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
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.

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