Jillian Worssam, August 9, 2004

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

Jillian Worssam aboard the Miller Freeman

Jillian Worssam aboard the Miller Freeman

Hello All, This will be my final visit from Alaska, The voyage on the ship is over, but I am far from done with this journey. It is amazing how much life can be packed into a month, and I feel ever so fortunate to have had this opportunity. My heart is full, my mind has been challenged. I am a bit sad as I miss the camaraderie and new friendships, thank goodness for e-mail. Thank you all for your support this past month, my goodness has it ONLY been a month!….hope you enjoy this last entry. Jillian I have attached a photo, hope it works….Also one of my last poems! As the humpback breaches I see a splash, a tail and then nothing. In the blink of an eye this mighty creature has defied gravity. I am in awe! Again and again the aerobatics continue for what reason I do not know, only that as witness I have been given a gift. A tufted puffin paddles by and I am inspired, so glad to have this moment, and so aware of the fragility of life. Seals lay upon floating pieces of ice, their guards down as they relax in pure abandon. I too am relaxed, enjoying the breeze as it plays against my skin. Loving the boats motion, as swell upon swell try to breach our hull. My heart beats to a new rhythm and I am humbled by the grandeur of this place!

Never in my life has a month passed so quickly, literally in the blink of an eye I have had the experience of a lifetime. So much has happened and I am a different woman. Thirty days ago I was prepared to walk in the shoes of another, to taste a different career and learn. Now that time has passed, and the shoes fit so well that I am tempted, so tempted to change the patterns of a life time. NOAA provides an amazing opportunity for teachers and I urge all educators to take advantage of their generosity, for they have enhanced my world beyond merewords.

One week ago I caught my first Halibut, over 50 pounds, and it was quite a challenge to land. I was then taught how to bleed the fish to improve the quality of the meat prior to my lesson on how to fillet. The tender pieces of flesh have been vacuumed packed and will be sent to me for shared consumption. Two weeks ago I hung from the gantry, thirty feet above the deck removing the cotter pin from the block holding the third wire (scientific equipment that sent data back to the ship while we were fishing).My safety was in the hands of men whom I had not previously known, and I had no fear. The pin was tricky, the pliers slippery in my hand, failure was not an option. I was trusted with a job, so there was no hesitation, I would succeed.

Three weeks ago I gutted my first fish, checked its gender, and measured it for scientific purposes. The stomach contents were preserved for further study and the otoliths removed so that the age could be determined. I saw thousands of pollock, and many other species, and have learned to truly appreciate a new ecosystem.

Four weeks ago I stood in Dutch Harbor, Alaska about to board a 215 foot NOAA research vessel with no idea of what was about to unfold. Here I was a teacher from Arizona, about to spend thirty days on the Bering Sea, to study walleye pollock, a fish I had never previously heard of.

Today I am a new person, I have an enhanced understanding of life, of career and the dedication these men and women have to both. I was the student, eager to learn and wanted to be a part of everything.

I was denied nothing for 30 days.  You want to paint Jillian, here are the brushes. What, you really want to clean the heads, go for it.  Ok, I will explain it to you one more time, the line needs to be taught, then you bring the left over the right, through the hole and there is the lover’s knot. (I never did master any knots, but that doesn’t mean I wasn’t an eager study) Once the data is recorded and analyzed, fishing quotas can be established and the Bering Sea can continue to be a viable and healthy ecosystem.

This was my life, and with some melancholy I am sorry to leave. I have made friends expanded my mind, and had an amazing adventure. For many, their days hold no passion, no daily happiness. I have been reminded that life is tenuous, and not to be taken for granted. I want to get up every morning and be pleased with all that I have, and all that I can gain. I want to work with my peers and realize that the little things are not important, the big picture, the smile on my face, the spirit I hold, these are what count.

NOAA, the seventh branch, and least recognized of our military system, has given me a present beyond words, and it is with my every breath that I hope to share this gift with others. Little do my students know what is in store for them this year…as for me the adventure will surely continue!

Kevin McMahon, August 7, 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:
August 7, 2004

Weather Data from the Bridge
Lat. 42 deg 33.05 N
Lon. 68 deg 23.03 W
Heading 349 deg
Speed 0 kts
Barometer 1007.91 mb
Rel Humidity 83.96 %
Temp. 16.68 C

Daily Log

0800 hours. The past evening was spent steaming to this point where we are on station. The ship will remain here for all of the morning and part of the afternoon. We will await a fly over by the J31 as well as the NASA DC8. Many of the scientists onboard will also set their equipment with the use of a satellite due to pass overhead in the early afternoon.

My morning was spent helping Dan Wolfe, one of the NOAA meteorologists repair an electrical problem which had disabled the sensors that relay air temperature and relative humidity to computers aboard ship. As you can see from the photos, this was not something you would find in the job description for meteorologists. To solve the problem Dan had to climb up to a crows nest like platform on the masthead near the bow of the ship and then perform a diagnostic test on the electrical circuitry for the systems.

It was finally discovered that a switch box had allowed moisture to enter through leaky gasket. In all, the task it took several hours to complete.

During the time we were engaged with the repair we started to notice a small school of dolphins moving closer to the ship. At first they seemed to keep a distance of about 100 yards but after time, small pods of four or five would move in closer to the ship and investigate our presence in their world. I believe that this type of dolphin is known as the Atlantic White Sided Dolphin. As we were stationary in the water, a flock of shearwaters could be seen loitering off our stern and starboard side. They are a wonderful seabird to watch as they seem to effortlessly propel themselves through the air with a continuous glide, using a ground effect air flow created by an updraft of the sea waves. The dolphins would at times glide under the floating shearwaters and make them alight from the water. They seemed to enjoy this form of teasing as they repeated the act over and over.

During the afternoon I helped Drew Hamilton take more sun readings with his Sunphotometer. As I stated in yesterdays log, the sunphotometer measure the intensity of the suns direct radiation. Because we had a couple of aircraft fly over us today, the J31 and the DC8, and because those platforms contain the same equipment as that aboard the ship, we were able to validate our readings.

Question

Why is it important to have standardized equipment when conducting the same types of experiments by different people in different locations?

Kevin McMahon, August 5, 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:
August 5, 2004

Weather Data from the Bridge
Lat. 44 deg 03.77 N
Lon. 68 deg 18.53 W
Heading 210 deg
Speed 8.7 kts
Barometer 1005.7 mb
Rel Humidity 79.8%
Temp. 15.4 C

Daily Log

0800 hours. We have left behind the protective cove in the shadow of Mt. Desert Island and are now in the Gulf of Maine of 235 degrees along the Maine coast. The skies ahead look more threatening than the skies we are leaving behind.

1130 hours and we are just off Matinicus Rock Lighthouse. I spent about one hour in the engine room with Keegan Plaskon who is the ships 3rd engineer. A very sophisticated propulsion system not to mention electrical systems, HVAC, and desalinization systems for the ship.

The RONALD H. BROWN is known in the trade as a diesel electric ship. It propulsion system is somewhat unique in that it uses diesel engines to generate electricity which in turn is used to power the motors turning the propellers. On most vessels of this size, there is a direct connection between the diesel engines and the propellers.

The propeller system is also unique in that there is no rudder system to steer by. With the propellers connected to what is known as a thruster, the two aft propellers can be rotated independently of each other a full 360 degrees. When the two aft thrusters are synchronized with the bow thruster and tied in with the ships GPS system, it allows the team of scientist onboard to remain on station in one place for an extended period of time. Wind, tide and currents can be overcome. Last evening we stayed in one position in a small bay near Bass Harbor, ME with the ships bow pointed into the wind. Although the wind was only about 4 knots out of the northeast, the tidal flow was running about seven knots at its peak.

There are three large diesel engines onboard whose primary use is propulsion. Each is a 16 cylinder Caterpillar (Cat 3500). A single Cat can propel the ship along at about 7 knots. As more speed is needed, the other two Cats are brought on line. The top speed of the ship is about 14 knots. But the ship also uses it diesel engines for other needs. There are three other Cats onboard. They are smaller engines with 8 cylinders each. These engines are used to provide the ship with the needed electricity for everyday use, and the BROWN uses a lot of electricity. Besides the need the scientists have for electricity, there scientific equipment runs on 110 AC just like in your TV and refrigerator home. The ship uses its generators to make fresh water, provide climate control, refrigerate its food supplies, and run the sewage treatment system, its navigational system and what seems like an endless list of other needs.

What is the fuel consumption like? I am told that the ship consumes between 5 & 6 thousand gallons of fuel per day.

Question

If there are about 75 scientists and crew aboard, how many gallons are needed per hour per day for each person per day?

The vessel is also capable of producing 4,000 gallons of water per day but that on a normal day the people onboard consume about 3,000 gallons per day for consumption, personal hygiene, toilets and industrial uses.

Question

How many gallons is this per person per hour per day?

Kevin McMahon, August 4, 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:
August 4, 2004

Weather Data from the Bridge
Lat. 44 deg 07.58 N
Lon. 68 deg 01.74 W
Heading 035 deg
Speed 7.6 kts
Barometer 1005.17 mb
Rel Humidity 98.3%
Temp. 15.5 C

Daily Log

0700 hours and we are off Mount Desert Island. The air is cool with a light fog over the water and partly cloudy skies above.

The morning was spent on a heading of 035 degrees as we continue our move to the Northeast. I am told that we will just make it to the boundary area between the U.S. and Canadian border. Then we will reverse our course. It is hoped that by being close to the coastline and with the winds cooperating that the ships scientist will be able to measure some of the organic biogenics being produces by the forests of Maine. The relationship between the Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) which are natural in nature, and man made pollutants produced by the combustion of hydrocarbon products is one of the areas that scientist are working to understand.

0930 hours. I have been spending some time on the bridge transferring the Ships Sighting Log to an Excel Spreadsheet File and then putting the file on the ships website so that some of the scientist can compare their pollution data with various ships we have encountered.

I had a brief tour of the LIDAR (Light Radar) operation today. But we needed to cut it short as they were in the middle of a software problem. I plan to return tomorrow when the equipment is functioning more reliably.

1600 hours.

Weather Data from the Bridge
Lat. 44 deg 06.37 N
Lon. 68 deg 12.10 W
Heading 220 deg
Speed 7.4 kts
Barometer 1003.89 mb
Rel Humidity 88.96%
Temp. 15.35 C

We seem to be charting a course to enter one of the many fiords around Mt. Desert Island, ME.

2030 hours. We are in a fjord near Mt. Desert Island off the town of Bass Harbor. Instead of setting the anchor, the ship will hold position with its bow into the wind using its thrusters which are controlled by the GPS system. The plan is for the atmospheric sensors to measure the organic biogenic compounds which are produced by the forests of the surrounding area.

Kevin McMahon, August 3, 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:
August 3, 2004

Weather Data from the Bridge
Lat. 43 deg 38.65 N
Lon. 69 deg 43.93 W
Heading 096.4 deg
Speed 7.9 kts
Barometer 1009.84 mb
Rel Humidity 99.47%
Temp. 16.5 C

Daily Log

0635 hours and we are in dense pea soup fog.

1120 hours. We have been delayed by the fog but are now underway at a very slow speed, fog horn sounding every minute. The ship need to travel about 10 miles to the entrance to Boothbay harbor so that we can put ashore by launch one of the scientist and bring back to the ship another of the NOAA scientist who has been working at Pease.

I am starting to hear other fog horns in the distance. I spent some time on the bridge. The radar’s give a very accurate view of what’s around us, shoreline as well as vessels large and small in the area, but still it is not perfect and hence the need to proceed slowly.

We made it in very close to the entrance to Boothbay Harbor. I was hoping to get some pictures of the area but we were entirely fogbound. One scientist was sent ashore at approximately 1330 hours but then the return of the launch with the replacement took longer than anticipated. Apparently they became lost in the fog on their return to the ship.

We spent most of afternoon south of the Boothbay area traveling in an east west pattern taking air and water samples. We seem to slide into and out of dense fog…

I spent about an hour today on the bridge. The ability to track and identify an object at sea is so common now that it is taken as a guarantee of safety. The personnel on the bridge made it abundantly clear that it is not.

It is amazing to me that the same technology which is used to see and identify ships at sea is in a way the same technology that allows many of the scientists onboard to identify and measure many different species of chemical compounds.

Question

What size are the smallest particles we can measure in our Chemistry lab at Grady H.S.?

Kevin McMahon, August 1, 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:
August 1, 2004

Weather Data from the Bridge
Lat. 42 deg 56.49 N
Lon. 70 deg 33.31 W
Heading 235 deg
Speed 8.2 kts
Barometer 1015.4 mb
Rel Humidity 90.2%
Temp. 18.2C

0740 hours. We spent most of the past evening in a stationary position very near the Isle of Shoals. A very beautiful moonlit evening. We now are on a heading almost due east of the Isle of Shoals, again looking for the NYC, Boston plume.

It is a continual quest, not quite like Ahab and his search for the white whale but a quest none the less. The scientists aboard the RONALD H. BROWN have embarked upon a continual search. Someone once said that one of the great joys in life is getting nature to give up one of her secrets. Meaning that the fun and excitement in science is learning how things work. Each in his or her way is really trying to gain an understanding of how the world works.

Today I spoke with Hans Osthoff. He is a young man with an intense desire to learn about the chemistry of our atmosphere. Hans works for NOAA at the Aeronomy Laboratory in Boulder, Colorado. As a young boy he developed a love for chemistry and stayed with it. He now has advanced degrees in Analytical and Physical Chemistry.

Aboard the ship he runs a piece of equipment which is extremely sophisticated. It is called a Cavity Ringdown Spectrometer. It can measure the diffusion of light as it is passed through a sample of air which is contained in a copper tube. At each end of the copper tube there are parabolic mirrors. As a beam of laser light enters the tube, it bounces back and forth many times before exiting at the other end. The time the beam of light spends in the tube is measured and allows scientists to measure concentrations of:

NO2 NO3 N2O5

Once the concentrations have been found, the scientist can then calculate the reactions rates and the products which will be introduced to our atmosphere.

In the end, we will all gain a better understanding of our atmosphere and hopefully learn how to better maintain our environment.

Question

Can you name the three compounds above?