Melissa Fye, April 7, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Melissa Fye
Onboard NOAA Ship Hi’ialakai
April 4 – 25, 2005

Mission: Coral Reef Ecosystem Survey
Geographical Area: Northwest Hawaiian Island
Date: April 7, 2005

Location: Latitude:43.0 N, Longitude: 20.0 W

Weather Data from the Bridge
Visibility: 10 miles
Wind Direction: 120
Wind Speed: 12 kts
Sea Wave Height: 2-3 feet
Swell Wave Height: 3-5 feet
Sea Water Temperature: 23.5
Celsius Sea Level Pressure: 1022.0
Cloud Cover: 7/8 Cumulonimbus, Ac, Ci

Processing data at the computers
Processing data at the computers

Science and Technology Log

Early this morning the HI’IALAKAI arrived at Shark Island to conduct a 500 m CTD, (Conductivity, Temperature, and Depth) measuring device, at a location of 50.2 N and 24.8W for about 1 hour. The ship then traveled on towards a launch site for the AHI research boat. In the afternoon the AHI research vessel was lowered into the water so that the chief scientist, Scott Ferguson, and other scientists could run engineering tests on it before using it for a sonar mission.  By mid-afternoon the AHI, which stands for Acoustic Habitat Investigator, was once again lowered into the ocean to begin running survey lines closer into the more shallow, shoal areas surrounding the French Frigate Islands. The surveys were run at 7 knots. The AHI boat looks much like an orange lifeboat but has a metal cabin on top which houses a range of computer monitors and a sonar system to take in data about the ocean floor.

That data was then transported back onto the HI’IALAKAI to be processed. Inside the ship, GIS, or Geological Information Systems scientists, like Emily Lundblad, process saved data on the computers in the drylab on board.  They take one swath of data at a time (think of a swath of data as a line of data -the ship basically runs lines across the ocean much like a lawnmower mows a lawn-trying not to leave any gaps) and edit it on their monitors.  The scientists are looking for errors in data which show up as points or scatters of “dots” for lack of a better word, on the swath. The swath is 3 dimensional on the screen and the scientists put 4 different vantage points of the data on the monitor.  Carefully, outliers of data, or tiny dots of color that lie outside of the more solid path, are deleted.  The outliers, or errors, in this case are usually due to noise pollution.  A school of fish, drilling, or a boat engine can cause extra noise which is picked up by the sonar system, and needs to be edited out of the data. The ship continued to run its own survey lines with its sonar system attached to the hull of the ship.

fye_logsfPersonal Log

Today I awoke after a good night’s sleep.  My stateroom is on the lowest level towards the back of the ship. It is the noisiest room because it is near the cranes that operate, the mess, and engines, but it rides the smoothest.  This means that it rocks the least out of any of the rooms on board because of its location.  Good news to me!  The higher up and more forward you go on the ship, the more the boat sways. There are handrails in all the hallways, bathrooms, decks, etc. so you can hold on while walking on the ship.  I spent the day interviewing more members of the ship, to include the Executive Officer, a deck hand, and a scientist. I stationed myself on the upper deck to watch the AHI research vessel being deployed into the ocean for tests, stood on the bridge for awhile and looked out at La Perouse Pinnacle (23 degrees 46’N, 166 degrees 16’W) a volcanic rock that rises out of the Pacific that is so steep and rugged that it is practically inaccessible. Later, I situated myself in the drylab to observe the scientists editing data.

Then, right before dinner, I gave a presentation to the officers, crew, and scientists in the forward mess about the Teacher At Sea Program and what it entails.  I presented a picture of my class, which is posted on board the HI’IALAKAI, and received a lot of feedback.  Finally, after dinner, I visited the ship’s store for the first time, run by ENS Amy Cox and spent the evening typing logs and watching video from a previous diving cruise, whereas the scientists were studying the ecosystem below the ocean.

QUESTION OF THE DAY for my fourth grade students:  After reading the information under the science log, you need to better understand what an outlier is in data collection.  Ask everyone in the class to write their age on the chalkboard.  Also, include the teacher(s) age in the data, or information, collected on the chalkboard.  Make a graph of the data (remember to include a title, x & y coordinates).  When you are finished you should notice most of the data is close together but a few pieces of data are much different, or lie outside of most of the other ages.  What data is the outlier(s) in the class graph of ages? How can outlier data affect an experiment?

PICTURES OF THE DAY: Scientists processing and editing data on a computer in the drylab/ Research vessel AHI

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