2004

Daily Log

I actually moved off the ship today and got a hotel room. All day there was a big meeting at the University of New Hampshire about 30 minutes from here. Scientists from the BROWN, from the airplanes, the land based measurement systems, those in charge of the satellite data, weather forecasting, and the computer models all gave short presentations. This was a big version of our nightly show and tell that we had on the BROWN. Because NEAQS-ITCT is such a huge research project, this meeting was necessary to help everyone know what has been happening in each part of the project and what should be done the next few weeks. It is kind of like a football team gathering in a huddle between plays.

Kevin will be the new teacher on the ship for the second leg of the research cruise. I showed him around the BROWN and introduced him to a number of the scientist. I also bought a new t-shirt. The BROWN helped re-explore the Titanic a few months ago and the Titanic shirts they ordered were delivered today.

Kirk Beckendorf, July 23, 2004

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Kirk Beckendorf
Onboard NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown

July 4 – 23, 2004

Mission: New England Air Quality Study (NEAQS)
Geographical Area:
Northwest Atlantic Ocean
Date:
July 23, 2004

Daily Log

Today was my last day and night on the BROWN. We spent last night off the coast of New Hampshire. We were scheduled to meet the pilot at 11:00 AM. The pilot is a person very familiar with the local port and he or she comes on board large ships and drives them into and out of the port. Since they know the harbor very well they can make sure the ship doesn’t run aground in what may be a very narrow channel. It was pretty cool to watch him jump from a small boat onto the rope hanging from the side of the BROWN while we were moving. Everyone was out on deck as we came up through the channel into Portsmouth. As we got to the dock the crew had the ropes out and ready. Tanker trucks of fuel were lined up ready to refuel the ship, which can hold about five tanker trucks worth of diesel. It was a bittersweet feeling to dock and be back ashore. It is good to be back but I am sure going to miss all of the people on board. I have learned so much from them, plus I enjoyed their company.

This evening we had a big New England style clambake at a beach. They fed us steamed calms and whole lobsters.

I finally met Jennifer Hammond. She is the person in charge of the Teacher at Sea Program and who got me on the BROWN and who gets the logs and pictures onto the web.

Kathy Virdin, July 23, 2004

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Kathy Virdin
Onboard NOAA Ship Rainier

July 20 – 28, 2004

Mission: Hydrographic Survey
Geographical Area:
Eastern Aleutian Islands, Alaska
Date:
July 23, 2004

Latitude:55 degrees 43.34’N
Longitude: 159 degrees 10.967’ W
Visibility: 10 nautical miles
Wind direction: 175 degrees
Wind speed: 8 kts.
Sea wave height: 0-1 ft.
Swell wave height: 0-1 ft.
Sea water temperature: 11.7 C.
Sea level pressure: 1016.2 mb.
Cloud cover: Cloudy

Science and Technology Log

Today we have been in transit to the Shumagin Islands. Two launches were sent out to do Reson (shallow to mid-depth) measurements and one launch did the Elac (mid-depth to deep waters). This area really needs accurate depth measurement, since it’s an area where fishermen come frequently. The information that is received and processed on board the RAINIER is then sent to the Nautical Data Branch of NOAA where it is interpreted and made into the hydrographic sheets with added interpretative data. Then it next goes to a production team who apply it to charts. The next step for the information is to go to the Update Service branch which combines all data and puts it in the final form of nautical charts that is used by the Navy, cargo ships, tanker ships and all mariners (such as fishermen). So the RAINIER plays a vital role in getting critical information to those who use it daily to ensure their safety.

I was able to catch several of the crew for an interview. I interviewed Megan Palmer, who is a survey technician. To prepare for her job, Megan received a degree in geography and received additional training in computer systems, including the complex GIS system. She explained that NOAA is moving toward electronic nautical charts that will allow you to set your scale close or far away on the computer, depending on what you need. Alarms will go off if you get into shallow water. However, there will always be a need for nautical charts and that’s where NOAA excels. Megan enjoys her job as it gives her the opportunity to see Alaska while being on the water, and the chance to look for the unexpected in surveys. Often, she is part of the team that is charting waters that have very few depth soundings. She also enjoys the fact that NOAA tests software to see how well it works and then make recommendations to companies to improve features that the survey technicians need. She notes that there is definitely a need for more survey technicians and that it’s a rewarding and exciting career for any student who loves the ocean and wants to travel.

Personal Log

Today we had the thrill of seeing a whale swimming in the distance while we all tried to take a picture (very difficult since it moves in the water so quickly). We dropped anchor tonight in the Shumagin Is. We’ll stay here several days while the survey launches run lines in different areas. We’ve entered into an area of heavy fog and it was neat to hear the fog horn being sounded every few minutes as we move through the water. I enjoyed looking a computer file of pictures that show all the places the RAINIER has been in Alaska. Beautiful scenery!

Kirk Beckendorf, July 22, 2004

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Kirk Beckendorf
Onboard NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown

July 4 – 23, 2004

Mission: New England Air Quality Study (NEAQS)
Geographical Area:
Northwest Atlantic Ocean
Date:
July 22, 2004

Weather Data from the Bridge
Time 4:50 PM ET
Latitude- 42 49.88 N
Longitude- 70 15.46 W
Air Temperature 20 degrees C
Water Temperature 17 degrees C
Air Pressure 1011 Millibars
Wind Direction at surface Southwest
Wind Speed at surface 15 MPH
Cloud cover and type clear but hazy

Daily Log

Last night at sunset we were just out from Boston when we launched the radiosonde. The pollution levels were up and we had to look through a haze to see the downtown skyline. A sea breeze began blowing cleaner air to us from the east. Late last night we headed east to meet up with a couple of the airplanes this morning. The goal was to have us and two of NOAA’s research planes all under a satellite which will be orbiting overhead. Pollution measurements could be made at many different levels of the atmosphere plus instrument comparisons could be made.

Of course it was foggy again. Wayne Angevine, a meteorologist back on shore was looking at live weather satellite images and got word to us that close by was a clear spot in the fog. The flight crew in the airplanes confirmed what Wayne said. When we got to the latitude and longitude they had directed us to, we found clear skies. The plan worked. The planes flew by making their measurements, several satellites passed over head, the ozonesonde was launched, all of the instruments on the Brown were continuing to collect data and Drew and I did Sunops.

Later today the rest of the fog burnt off, but there was still a haze as we slowly made our way back to the west. We need to be in the vicinity of Portsmouth so that we can meet up with the harbor pilot tomorrow morning. The pilot will direct the ship back into Portsmouth at about noon. The timing is actually important because we need to go in at high tide. Tonight the plan is to continue back and forth through the urban pollution. Before we get to port tomorrow, a couple of the crew will be diving under the ship to do some maintenance that should be interesting to watch.

Today is my last full day at sea on the BROWN. This next week I will be visiting some of the land based scientists, facilities and activities involved in NEAQS. We get into port about noon tomorrow.

I asked some of the scientist what is the one thing my students should know about this research project on air pollution. Some of the statements were:

We are studying a very complicated situation with no simple answers.

To study something very complicated takes lots of coordination and cooperation from numerous organizations and a lot of people.

Air pollution is a global problem not a local problem. Even people in areas, like Redmond, OR, with little pollution should be concerned. Air pollution doesn’t stay where it is made. North America gets pollution from Asia, Europe gets pollution from N. America, Asia gets pollution from Europe.

Each one of us needs to realize that we are part of the problem.

Question of the Day

How can you be part of the solution not just part of the air pollution problem?

Kathy Virdin, July 22, 2004

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Kathy Virdin
Onboard NOAA Ship Rainier

July 20 – 28, 2004

Mission: Hydrographic Survey
Geographical Area:
Eastern Aleutian Islands, Alaska
Date:
July 22, 2004

Latitude: 55 degrees 39’N.
Longitude: 157 degrees 54’W.
Visibility: 10 nautical miles
Wind direction: 270 degrees W.
Wind speed: 6 kts.
Sea wave height: 0-1 ft.
Swell wave height: 2-3 ft.
Sea water temperature: 12.8 C.
Sea level pressure: 1013.0 mb.
Cloud cover: Partly cloudy

Science and Technology Log

Today I interviewed several crew members, which gave me a much better perspective of the extent of work that is being conducted on the RAINIER. I first spoke with Jeremy Taylor, who is a survey technician whose job is to collect data on the ocean floor depths for the purpose of updating nautical charts. The RAINIER is dedicated to survey work that can enable all maritime vessels to successfully maneuver the ocean waters. As a survey technician, Jeremy is considered a scientist on board since the data he gathers is used by the scientific community. He collects the data from the multi-beam swaths and cleans it by deleting invalid or weak information, then sends it to other branches of NOAA (such as the cartographers) who review it, compare it to current nautical charts and then update those charts based on the new data. What is amazing to me is that the RAINIER does survey work in areas which may not have been surveyed since the 1800’s and have only had a few soundings listed. Their work is vital to commerce, fisheries management and the fishing industry. Jeremy said what he enjoys most about his job is being in Alaska, having the opportunity to go out in launches and receiving good data. He feels his job is extremely important since scientists need this data to find the habitats of various marine species. One example he gave was the fact that they can chart seamounts which are an area that contain a lot of marine life. This gives data that could help scientists discover new habitats for various species. Jeremy recommends a degree in hydrography to best prepare for this work, but also maintains that a degree in any area of science would be good basic preparation and on-the-job training would be supplied.

Next, I interviewed Briana Welton who is a Junior Officer, an Ensign in the Corps. She has a degree in math which has helped her greatly in her work. She is undergoing training to be an Officer of the Deck who will drive the ship. She also participates in the hydrographic surveys. She recommends students applying to the Maritime Marine Academy which is in New York. Briana loves the experience of being a hydrographic pioneer, as they are often charting unmeasured waters. She also loves being at sea and says it’s exciting to drive the ship. There are several divisions of ships that NOAA operates, such as the oceanographic studies, hydrographic and fisheries. The information gained by a hydrographic ship is first and foremost to be used for nautical charts, which are used by all mariners, from small fishing boats to large Navy vessels. The RAINIER also takes bottom samples that they can process in their lab to determine content and physical features of the ocean floor. The CDTs that they lower give temperature, salinity and density information to scientists that enable them to look for variations in the ocean climate that will affect marine habitats. Briana loves working on a ship and being part of a close-knit community.

Personal Log

This morning I thoroughly enjoyed talking with several crew members about their work and getting new information about all the facets of ship life. This afternoon I plan to work on lesson plans and tonight I’ll watch the survey technicians scan and clean up the data that comes in from the two launches that went out today. I also hope for some time to do more research on the complexities of the mission of NOAA and study some nautical charts. It’s amazing to me that I can walk out on deck at 10:30 at night and it will still be light. In Alaska in the summer there are about 19 hours of daylight.

Wow!

Kathy Virdin, July 21, 2004

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Kathy Virdin
Onboard NOAA Ship Rainier

July 20 – 28, 2004

Mission: Hydrographic Survey
Geographical Area:
Eastern Aleutian Islands, Alaska
Date:
July 21, 2004

Time: 6:00p.m.
Latitude: 55 degrees 49.65 N
Longitude: 157 degrees 56 W
Visibility: 11 nautical miles
Wind direction: 350 degrees NW
Wind speed: 7 kts
Sea wave height: 0-1 ft.
Swell wave height:2-3 ft.
Sea water temperature: 12.2 C.
Sea level pressure: 1013.0 mb.
Cloud cover: Partly cloudy

Science and Technology Log

Today I was able to go out on a launch (small boat) that did survey lines for eight hours. After the launch got underway, we lowered the transducer into the water where it will send out a spray of sound (approximately 131 pings) that will be measured on the launch’s computers. We also did a Reson line measurement which can accurately measure depths of 40 meters. We drove the launch in a line that was approximately 4-5 miles long, then turned and went back on the next line. Each line took about 40 minutes and we were able to cover 7 lines today. So in all, we were able to chart an area of 4-5 square miles. We stopped every four hours to put down a CDT which checks salinity, density and temperature. This information was immediately fed into the computers so that it can adjust the speed of sound through the waters by these factors. This launch also has a motion sensor that can measure the pitch and roll of the boat and that is factored into the speed the sound travels, which gives the calculated distance to the ocean floor.

NOAA has about 8 or 9 ships that do hydrography work which is extremely important to scientific research, as well as commerce. About 90-95% of all goods used in the U.S. are brought to us by ships! So it’s vital that they have accurate information to chart their path through our waters. The RAINIER is the only ship in the world that can do all the hydrographic survey work that it does. It’s an honor to work on a NOAA vessel and all members of the NOAA corps must have a degree in one of the sciences. The swath or path of the sonar beam that our launch is sending out covers about 200 meters. We’re seeing the data that tells us that the depths in this area are 100 meters. We have successfully measured our plot of the chart today with multi-beam swaths that intersect at the outskirts with one another. This is another measure taken to ensure accuracy.

Personal Log

I asked a lot of questions today while we were surveying, as the field operations officer with us had time to answer them. The work was mostly being done by the computers, so we were watching and checking them periodically. I learned that the launches are expensive boats because of all the high-tech equipment they carry (all of it necessary to get the job done). When we came back to the RAINIER, the sun came out and we went up on the deck to enjoy the view. I saw puffins flying over the water, and one of them flapped its wings across the water as it skimmed along the surface. This was a treat to watch the puffins as they entertained us with their antics. Tomorrow, I’m looking forward to following up on the data that was gathered from the two launches that went out today. It will be scrutinized and evaluated by the survey technicians and then stored in the folder for the day.

Kathy Virdin, July 20, 2004

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Kathy Virdin
Onboard NOAA Ship Rainier

July 20 – 28, 2004

Mission: Hydrographic Survey
Geographical Area:
Eastern Aleutian Islands, Alaska
Date:
July 20, 2004

Time: 2:20 p.m.
Latitude: 55 degrees 39.4 N
Longitude: 158 degrees 00.3 W
Visibility: 10 nautical miles (nm)
Wind direction: Northwest
Wind speed: 7 kts
Sea wave height: 0-1 ft.
Swell wave height:2-3 ft.
Sea water temperature:13.3 degrees Celsius
Sea level pressure:1010.1mb.
Cloud cover:3/8 partly cloudy

Science and Technology Log

Today we reached the point where we would begin our surveys. I watched the survey technicians lower a Seabird (sound velocity profile unit) into the water, then raise it back up and hook it into a computer, where they could download the information. This will give them the salinity (salt content), temperature and pressure of the water. They lowered the Seabird 117 meters down into the water, before retrieval. At the same time, from the hull of the ship, a transducer sound wave emitter is sending sound waves to the bottom and measuring the time it takes for their return. From this information, they will calculate the distance to the floor of the ocean. They use this data from the Seabird to help them make corrections in the sound wave speeds from the transducer. The salinity, temperature and pressure will cause variations in the speed of sound, so they need to correct for this effect to gain an accurate depth measurement.

This information is being processed and viewed by cartographers (map designers) who will take what data the RAINIER gives them to update old maps or develop new maps and charts. These maps are used by fishermen, geologists or anyone who navigates through these Alaskan waters. We are headed for the Shumagin Islands where we will send out launches (smaller boats) to measure depths in places where the Rainier might not otherwise go. I found it interesting to note that environmentalists would also use this information, since they know where certain species of fish are likely to live, and they can decide how best to protect them if they are endangered. We will go back and forth three times in one plotted line to make sure our data is accurate and complete. When we send out a launch in more shallow water, they will use a different sonar device, called a Reson. It emits higher sound waves which will give a more accurate reading. For middle to deep depth measurement, they will use the Elac sonar and a vertical beam echo sounder which goes straight down that can be used for shoreline measurements. Because Alaska has such rough terrain, it’s important to get accurate measurements for those who use her waters.

Personal Log

I am amazed by how specific the data is that the survey technicians collect and how well everyone knows their job. This is truly a finely tuned, professional organization. Everyone has been so kind to answer my many questions even though I’m sure I’ve gotten in their way. I’ve spent a lot of time in the Plot room, where the data is logged into the computers and then interpreted by the technicians. Outside, it’s a beautiful, sunny day, which is the first pretty weather we’ve had. We saw a pod of whales, recognizable by the blow of water coming from their nostrils. I could see them really well through the high-powered binoculars that belong to the ship. I am working on a list of questions that I will use to interview different members of the crew, as well as the scientists so I can take this information back to my students, as they learn what the roles are on a NOAA vessel. Someday, I want my students to be the next generation of scientists that use the knowledge we are gaining today to frame the discoveries they will make in the future.

Kirk Beckendorf, July 19, 2004

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Kirk Beckendorf
Onboard NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown

July 4 – 23, 2004

Mission: New England Air Quality Study (NEAQS)
Geographical Area:
Northwest Atlantic Ocean
Date:
July 19, 2004

Weather Data from the Bridge
Time Noon ET
Latitude- 44 8.76 N
Longitude- 66 42.03 W
Air Temperature 12 degrees C
Water Temperature 9 degrees C
Air Pressure 1007 Millibars
Wind Direction at surface South
Wind Speed at surface 11 MPH
Cloud cover and type FOG!!!

Daily Log

Ozone can be a major pollutant but we don’t release it into the atmosphere, so where does it come from?

More fog!!! We are all getting tired of the fog. I wonder what the Nova Scotia coast looks like. We have been along the coast for awhile, but I only got a glimpse through the fog for a few minutes.

We followed the Boston pollution up here but now we are in clean air. It has been very interesting, for both the scientists and myself, to see how the kinds and amounts of the gases has changed as the pollution gets older. Leave a glass of milk in the sun on the kitchen counter for a few days and it will change. Air pollution floating in the air and cooking in the sun also changes.

Paul Goldan points out some of today’s data which shows that the air is coming from a pine forest. Every thirty minutes Paul’s equipment samples the air and measures the concentration of 150 different VOC’s (volatile organic compounds). Some VOC’s can be man made and others are natural. This morning’s data shows very low levels of human pollution but there are spikes in the graph for two chemicals that are released into the atmosphere by pine trees (the pine scent). We look at the wind profiler and see that the wind is blowing from Nova Scotia.

Avery Bell emailed and asked which pollutant is most potent. As I have mentioned, the two parts of air pollution are the gasses and the particles. According to several of the scientist on board, ozone and the very tiny particles are the two of most concern from a health standpoint. Small particles and ozone can both damage your lungs. For people who already have breathing problems (such as asthma or emphysema), it can make matters even worse. Ozone also damages plants, both wild and agricultural crops, reducing crop yields. The cost of agricultural losses was one of the first reasons that ozone became a concern.

Every day I spend time talking with some of the scientists who are here from NOAA’s Aeronomy Lab. They are studying ozone and many other gases in the atmosphere. To decrease ozone pollution is much more complicated than just saying let’s reduce the amount of ozone we release. We don’t release ozone into the atmosphere as a pollutant!!! It is made in the atmosphere when other gases combine in the presence of light.

Imagine you live in the desert and you plant a tree in your back yard. It of course needs water, air, nutrients from the soil and light to survive and grow. In your backyard it gets all of the light, air and nutrients that it needs; but imagine that you never water the tree. The tree survives because it gets a little rain, but it doesn’t grow much. Water is limiting its growth. If you water it a lot, the tree grows a lot.

High ozone levels occur in a similar way. For ozone to form, certain gases and sunlight have to be present. If there is only a small amount of those gases, only a small amount of ozone can form. But if there are a lot of those gases, a lot of ozone will form. In the unpolluted atmosphere, there are low amounts of the gases that are needed to make ozone. Guess what happens when we burn fuels to run our vehicles, to make electricity, to heat and cool our homes, and to make the products that we use every day. You guessed it; we release a lot of the gases that are needed to make ozone. Ozone can then reach the high levels necessary to become a health risk. It does not take that much ozone to be at a dangerous level. A level of 80 PPB (parts per billion) for 8 hours is considered too high.

It is very difficult to try and understand what 80 parts per billion really means but I’ll try to help. It takes about 31.7 years to have 1 billion seconds. Imagine how much air you would have if you took a breath every second for 31.7 years and blew all of the air into one balloon. Now imagine that 80 of those 1 billion breaths were ozone. The concentration of ozone in the balloon would be 80 PPB.

Questions of the Day

What are three activities that you do everyday that can add to the atmosphere the gases that help form ozone?

What can you do to reduce the amount of those gases that you are responsible for producing?

Based on the example in the last paragraph how many breaths of ozone could you have in the balloon if there was 1 PPB?

Kirk Beckendorf, July 18, 2004

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Kirk Beckendorf
Onboard NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown

July 4 – 23, 2004

Mission: New England Air Quality Study (NEAQS)
Geographical Area:
Northwest Atlantic Ocean
Date:
July 18, 2004

Weather Data from the Bridge
Time 9:15 ET
Latitude- 44 01.29 N
Longitude- 67 13.5 W
Air Temperature 14 degrees C
Water Temperature 13 degrees C
Air Pressure 1015 Millibars
Wind Direction at surface Southeast
Wind Speed at surface 10 MPH
Clouds Cloudy

Daily Log

What do you do if the weather gets rough? (Besides get seasick and throw up.)

The weather forecast for tonight calls for strong winds and 15 foot waves (the ceiling in your bedroom is probably 8 feet high). The crew has been making sure that nothing is loose on the ship. Everything needs to be strapped, tied or chained down. If the ship is pitching and rolling a lot, you don’t want things flying around, otherwise someone could get hurt or something could get broken. We have also been instructed to make sure none of our own supplies are loose.

I spent some time visiting with Chris, a member of the deck crew. He has been on the BROWN for a little over two years. Before that he was working on commercial ships. He said the roughest seas he has sailed in weren’t that big, only about 20 foot waves. When the waves are closer together, he says it isn’t as rough as compared to when they are further apart. Chris said, as the ship climbs up a wave and then beaks over the top, if there is not another wave to land on, the ship drops down into the trough below. This makes for a lot rougher ride than when the waves are close together, and the ship can land on the next wave. After this cruise, he will be transferring to a higher position on another NOAA ship. Eventually, he would like to work back on shore for a fire department. A lot of the safety training he has received from being a deck hand on the ship would fit right into a fire department. As part of the deck crew’s training, he has received EMT (Emergency Medical Technician); fast boat and other rescue training and firefighting training. When your ship is at sea for a month or so at a time, 300 days a year, the crew really needs to be self sufficient. You are your on fire department and medical team; there may not be anyone close by to call.

Drew Hamilton now works at NOAA’s Pacific Marine Environmental Lab in Seattle, but before that he worked on NOAA ships for 15 years. He said his first cruise with NOAA was in the middle of the Sargasso Sea in hurricane with 30 foot seas. Ten years ago he was on a ship delivering supplies to scientists working in Antarctica. For 4 days the ship fought its way through high winds and 30 foot waves. Almost everyone was sea sick, even the experienced sailors. It was a rough way to start his sailing career.

Sallie Whitlow, a scientist from the University of New Hampshire, has her instruments on top of a large container van on the bow of the ship. Once during a storm she was working on the equipment. When the waves started breaking over the bow, she decided it was time to go inside.

At this evening’s science meeting the new weather report shows that the storm is not going to be as intense as was previously thought. The rough seas probably won’t happen. Bummer, I was looking forward to an exciting ride.

Questions of the Day

What town and state was the ship from, that was lost in “The Perfect Storm”?

Where are we located compared to where that storm occurred?

Where is the Sargasso Sea?

Kirk Beckendorf, July 17, 2004

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Kirk Beckendorf
Onboard NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown

July 4 – 23, 2004

Mission: New England Air Quality Study (NEAQS)
Geographical Area:
Northwest Atlantic Ocean
Date:
July 17, 2004

Weather Data from the Bridge
Time 6:20 PM ET
Latitude- 43 20.33 N
Longitude- 68 18.92 W
Air Temperature 17 degrees C
Water Temperature 14 degrees C
Air Pressure 1009 Millibars
Wind Direction at surface Southwest
Wind Speed at surface 7 MPH
Cloud cover and type Clear

Daily Log

How is it possible to tell if we are in pollution when we can’t even see it?

This morning I went through the normal routine of helping launch the ozonesonde at 10:00. Because it was a sunny day Drew Hamilton could make Sunop measurements throughout the afternoon so I helped with that. We specifically timed the Sunops so that we were taking measurements at the same times that three satellites were crossing overhead. The satellites were taking similar measurements looking down, while we were taking them looking up. Later, our measurements will be compared with those of the satellites.

In general, air pollution is a combination of particles and gases. I have discussed the particles in previous logs, but not much about the gases. A large number of the scientists involved in NEAQS-ITCT are studying these gases. I have spent a large amount of time talking with Eric Williams, Brian Lerner, Sallie Whitlow, Paul Goldan, Bill Kuster, Hans Osthoff and Paul Murphy. They have instruments on board which measure many of the different gases related to air pollution. But not all air pollution is the same.

The cause of the pollution determines what gases and particles are in the pollution. Gasoline powered automobiles release one combination of gas and particles. Diesel engines produce another combination. Coal burning power plants release yet a different combination. Natural gas power plants release (Yep, you guessed it) yet a different combination. In a city these get mixed together, so individual cities have there own unique pollution depending on the number of automobiles, power plants and factories. To make things more complicated, once these chemicals are released into the atmosphere and start mixing together, in the presence of sunlight they react with one another making additional gases and destroying others. What eventually happens to these pollutants and where they go, are two of the questions these scientists are seeking to answer. But answering these questions is very difficult, in part because things get extremely complicated very quickly. As Paul Goldan told me, part of the reason we need to make so many different kinds of measurements is because we are not even sure exactly what we are looking for.

Today as we criss-crossed back and forth through two plumes of pollution Eric showed me some of today’s data. As always, his instruments were measuring and recording some of the gases in the air. The quantities and kinds of gases changed as we went back and forth, helping to map where the pollution was located and how it has changed. Nothing looked different outside, but from the measurements he was taking he could tell that one of the plumes was younger than the other.

During the nightly meeting, Paul Goldan and Tim Bates presented completely different kinds of measurements that agreed with what Eric’s data showed. This comparing of daily observations will help confirm the accuracy of the observations and what they actually mean.

Questions of the Day

Where is the electricity in your house produced?

What kind of fuel is used to make your electricity?

What kind of fuel is burnt to make your automobiles run?

Who should be responsible for the pollution produced to make the electricity you use?

Kirk Beckendorf, July 16, 2004

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Kirk Beckendorf
Onboard NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown

July 4 – 23, 2004

Mission: New England Air Quality Study (NEAQS)
Geographical Area:
Northwest Atlantic Ocean
Date:
July 16, 2004

Weather Data from the Bridge
Time 8:00 AM ET
Latitude- 42 44.24 N
Longitude- 70 41.99 W
Air Temperature 19 degrees C
Water Temperature 15 degrees C
Air Pressure 1002.6 Millibars
Wind Direction at surface Southwest
Wind Speed at surface 7 MPH
Cloud cover and type Partly cloudy

Personal Log

What do I do all day?

I received an email asking what life is like on the ship, and what my daily schedule is. The schedule revolves around breakfast, lunch and dinner. There is an hour for each and if you want to eat you had better be there at the correct time. Actually, the stewards do have snack foods out for us 24 hours a day, they feed us very well. There are always a lot of vegetables available and at least two main items to select from. For lunch today the main entrees were shrimp and hamburgers. (Check out the pictures.)

So my schedule: Keep in mind that nothing is very far away here on the ship so you don’t have to give yourself much travel time, everything is literally down the hall. In the morning I roll out of my bunk and walk the 5-10 feet to the shower. See the pictures of my stateroom. After a shower, shave (I skip that part), and brushing of teeth it is time for breakfast. Down the hall, up the stairs and through another hall. On the way to the mess hall I usually go outside to the railing, on deck to get some fresh air and to check the weather. Today it is a beautiful sunny day at sea.

Other than the rocking of the ship there is no way to tell what the weather is like while in the ship’s lower levels. There are no windows in the lower levels of the ship (that would be really dumb), and only small ones on the middle levels. At night, all windows are covered by metal plates, except for the windows on the bridge. The crew on watch, in the bridge, should not have their night vision compromised by light from the windows. In their around the clock observations, they need to be able to see out into the darkness. But back to my daily schedule.

Breakfast is served from 7:00 – 8:00 AM Eastern Time every morning. At 8:00 AM Tim Bates, the chief scientist, holds a morning science meeting to discuss the day’s plans and the weather forecast. This is usually a pretty short meeting. After the meeting, I usually try to finish typing up the previous day’s log. Around 10:00 AM Ann Thompson launches an ozonesonde which I generally help with. By the time we are through with the sonde, it is almost time for lunch which is served from 11:00 – 12:00. It is that time right now and I obviously haven’t completed the log.

After lunch I visit with one or more of the scientist about their research topic, data collection and measurements. On sunny days, I often help Drew make sun photometer measurements. By then it is time for dinner which is served from 4:30 – 5:00. (I told you the meals drive the schedule.) Afterward dinner and dessert I start typing the day’s log and also visit with the scientists some more.

At 7:30 PM there is another science meeting. It is a science version of show and tell, longer than the morning meeting. There is a discussion of what happened during the day in terms of where we went and what pollution was seen. Some of the data collected is reviewed and discussed. Usually someone will also discuss their specific research. Possible plans for the following day are debated. Following the meeting, I will sometimes visit the BROWN’s gym for a ride on the exercise bike. Eventually I find my way back down the halls to my stateroom and bunk.

This evening there was a very nice sunset so many of us enjoyed the view from the BROWN’s fantail.

So there you have, a day in the life of a teacher at sea.

Questions of the Day

What time do our breakfast, lunch and dinner start in Pacific Time?

What color of light can be used at night so you do not lose you night vision?

What can you do with your flashlight so that you can use it at night without losing your night vision?

Leyf Peirce, July 15, 2004

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Leyf Peirce
Onboard NOAA Ship Rainier

July 6 – 15, 2004

Mission: Hydrographic Survey
Geographical Area:
Eastern Aleutian Islands, Alaska
Date:
July 15, 2004

Time: 18:00
Latitude: N 56°22.60
Longitude: W 152°56.70 Visibility: 10 nm

Wind direction: 115
Wind speed: 8 knots
Sea wave height: 0 – 1 ft
Swell wave height: 2 – 3 feet
Sea water temperature: 12.2 °C
Sea level pressure: 1013.5 mb
Air temperature: 13.3 °C
Cloud cover: 5/8

Science and Technology Log

We are still in transit today to Kodiak, with a planned stop for some “biological testing”, a.k.a. fishing. About two hours before we were going to stop to fish, we heard the bridge announce, “Whales breaching off the port bow!” This is the call for everyone to rush to the portside to see the whales. And what an incredible sight! I was atop the fly deck with TAS Norton and ENS Slover, and none of us could believe the symphony of spray that lay 150 meters ahead of us. It seemed choreographed, almost, with one humpback whale to the right blowing spray into the air at the same time as a whale on the left side. The finale consisted of at least 3 whales breaching so far out of the water you could see their entire underside! Just when we thought the show was over, two whales came within 20 meters of the portside of the boat and breached, waving hello as they went under. Luckily, we had slowed the boat down, so the chances of hitting these whales were small. For such massive and mysterious creatures, these animals completed their whale ballet show gracefully!

We later started fishing, and this sight was yet another of awe at the creatures that inhabit this part of the world. After only 10 minutes, there were about 12 fish on the fantail, 3 of which were halibut that were over 125 pounds, one which was at least 5 feet! After another 10 minutes, the fantail was covered with fish and blood and guts, promising a feast for weeks to come. The birds circled above waiting in anticipation, arguing when a piece of fresh fish was thrown overboard. Again a new image to me, the albatross intimidated the other gulls with its large wing span and threatening call. This day was certainly full of wildlife!

Personal Log

I have never seen whales breach in the wild before, and it truly was an amazing spectacle! Parallel to that, I have never caught a fish any bigger than a 20 inch rainbow trout. Catching a 25 pound black rockfish was extremely exciting, as well as seeing all of the halibut caught! I will say that while fly fishing takes a lot more patience and technique, the fishing that occurred today required more strength and team work. There were at least 4 people helping lug the largest of the fish onto the ship!

We are almost to Kodiak, should be there by morning, and I find myself sad to leave this boat. It has truly been an amazing experience, one in which I learned a lot about the wildlife, research, crew, and myself. I realize now that two weeks at sea really does allow for a lot of self-contemplation and growth. I am very thankful to have had this experience.

Question of the Day:

How big is the biggest humpback whale recorded? How big is the biggest whale recorded? How does this compare to the average sized person?

Sena Norton, July 15, 2004

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Sena Norton
Onboard NOAA Ship Rainier

July 6 – 15, 2004

Mission: Hydrographic Survey
Geographical Area:
Eastern Aleutian Islands, Alaska
Date:
July 15, 2004

Location: In transit to Kodiak
Latitude: 55 deg 50.440’ N
Longitude: 154 deg 13.187’W
Visibility: 10+ nm
Direction: 060
Wind Speed: 11 kts
Sea wave height: 1-2 ft
Swell wave height: 2-3 ft
Seawater temperature: 12.2 deg C
Sea level pressure: 1011.9 mb
Cloud Cover: 6/8
Weather: Partly cloudy with spots of rain and fog.
Temp 12.8 deg C

Plan of the Day:
Transit to Kodiak, arrival Friday morning 0900 hours.

Science and Technology Log

There is not much science going on during a transit except for cleaning the data that was recovered and doing some analysis. Most everyone is either on watch or in their rack catching up on sleep before or after their watches.

Fresh water is made on board from salt water when the fresh water tanks get low. It is an easy process but like all desalination it takes a large amount of energy. There are not really deep-set conservation issues on board, but they ask for people to use good judgment. Wash full loads of laundry, take quick showers and not waste water in other forms. The water is filtered and the salt is removed, bromide is added to sterilize it and finally it is then run through processors that measure its purity. I have not personally seen a difference in water quality from the water that was pumped on-board and the desalinated water that the ship made. However, I am even more conscious of the water that I use because it is a limiting factor out at sea.

Personal Log

Last night during our transit there was a call from the bridge of whales on the starboard bow. Sure enough 180 degrees and as far as you could see were whales. You could see their blow mist and then ever so often see them breech or dive down and show their flukes. Anytime I see a whale my heart races, I was jumping like a kid during Christmas to see that many whales all collected together. What an experience!

SW region: takes in Kodiak Island, the AK peninsula and the Aleutian Islands. Kodiak was the first Russian capital city and home to many brown bear. Many of the Aleutian Island communities are isolated. The environment is very harsh and limits the plant and animal production. Some of the Aleutian Islands cross the 180 meridian, making AK the most eastern state in the union. They are closer to Tokyo than to Anchorage.

Question of the Day:

How many days could the ship go without making its water?

According to the Chief Engineer, with this many people on-board the storage capacity of the water tanks the RAINIER would be out of water in 5 days. That is why it is important for fresh water to be made from salt water.

Kirk Beckendorf, July 15, 2004

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Kirk Beckendorf
Onboard NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown

July 4 – 23, 2004

Mission: New England Air Quality Study (NEAQS)
Geographical Area:
Northwest Atlantic Ocean
Date:
July 15, 2004

Weather Data from the Bridge
Time 8:00 AM ET
Latitude- 45 53.18 N
Longitude- 70 36.48 W
Air Temperature 14 degrees C
Air Pressure 1000 Millibars
Wind Direction at surface Northeast
Wind Speed at surface 3 MPH

Daily Log

Yeah!!! The sun is trying to come out, the rains have stopped and the sea has calmed down. No I didn’t get sea sick, but it is hard to sleep when your bed is swaying back and forth and up and down. The winds have shifted and the scientists are hoping that the winds may be blowing some pollution our way. Seems like a strange thing to hope for, but of course they are here to study pollution and the wind has been blowing it away from us.

Why should anybody care if we add microscopic particles to the air?

Yesterday, I discussed one of the techniques used to study the microscopic particles that are in the atmosphere. But so what, why does anyone care about these tiny specks? Air pollution made by automobiles, power plants, factories and ships all contain both gases and particles. To be able to predict the changes resulting from air pollution, we have to learn all we can about the gases and the particles being released.

When the pollution is released into the atmosphere, the gases and particles start traveling with the air. (Just like pouring a quart of motor oil into a river.) Gradually the gases and particles spread out into the surrounding atmosphere. The gases can recombine and may start changing into other chemicals, but that’s another story I will get to soon.

The particles are not all the same. They come in different sizes and are made of a variety of chemicals. There are two main concerns about these little chunks floating along in the sea of gas; health hazards and climate change. If you take a breath, not only do you inhale the gas, but also all of the particles floating in the gas. Some of these particles may have a negative effect on a person’s health.

The main interest in the particles here on the BROWN is the effect they have on climate change. The Earth is of course warmed by the energy (light) coming from the sun. The more energy (light) the Earth gets and keeps, the warmer our temperatures. The less energy (light) the Earth gets and keeps, the cooler the temperatures. Pretty simple stuff? Not at all.

When sunlight shines down through the atmosphere and hits a particle the sunlight can either bounce off of the particle or be absorbed into the particle. If the light bounces back out of the atmosphere the Earth does not keep the light’s energy and there is a cooling effect. When light is absorbed into the particle, the energy (heat) will now be in the atmosphere and so there is a heating effect. Some particles absorb more light than others, so some have a cooling effect on the Earth’s atmosphere and others have a heating effect. One of the questions being asked is, overall do the particles cool the atmosphere or heat the atmosphere? This is not as simple of a question as it sounds, because there are also a lot of indirect effects that are not yet understood.

These microscopic chunks also affect clouds and cloud formation, but how much of an effect is not completely understood. The particles may cause clouds to be less likely to rain or at least, not rain as often. These microscopic particles in air pollution could have an effect on where and when it rains. So the scientists, here on the BROWN, are gathering data to help them try and understand the impact that particles will play in changing the Earth’s climate. Part of their task, is to determine where the particles are from, the numbers, sizes, and chemistry of the particles.

If I lost you in all of that, maybe it will help to put it all in a nutshell. These scientists are studying the type and number of particles in air pollution, to try and understand what effect these little chunks may be having on the Earth’s temperature and water cycle.

As Tim Bates said, we are trying to put together a large jigsaw puzzle and we don’t know what picture is on the puzzle. First we have to find all of the pieces. Then we have to put together the puzzle. We are now at the point that we think we have found most of the pieces and now we are trying to put them together. As you can see from the picture I sent in today there is some relaxation time, in the middle of all the data analysis.

Questions of the Day

The smaller particles are measured in nanometers how much of a meter is 1 nanometer?

If the wind is blowing 5 meters/second and we are 50 miles from Boston how long will it take Boston’s pollution to reach us?

Typical unpolluted air will have about 1000 particles in every cubic centimeter of air. What is something that has a volume of about 1 cubic centimeter?

Leyf Peirce, July 14, 2004

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Leyf Peirce
Onboard NOAA Ship Rainier

July 6 – 15, 2004

Mission: Hydrographic Survey
Geographical Area:
Eastern Aleutian Islands, Alaska
Date:
July 14, 2004

Time: 10:00
Latitude: N 55°17.24
Longitude: W 160°32.17
Visibility: 6 nm

Wind direction: 060
Wind speed: 1 knots
Sea wave height: 0 – 1 foot
Swell wave height: —
Sea water temperature: 10.0 °C
Sea level pressure: 1009.3 mb
Air temperature: 11.7 °C
Cloud cover: 7/8

Science and Technology Log

This morning I went out on launch boat 1 to conduct shoreline hydrography. Shoreline research differs very much from the other research I have seen so far, for it does not require “mowing the lawn” lines. Instead, it is a technique that is used to check the data collected from the LIDAR (airplane) labs. As I learned earlier this week, the data collected using a laser from the airplane primarily focuses on the shoreline and depths up to 30 meters. Today, we went along the shoreline checking questionable data points such as rocks and shoals that may have been confused with kelp or other variances in data collection. In order to do this checking, the survey technicians and officers conducting the research look at the LIDAR chart the day before launching and determine where rocks might be misplaced or not including at all. During surveying, which is what we did today, the researchers take a boat with a single beam echo sounding system and go to the places of concern. With some one on the bow to look out for uncharted rocks, the captain then drives over the areas where there might or might not be a rock. Because all of this is done very close to shore, it is very important to drive slowly. There is also a lot of kelp that can get in the way. Once the boat has past over the area a few times, the true depth is recorded as well as the position and a note is made on the chart where any changes need to be made to the chart. A relatively simple procedure, this type of shoreline research is critical for anyone planning to go on shore on any of these islands. Once again I was able to see how important this work is!

Personal Log

My morning was spent on the launch boat doing shoreline surveying. While the technology used was fascinating, I still did not hesitate to wonder at the naturally beauty of these islands. Almost completely uninhabited, these islands host wildflowers, puffin, gulls, and an occasional seal basking on a sandy or rocky beach. The green slopes are sharply cut by dramatic cliffs, creating a feeling of comfort and adventure at the same time. With the clouds dancing across these islands, I almost felt like I was about to see a dinosaur emerge from one of the cliffs—this looks very much like Hollywood’s rendition of “Jurassic Park”! This afternoon I plan on working on more lesson plans as well as a possible journey on another shoreline survey boat.

Sena Norton, July 14, 2004

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Sena Norton
Onboard NOAA Ship Rainier

July 6 – 15, 2004

Mission: Hydrographic Survey
Geographical Area:
Eastern Aleutian Islands, Alaska
Date:
July 14, 2004

Location: At anchor, Popof Strait, Shumagin Islands, AK
Latitude: 55 deg 17.24’ N
Longitude: 160 deg 32.17’ N
Visibility: 6 nm
Direction: 060
Wind Speed: 6 kts
Sea wave height: 1 ft
Swell wave height: n/a
Seawater temperature: 10.0 deg C
Sea level pressure: 1009.3 mb
Cloud Cover: 8/8
Weather: Temp: 12.2 deg C, showers, some fog in higher elevations

Plan of Day:
Five launches out for shoreline, multi-beam and visitors tour. I was on RA 1 for shoreline verification and LIDAR disproval.

Science and Technology Log

RA 1 is a jet boat, which means it can get into shallow waters to take readings and not worry about ripping a prop or high centering…both are not good ideas! I was out with Megan Palmer, Brie Welton, KC Longly and the other TAS Leyf Peirce. It was a cozy ride. There were a handful of targets that we set out to visually verify. The nice addition to this launch was that the computer had the updated LIDAR data from a fly over a few days earlier to use, so the launch did not have to take its own shoreline readings, cutting down on the time needed for the mission goals. There was one islet that was misplaced on the chart and so we had to take a picture of where it really was and then disprove its old location by taking depth readings and marking the bearing. This way the rock feature can be moved when the charts are updated.

There was also a shoal that was mis-assigned as to its depth. The LIDAR computers got a reading but were unsure and wanted field verification. We drove a star pattern over the shoal and logged readings, marked the area and took visual cues. Palmer will then work with the sheet and update from our field verifications and re-work the depths.

I was able to help run the logging computer. I marked the targets on the cue from the coxswain and then filled in the bearing, notes and depth or height of the target with the survey tech. I was also able to take digital pictures of some of the targets that we wanted to disprove or assign different locations.

Personal Log

Shoreline was much faster paced because the coxswain has to look out for kelp, watch his depth meter, and stay on target and read bearings/heading and depths to the survey tech. The launch itself is much more maneuverable because of the jet and has more room on deck to move around. Both of the TAS’s were on board this launch today so we were able to talk a little more about our plans for using the science we have learned and linking our classrooms in the future for some investigations.

We are pulling up the anchor and steaming for Kodiak this evening after dinner to arrive early on Friday morning. I am going to miss the crew on aboard. I feel that I have been here long enough to begin really getting to know people and they have added me into their daily schedules and have been patient with my questions or my getting in the way. I feel very safe and know that there are people who are looking out for me. I hope to keep in contact with some of the people on-board and maybe have them become part of my classroom as a resident scientist for the kids to interact with over the course of a season. The possibilities are endless.

Question of the Day:

Can the cartographers change locations of rocks when they make the final charts?

It all depends on the scale of the chart. If the chart is a small scale the cartographer might not worry about the exact location of rocks and might add in that there is a “rocky area”. If the chart is more specific to this area, the exact locations of rocks, shoals and other hazards are important.

Kirk Beckendorf, July 14, 2004

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Kirk Beckendorf
Onboard NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown

July 4 – 23, 2004

Mission: New England Air Quality Study (NEAQS)
Geographical Area:
Northwest Atlantic Ocean
Date:
July 14, 2004

Weather Data from the Bridge
Time 10:20 AM ET
Latitude- 42 22.77 N
Longitude- 70 52.02 W
Air Temperature 16 degrees C
Air Pressure 1004 Millibars
Wind Direction at surface Northeast
Wind Speed at surface 13 MPH
Cloud cover and type Stratus clouds and rainy

Daily Log

Why would anyone care if there are a few pieces of stuff 1000 times smaller than a grain of sand floating around in the air?

I visited one more piece of the elephant the past couple of days. To be more accurate, I have been visiting with some of the people who are studying another piece of the pollution elephant. I’ll call them the particle people. I have been visiting with Dave Covert, Tim Onasch, Tim Bates, Patricia Quinn, Theresa Miller, Kristen Schulz, Anders Petterson and Tahllee Baynard and Derek Coffman. These scientists are studying the particles that float in the air. Some particles are from human pollution and some are from natural sources. These chunks of stuff can be so small that it may take more than 250,000 lined up side by side to be an inch long, about 1000 times smaller than a grain of sand. Those are not even the smallest ones. Even though these particles are so tiny these scientists can find out what chemicals make up the particles and how many of the particles are in the air.

Amazingly, the scientists can sort out these very tiny chunks by weight. But as Paul Murphy told me the other day none of this is magic. A number of methods are used to sort the particles; here is the idea behind one of them. But you are going to have to use your imagination again. You are in a long narrow L-shaped hall. You look down the hall and at the end it makes a sharp turn to the left. You and a friend are going to have a race to the end of the L. But of course this isn’t a normal race. Each of you has an office chair in front of you. In your buddy’s chair is a very large person, your chair has a mouse. On your mark, get set, go!!! You both start pushing and running as fast as you can. One of the rules in our race is that you cannot slow down until you get to the end. Your friend is a major weight lifter and runner and so even though he is pushing a lot more weight the two of you are neck and neck, flying down the hall. Then you get to the sharp left hand turn. Remember this is a narrow hall and you can’t slow down. You and your mouse make the turn fine. Because of the heavy person in his chair your buddy can’t make the turn and hits the wall. You and the mouse end up at the end of the hall. Your buddy’s chair and passenger end up splattered against the wall.

But we were talking about microscopic particles in the air. The big white air inlet shown in pictures I sent yesterday pulls in air. Inside that large inlet are 21 smaller tubes which separate the air and sends it to different pieces of equipment. Some of the particles are removed from the air and are separated by size in a method similar to our race. A stream of the air, along with any particles that are in the air, quickly moves through a tube called an impacter. (In our race the mouse and person on the chair represent two different sized particles. You and your buddy are the air.) The air and any particles in the air have to make a sharp right hand turn. The largest particles can’t make the turn and they hit and stick to the “wall”. As the air moves through the tube, the air and remaining particles have to make progressively tighter turns. Each turn separates out a different sized particle. Those particles are collected off the wall and can be analyzed to determine what chemicals they are made of as well as weight and numbers of each size. Removing the particles from the impacter (the wall) needs to be done under controlled conditions so that contamination does not occur. Other techniques are then used to analyze the particles that are so small that they get through the “maze”.

While I have been on the ship there have been two main issues that I have been learning about. The first is learning about the techniques which the scientists use to study pollution. The second issue is: why make these observations and what will be done with them. Most of what I have described are the techniques that are being used. I have not written much about why the scientists are doing this and what they hope and expect to learn. More about that soon.

So why would anyone care about a few tiny particles anyway?

When the particles are breathed into a person’s lungs they can cause health problems. The particles may also have an impact on climate change, more about that in the next log.

Today the weather has again been cloudy, cool and rainy. The winds are blowing strong from the northeast which brings us clean air so we have moved south of the shipping lanes going into Boston to try and measure some ship exhaust. The swells are about 5 feet high and so the ship is rocking more than it has been. Everyone seems to be staggering about when they walk.

Questions of the Day

What are some of the main gasses which cause the greenhouse effect on Earth?

Where do the particles come from?

On average how long will they stay in the atmosphere?

Leyf Peirce, July 13, 2004

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Leyf Peirce
Onboard NOAA Ship Rainier

July 6 – 15, 2004

Mission: Hydrographic Survey
Geographical Area:
Eastern Aleutian Islands, Alaska
Date:
July 13, 2004

Time: 15:00
Latitude: N 55°17.29
Longitude: W 160°32.14
Visibility: 4 nm

Wind direction: 140
Wind speed: 6 knots
Sea wave height: 0 – 1 foot
Swell wave height: —
Sea water temperature: 10.0 °C
Sea level pressure: 1007.8 mb
Air temperature: 12.2 °C
Cloud cover: 8/8

Science and Technology Log

I awoke today to an announcement over the ships intercom saying, “Attention all hands, attention all hands, divers are in the water, please make sure all equipment is stored and locked”. I first checked to make sure it wasn’t me in the water, as exciting as that would have been, and then I raced out of bed to see what was going on. Apparently, since we have been anchored off the coast of Egg Island, we have had a very small oil leak. It was believed to have fixed itself after the first few hours of anchoring; however, yesterday many of the crew noticed that there was still a slick on the water off the port stern. To investigate, three NOAA certified divers dove down about 15 feet and inspected the hull of the ship. They saw that the oil was in fact coming from the left propeller, yet they could not directly identify the source of the problem, but speculate that there is a small leak in one of the o-rings. The only way to truly fix this problem is to dry-dock the boat. The closest dry-dock is in Seward, but we are scheduled to go to Kodiak first. Therefore, the plan is to see if the problem takes care of itself and if it is not better by the end of the stay in Kodiak, then take the boat to Seward. The amount of oil that is leaving the ship is very small and is escaping at an extremely slow rate. However, if this problem persists, it could become very serious.

I talked with ENS Lominkey about his dive this morning and about other dives he has made recently. He informed me that once you are NOAA certified, the equivalent of becoming a PADI or NAUI dive master, you will be allowed to help with dives that involve ship repair, tide gauge installation, or wreck surveying. In fact, only two weeks ago the RAINIER was performing hydrographic research and identified the fishing boat CONQUEST which sunk in 1994. ENS Lominkey and other certified divers dove the wreck to gather information about the wreck including its minimum depth which happened to be about 90 feet. To do this, they used a very sensitive depth gauge that relies on pressure changes. They would place this gauge at different locations on the wreck and record the various readings. ENS Lominkey also told me that they found another fishing boat wreck near the CONQUEST, but were unable to identify it. As I have developed my passion for diving over the past few years, I become more amazed at the opportunity to dive and explore uncharted waters knowing that the research you are conducting is contributing greatly to society. And, as technological advancements are made for both safer diving and better navigational charting, I can’t help but wonder how these will be further combined in years to come—a very interesting engineering design problem!

Personal Log

Today was mostly spent writing more lesson plans for my 6th, 7th, and 8th grade science classes as well as planning my 8th grade pre-algebra course. I also spent a lot of time talking with several officers about the amazing act of diving and how wonderful it would be to be paid to do something so adventuresome everyday. When sharing experiences, I did notice that the excitement of diving somewhat parallels the excitement of teaching; you never know what you are going to see, there are some dangers, but overall the experience is extremely rewarding. In both, you not only learn about other animals, or students as the case may be, but you also learn a lot about yourself, your goals and dreams, and your limits. While I am greatly enjoying my experience aboard the RAINIER, the more I think about my different classes and the students that I will see in the fall, the more excited I get about returning to the classroom!

Question of the Day:

How much oil would have to be in the water before it drastically starts harming marine life?

Sena Norton, July 13, 2004

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Sena Norton
Onboard NOAA Ship Rainier

July 6 – 15, 2004

Mission: Hydrographic Survey
Geographical Area:
Eastern Aleutian Islands, Alaska
Date:
July 13, 2004

Location: At anchor, Popof Strait, Shumagin Is. AK
Latitude: 55 deg 17.9’ N
Longitude: 160 deg 32.13’W
Visibility: 1nm
Direction: 116 deg
Wind Speed: 10 kts
Sea wave height: n/a
Swell wave height: 0-1 ft
Seawater temperature: 10.1 deg C
Sea level pressure: 1011.0 mb
Cloud Cover: 8/8 Fog
Weather: Foggy with drizzle and areas of rain 12.1 deg C (air temp)

Plan of the Day:
Four launches for shoreline verification and continuation of hydro in deeper water.

Science and Technology Log

I learned the process and background concerning shoreline verification. This process ties in nicely with my new understanding of the process of Laser Airborne Bathymetry and how the two connect together. Shoreline verification is a process where a launch surveys to the 4-meter line and in the process correctly locates any targets found close to shore. The launch actually touches the target, at times from multiple sides so that a true GPS tag can be attached to the feature. This process helps the survey crew make better sense of wide swath readings and discern between sonar “fluff” and true features. Sometimes kelp or other objects block the sonar from capturing an accurate image and in the case of larger objects they are required to be “eye ball” verified for all survey areas. Shoreline is also used to double check location of known targets for drift or geologic movement. In the case of these Alaskan waters, the bottom changes yearly and the same can be said for the shoreline. Rocks move, and sand drifts cause sediment build-ups in different areas and underwater features might not have been placed accurately on the chart in the first place. All these factors add in to the need for physical shoreline verification of the survey swaths.

The jet boat launches are able to go almost all the way into shore but are not used until a prop motor launch has already done a through evaluation of the grid. According to the coxswains, shoreline is one of the more nerve-racking operations that they conduct. They are in shallow water trying to find hazards to navigation and they are still asked to safely navigate themselves. At times they are going into pockets almost blind because of the initial survey information being a tad sketchy. After of day of shoreline the coxswain is mentally and physically worn out.

Personal Log

Last night was a fun night on board, a group of crew and corps officers played some board games and let off some steam. This really is a fun crew to be around they are ready to have a good time and I believe they genuinely enjoy each other’s company. (Even if at times I know they drive each other crazy!) I am feeling more a part of the ship now as ever before, everyone is a friendly face and people are interested in what I am doing and what I do on dry land. They are very supportive of teachers and education and that is a boost to my morale because I feel supported in what I am doing here.

I have also enjoyed the time made available by being on board to work with the other TAS and collaborate with lesson ideas and simply “talk” to each other. Many times the one thing that teachers starve for is a chance to really get down and work with their colleagues. We are already planning on linking our classrooms, like Sister Classes for projects, pen pal and even to track the weather on opposite sides of the U.S. An added benefit is that she also just finished her first year of teaching and teaches at the same middle school level and I do. We have our careers in common and seem to have similar ideas on the direction of science education and its benefit to our students. We have completely different experiences as an educator because I teach in public school and she teaches in a small private school, but hearing the experience of the other has put a perspective not only on education but also on my professional/personal goals for the future of my career.

Question of the Day:
What is a “gyro” and why is it used on a ship?

A “gyro” or gyroscopic compass is the ships compass that is always pointed at the North/South axis no matter what the ship is doing in the water. It can be compared to a child’s top in the way that it works. It is important for a ships compass to be oriented in the N/S axis to accurately navigate and find the exact lat/long point. A compass will always point toward magnetic North which is about 1,600 km south of the North Pole (where all the meridians of longitude converge).

Kirk Beckendorf, July 13, 2004

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Kirk Beckendorf
Onboard NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown

July 4 – 23, 2004

Mission: New England Air Quality Study (NEAQS)
Geographical Area:
Northwest Atlantic Ocean
Date:
July 13, 2004

Weather Data from the Bridge
Time 11:30 AM ET
Latitude- 42 56.92 N
Longitude- 70 36.22 W
Air Temperature 17 degrees C
Wind Direction at surface East
Wind Speed at surface 20 MPH
Cloud cover and type Cloudy- Stratus
Air Pressure
11:30 AM 1014 Millibars
7:15 PM 1009 MB
10:15 PM 1008 MB

Daily Log

Look at what the air pressure has done today. What do you think our weather is like now at 11:00 PM (past my bedtime)?

Keep in mind that we are sitting out in the ocean in a ship, sometimes you can see land, other times you can’t. Rarely can we see any buildings much less a city. How are we supposed to know where to go to find some pollution? Especially if we are looking for particles that are too small to see and gasses that are colorless. Not to mention there may be less than 1 part per billion of that gas mixed in with the air. That is where Wayne Angevine and Jim Koermer come in. They are two meteorologists who are on shore. Twice a day they send us weather forecasts. Wayne works for NOAA and Jim is a professor at Plymouth State University in New Hampshire. (Check out Jim’s website at vortex.plymouth.edu)

Based on their forecast, Wayne also sends recommendations for where we should go to find pollution. Today they are predicting that winds will be from the southeast and east through at least tomorrow. We know that pollution comes from automobiles, power plants, ships and factories. Although some of the chemicals involved in air pollution do also come from trees and other plants. Pollution of course blows with the wind so we want to be down wind of the pollution sources. If you look at a map to see where we are located the only thing east of us for a very long way is water, so easterly winds bring us clean air. There aren’t any cities or automobiles floating out here on the ocean, but there are ships. Wayne’s recommendation today was for us to move to Mass. Bay to get down wind of the shipping lanes and sample ship exhaust as they come by. That is what we have been doing most of the day.

Wayne says that possibly tomorrow afternoon the winds will shift and come from the southwest. If that happens Boston’s pollution will be flowing out over the water again and if that happens he suggest we sample it as we did yesterday, which was to zigzag back and forth across the plume coming from Boston. We couldn’t actually see it but we know where Boston is, we knew which way the wind was blowing and many of the instruments are measuring and recording what is in the air in real time. The captain also has charts that show how deep the water is so we didn’t run aground as we got close to shore.

It has been very interesting switching rolls from my normal job of being the teacher to the roll I am in on the ship which is, being the student. This past year after a particularly hard lesson one of my students said my brain hurts; now I know how he felt. This afternoon I went down to the ship’s gym to try and digest all that I have been learning the past two weeks, by working out physically rather than mentally. Plus I had to work off some of the great food the stewards feed us here on the Brown.

With the drop in air pressure the winds have picked up, it has started raining lightly and the ship is rocking and rolling. Nothing extreme, but it should rock everyone to sleep tonight.

We had another abandon ship drill today.

This afternoon we saw a pirate ship. Well ok it really wasn’t a pirate ship but it kind of looks like one, with its sails down and floating in the mist. It is actually a Mexican Navy training ship.

Questions of the Day

Today we had a low pressure system, what kind of weather can we expect if we have a high pressure system?

What activities do you that would create air pollution?

From which way is the wind blowing today, where you live?

What is up wind of you? What is downwind of you?

Leyf Peirce, July 12, 2004

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Leyf Peirce
Onboard NOAA Ship Rainier

July 6 – 15, 2004

Mission: Hydrographic Survey
Geographical Area:
Eastern Aleutian Islands, Alaska
Date:
July 12, 2004

Time: 18:00
Latitude: N 55°17.29
Longitude: W 160°32.13
Visibility: 2 nm
Wind direction: 115
Wind speed: 12 knots
Sea wave height: 0 – 1 foot
Swell wave height: 1 foot
Sea water temperature: 10.0 °C
Sea level pressure: 1011.0 mb
Air temperature: 12.2 °C
Cloud cover: 8/8

Science and Technology Log

Today we took a field trip to Sand Point, AK, a small fishing town on Popof Island. It also happens to be a base for the TEXIX LADS, Inc. which is a research facility for airborne laser bathymetry. The goal of this research facility is the same as the RAINIER’s: to chart the ocean floor. However, this group gathers data using a laser attached to the bottom of an airplane as opposed to a boat. The advantage of this type of data collection is that coast line depths can be easily taken without the risk of a boat crashing into uncharted rocks. The technology used aboard the plane is similar to the multibeam sonar systems used on the RAINIER, however instead of a multibeam sonar system, a laser is used. This laser has a pulse rate of 990 pulses per second, a depth range of 70 meters dependent on water clarity, a topographic range of 50 meters above sea level and a swath width that can range from 240 meters to 100 meters depending on flight velocity. And, to acquire the data, the plane travels at between 150 and 175 knots!

While this mode of data acquisition is faster than that aboard the RAINIER, it can only accurately acquire data in shallower waters because of light refractions at deeper depths. Therefore, NOAA works in conjunction with this group to survey the ocean bottom in and around Alaska. While the Tenix LADS, Inc. surveys the coast line, and will warn NOAA ships of any bottom features that might protrude in deeper water, the RAINIER charts the deeper waters (between 30 meters and 400 meters). The data will then be collaborated to produce accurate nautical charts.

We also went to the office where the data collected aboard the plane is processed. While I did not get to study the software used, I did notice that the data processing was very similar to that on the RAINIER; both require data processors to go through the data and filter any outlying points before the data can be applied to the nautical charts. The data is also collected according to “mowing the lawn” lines, similar to the RAINIER. However, these lines are along the shore line as well as going about 250 meters onto the coast itself.

Personal Log

Learning about data acquisition aboard a plane was very interesting today! It was also nice to go to land, where we got an excellent coffee at the only café in Sand Point. We also went on a tour of the town, seeing its one school, one restaurant, and one store. The small homes reminded me of those that sprinkle the south-west Swedish coast line— simple homes that beacon stories and the occasional wonderer. I am amazed at the amount of mystery such towns hold while also giving off such a welcoming, cozy feel. The weather today was the opposite, with the first rain we saw bringing larger swells and more fog. I really can’t complain too much, though, for we have been here for almost a week and still hadn’t seen rain until today. It did make for a very interesting small vessel ride to and from the shore!

I spent a lot of time today talking with Sena Norton, the other Teacher At Sea, about lesson plans and ideas for next year. We have both agreed it would be great for our students to establish a line of communication between our classes. In doing this, we can share various projects, such as an on-going weather project that we are planning to start in January—it will be very interesting to gather data in our own regions and then share and compare weather in Oregon and weather in North Carolina. We are also thinking about conducting a lab involving charting, navigation, and depth measurements where we have our classes work together to complete the final navigational chart of a large section. This is such a great opportunity to not only use the data and information gathered aboard the RAINIER, but to also start establishing a connection with another class in another school! I can’t wait to work on these ideas more tomorrow!

Question of the Day:

Given a different type of laser, could accurate data be collected from a plane at depths greater than 30 meters? Would this be a better way to conduct hydrographic research other than using boats?

Kirk Beckendorf, July 12, 2004

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Kirk Beckendorf
Onboard NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown

July 4 – 23, 2004

Mission: New England Air Quality Study (NEAQS)
Geographical Area:
Northwest Atlantic Ocean
Date:
July 12, 2004

Weather Data from the Bridge
Time 8:30 AM ET
Latitude- 42 47.28 N
Longitude- 70 42.29 W
Air Temperature 17
Air Pressure 1019 Millibars
Wind Direction at surface Southeast

Daily Log

Why are so many methods used to measure air quality, why not just one or two simple tests?

I received an email from Paige who is a student at Obsidian Middle School where I teach. She asked how air samples are taken and how air quality is measured. Those are two very big and good questions, without simple answers. This is one of the reasons that there are several hundred scientists working on NEAQS. I emailed Paige a fairly short answer but will give a more detailed explanation here. In some of the previous logs that I have written here on the BROWN, I explained some of the techniques somewhat in detail but I haven’t given you an overview, so here we go. Great questions Paige!!!

There are many different ways that the air is sampled and measured. In some cases, such as the LIDARs, samples are not taken at all. The LIDARs shoot light through the atmosphere, some of the light bounces back to the LIDAR, and this helps to measure some of what is in the air. The ozonesonde immediately and constantly measures the amount of ozone as the balloon rises through the atmosphere.

In other cases air is sucked into tubes mounted on towers at the front of the ship and the other end of the tube goes to the scientists’ equipment. (See the pictures, the big white upside down funnel and the smaller pink upside down funnel, are two of the inlets shown.) Sometimes samples are actually stored and in others the air quality is measured immediately.

Some of the instruments measure many chemicals such as one designed, built and run by Paul Goldan and Bill Kuster. It pulls in a sample of air every 30 minutes and in 5 minutes automatically measures about 150 different kinds of chemicals. It can measure the chemicals in parts per trillion. If you made some Kool-Aid that was one part per trillion, you would mix 1 drop of Kool-Aid into 999,999,999,999 drops of water. It certainly wouldn’t taste like Kool-Aid.

Other instruments measure one or just a few of the chemicals that are in the air. Today Hans Osthoff showed me a piece of equipment that he uses to measure air quality. He uses it to measure three specific chemicals in the air. One of Eric Williams’ instruments sucks in air and measures the amount of ozone every second, 24 hours a day.

Tim Bates showed me a number of pieces of equipment which suck in air and can used to find, in real time, the size and chemical composition of the particles that are floating in the air. These particles can be so small that it may take 250,000 or more laid side by side to be an inch long. Dave Covert and Derek Coffman showed me their equipment which removes particles from the air. These particles are then collected by Theresa Miller and Kristen Schulz who will analyze them. Some of the samples will be analyzed here on the ship and other samples will be analyzed once they return to Seattle.

So why not just one or two simple tests? Why so many?

Our atmosphere and the pollution in it are extremely complicated. Even though air is about 99% nitrogen and oxygen it also contains hundreds of other chemicals which are very important. Some are natural, some are man-made and some are both. This soup of chemicals is constantly changing and moving. To be able to understand pollution in the atmosphere we have to understand all of the parts. This goes back to the elephant I mentioned a few days ago. The more parts we observe and the more ways we observe the parts the better we will understand our elephant. If you feel the elephant’s leg you learn a little, if you use your nose and smell the elephant’s leg you learn a bit more, if you use your tongue and lick the elephant’s leg you will learn even more about the elephant. Understanding the pollution in our atmosphere is similar. Each type of measurement has advantages and disadvantages but each tells you more about the pollution and the atmosphere. Combined all together they can eventually give us an understanding of the whole elephant.

We had another abandon ship drill today.

Questions of the Day

What is the ozone level today where you live?

What is the level of particles where you live?

What is the maximum limit of ozone as set by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency)?

Hint: You can probably find these on the Internet.

Jillian Worssam, July 11, 2004

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Jillian Worssam
Aboard NOAA Ship Miller Freeman
July 5 – August 1, 2004

Day: Six
Sunday July 11th, 2004 23:52

Longitude: 59° 32 Sea Wave Height: 2′
Latitude: 173° 51 Swell Wave Height: 2-4′

Visibility: 1.5miles fog Sea Water Temperature: 9.9C
Wind Direction: 221. Barometric Pressure: 1012 high pressure
Wind Speed: 9.1 kts Cloud Cover: complete 100%

Haul Data: CTD (conductivity / Temperature / Depth)
Depth of haul: 90 meters
Temperature at depth: 10° C surface – 2° C at bottom
Species breakdown: Informational gathering / no species collection

Science and Technology Log:

The CTD is a device that is hard to explain. Scientific in nature similar to an inverted cone that has a six inch diameter at the top. Today we will look at the condition of the water, the liquid habitat for this ecosystem. Conductivity will give the scientists, with some calculations, the percent of salt in solution. This is important information as the salinity affects the density of the water which in turn affects the speed of sound. Knowing the speed of sound is vital in acoustic fisheries surveys as the scientists use back scatter data in determining fish location and density. The density of water is also affected by the salinity and temperature of the water.

Today’s temperature at 90 meters was 2°C, at the surface it was a balmy 10°C. Ocean water like our atmosphere is in layers, each a distinct unit. The thermo cline was at 35 meters, with a graphic representation showing a distinct differentiation between the two water masses.

The CTD data is used in looking at correlations between where fish populations are found and if their placement is not only affected by the condition of the water, but if there are conditions that they prefer.

Personal Log:

Understanding the CTD has been difficult for me. This ecosystem is literally poles apart from a ponderosa pine type forest. I am learning an amazing amount of information and at the same time realizing how much I do not know. Oceanography is an amazing science, and phenomenally diverse.

Once again I spent an hour on the bridge, 2400-0100, standing watch. I did not realize that this nautical term is in fact correct as there are no seats on the bridge except the CO’s chair which is off limits. I was told that there is a common yarn that the captain’s chair is directly above his stateroom, and attached to a bell. If someone sits in the chair the bell will ring indicating that sacred territory has been breached. When a person stands watch for four hours, they stand watch. There are some counters with cushions to brace against, but that is it. While standing watch last night I got my first glimpse of a dall’s porpoise. The pictures that are commonly seen of porpoises show the entire animal usually gliding gracefully with a wave. Our view last night was a glimpse, a peak into the life of a marine mammal. It was Mark, the field operations officer who first spotted the sign, a brief splash within the bow wave of the boat. The porpoises travel the wave of a boat, literally catching rides. At one time there was the splash of three heads effortlessly coming up for air, a brief splash and again they were lost in the wave only to be seen moments later literally in the same place even though we were all moving forward.

There is a calmness here when the fog moves in, a sense of peace. We are out of touch with time, yes there are news briefs, but one does not need to read what is going on in other places. I am ok with the solitude, the sound of the engine the gentle rocking of the boat. This is a serene place to be, in summer!

Leyf Peirce, July 11, 2004

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Leyf Peirce
Onboard NOAA Ship Rainier

July 6 – 15, 2004

Mission: Hydrographic Survey
Geographical Area:
Eastern Aleutian Islands, Alaska
Date:
July 11, 2004

Time: 21:00
Latitude: N 55°17.27
Longitude: W 160°32.16
Visibility: 4 nm
Wind direction: 095
Wind speed: 10 knots
Sea wave height: 0 – 1 foot
Swell wave height: —
Sea water temperature: 10.6 °C
Sea level pressure: 1017.0 mb
Air temperature: 12.8 °C
Cloud cover: 4/8

Science and Technology Log

Today was my second day aboard a launch boat. With SS Foye, ST Taylor, and ENS Samuelson, we continued to follow lines to chart the ocean floor just south of Egg Island. Today we were on launch boat 5, and luckily everything was working great! We were working with the Reson 8101 again. It should be noted that in previous journal entries I have been misnaming some of the equipment used. Today, I finally got the nomenclature correct. Here are the basics:

  1. ELAC multibeam system is used for deep water, with best resolution over 30 meters
  2. There are two shallow water mulitbeam (SWMB) systems:
    1. Reson 8125 is used with a higher frequency and has better resolution in depths of 0 – 30 meters
    2. Reson 8101 is used for “middle depths” of 0 –120 meters (mostly 30 –120 meters)

I also learned a lot more about how to use the software aboard the ship while we are taking data. For the Reson 8125 and Reson 8101, there are three computers aboard the ship that can talk to each other. Two are located in the cabin and one is located on the deck. One computer in the cabin is used primarily to navigate; the old charts are downloaded onto this computer and the lines on which we need to steer the boat (the lines for mowing the lawn) are superimposed on this chart. This computer is not only hooked up to the computer that gathers data, but is also connected to a computer that is mounted on the console so the captain can see where he or she needs to go. The navigational computer in the cabin is also directly hooked up to the other computer in the cabin. This second cabin computer is connected to the actual multibeam echo scanner system that is mounted to the hull of the ship. When instructed to do so, the second cabin computer can record the data from this system. One of the researchers uses the navigational computer to tell the second computer when to start and stop recording the data. Because the second computer is hooked up to the multibeam system, it also is used to control the parameters of this system, including filters, range, frequency of “pings”, and power. There are several different screens within the program used to control all of this, including a profile screen, which actually shows the profile of the ocean floor, a pitch/roll/heave screen to record that the POS/MV (the positioning device also hooked up to this computer that integrates with the data correcting for the gyration of the ship and it’s position), and a control screen. There are several other screens which can be displayed on this computer, however these listed here are the most important to monitor while gathering data. The power of the multibeam system can be monitored and altered according to depth and profile of the floor; if you want the device to “listen to the pings better”, you increase the power, and however, this also decreases resolution. You would want to do this in greater depths. You can also manually control the depth filter for the data. In order to do this, you change the range of the depths the multibeam system is looking for. This in turn changes the width of the footprint left by the data and thus the resolution. By doing this as you gather data, you are eliminating possible outlying points before ever having them recorded and you are allowing for better resolution at shallower depths. This makes the data processing and cleansing easier, yet it requires constant attention and anticipation while gathering data.

While this technology works relatively well in the field, it is still very expensive and time consuming. A possible design project for my students would be to analyze the existing system and brainstorm ideas for improvement. This would even include researching other systems used internationally.

Personal Log

Today was yet another beautiful day once the fog lifted by mid morning. I am still enchanted by the concept of conducting research on a boat all day—it seems like a job I would love to pursue! Not only are you contributing to society, but you get to see wonderful sights—today we saw a bald eagle, lots of puffin, and two sea lions! I cannot help but laugh at the puffin, though. They eat so much and have such little wings and huge hearts that they try with all their might to fly, but they only become air born with the nudge of a wave. And even then they only maintain an altitude of about 6 inches before they crash into another wave. They are both very amusing and very inspiring. I keep thinking that they are thinking “I think I can, I think I can, Never give up!” With so many sights and things going on both on and off the research vessel, I was not at all disappointed when we were radioed that we were going to spend an extra hour collecting data because the weather was so good (slightly chilly, but the sun was out). When we returned I learned how to download the data to the computers aboard the RAINIER, and then I saw the beginning steps for processing this data. I can’t wait to learn more tomorrow!

Question of the Day: A design problem: a gyrocompass is used to determine bearing and relies on electricity (it has an internal electromagnet). The gyrocompass on the bridge looks like this:

Peirce 7-11-04 gyrocompass

Notice that the angles visible here are 70 ° and 90 °, a difference of 20 °. However, this 20 ° difference is spread over what is actually about 100 °. How, then, does the gyrocompass span the full 360 °?

Sena Norton, July 11, 2004

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Sena Norton
Onboard NOAA Ship Rainier

July 6 – 15, 2004

Mission: Hydrographic Survey
Geographical Area:
Eastern Aleutian Islands, Alaska
Date:
July 11, 2004

Location: At anchor Popof Strait, Shumagin Islands, AK
Latitude: 55 deg 17.30’ N
Longitude: 160 deg 32.14’ W
Visibility: 5 nm

15:00

Direction: 110 deg
Wind Speed: 10 kts
Sea wave height: 0-1 ft
Swell wave height: n/a
Seawater temperature: 10.0 deg C
Sea level pressure: 1018.2 mb
Cloud Cover: 5/8
Weather: Fair to Partly cloudy, spots of fog dissipating. 12.12 deg C

Plan of the Day:
Continue the launch survey with 2 boats. In house data cleaning and processing. Meeting with LIDAR tech stationed in Sandpoint.

Science and Technology Log

I personally spoke with a survey technician, Amanda McKinney on board to gather more information on hydrography and the process behind it. There were two main topics that we discussed: Application and history of marine survey, and the math/science behind the techniques.

Application/History

The technology used for marine survey has been improving by leaps and bounds and we are currently using a collection of old and new technology to gather data. Many nautical charts have not been charted for almost 80 years or more and some areas have never been accurately charted at all. The old process was to drag a lead line behind a transiting ship. This process was full of errors because you could never accurately know your depth, even if the length of the line was known; it was drug and therefore skewed the data. Very often a charted depth from these old processes are found to be dangerous wrong. Another mode of survey is the wire drag, where multiple ships drag a wire through the water column. Once a target has been hit, the depth of that underwater target is calculated, but never truly charted accurately. Side scan sonar came around and improved the survey capability, but it too has its drawbacks. Because the “fish” is towed there are many more mathematical corrections that must be made in order to get a reading that is close to the actual target. It does produce wonderfully clear pictures of what is around the “fish” but those images lack depth of field and the sonar cannot read directly below the transmitter. Quite often with side scan images, divers are needed to dive the sight of a possible target to get accurate readings. Multi-beam sonar can be used in conjunction with side scan to better improve the over all picture of the underwater area. Because multi-beam is able to give more accurate readings and the data is complied in 3-D images, surveyors can have both a clear image and precise depth reading all together. It is hoped in the future that there will be new sonar systems that can scan at 480 beams over .25 x .25 deg per beam with 40+ pings per second. The highest level of technology currently used by NOAA is the Reson 8125 (this system is attached to two boats currently) and it sends out 240 beams over 0.5 x 1 deg / beam at 15 pings per second and runs with 455kHz. Remember, that a short pulse (wavelength) will give better vertical resolution and higher frequencies give shorter pulses or wavelengths.

The math required to figure the depth is not very difficult, however in the case of the ocean, the computers must adjust all readings for depth, salinity, temperature and density, which in a way makes the math more difficult if done by hand.

Depth=Speed+ Time/2

Personal Log

I was able to spend some time with the survey tech’s today and got through some of the PowerPoint presentations that are available here on the intranet to educate myself more on the technology and process. I was pleased to see that I can apply some of the simple ideas to my classroom. When I teach certain science skills I will have real life data sets and examples for the kids to analyze. I also hope to get some of the kids excited in the field of sonar and survey, much needs to be done to improve the accuracy and reliability of these systems and the product they produce.

Sunday equals fishing off the fantail in between shifts. We have a resident pack of gulls that have found it much to their benefit to hang out for the halibut leftovers that get tossed overboard or that slip from bait hooks.

I found a whale bone yesterday on Egg Island and had the boat shop guys saw it in half so that both of us TAS’s could bring something back for the classroom. It is not a large chunk, but authentic to say the least. I also gathered some sea sponge that had washed up and a very unique white rock.

I was very surprised to see the people working on a Sunday. No one should ever question the dedication of the folks on board or say that this is an easy job. One of the engineers has not had a day off in two months or more. The ship is something that has to be tended too by her crew and command 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Self-sufficiency comes with some responsibilities!

Question of the Day

Which is better: side scan or multi-beam sonar?

There is not one that is better than the other so much as they can compliment each other to produce and more detailed and accurate product, namely the nautical charts and other products that use the information gathered via the sonar medium.

Kirk Beckendorf, July 11, 2004

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Kirk Beckendorf
Onboard NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown

July 4 – 23, 2004

Mission: New England Air Quality Study (NEAQS)
Geographical Area:
Northwest Atlantic Ocean
Date:
July 11, 2004

Weather Data from the Bridge
Time 8:00 PM ET
Latitude- 42 37.71 N
Longitude- 70 22.9 W
Air Temperature 17 C
Air Pressure 1018 Millibars
Wind Direction at surface Southeast
Cloud cover Partly cloudy

Daily Log

What famous event happen at Boston harbor?

It was a very eventful day today. The computer program that manages the wind profiler showed that there was a problem because one entire section was being shown in red instead of green. Dan Law asked if I would help him find out what was wrong. I jumped at the opportunity knowing that he really needed my expertise. I was very good at holding the wrench for him. As I was taking pictures of him and the inside of the profiler we were sailing into Boston Harbor. As we came into town our decks looked like those of a cruise ship. Most of the scientists were out on deck taking pictures and enjoying the view. Now everyone is back inside of their lab facilities which are mostly big shipping crates.

We spent most of the day in Boston Harbor near the end of Boston Logan Airport sampling the air in Boston. It was a beautiful weekend day and there were hundreds of sail and motorboats all around us. I didn’t see any tea floating in the water though. While soaking up the sun and enjoying the view of the harbor I helped Drew Hamilton, from NOAA’s Pacific Marine Environmental Lab in Seattle, Washington take some measurements with an instrument call a sunphotometer which measures the total amount of particles in the column of air above the instrument.

In the afternoon we left Boston and specifically to follow a cruise ship. Its exhaust was visible in the air and we criss-crossed back and forth across the plume to see what chemicals were being released by the ship. After we left the cruise ship’s exhaust plume our ship stopped so that we could do the daily launch of the ozonesonde. A little while before sunset one of NOAA’s WP-3 airplanes circled us several times. It is also sampling and measuring the chemicals in the air as part of NEAQS. Comparisons can then be made of the plane’s measurements with those made here on the ship.

The weather report is for winds to be blowing from the southwest through tomorrow so the plan is for us to travel tonight to the northwest so that we will be in the pollution blowing from Boston.

Questions of the Day

What does NEAQS-ITCT stand for?

What will our bearing be tonight if we are going northwest?

How many kinds of planes are being used in NEAQS-ITCT?

Jillian Worssam, July 10, 2004

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Jillian Worssam
Aboard NOAA Ship Miller Freeman
July 5 – August 1, 2004

Day: Five
Saturday July 10th, 2004 1:20

Longitude: 59° 50 Sea Wave Height: 1-2′
Latitude: 173° 14 Swell Wave Height: 0′

Visibility: 2.1miles fog Sea Water Temperature: 9.4C
Wind Direction: 121.6 Barometric Pressure: 1019 high pressure
Wind Speed: 11.3 kts Cloud Cover: complete 100%

Haul Data – Methot
Depth of haul: 20 meters
Temperature at depth: 7° C approximate
Species breakdown: walleye pollock year 0, Amphipod- type of crustacean, Chrysora jellyfish

Science and Technology Log:

The Methot haul is when the nets are set out, but at the end there is a cylindrical tube of PVC. It is this tube in which the sample will be taken. Holes are drilled in the side to let the water run through, but there is a mesh screen which prevents the specimens from escape. The purpose of the Methot trawl is to collect younger samples of fish, and as the younger pollock tend to stay higher in the water, and this device is perfect for sampling. Most of the pollock were year zero meaning that they spawned this past April. There is also a relationship between the juvenile pollock and the jellyfish as the Jellies (common term) provide shelter for the young fish. Walleye pollock are cannibalistic and will eat younger smaller fish that could well be their own children.

One of the scientists on board Taina Honkalehton has just returned from Tasmania where she was contracted by the Australian government to study orange roughy, a species that has been over harvested that they are now trying to save as a viable harvest species. Pollock on the other had is a well managed species, where at this time approximately 20% of the population is being utilized for commercial ventures. Pollock are the fish of fish sticks, a very important economic product on a global scale, with pollock as the largest single species fishery in the world making oceanic ecosystem management very important. Approximately 1.8 million tons of Pollock are harvested annually. Part of the management plan for pollock is based in part to their relationship to the stellar sea lion. As an endangered species management needs to look at fish harvesting and see if there is a relationship between the decline of the sea lion and changes in fish numbers.

Personal Log:

Running late tonight, having too much fun gutting fish, measuring jelly fish and cleaning. I have often wondered the purpose of jelly fish. As an Easterner by birth my only experience has been the Portuguese Man of War, the stinging variety that invariably closed our local beach. The jellyfish we have been seeing not only provide habitat for many other aquatic species, but that are also a nutritious food source. Monterey Bay Aquarium has a wonderful display of jelly fish. An amazing species, so beautiful in their basic simplicity.

I promised I would talk about the spinner, which no one has been able to give me a scientific designation for. This amazing piece of technology is a circular window approximately two feet in diameter, the ships windshield. During winter months the entire window of the bridge often freezes up, and this device, through the use of centrifugal motion, manages to keep an area clear for viewing. The glass of the spinner, you guessed it, spins at a very fast rate thus keeping the viewing surface clear.  It is a funky tool, and so far my favorite on the bridge.

Leyf Peirce, July 10, 2004

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Leyf Peirce
Onboard NOAA Ship Rainier

July 6 – 15, 2004

Mission: Hydrographic Survey
Geographical Area:
Eastern Aleutian Islands, Alaska
Date:
July 10, 2004

Time: 18:00
Latitude: N 55°17.29
Longitude: W 160°32.13
Visibility: 6 nm
Wind direction: 110
Wind speed: 12 knots
Sea wave height: 0 – 1 foot
Swell wave height: —
Sea water temperature: 10.6 °C
Sea level pressure: 1016.3 mb
Air temperature: 13.3 °C
Cloud cover: 3/8

Science and Technology Log

Today was the first day we launched the survey boats. I was assigned to a boat with SS Foye, ENS Welton, and ENS Samuelson. A very interesting and eventful day, the best way to describe it is with a timeline:

08:00 board 5 boat with SS Foye, ENS Welton, and ENS Samuelson; Lt. Slover (the FOO—Fieldwork Operations Officer) came aboard for about 20 minutes to run tests on the Reson 80101 multibeam echo sounding equipment we are using (soon dropped Lt. Slover back at the Rainier); NOTE: Reson 80101 is used primarily for shallower water, for it has better resolution at depths less than 75 meters

08:45 arrived at our first way point near Halfway Rock; took first cast with the CTD (testing for conductivity, temperature and depth—all things that factor into velocity speed profile) and found an average depth of about 65 meters

09:00 started doing lines (mowing the lawn pattern) around Halfway Rock; after about 3 lines, Lt. Slover called us back in because the data he had taken did not process correctly—the new programs aboard the ship were not working as well as they had thought

11:25 board the RAINIER while FOO checked our equipment; turned out we had to switch to 6 boat—including downloading new maps and figuring out a new system

11:45 board launches 6 boats and sets out for new set of lines at deeper water than the morning; this boat uses the ELAC multibeam systems which are better for deeper waters (up to 400 meters)

12:00 arrived at new line destination (lat: N 55/14/54, long: W 160/27/43) and ate lunch before doing our CTD cast

12:30 conducted first CTD cast, but computer messed up, so had to repeat the cast and got a better reading (average depth = 150 meters) began line pattern

** After a few lines of learning the computer program, SS Foye allowed me to drive the boat for almost the rest of the time—my experience on boats made this part so much fun—especially using the computer imaging as a navigational chart**

17:30 arrived back at RAINIER for dinner

I was truly impressed with the amount of different technology aboard these ships: 5 computer screens, 2 key boards, and a lot of different software programs used to immediately process the information we were gathering. This was also a great change from being on the big ship all day!

Personal Log

This was definitely my favorite day on the ship so far! The fog lifted early this morning to reveal beautiful islands, puffin, sea gulls, kelp, and even a whale! I was able to experience what it is like to have to make computer programs do what you want them to do (any researcher knows this isn’t always easy), and I had to do this on a rocking boat (for all of you “land researchers”, I suggest you trying it once!). SS Foye, ENS Welton, and ENS Samuelson were all extremely helpful and very good at explaining the technology and theory behind what we were doing. I was extremely impressed with how everyone handled various problematic situations. Computers and technology can be very frustrating sometimes, and the crew aboard the boat handled everything optimistically and professionally. SS Foye asked if I ever would consider giving up teaching and join NOAA—after my experience today, I said I would definitely consider it!

Question of the Day:

What is the effect of different densities of water on sound waves?

Kirk Beckendorf, July 10, 2004

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Kirk Beckendorf
Onboard NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown

July 4 – 23, 2004

Mission: New England Air Quality Study (NEAQS)
Geographical Area:
Northwest Atlantic Ocean
Date:
July 10, 2004

Weather Data from the Bridge
Latitude- 42 26.72 N
Longitude- 70 01.99 W
Air Temperature 16.5 C
Air Pressure 1013 Millibars
Wind Direction at surface- Northeast

Daily Log

How can you become an officer on a NOAA ship?

The RONALD H. BROWN is run by a crew of 24. The stewards make sure we are well fed, the engineers keep the ship’s generators running, the deck hands manage the deck equipment, the survey tech runs the science monitoring equipment and the officers run the ship. The BROWN is fairly new– it was launched in 1996. Specifically built for ocean going research, it can work in the deep ocean and in shallower water along the coast. It is well suited to be used to study either the ocean or the atmosphere. About 9 months out of the year it can be found out on the ocean doing research. After our NEAQS research cruise ends in August, the BROWN and its crew will still be out at sea doing other research until next March. That is a long time away from home for the crew.

To get a job as an officer on one of NOAA’s ships, a person needs to have at least a Bachelors degree with specific requirements in math and science. There are physical fitness requirements as well. Once accepted a person must then attend a special mariner’s training school. Of course once you become an officer on a ship there is still lots of on the job training.

Today Lt. Liz Jones gave me a tour of the bridge. The ship does not have a propeller like many ships and it does not have a big wheel to steer the ship like you see in the movies. Instead of a propeller it has three thrusters. Each is kind of like a funnel turned sideways where the water goes in the big end and gets forced out the little end pushing the ship in the opposite direction. The three thrusters can be rotated individually and in a complete circle to push the ship in any direction. Even in an ocean current it can stay in one spot by using the thrusters. They can also be loud. The bow thruster is next to my stateroom. Sometimes it keeps me awake when it is turned on an off during the night. Instead of the big wheel, there are a couple of ways to maneuver the ship. On the bridge are three levers, one for each thruster. In some situations when you don’t want to worry about three different levers there is a joy stick that can be used to control the ship.

Lt. Jones said one of the main jobs a person has when on the bridge is to constantly be aware of the surroundings. Looking for other ships, keeping an eye on the weather and watching the charts to know the water depth are all extremely important. The BROWN can run on autopilot to make sure it maintains its course or position even if winds, waves or currents are pushing it in another direction. Even though the bridge is loaded with state of the art electronic equipment like GPS, radars, autopilot and depth finders the crew on watch still uses paper charts and binoculars so that they are not dependant on the electronics.

Questions of the Day

What is the NOAA Corps?

Which side of the ship is starboard and which side is port?

Which end of the ship is the bow and which is aft?

Jillian Worssam, July 9, 2004

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Jillian Worssam
Aboard NOAA Ship Miller Freeman
July 5 – August 1, 2004

Day: Four
Friday July 9th, 2004 21:15

Longitude: 57° Sea Wave Height: 0-1′
Latitude: 172° 44 Swell Wave Height: 0-1′

Visibility: 25 yrds fog Sea Water Temperature: 9.3C
Wind Direction: 69.6 Barometric Pressure: 1022 strong high pressure
Wind Speed: 14.1kts Cloud Cover: complete 100%

Haul Data
Depth of haul: 89 meters
Temperature at depth: 4.1° C
Species breakdown: walleye pollock, chum salmon, smooth lumpsucker, unidentified jellyfish

Science and Technology Log:

First haul of the evening and to our surprise pulled up a smooth lumpsucker (Aptocyclus ventricosus). What an amazing fish quite large in girth, but relatively short( approximately 10 inches). A large globe shaped body with the ventral sucking disk. We placed the fish in water and released it back into the Bering.

As for the rest of the catch, quite a few chum salmon this time, so I anticipate some smoked snacks tomorrow. I am becoming more and more comfortable with the process of slicing the fish to determine gender. Tomorrow will attempt the removal of the otoliths. Amazing the data that can be removed for the preservation of an ecosystem. We are off to complete another haul right now, so I am off to don my rain gear: thick rubber pants, rubber boots, and rubber jacket. I must also wear a hard hat and life jacket when on deck while the cranes are in motion and the ramp is down. With the ramp down it is easy access to the ever cold Bering Sea.

Personal Log:

Well I did it, finally tackled the treadmill, what a treat. My body had wanted to jog for days so in thirty minutes this morning I completed three miles, and for the first time ever I was jogging below sea level as the workout room is toward the bottom of the boat. Amazing the difference between 7000 feet and sea level. The way the treadmill is situated it rocks back and forth not side to side, it is similar to walking rises, with an uphill climb every now and then.

I also spent some more time in the bridge today. I would like to learn all the equipment so tonight I was taught about the EOT (Engine Order Telegraph) The one instrument on the bridge that actually looks familiar as it has probably been in every old war sea movie ever made. You know the big round brass machine with a level and an arrow, and the person on deck moves the arrow to face the command they would like sent to the engine room. The commands vary from full ahead to slow, half even stand by. Now with modern technology this apparatus is obsolete, but still on board in case of emergency and the electronics fail.

I was also introduced to an amazing centrifugal force windshield washer, but those details will have to wait until tomorrow.

Leyf Peirce, July 9, 2004

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Leyf Peirce
Onboard NOAA Ship Rainier

July 6 – 15, 2004

Mission: Hydrographic Survey
Geographical Area:
Eastern Aleutian Islands, Alaska
Date:
July 9, 2004

Time: 16:00
Latitude: N 55°26.60
Longitude: W 159°33.97
Visibility: < 1 foot
Wind direction: 221
Wind speed: 13 knots
Sea wave height: 0 – 1 foot
Swell wave height: 1 –2 feet
Sea water temperature: 10.6 °C
Sea level pressure: 1016.0 mb
Air temperature: 11.7 °C
Cloud cover: fog

Science and Technology Log

Most of my day was spent exploring the pages within Nathaniel Bowditch’s The American Practical Navigator: An Epitome of Navigation. I took notes mostly from a chapter titled “The Oceans”. It primarily discussed oceanography and the branches that are studied as a part of oceanography: geography, geology, chemistry, physics, and biology, “with their many subdivisions, such as sedimentation, ecology, bacteriology, biochemistry, hydrodynamics, acoustics, and optics” (427). With the main focus on the physical characteristics of the ocean, this chapter further detailed the importance of understanding salinity, density, temperature, and pressure—the main factors that affect most of the oceans’ behavior. There are several concepts within this chapter that can be watered down for my sixth, seventh, and eighth graders, however the one most applicable to hydrographic research is the study of the speed of sound waves within salt water. Because echo sounding is used to chart the ocean floor, the speed of sound within saltwater is essential to ultimately creating nautical charts. According to Bowditch, the speed of sound within a given fluid can be calculated using the following equation:

U = 1449 + 4.6T – 0.055T2 + 0.0003T3 + 1.39(S – 35) + 0.017D

In this equation:

U = sound of speed (m/s)
T = temperature (°C)
S = salinity (psu)
D = depth (m)

Using this information, one can calculate the speed of sound given different parameters. These measurements are determined using a CTD test (conductivity—which correlates with salinity, temperature, depth test) and a depth probe about every 4 hours that we are conducting hydrographic research. This information is then accounted for when employing the echo sounding devices. This equation can also easily be used by 7th and 8th graders. I plan on gathering real data and using these concepts in my classes along with graphing the data and outcomes.

While I read a lot today, I also got to tour the engine room. I have seen many engines and know the basics of how they work, thanks to my Mechanical Engineering degree, but I have never seen one so powerful! The twin 1200 horsepower engines can have up to 210 RPM. There are also two generators aboard the ship. What amazed me most on my tour was the control room where the control board looked like ones I have seen in museums—I thought that they would have moved to computers by now! One of the engineers assured me that this switch would be made in the near future.

Personal Log

I woke up this morning to what seemed like even thicker fog—this is the third foggy day in a row! Feeling a new energy from sleeping so well, I decided to try to work out on the treadmill in the ships workout room. I was told about there being a TV and VCR, and knowing that the workout room is on the same level as the engine room, I decided to take a movie with me and play it very loud. While the movie and TV worked great, the treadmill was a whole new experience. In all my years of exercising and training, I have never been on a treadmill that pitches and rolls with a boat! I felt as if my running counted as twice the exercise since I was not only running forward on the treadmill, but I was also adjusting every step with the motion of the ship—a very odd experience! After 45 minutes of exercise, I decided I had enough. The rest of the day was spent reading Nathaniel Bowditch’s The American Practical Navigator: An Epitome of Navigation, thinking of ideas for incorporating the concepts into next year’s curriculum, and playing cribbage, a card game the other Teacher at Sea, Sena Norton, taught me. Lt. Slover also informed me that I will be going on one of the launches tomorrow to help conduct research! While he was reviewing the small boat safety, the fog lifted to reveal beautiful snow covered mountains and islands—we had stopped the hydro research with the Rainier and were headed to our anchor point near Egg Island. We are expected to anchor around 21:00, with a possible stop for fishing along the way. Just finished dinner, I am now sitting in the chart room, looking out the window at dramatic cliffs plummeting into the sea—a reminder that these islands are, in fact, formed from a volcanic chain. I can’t believe how green these islands are—I must be sure to take plenty of pictures. As I day dream at these islands that are reminiscent of the islands in the BVI’s, the fog horn goes off again—the first time in a few hours. I guess this is the changing weather of the Alaska coast line; I just hope that tomorrow there is no fog when we are out on the launches.

Question of the Day:

My sister, Dr. Shayn Peirce at the University of Virginia, emailed me some interesting questions. P.S. Shyla Allen was a great source for these answers:

Dr. Peirce’s questions:

“My questions for you…can the echo scanner detect a whale on the bottom of the ocean? If so, how do they know it’s a whale and not a rock bump in the ocean floor or something else.

2nd question: what is the difference in echo scanning that you’re doing on the boat and ultrasound that they use in biomedical diagnostics…(to image babies in the womb or ovarian cysts?) Both involve acoustic imaging…is the frequency or wavelength of the sound emitted and detected different? Obviously the biomedical application requires a much smaller resolution with less depth penetration while the ocean application requires large penetration depth and not as much resolution…by the way what is the resolution of the echo signal…a few square feet of the ocean floor? Could you pick up the signal of that 1 foot long wench you dropped in the BVIs at 150 ft ocean depth?”

Answers:

1) Yes, the equipment here can detect a whale at the bottom of the ocean. In fact, it can even detect a wreck very well! I saw an image yesterday of a wreck and you could see the mast and bowsprit and everything—very detailed! I am trying to get a copy of that picture. Usually the whale will be moving, so that motion will also be picked up and cause more “static” in the data that needs to be cleaned. This rarely happens though.

2a) The echo sounding aboard the Rainier and ultrasound that they use for biomedical diagnostics are actually the same process, just with different frequencies!

2b) The resolution of what is done aboard this ship depends on water depth and the size of the footprint left by the scanner; the deeper the water, the larger the footprint, and the less resolution. However, they are required to have a resolution of 3 pings per 2 square meters in a depth of 40 meters or less (given the equipment used, there are up to 240 pings in a 160 degree swath). 40 meters is chosen because that is the maximum draft of a tanker vessel. P.S. Allen told me that, unfortunately, the 1 foot wench I lost somewhere in the BVI’s is probably long gone and undetectable by the equipment used aboard this ship. However, in shallow water, she has been able to see not only lobster pots, but their mooring lines as well. Their mooring lines have about the same diameter as the mooring line we descended in the Caymans on our dive trip. I also asked if the equipment could pick up a diver. P.S. Allen said yes, but that it is VERY bad for your body—so much power!

Sena Norton, July 9, 2004

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Sena Norton
Onboard NOAA Ship Rainier

July 6 – 15, 2004

Mission: Hydrographic Survey
Geographical Area:
Eastern Aleutian Islands, Alaska
Date:
July 9, 2004

Location: In transit to Shumagin Island collection, due to anchor at NW Egg Island Date: Friday, July 09, 2004
Latitude: N 55 degrees 26.60’
Longitude: W 159 degrees 33.97’
Visibility: <1 mile
Direction: 221 degrees
Wind Speed: 13 kts
Sea wave height: 0-1 ft
Swell wave height: 1-2 ft
Seawater temperature: 10.6 deg C
Sea level pressure: 1016.0 mb
Cloud Cover: 8/8
Weather: 11.7 deg C, fog cover most of the day, some clearing into high cloud cover.

Plan of Day:

1200 stop ship hydro and begin transit to Shumagin Is, specifically Egg Island for anchorage. Anchor set for 2100 or earlier.

Science and Technology Log

The local patch that was being surveyed is too large to finish in one pass. The RAINIER had already done a few lines during their previous legs and on this pass we got about 10- 12 lines surveyed. They will steam back by here to finish the patch at a later date. Tomorrow is set for the first of 5 days of small boat launches and survey. Because I will be aboard a launch I was run through some basic boat safety this afternoon. I was also given an engine room tour and simple explanation and spoke with some crewmembers about standing watch. The XO showed me some books that might be of interest for my curriculum planning and also my general knowledge.

Small Boat Safety and Etiquette

The launches are put in the water around 0800 and will stay out doing survey work till 1600 or so. There will be a complement of people aboard: the coxswain who drives the boat and in charge of safety, three officers from the ship who will run the program and collect data and myself. The launches are stored on the gravity davits along the ship. The boats will be lowered to deck level where the crew will get on board and then the boat is lowered to the water and unhooked. Getting on board the launch you must wear the Mustang survival coat and a hard hat. Nothing is to be in your hands while you board, so all other material need to be near the rail and will be handed over once you are onboard. One of the most dangerous times on the ship are launching and taking up the smaller boats. You are required to wear positive flotation at all times and since the Mustang jacket is bulky and warm, I was issued a float vest. We are launching number 5 and number 3 boats tomorrow.

Standing Watch

While underway there is a rotating watch schedule 4 on, 8 off, 4 on is its most simple explanation. An example watch schedule would be 0800 – 1200 on watch 1200 – 2000 off, 2000 – 2400 on again. So you work 8-12 on both sides of am and pm. Even though the routine is easy to remember it is very difficult on your body and your sleep schedule. The added hardship is the constant light this far north and the pitch black of your berth. For a visitor who has kept a normal sleeping routine you have a different perspective on just what is required for this ship to keep going 24 hours a day. There is a lot more upkeep then I expected and the watch standers are those people. While anchored most people go back to a normal 8 hour work shift, although some of those work shifts are at night there isn’t the constant change.

Engine Room Tour

The engine room tour was loud, even through earplugs and head phone like muffs that roar is amazing. You hear it throughout the ship but nothing compares to the pure sound when you are right next to it. The control room looks out over the two main engines. Each engine turns the port or starboard screw. Control over the engines can be given to the bridge but ultimately if the engineers need to control anything that comes from that area they are all powerful. There is fuel to keep moving to balance out the ships list, fresh water to make, generators to watch so as not to over load any of their out-puts. In a sense the engine room is the heart of the ship. Being self contained completely means that everything has to be running well. This ship even in port generates its own power and while out at sea is capable of making fresh water from salt water. I felt very much at home seeing as I have been in many engine rooms in my life with my father, I plan on going down there a few more times during my time on board.

Question of Day:

How long would it take to survey the entire patch? 8 days going 24 hours/day.

Personal Log

I did a lot of research today from the resources made available to me from the XO. Today was also a day I collaborated with my fellow TAS, something educators rarely get enough time to do. We bounced off a few adaptations of what we have already learned from our time on board. I hope to continue this process throughout my time onboard. No more seasick patch, I think that I am doing well and can handle the rolls. There is some crazy weather on the way too! If it chooses to run up into the Bering Strait we are okay but according to the XO, if the low pressure rides on the south side of the Aleutians it might get sketchy. The RAINIER would have to find a place to hole up and wait for the storm to pass because she is such a small, top-heavy ship. So I might just get a wild Alaskan ship ride after all.

Kirk Beckendorf, July 9, 2004

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Kirk Beckendorf
Onboard NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown

July 4 – 23, 2004

Mission: New England Air Quality Study (NEAQS)
Geographical Area:
Northwest Atlantic Ocean
Date:
July 9, 2004

Weather Data from the Bridge
Time 8:00AM ET
Latitude- 43 43.31N
Longitude- 66 15.13 W
Air Temperature 11 C
Air Pressure 1010 Millibars
Wind Direction at surface SE
Wind Speed at surface <5 MPH
Wind Direction at 1 Kilometer- E
Wind Speed at 1 Kilometer <5 MPH
Wind Direction at 2 Kilometers E
Wind Speed at 2 Kilometer <5 MPH
Cloud cover and type Fog

Daily Log

One of the blind men observed an elephant and said it is like a tree, another said it was like a rope, another said it is like a water hose. Which was correct?

This morning I visited with Christoph Senff and Rich Marchbanks. After lunch I visited with Alan Brewer. All three are here from NOAA’s Environmental Technology Lab in Boulder, Colorado. Chris and Rich are operating a LIDAR, which remotely measures amount of ozone in the atmosphere. Alan has a Doppler LIDAR which remotely measures wind speed and direction. By “remotely,” that means they can measure ozone and wind from 3-4 kilometers away. An amazing thing about many of the instruments on board is that they have been designed and built by the scientists themselves. They can’t just run down to some high-tech store and buy their equipment, what they need isn’t for sale anywhere. They decide what needs to be done, and then they design and build the equipment that will do the job. The LIDARS that are being used here on the BROWN and in the rest of NEAQS project are examples of some of that “homemade” equipment.

In the case here on the ship “homemade” certainly does not mean it is just thrown together, held up with bubble gum, baling wire and duct tape. The LIDARS and the other instruments on board are extremely intricate, sophisticated and complicated devices.

To understand the very basics of how a LIDAR can detect ozone and air movement forget about LIDARS and just think about a normal flashlight. Pretend that you go outside in the middle of a completely dark night, no light from anywhere. Point your flashlight straight up and turn it on. Now imagine that there are a flock of white pigeons circling overhead, you will not see them unless the light from your flashlight hits them and then bounces back into your eye (hopefully it’s just the light that gets in your eye).

Now imagine that several of the pigeons poop and their poop is completely black and is between you and the pigeon. Yeah I know pigeon poop is usually white but for now pretend it is black. Because the poop is completely black when your beam of light hits the poop the light will not bounce off, instead it will be absorbed by the poop. The more poop in the air the more of the light is absorbed and less light bounces back to your eye.

Picture this. You are standing in the dark with your flashlight. The pigeons are circling over your head- between you and them is their poop. Quickly turn your flashlight on and then back off and measure the amount the amount of light that leaves. The light shoots up through the poop (which absorbs some of the light) and hits the pigeons. Some light bounces off the pigeons back through the poop and to your eye. You measure the light that comes back. By figuring out how much light was absorbed by the poop you can get an idea of how much is in the air above you.

Instead of visible light other wavelengths of light, like ultraviolet (UV) and infrared (IR), are used. Christoph, Rich and Alan use a laser rather than a flashlight and their LIDARs can turn the light on and off in nanoseconds. They can also measure many things about the light that leaves the laser and the light that returns.

Let’s take this one step further. Imagine that flashlight, dark night and poop and pigeons over head again. Also imagine that you can measure how long it takes for the beam of light to go out to some pigeons and then bounce back to your eye. If you know how fast the light is going you could calculate how far away they are and where the poop is located. If we put this all together and measure both how much light bounces back and how much time the light has traveled, you could determine the amount of poop at different distances.

Enough pretending and imagining, lets get back to the LIDARs. Light travels approximately 186,000 miles every second (it is about 25,000 miles around the equator) and the LIDARS can measure the time it takes the light to travel just a few hundred yards. Rich and Christoph’s ozone LIDAR is sensitive enough to measure ozone in parts per billion from 2-3 kilometers away and Alan’s LIDAR can measure wind speed and direction 3-4 kilometers away from here. They do this using a principal similar to the flashlight example, but obviously much more complicated. Chris and Rich’s ozone LIDAR uses a UV laser, picked specifically because its light will bounce off particles in the air (the pigeons) and be absorbed by ozone molecules (the pigeon poop). Allan uses an infrared laser that will bounce off particles floating and moving with the air. The particles, which are much too small to be seen would, as Allan said, seem like boulders to the beam of light.

What that all means, is that for the next six weeks along the ship’s path, the LIDAR’s will be measuring the amount of ozone pollution in the atmosphere, the wind speed and the wind direction.

The ozone LIDAR’s will eventually be used to show the amount and location of ozone pollution in the atmosphere from about 50 meters above the ocean surface up to 2-3 kilometers. The Doppler LIDAR data will be used to make a similar map of the wind speed and direction during the 6 weeks at sea. Eventually these and other data can be merged and compared.

What about those blind men examining the elephant? The first had grabbed the leg, the second had grabbed the tail and the third had grabbed the trunk. None of them of course had a complete picture of the elephant. During NEAQS-ITCT, hundreds of people are examining an elephant this summer. Individually they cannot give us a clear picture of the elephant. The elephant is air pollution. The more parts that can be accurately examined the better the picture. Instead of a trunk, tail and leg to observe, the scientist are examining the many kinds of chemicals in the pollution, the particles in the air, the movement of the pollution and the movement of the air. Different methods can be used to insure accuracy. Once each part of the elephant has been thoroughly examined and understood and all of the blind men evaluate their observations maybe they will have at least a partial picture of the elephant.

Question of the Day

What does LIDAR stand for?

How much of a second is a nanosecond?

Leyf Peirce, July 8, 2004

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Leyf Peirce
Onboard NOAA Ship Rainier

July 6 – 15, 2004

Mission: Hydrographic Survey
Geographical Area:
Eastern Aleutian Islands, Alaska
Date:
July 8, 2004

Time: 09:00
Latitude: N 55°41.71
Longitude: W 158°03.81
Visibility: < 1 foot
Wind direction: 230
Wind speed: 10 knots
Sea wave height: 0 – 1 feet
Swell wave height: 0 – 2 feet
Sea water temperature: 10.0 °C
Sea level pressure: 1021.3 mb
Air temperature: 10.0 °C
Cloud cover: fog

Science and Technology Log

As I am typing my journal entry, I learn there are several good pictures on the network server of the RAINIER and its crew. Here is just one that I found:

Peirce 7-8-04 Rainier
NOAA Ship RAINIER underway. Credit: NOAA.

From this picture, I can see that the aft most launch ship has been launched for survey, for there are 3 launch boats on either side of the ship. I talked further with the crew today about interesting characteristics of this ship, including a “field trip” with Lt. Kevin Slover to inspect the hulls of the launch boats to see the echo sounding devices. I learned that there are actually 3 different types of these devices: one with low resolution for very deep water, one for a little higher resolution of deep water, and one with high resolution for shallower water. These devices cost up to $25,000! I was able to get pictures of the three types; however I am not able to download them onto the computer yet. Lt. Slover also showed me more of the Caris program, the most recent computer program used to collect and analyze the data. I say most recent used, because these programs are constantly being changed and updated to be more accurate, user-friendlier, and display better graphics. One of the most interesting features of this program is not only its accuracy, but also the ability to look at the computer created images of the ocean floor from any angle. One of the images pulled up as an example showed a shipwreck off of the coast of Seward in about 38 meters of water. The details of this sunken ship were almost crystal clear! Of course, this is after the data has been corrected and cleaned. I hope to work more with this program as we start the launches tomorrow and Saturday.

I also spent some time on the bridge again today. There, I learned a few interesting trivia facts about this ship:

  • The RAINIER was built in 1968 along with 2 other identical ships, the MT. MITCHELL and the FAIRWEATHER, all specifically for NOAA; these three were commissioned in 1969
  • There are 2 main engines aboard this ship, both have 1200 Horsepower and they are the same type of diesel engines as those used in locomotives
  • To figure out the cloud height, one can apply the equation: (wet bulb temp – dry bulb temp)*126.3; there was some dispute on how accurate this is, but for today it works since the wet bulb temperature = dry bulb temperature, so the cloud cover, according to this equation, is at 0 feet which is true since we are in a cloud today with all of this fog
  • The boat was originally built to support 4 launch boats and 2 life rafts, however it was recently modified to have 6 launch boats on it; to counteract this weight up top, more ballast had to be added to the bottom

A launch boat also left today at 08:00 to conduct further hydrographic research, and the RAINIER maintains her course, “mowing the lawn” in a section of uncharted waters between Kodiak and the Shumagin Islands. Once this area is completed, we will head to the Shumagin Islands to anchor and send more launch boats throughout the next week before we return to Kodiak. This is such an adventure!

Personal Log

The foghorn blows every 2 minutes on this ship, and it acts as a great wake up call. This morning, the horn reminds me that we are sailing in a sea of uncharted and now seemingly invisible territory. I feel like an explorer thrown into the time of Captain Cook, half expecting to see a pirate ship emerge from the eerie blanket that surrounds us. However, the multitude of technology aboard this ship flaunts the modern times in which we live and, in doing so, destroys any hope of true exploration of the unknown. Still an explorer at heart, I also still find adventure in what we are doing. We are still conducting hydro research aboard the RAINIER, “mowing the lawn” across uncharted territory, so we are only moving at about 7 knots. A launch boat was also sent out today to investigate near by waters. As I sit here responding to emails and learning even more about how this ship works, I am anxious to see the data that is collected now be processed.

Question for the Day:

In talking with P.S. Shyla Allen and Lt. Kevin Slover, we discussed the rewards of this job—how does this work help society? Both agreed that one of the most rewarding, but somewhat scary, aspects of this job is being able to accurately chart and re-chart high traffic waters. They both said that there are often calls from local fisherman demanding more detailed and more accurate charts. P.S. Allen informed me that there is a group of retired U.S. Coast Guard members that will conduct their own charting research in order to expedite the charting process. While helpful, this is not always the most accurate information. However, I did begin thinking about ways to include local fisherman in the research; to ensure the data that they collect is more accurate. My question for the day is more of an engineering design problem and proposed solution defined:

Problem: Local fishermen travel the coastal waters along Alaska to make a living. However, these waters are poorly charted, if charted at all. As of now, fishermen use a “Hummingbird” device to measure the depth of water where they travel, but there is no electronic device that can record this data accurately, correct this data for margins of error, and combine this data to produce an accurate nautical chart aboard these fishing vessels. While boats such as the RAINIER have this capability, expanding the number of vessels capable of collecting and analyzing such data would expedite the nautical chart updating process.

Proposed Solution: Design, test, and implement a device that abides by the following parameters: not very expensive, accurate, maintains the same abilities as the multibeam echo sounding devices aboard the RAINIER, has the capability of communicating with the computers aboard the RAINIER to share information collected, and can be mounted on the fishing vessels in such a way that it will not alter steering or speed.

I asked Lt. Slover if there is much government funding for such engineering projects, and he assured me there is—most of the U.S.’s imported goods arrive by ship, so more accurate and up to date nautical charts are a large priority.

Sena Norton, July 8, 2004

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Sena Norton
Onboard NOAA Ship Rainier

July 6 – 15, 2004

Mission: Hydrographic Survey
Geographical Area:
Eastern Aleutian Islands, Alaska
Date:
July 8, 2004

Location: Sonar Patch cruise, SE of Devils Bay on AK peninsula
Latitude: 55 46.163 N
Longitude: 158 03.557 W
Visibility: < 1 nm
Direction: 229 degrees
Wind Speed: 16 kt
Sea wave height: 1-2 ft
Swell wave height: 1.2 ft
Seawater temperature: 8.9 deg C
Sea level pressure: 1021.1 mb
Cloud Cover: n/a fog
Weather: Fair and foggy, 8.9 deg C dry / 9.4 deg C wet

Plan of Day: 1.5 days of sonar readings in patch with lines of 2.5 hours each. Launch #5 boat for survey north of ship around a possible rock pinnacle.

Science and Technology Log

Sonar Systems on board RAINIER: How they work.

What is Sonar?

In its most basic sonar are sound waves that are produced and then bounced back off of an object and recorded. Since the speed of sound is a known figure, the amount of time it takes for the sound wave to return to the transmitter/receiver gives a collectable image of that object. The deeper objects are the longer the sound wave takes to bounce back. Two types of sonar are single beam and multi-beam. Single beam is able to give high detail to an object but only shows a narrow swath, while multi-beam has a large footprint and can show a larger over all area. There are limits to the depth sonar can go because of the density of the water column. If the water is very dense the sound waves are slowed down and do not transmit the correct timing, therefore the image will be distorted. All images created must be analyzed after the density, temperature and salinity of the water column is taken into consideration.

Sonar is a very powerful sound wave and it can be dangerous, although it is at a frequency that humans or marine mammals cannot hear. If a diver were scanned they would be susceptible to a high-level concussive power. The emitter itself requires a large volume of power and if a human were to be near it during an emission it would do a great deal of damage. Think of the concussion from a bomb or firework, sonar is many, many more times as powerful.

RAINIER’s Sonar:

The ship is equipped with a deep sonar transmitter; it is attached to the hull and is used for scanning deep water where resolution is not a large issue. The boat “mows the lawn” in a patch of ocean. Each pass is numbered and the data collected. The lines are about 2 hours at 7-8 knots long. For more detailed work or a smaller area the ship will use one of its 6 launches that are also equipped with various sonar transmitters. These small boats will conduct and similar pattern of lines and collect the data right on board. The data is then transferred to the computers on board to go through technician cleaning and final analysis.

Sonar Types:
Single-beam – one beam sent and received.

Multi-beam – up to 240 beams per 180 degrees sent and received. As depth increases the foot print widens.

Analysis of data:

When the soundings are collected they are run through a Carris computer program where the technicians can manually scan each line. There are techs assigned to each “sheet” or area. Each line is cleaned, meaning outliers are removed or other “noise” is deleted. Once the data is clean a complete 3-D image of the patch can be looked at with all the data points represented. Once an entire area has been scanned objects become very clear, as if you were looking at them. From outlines of sunken ships from the side to large monolithic rocks protruding from the ocean floor, the detail and accuracy of the image is amazing. Once there is enough data the sounds can be turned into color-coded overlays that fit right on top of the fathom charts, so as to give a 3-D view of what those fathom readings represent. Red and orange or shallow and the colors move through yellow, green and finally blues, which are the deepest readings. Mountain ridges, lava floes, old wrecks, valleys and monoliths all come to life on the chart.

Personal Log

Steve Foye gave me a quick training with another new member of the crew on the job of Lookout on the flying bridge last night. He reviewed the 32-point compass and the difference between saying North relative to the ship verses trying to figure out the “real” compass coordinate. He explained you could use directions (NW or SE) or give the coordinates (90 or 270). Dead ahead would be 000, north relative to the ship or 360, all are correct for locating something directly off the bow of the ship.

Question of the Day:

When is the ship required to sound foghorn and place lookouts on the Bow/Flying Bridge?

When the visibility gets below 1 nm the ship is required to blow the foghorn or ring a bell every 2 minutes. A lookout is placed on the flying bridge during hours of darkness or low visibility. They move to the bow when the foghorn is turned on so they do not damage their ears.

Kirk Beckendorf, July 8, 2004

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Kirk Beckendorf
Onboard NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown

July 4 – 23, 2004

Mission: New England Air Quality Study (NEAQS)
Geographical Area:
Northwest Atlantic Ocean
Date:
July 8, 2004

Weather Data from the Bridge
Time 9:08 AM ET
Latitude- 42 28.14 N
Longitude- 67 47.02 W
Water Temperature 7 C
Wind Direction at surface East
Wind Speed at surface <5 MPH
Wind Direction at 1 Kilometer- West
Wind Speed at 1 Kilometer <5 MPH
Wind Direction at 2 Kilometers West
Wind Speed at 2 Kilometer 5 MPH
Cloud cover and type Fog

Daily Log

What should we do if someone fell overboard or if we had to abandon ship?

Today we are just off the southern coast of Nova Scotia, Canada. It has been foggy all day so we cannot see very far past the ship’s railing. If anyone fell overboard it would be extremely difficult to find them. With the water temperature at 7 degrees C a person would be hypothermic very soon if they were in the water.

I helped Anne again with today’s ozonesonde. The launch did not go as smoothly as yesterday’s. Before releasing the balloon the computer was not receiving a signal from the sonde. After Anne checked out a number of things that could be wrong we attached a different radiosonde, which is the part that sends the signal to the computer. With that change the problem was immediately solved. The sonde detected three layers of ozone pollution and of course the good ozone layer.

The ship’s crew keeps a written record of all ships sighted from the bridge. Today I typed the information into a computer spreadsheet. The scientists will then be able to compare these contacts to their pollution data.

Safety is a major concern on the ship. At school we have fire drills, here on the BROWN we have Abandon Ship and Man Overboard drills. Today when we heard the Abandon Ship alarm (6 short blasts from the whistle followed by one long blast), we rushed to our stateroom (bedroom), grabbed our life jacket, long pants, long sleeve shirt, hat and survival suit. If this were a real emergency we need to have clothes that will protect us from the weather and sun while we are floating in a life raft. We then rushed to our preassigned meeting areas on deck. One of the ship’s crew called roll. Afterwards we practiced putting on our bright red survival suits. The suits are designed to help keep us warm, floating and easy to see.

When the Man Overboard alarm was sounded (three long blasts from the ships whistle) the scientists and myself met in the main science lab to get a head count. Meanwhile as part of the drill, the crew had thrown a “dummy” overboard. They quickly launched one of the small boats and sped away to rescue the “man overboard”. The dummy was rescued quickly. If someone were to fall overboard while the ship is moving and no one realized they were missing, it would be very difficult to find and rescue them since we would not know how far away to look.

Questions of the Day

What is the maximum amount of ozone pollution an area can have without being in violation of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standards?

What is the temperature of the water in degrees F here off the coast of Nova Scotia?

What is the bridge of a ship?

What does hypothermic mean?

Jilliam Worssam, July 7, 2004

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Jillian Worssam
Aboard NOAA Ship Miller Freeman
July 5 – August 1, 2004

Day: Two
Wednesday July 7th, 2004 20:05

Longitude: 60° Sea Wave Height: 3′
Latitude: 172° 18 Swell Wave Height: 0-1′

Visibility: closing 5-8 nm fog Sea Water Temperature: 7.9C
Wind Direction: 214 Barometric Pressure: 1028 strong high pressure
Wind Speed: 5 kts Cloud Cover: complete

Science and Technology Log:

The plan for tonight is to run a MOCC trawl to test the equipment prior to live sampling, but lets back up a moment and look at the device used for this fish collecting experiment. Originally known as the KMOCC (Karp Multiple Opening and Closing Codend), the MOCC as it is commonly known is a scientific piece of equipment designed to allow scientists to selectively sample specific layers in the ocean. MOCC has the ability to collect fish samplings from a maximum of three different stratum, allowing the scientists choice. Pollock of different sizes tend to congregate at different oceanic layers and through the use of equipment like the MOCC scientists can look at sonar and choose from which population they would like to sample, without contaminating the haul with fish from different size groups. This form of selective sampling will aid the researchers in observing specific fish (pollock) populations.

Today there have been no fish trawls as according to the sonar data the ships transects have not passed any significant fish populations.

Personal Log:

I am on a 215 foot research vessel, touring the Bering Sea looking for walleye pollock, and can sit at this computer for an hour, watching the sonar all alone. With over thirty individuals living on this floating community it never ceases to amaze me that the schedules can be so well devised as to allow people their individual space. With a spare moment one might even be seen sitting in their stateroom relaxing. This amazing personal space is a person’s home away from home and usually has two residents. Each individual will work mirror hours so that while one person is sleeping, the other is working. Why is this fact so important? Well let me explain to you how many staterooms on the Miller Freeman are designed.

As you enter a stateroom there is on one side a set of berths, similar to a bunk bed, but Spartan by necessity. Each berth is approximately three feet wide and two feet high. Not a lot of room for movement, but functional in the processing of sleep. After the berth there is a spartan sink, a small desk, and two built in closets, all in a space that is eleven feet long and approximately five and a half feet wide. (Please realize that the 5.5’ included the beds, closets everything, so walking space is at its best at 2.5’ in the very middle.) The closets are not standard sized actually they are miniature and already contain your personalized life jacket and survival suit. Once inside the survival suit though you might have more room than in your berth. Space aside the rooms are functional, and a little cozy. I have slept in my berth for a few nights, and with the rocking of the boat and the lull of the engine it is as comfortable as an old porch hammock, on a warm summer evening as the breeze lulls you to sleep.

Leyf Peirce, July 7, 2004

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Leyf Peirce
Onboard NOAA Ship Rainier

July 6 – 15, 2004

Mission: Hydrographic Survey
Geographical Area:
Eastern Aleutian Islands, Alaska
Date:
July 7, 2004

Time: 10:15
Latitude: N 57°31.730
Longitude: W 154°58.325
Visibility: 10 + m
Wind direction: 250
Wind speed: 18 knots
Sea wave height: 2 – 3 feet
Swell wave height: 2 – 4 feet
Sea water temperature: 10.6 °C
Sea level pressure: 1020.1 mb
Air temperature: 12.2 °C
Cloud cover: 2/8

Science and Technology Log

I talked more with P.S. Shyla Allen about how the multibeam echo sounders work on the ship to gather data about the depths of the ocean. Both the RAINIER and the launch ships use the following method to gather data. All of these vessels use echo sounders with anywhere from 120 to 240 beams that scan the ocean floor. The following diagram illustrates how this is done:

Peirce 7-7-04 Fig1
Figure 1: Multibeam Echo Sounding

Here, “z” is an echo sounding two-way travel time beam, and the multibeams are spread over the footprint distance of “f”. The size of the sound footprint, “f”, depends on the depth at which the measurement is taken, “z”. The greater the depth is, the greater the footprint is. However, the greater the footprint is also means less accuracy on the outer edges of the footprint. Therefore, the ship will run a “mowing the lawn” pattern across the given section to get desired overlapping of data:

Peirce 7-7-04 Fig2
Figure 2: Mowing the Lawn pattern

The width of these lines is determined by: width of x = 3 * z. By using this rough equation, the ship will be able to overlap the areas of least accuracy, i.e. the areas on the outer range of the footprint:

Figure 3: Ship running mowing the lawn pattern so the footprints overlap.

From this data, the depth and contours of the ocean floor can be determined. I also asked P.S. Shyla Allen about the problems and sources of error associated with this data collection. She responded by detailing three main issues that must be corrected when cleaning the data, i.e. the data must undergo three main correction factors before accurate readings can be analyzed. These three factors include: a) tide changes, b) sound velocity, c) the motion of the ship and GPS positioning. To correct for tide changes, the researchers must have accurate readings of the tides. Tide gauges are installed along the coastline at various points, and all readings are reduced to Mean Lower Low Water (MLLW). This basically gives the average of the lowest possible depth at a given location. To correct for sound velocity changes, which is the most important correction factor dealt with, researchers take measurements of water temperature and salinity level at the given depth reading. For every change of 1 ppm in salinity, there is a change of 3 m/s in sound velocity. Therefore, salinity is perhaps one of the most important factors. Finally, the motion of the ship and GPS position need to be corrected for. This includes correcting for the pitch, roll, and gyration of the ship as well as error in the GPS system. Because the ship uses Differential GPS (DGPS), this error is already accounted for. However, for the pitch, roll, and gyration of the ship, two antennas are used to on the port and starboard sides. These antennas, often referred to as Motion Reference Units (MRU), are very stable feed into the same computers that process the data. Therefore, the computer takes into account the readings from these antennas and combines this information with the corrections made for the tidal changes, sound velocity factors, and positioning of the ship. After cleaning the static from the data, a nautical chart can be produced. This method of charting the ocean floor is definitely more efficient than when researchers used lead lines—long ropes with lead that would be dropped down and then measured to determine the depth!

Personal Log

I woke up this morning after sleeping for about 12 hours—I think the seasickness medicine I took last night made me very sleepy. Luckily, however, all traces of seasickness are gone; I can even sit here at the computer and type without noticing the pitching of the ship very much at all. I think all of my muscles must be getting stronger as a result of reacting to the changing ground and all of the stairs I go up and down every day. I spent some time on the bridge this morning mostly asking questions about the tools used there and what various measurements mean. I find it very interesting that simply reading tiny numbers and using small switches and knobs will run this 231 foot ship. However, my experience aboard ships tells me that it is not even close to impossible. I know that even the slightest adjustment at the helm on a sailboat can change the course of the boat. I am reminded of sailing in the British Virgin Islands and the dispute over if it was more important to maintain the way point or try to make the boat go very fast. However, that is not an issue on this boat. We are supposed to reach the Shumagin Islands tonight, and tomorrow we will start the launches—I can’t wait!

Question for the Day

How many sets of data points must be filtered out before the data is considered clean? On what does this number depend? How does one determine if a data point is an outlier or and actual reading?

Sena Norton, July 7, 2004

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Sena Norton
Onboard NOAA Ship Rainier

July 6 – 15, 2004

Mission: Hydrographic Survey
Geographical Area:
Eastern Aleutian Islands, Alaska
Date:
July 7, 2004

Location: In transit to Shumagin Is. Via Shelikof Strait
Latitude: 57 43.2 N
Longitude: 154 58.4 W
Visibility: 10+
Wind Direction: 280 degrees
Wind Speed: 18 kt
Sea wave height: 2-4 ft
Swell wave height: 2-4 ft at 210 degrees
Seawater temperature: 10.6 C
Sea level pressure: 1020.1 mb
Cloud cover: PC 2/8
Weather: 12.2 C, sunny with moon visible straight off bow

Science and Technology Log

I learned about the NOAA Nautical Charting Program today. A nautical chart shows the marine environment in a visual format for navigation purposes primarily. Any mariner needs to have an ability to use fixed points to plot a course and know/avoid any underwater or other hazards along the way. Most charts show hazards, natural and dredged channels, water depth and other features that are needed for safe navigation. The National Ocean Services marine Chart Division is in charge of 1,000s of charts. Most mariners use these charts along with the U.S. Coast Pilot when ever they are out. When changes are charted a new chart is made. From the time the NOAA Ship RAINIER makes their readings it takes between 3-5 years to be produced in chart format and readily made available. New charts are asked to be made for uncharted, poorly charted or changed areas. The three hydrographic ships that NOAA maintains do on average 50 charting runs a season for updates. However, with the current backlog of changes only 200-300 items are updated a year. The cycle of a update goes as follows: first chart users relay needs, second the Hydrographic Surveys Division prioritizes the resources and produces survey instructions, third, a NOAA field unit travels to the location and conducts the hydro survey, fourthly, the data is examined at a on shore branch and prepared for application on new chart and finally the Marine Chart Division is complied and printed. NOAA is not the only team member on this mission; other important organizations provide data for new charts. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers provide dredge and channels depths, U.S. Coast Guard maintains navigational aids, GPS beacons and other communication sources, while the Photogrammetry unit of NOAA complies aerial photos for shoreline and landmark additions.

The bridge is an important part of the overall ship function. The ship is driven from this location, the progress made is plotted and recorded and hourly logs are kept with various location and condition data. I take my condition and location directly from the ships log when I write these logs. Today there were a few ships on the radar and the officers wanted to make visual contact with them. I got to keep a lookout for the one off the port/south side of the ship with binoculars. The helm is where the ship is driven from and is kept on course with direction relation to the nautical chart and heading. Small adjustments have to be made from time to time to keep the correct bearing due to changed in sea swell and wind direction. The bridge is always manned 24 hours a day because of the importance of what is done there. We are making about 13 knots today with a friendly wind and hope to be anchored in the Shumagin Is. by tomorrow. We will commence the ships hydro at 0300 tomorrow morning to begin the surveying of the area.

Question of the Day:

How far is a fathom? 6 feet
How many people are on board? 74 crew/officers 5 visitors / 79 total

Day Activities:

  • Interviewed Chief Yeoman Paul and discussed his role/responsibilities on the ship. He in charge of bills, keeping track of expenses, ordering fuel and stores, personnel changes and promotions, a liaison between crew and command and manages expenses overall.
  • Visited the bridge and interviewed various officers and crew about bridge processes and equipment.
  • Wrote down some possible classroom curriculum options.
  • Discussed curriculum with fellow TAS, read some NOAA research and PR.
  • Downloaded some important pictures for use in curriculum/reports from ships computer network.
Personal Log
The night was a little rough with the swell height and wind direction and speed. They call my room the anti-gravity chamber and every once in awhile I could tell why. Today the rocking and rolling is much better and at times I think that I have my sea legs back. It is still unique to walk around on a ship that is bobbing; you get a different feeling when the deck is not where your foot thought it should be. I have put much thought into what I can turn this experience into as far as curriculum goes and my fellow TAS and I have been bouncing some ideas off of each other. There is much to say about the value of sharing this experience with a colleague as well as having the chance to discuss in general with that same colleague. I think that there is a professional connection being made thanks to the NOAA Teacher At Sea program! The science behind the survey process with help and that is a main goal to learn about, however there is something more to this experience that I haven’t put my finger on yet…give it some time…something that the sea is very well trained at allowing you to have.

For now,
S.

Kirk Beckendorf, July 7, 2004

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Kirk Beckendorf
Onboard NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown

July 4 – 23, 2004

Mission: New England Air Quality Study (NEAQS)
Geographical Area:
Northwest Atlantic Ocean
Date:
July 7, 2004

Weather Data from the Bridge
Latitude- 42 30.79 N
Longitude- 70 33.32 W
Air Pressure 1011.28 Millibars
Wind Direction at surface NW
Wind Speed at surface <10 MPH
Wind Direction at 1 Kilometer- WNW
Wind Speed at 1 Kilometer <10 MPH
Wind Direction at 2 Kilometers W
Wind Speed at 2 Kilometer 10 MPH
Cloud cover and type Clear

Science and Technology Log

We hear a lot about the hole in the ozone layer and that the ozone layer is being destroyed, however, in a lot of areas we also hear that the ozone levels are often too high. How can we have too little and too much at the same time?

A number of the scientists on board are studying ozone. I spent a large part of today with one of them, Anne Thompson. Anne is a chemist who works for NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. While on the BROWN she plans to launch an ozonesonde once a day. Like the radiosondes they are carried high into the atmosphere by a helium balloon. However, the balloon has to be a lot larger because it lifts a bigger package. Anne has a radiosonde and a GPS riding piggy back on the ozonesonde. All three instruments will be packaged and duct taped together. Preparing the sonde is a tedious and time consuming task. Many steps must be performed to insure that the device runs correctly and measures accurately. It will need to detect the amount of ozone in parts per billion. The steps must be completed on a set time table; some must occur a few days and others a few hours before release. Filling and launching the balloon is the fun and easy part (it also makes the best pictures) but it must be done correctly to protect the balloon and to make sure that the balloon is filled enough, but not too much.

Today’s launch, ascent and data collection went flawlessly. The ozonesonde was released at 10:05 AM ET. It was really cool because the computer was immediately receiving signals from the sonde. In real time we watched as the ozone levels were instantly graphed by the computer as the balloon ascended. It rose at a rate of 4-5 meters/second. At first the amount of ozone was at an acceptable level but once the balloon reach about 3 kms, ozone levels increased and but then dropped. This was a layer of ozone pollution. Another layer of pollution was detected at about 6 kms. Once the instruments reached about 17 km, the graph showed a major increase in the amount of ozone. This was the good ozone layer. About 2.5 hours after launch when it was 38.6 kms (about 23 miles) high, the balloon popped and everything fell back to Earth still collecting data.

As part of this study five other sondes were released on land. The data from all 6 launches have already been used by the computer modelers. They have made their predictions of where the ozone polluted layers of air will be three days from now.

So how can there be both too much and not enough ozone? The simple answer is: when the ozone is way above the Earth’s surface, like that measured at 17 +kms, by today’s ozonesonde, the ozone will block some of the sun’s UV rays which can be harmful to life on Earth. If there is not enough ozone in that layer, too much of the harmful UV rays get to the Earth’s surface.

However, too much ozone can be harmful for people to breathe, especially for those people who have asthma or other breathing problems. If there is too much ozone close to the Earth’s surface, like the layers measured at 3 and 6 kilometers today, the ozone gas can threaten people’s health.

Questions of the Day

What is the speed of the ozonesonde in miles per hour?

At what altitude do airliners generally fly?

In which layer of the atmosphere is the “good” ozone?

In which layer is the “bad” ozone?

Jilliam Worssam, July 6, 2004

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Jillian Worssam
Aboard NOAA Ship Miller Freeman
July 5 – August 1, 2004

Day: One
Tuesday July 6th, 2004 20:15

Longitude: 171° 25 Sea Wave Height: 0-1′
Latitude: 57° 11 Swell Wave Height: 0-1′

Visibility: 12 (nm) Sea Water Temperature: 9°C
Wind Direction: 177° Barometric Pressure: 1026.1
Wind Speed: 8.1 kts Cloud Cover: 100% stratus

Haul Data
Depth of haul: 78m
Temperature at depth: 4°C
Species breakdown: Walleye Pollock / Chum Salmon / Jellyfish

Science and Technology Log:

Our first haul for this second leg of the Bering Sea MACE (mid-water assessment and conservation engineering) survey (July 5 – August 1, 2004) was completed at 20:00 with the predominantly walleye catch having been measured for length and the otolith ( ear bone) removed. At this point a data base was established to facilitate in the maintenance and establishment of quotas for fisheries management.

Fisheries Biologist Kresimir Williams recorded the data from the haul; fish length, weight, and maturity status. This is very critical information as the Bering Sea pollock fishery is one of the most successful and healthy fisheries in the world. It is this data that is used to determine how large a catch a commercial vessel can remove for each fishing season. Kresimir has been a fisheries biologist for almost six years researching pollock and developing data streams to assist the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council in determining catch limits.

Personal Log:

I am working the four to four shift; four in the afternoon to four in the morning, heck of a schedule for a summer vacation. The best part of this phase is that with the northern summer daylight, you never feel tired; it is light all the time.

This is an amazing experience, an opportunity to see how others live. I have managed to meet everyone on the boat from the Captain CO, to the Chief Scientist, and find it amazing the lives they have chosen to lead. Thrust into this diverse world I am able, ever so briefly; to see how others live, how they earn a living, make daily contributions to society, find happiness.

The Miller Freeman, as I have been told has one of the most rigorous schedules within the NOAA task force, with approximately 260 days a year at sea. Many of the crew considers this vessel the workhorse of the fleet, managing to collect data that is vital in fisheries management. It is also amazing to observe the crew and officers on board as they have super attitudes, considering they spend approximately nine months away from their families. I have though been told that as the days get longer (actually shorter) and we get closer to our thirty day mark that the moral officer has to work a bit harder to keep spirits elevated. All I know is that I have been welcomed into all aspects of this vessel, from the engine room to the galley, the scientific labs to the weight room. Today I learned how to sex a fish, ever so basically; I mean can anyone think of a better way to spend a vacation?

Leyf Peirce, July 6, 2004

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Leyf Peirce
Onboard NOAA Ship Rainier

July 6 – 15, 2004

Mission: Hydrographic Survey
Geographical Area:
Eastern Aleutian Islands, Alaska
Date:
July 6, 2004

Time: 20:00
Latitude: N 59°03.205
Longitude: W 150°41.139
Visibility: 10 + mi
Wind direction: 280
Wind speed: 11 knots
Sea wave height: 0 – 1 foot
Swell wave height: 3 – 4 feet
Sea water temperature: 12.2 °C
Sea level pressure: 1016.0 mb
Cloud cover: 4/8

Science and Technology Log

We left Seward today and are headed toward the Shumagin Islands to conduct hydrographic surveys to map the ocean floor and the coastline. The overall goal of this research is to update existing nautical charts. Most of the charts that are currently used have not been updated since the early 1930’s. After talking with ENS Brent Pounds, ENS Nicole Manning and P.S. Shyla Allen, I learned more about the tools and techniques used to map the ocean floor. Steve Foyd also provided me with an excellent pamphlet titled “Nautical Chart Programming”. From these sources, I learned the following information about data acquisition and analysis. The RAINIER will first be positioned using the Differential Global Positioning System (DGPS) near the desired area to be mapped. Then, the RAINIER launches up to 6 research vessels, each equipped with two main measuring devices. One device, the ELAC C-Beam 1180, is basically a side scanner that can scan a swath of the bottom of the ocean up to 200 meters using 180 individual sound beams. Any depth change will appear to be different shades on the sonogram. The heights of different points can then be calculated from this sonogram. In conjunction to the ELAC C-Beam 1180, the launch boats use an echo sounder mounted to the ship’s hull. While this can retrieve more accurate data, data with only a 0.1 m margin of error, it can also only scan an area up to 5 meters. However, using these two systems combined produces the most accurate data. The RAINIER also installs tide gauges that produce accurate data that can be added to the resulting nautical charts. Researchers aboard the RAINIER take this data, “clean it”, and eventually send it to the mainland to be used to create the new updated charts.

Personal Log

This day has been full of excitement as we are finally underway! The scenery is absolutely beautiful here, and the wild life is truly fascinating. The snow covered mountains dip into the water with an awesome power as sea otters and puffins play in that same water below. We have also seen several porpoises and one crewmember claimed he saw a whale. I am overcome with awe at how this ecosystem is filled with so much wonder and unknown as the mountain goats and moose mirror the whales and sea lions only to be separated by where the land and water meet. Life aboard ship is similarly full of excitement. It is like a finely tuned machine how well everyone works together to make this boat maneuver. As much as I am enjoying the sight seeing, I can’t wait for the research to begin. I am excited to have my engineering background meet my teacher profession!

Question for the Day:

It is summer here, and the tilt of the Earth causes the “sun to never go down”. One could even read a book in the middle of the night with no flashlight! As I was thinking about navigational techniques and the history of navigation, I couldn’t help but reflect on the importance of using the stars for guidance at night. The question for the day is: What did sailors use, before all of the GPS technology we have now, to navigate at night in these upper latitudes when it never got dark enough to see the stars at night?

Sena Norton, July 6, 2004

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Sena Norton
Onboard NOAA Ship Rainier

July 6 – 15, 2004

Mission: Hydrographic Survey
Geographical Area:
Eastern Aleutian Islands, Alaska
Date:
July 6, 2004

Location: In transit to Shumagin Islands, outside of Seward inlet.
Latitude: 59.31 N
Longitude: 149.41 W
Visibility: To horizon
Wind Direction: NW
Wind Speed: 20 kt
Swell wave height: 6ft
Sea level pressure:
Cloud cover: High sparse cloud cover

Personal Log

Day Activities

  • Ship paper work
  • Assign and don Survival Suit (communally called Gumby suit)
  • Took part in Abandon ship and fire drill. Got to my muster stations with ease and with all the required equipment and needs. Aided in hose management and stow.
  • Issued Mustang jacket and flotation vest for use on launches and skiffs.
  • Observed getting underway from the flying wing.
  • Took nature sightings: whale in distance, porpoise pod of 12+, puffin and gulls/seabirds.
We are in transit to our survey location and will be for the next 24-36 hours. Most personnel are on 4-hour watches and shifts. I watched the deck crew take care of the lines and stow all the equipment in its correct areas, which took longer than I first would have expected.
The “Gumby suit” was interesting to put on and try to get back into its bag. I could not believe how snuggly it fit around the wrist and neck…of course to be water proof that is the requirement. I feel very safe in knowing that I could survive if the need arouse.

I am a little queasy with the boat today…there isn’t much of a sea but just getting used to the motion is going to be interesting. I have my patch on but many people have told me my berth is nicknamed the ANTI-GRAVITY CHAMBER…not very good words for a land lover like myself.

It is proper etiquette to keep your rack light on at all times unless you are trying to sleep. That is a cue to your roommate to be quiet. If the light is on all clear…if the light is off “shhhhhh”. I didn’t know that even with my prior experience.

The weather is going to be very nice for the next 6 days according to the weather report I received via email from the XO today. We are to expect light winds and the 3-6 foot sea swell. That is cause for good science and nice observations. We are scheduled to begin the hydro survey on Thursday.

Kirk Beckendorf, July 6, 2004

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Kirk Beckendorf
Onboard NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown

July 4 – 23, 2004

Mission: New England Air Quality Study (NEAQS)
Geographical Area:
Northwest Atlantic Ocean
Date:
July 6, 2004

Daily Log

If you are standing on the ground, or in our case floating on the ocean, looking up into clear skies how could you tell the speed and direction of the wind a mile or two above you?

I spent the morning with Dan and Michelle who are from NOAA’s Environmental Technology Lab in Boulder, Colorado. Dan spent most of the morning showing me how the wind profiler he designed, can determine the wind speed and direction at any point above the ship, up to 6 kilometers in altitude. Dan was the chief engineer in designing NOAA’s wind profiler network, which has facilities strategically located across the United States. One of the phased-array radar wind-profilers is also installed on the BROWN. The profiler uses radar to remotely detect wind speed and direction in the column of air above our location. Five radar beams are aimed upwards from the ship, one looks straight up and the other four look upwards but at a slight angle. The radar signals bounce off turbulence in the air (kind of like air bubbles in a flowing river) and are then picked up by an antenna back at the profiler. The instrument then combines the signals from the five beams and determines the wind speed and direction at any point above the ship, up to about 6 kilometers (km). The computer monitor on the profiler gives a constant readout of the air’s movement. The chart this morning is showing that the air from the surface to about 3 km has shifted considerably both in speed and direction during the past 24 hours as a weak cold front passed through. However, the air above 3 km did not change its speed and direction much at all.

Dan and Michelle will also be launching radiosondes (commonly called weather balloons) four times a day. The radiosonde is attached to a large helium balloon. As it is rises through the atmosphere it measures relative humidity, air temperature, air pressure, wind speed and wind direction. Normally the sonde will rise to a height of 50,000 – 60,000 feet before the balloon burst and the radiosonde falls back to Earth. So this afternoon we went to the aft (back) of the ship. There Dan filled the balloon with helium until the balloon was about four feet in diameter. He then attached the radiosonde, which is smaller than a paperback novel, so that it was hanging from the bottom of the balloon. Once the computer had a good signal from the radiosonde’s Global Positioning System (GPS) he released the balloon. We all went back inside to the computer monitor that was graphing the relative humidity, air temperature, air pressure, wind speed and wind direction as the balloon ascended.

In the evenings after dinner the scientists have show and tell time. Different research groups showed some of the data that was collected today and gave a status report of how their equipment is working.

Questions of the Day

Why would the helium balloon burst as it reaches high altitudes?

How many MILES high can Dan and Michelle’s wind profiler determine wind speed and direction?

What is a GPS used for?

Kirk Beckendorf, July 5, 2004

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Kirk Beckendorf
Onboard NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown

July 4 – 23, 2004

Mission: New England Air Quality Study (NEAQS)
Geographical Area:
Northwest Atlantic Ocean
Date:
July 5, 2004

Personal Log

I woke this morning in my bunk, which is a good thing since it is a long way to the floor from my top bunk. It may be a long way to the floor but it is not very far to the ceiling. I cannot sit up in bed without hitting the ceiling.

I talked to Wayne, one of the engineers on the BROWN, who helps keep the ship’s engines running. He and some of the crew needed to work on one of the small boats kept on the ship for excursions off the BROWN. It had to be lowered down to the water from about two stories high where it is kept secured in place. Wayne has had his job with NOAA on the BROWN for about 2 years. Before that he was a guide on fishing and scuba boats in Florida and the Cayman Islands. He loves working on the BROWN since he gets to travel all over the world. One of his favorite places to visit is Brazil because the people are so friendly.

Tim, the chief scientist, called a science meeting at 10:00 this morning. The meeting was to answer any final questions before we leave port this afternoon. He also wanted to make sure everyone has settled into their staterooms and have what they needed. Someone asked him where they could get soap. He explained where we could find soap, toilet paper and other similar items. One of the scientist mentioned that if we used toilet paper we wouldn’t need so much soap.

During the day I visited with Graham Feingold. He will be one of the many scientists working on shore throughout the project, he hopes to be analyzing data on aerosols and clouds. Aerosols are very fine particles that are suspended in the atmosphere. They have major effects on climate change. Graham hopes to learn more about the effect the aerosols have on clouds and water droplets. Water droplets can form around these particles. If there are more of the particles for moisture to attach to, fewer but smaller drops may form. Since the drops may not get very large they may not be heavy enough to fall out of the cloud. What effect that will have on precipitation patterns and climate is unknown?

The warm sunny days left today. This morning began with cloudy skies which have persisted throughout the day. We were scheduled to depart Portsmouth at 4:00 PM but were delayed because of a large ship which came into port. There was not room in the channel or under the bridge for both of us. Even though there was a cold drizzle when we left the dock, everyone was still out on the decks watching as we pulled away. The bridge was raised so that we could get underneath and the BROWN headed out the river channel into a misty gray sea. Once away from land we turned south down the coast towards Boston.

The plan is to stop just north of the shipping lane, the “two lane highway” large ships must use to enter Boston Harbor. The forecast is for the winds to be blowing relatively clean air towards us from the shipping lane. As the wind blows the passing ship’s exhaust across the BROWN, our instruments will measure the specific chemicals in the pollution. By comparing the polluted air to the clean air, the instruments on board can be used to determine the chemical makeup of each ship’s pollution. It is critical that the bow of our ship is pointed into the wind, otherwise the BROWN’s exhaust would blow into the scientists’ instruments.

Sena Norton, July 4, 2004

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Sena Norton
Onboard NOAA Ship Rainier

July 6 – 15, 2004

Mission: Hydrographic Survey
Geographical Area:
Eastern Aleutian Islands, Alaska
Date:
July 4, 2004

Inport Seward, AK, Cruise Ship dock
Weather: Partly Cloudy, occasional fog, calm wind

Personal Log

I was met at the train depot by two of the Junior Officers from the RAINIER and brought on-board. After a quick tour of the common areas I was shown to my berth and allowed to get settled in. I will be sharing the room with one of the survey techs on board in a 4 person room. I met two more of my berth area mates while I was unpacking and settling in.

Kirk Beckendorf, July 4, 2004

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Kirk Beckendorf
Onboard NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown

July 4 – 23, 2004

Mission: New England Air Quality Study (NEAQS)
Geographical Area:
Northwest Atlantic Ocean
Date:
July 4, 2004

Science and Technology Log

Imagine a chunk of polluted air over a city or an individual power plant. How could you find that same air in 2, 3 or 4 days?

This morning in Portsmouth, I ate breakfast with Wayne Angevine who works at NOAA’s Aeronomy Lab in Boulder, Colorado. It will be his job during this air quality study to predict where that polluted air will be in the next few days. He and the other meteorologist working with him, will not only be predicting how far and in which direction the air has gone, but also how high it is.

These predictions can then be used to direct the airplanes and the ship being used in the NEAQS study to that “chunk” of air so it can be sampled and measured to determine how the pollutants have changed from day to day.

Although 31 scientists and I will be on NOAA’s RONALD H. BROWN, the ship is just one part of NEAQS. Wayne and dozens of other modelers and scientist will be coordinating the project from Pease International Trade Center in New Hampshire. Approximately one dozen aircraft from Europe to the Midwestern US will be collecting data. A number of land based sites will also be collecting weather and air quality data. All of this information will help the project managers determine their next move on a daily basis and what happens to New England’s pollution once it has been released it into the atmosphere.

Personal Log

This afternoon at my hotel I loaded my duffel bag of clothes, my laptop and cameras into a cab and set off for the BROWN. When I arrived, the gate in the chain link fence surrounding the port area was locked and I didn’t know the combination. I unloaded all my bags on the ground, paid the cab and waited. Eventually, someone leaving the ship came through the gate and I was able to get in. A Lieutenant on board took me to my stateroom and gave me another quick tour of the ship. The rest of the afternoon I spent visiting with some of the scientists. I will give a more detail explanation of what they do once we get under way but Bill Kuster showed me his two instruments which measure specific kinds of molecules in the atmosphere. One measures in real time and the other takes samples every 30 minutes. The samples are later analyzed. I then visited with Anne Thompson who studies ozone and will be launching ozonesondes once a day.

Question of the Day

What is an ozonesonde?