Mary Cook, December 9, 2004

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Mary Cook
Onboard NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown
December 5, 2004 – January 7, 2005

Mission: Climate Prediction for the Americas
Geographical Area: Chilean Coast
Date: December 9, 2004

Location: Latitude 19°39.99’ S, Longitude 80°16.85’ W
Time: 8:30 am

Weather Data from the Bridge
Wind Direction (degrees) 138.27
Relative Humidity (percent) 84.01
Temperature (Celsius) 18.65
Air Pressure (Millibars) 1014.24
Wind Speed (knots) 12.00
Wind Speed (meters/sec) 5.10

Thought for the Day

“No man who has once heartily and wholly laughed can not be altogether irreclaimably bad.”
Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881) Scottish writer

Science Log

This morning we are passing over a significant underwater ridge called the Nazca Ridge. The ridge is a series of mountains rising from the ocean floor. Yesterday, the ocean bottom was 5,000 meters down. This morning it was just 960 meters deep. We dropped CTD’s over this shallow area and we had to be very careful not to let them hit the bottom. When I was operating the radio for the CTD commands to the winch, I accidentally said “Bring it up at 600 meters per minute” (It was supposed to be 60 meters per minute). Thankfully, that speed is an impossible one for the winch to do! Because it would have shot out of the water like an Olympic sprinter!

Congratulations to Mary Castleman, an eighth grader at Southside Middle School in Batesville, Arkansas! She correctly answered the “Question of the Day”. Mary said, “A muster station is a place where people get together before going to a lifeboat loading station.” Thanks, Mary, for your extra effort!

At “6:00 Science on the Fantail” tonight, we interviewed Paul Bouchard, the senior engineering assistant for Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. Paul is a hard worker with a good sense of humor. His job is to prepare, maintain, and repair all the various units of instrumentation on the Stratus 5 mooring so the scientists can analyze the data retrieved. Paul explained all the instruments mounted atop the buoy. There are instruments that measure temperature, relative humidity, precipitation, air pressure, short and long wave radiation, wind speed and direction, Also, there are several units that extend underneath the buoy for a few hundred meters that record temperature, conductivity, depth, and water current. These instruments take readings every minute and send the data via satellite every hour. The Stratus 5 mooring is the most sophisticated array of instrumentation for the collection air-sea interaction data in the world! Another amazing fact is that there’s five miles of rope and chains connecting the buoy to the anchor at the bottom of the ocean floor. Paul said that all the instruments are battery powered. Three thousand “D” cell batteries are used to keep it going for over a year! The buoy has a “bleeper” on it to alert ships so they won’t run into it. The Stratus 5 will be deployed in three days! It’ll be a big moment. For the last year, lots of hard work, problem-solving, dreams and money have gone into the Stratus 5 and soon it will finally be a reality.

Personal Log

This afternoon, I had to find the laundry room because well, I didn’t have any clean clothes left to wear for tomorrow. So I ventured into the bowels of the ship in search of the laundry room. It’s five decks from my stateroom. That’s a lot of stairs to climb up and down. Actually I need the exercise. Anyway, while my clothes were washing, I ran back upstairs to help Frank Bradley do the 2:00 radiosonde launch. With that completed, I then ran back down the stairs to put the clothes in the dryer. Then, I walked back up to the main lab and answered a few emails. After about 20 minutes, (you know the drill) I went back down to fold my clothes then carried them up five flights to my room. So I sat down on my bed to rest for just a minute and woke up an hour later!

After interviewing Paul, Diane and I decided we wanted our picture taken on the most sophisticated mooring instrument in the world. So we climbed around on it and had an impromptu photo session.

I’d like to say that I’m enjoying all the emails from students, friends, and family. You make me smile. I’m happy that you’re interested enough to send me a message. And too, it makes me feel connected even though I’m way out here in Pacific. So keep ‘em coming!

Until tomorrow,


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