Scott Sperber, July 9, 2009

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Scott Sperber
Onboard Research Vessel Kilo Moana
July 9-17, 2009 

Mission:Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Hawaii Ocean Time series Station; Albert J. Plueddemann, Chief Scientist
Geographical area of cruise: Central Pacific, north of O’ahu
Date: July 9, 2009

Weather Data from the Bridge 
Temperature: 23.9 c

The WHOTS-6 buoy getting prepared to be placed on the ship
The WHOTS-6 buoy getting prepared to be placed on the ship

Science and Technology Log 

As a first log I would like to explain a little about this project. Much of what you will be reading will be directly from correspondence I have received from NOAA themselves prior to the expedition.  The following is the cruise plan that the chief scientist, Al Plueddemann sent me before the cruise:


The R/V Kilo Moana (KM) will participate in mooring operations associated with the WHOI Hawaii Ocean Timeseries Station (WHOTS) project. The primary intent of the WHOTS mooring is to provide long-term, high-quality air-sea changes and upper ocean temperature, salinity and velocity at a specific location in the central Pacific Ocean.

Receiving tower for the weather balloon information
Receiving tower for the weather balloon information

The first WHOTS mooring was deployed in August 2004, and the site has been continuously occupied since that time by means of annual mooring service cruises. The KM will depart from the UH Marine Center at Sand Island on 9 July 2009 to the WHOTS site. The cruise will include participants from WHOI, U. Hawaii, NOAA ESRL, U. Colorado CIRES, and possibly a NOAA Teacher at Sea (ME). The WHOTS moorings are a design utilizing wire rope, chain, nylon and polypropylene line. The surface buoy is a 2.7-meter diameter foam buoy with a watertight electronics well and aluminum instrument tower. Instruments are attached to the mooring line in the upper 150 m. An acoustic (sound) release is placed above the 9300 lb anchor, and 80 glass balls above the release provide backup flotation. 

These receive information from the sun. The temperature skimmers.
These receive information from the sun. The temperature skimmers.

Two meteorological systems will be deployed aboard the KM in addition to the ship’s standard sensors. The first system is one developed at WHOI to meet the need for more accurate meteorological observations from volunteer observing ships. The configuration on Kilo Moana will include five main components: a splash-proof housing with sensors for AT/RH (Atmospheric temperature and relative humidity), SWR (short wave radiation) and LWR (long wave radiation), a second housing with a BP (barometric[atmospheric] pressure sensor and central data logger, a rain gauge, a wind sensor, and a GPS) global positioning system) logger. Data are made available in real-time using a computer kept temporarily in the ship’s chart room.

Cruise Plan 

Staging/Destaging: Preparation of the WHOTS-6 buoy and mooring equipment will take place at the UH Marine Center during 1-6 July. Loading and staging of scientific equipment on the KM will be done on 7 July (or earlier as the situation permits). As part of the preparation, the two meteorological systems described above will be mounted on the KM. One will be mounted on the bridge mast. Others will be installed on a 30′ high tower on the port bow, and the instrumentation and computers for theses will be kept on the port (left) side of the ship There will also be an installation along the railing for a boom that will support a sea surface temperature skimmer device and mounted on the port side of the bridge.

Operations: The cruise involves four principal operations, as listed below. These operations are expected to require 9 ship days.

1. Deployment of the WHOTS-6 mooring. The buoy will be deployed through the A-frame, after which the ship will proceed slowly ahead. The remainder of the mooring will be deployed over the stern using the mooring winch, capstan, air tuggers, and crane as necessary.  Acoustic ranging from three stations will allow the mooring anchor position, to be determined by triangulation.

2. Sensor comparison period. During a period of approximately 4 days between release of WHOTS-6 and recovery of WHOTS-5, the KM will establish and hold position, with bow into the wind. During the comparison period satellite transmissions from the buoys will be monitored using equipment supplied by the scientists. A series of shallow (200 m) CTD (conductivity, temperature and depth) casts will be done at approximately 4 hr intervals using a CTD and rosette supplied by the science party.

3. Recovery of the WHOTS 5 mooring. The WHOTS-5 mooring is presently on station at another location not far from the new buoy. The WHOTS mooring release will be fired and recovering of the old buoy will begin with the glass balls (lower end) and proceed to about 50 m below the buoy while the ship moves ahead slowly. The work boat will be used tograb the glass balls and pass a leader line to the KM. The work boat will be lowered again and used to connect a line to the buoy and pass the line to the stern of the ship. The buoy will be recovered through the A-frame. Recovery operations will use the A-frame, the mooring winch, capstan, air tuggers, and crane as necessary.

4. Deep CTD casts and CTD Survey. At certain times during operations,several deep (1000 m) CTD casts will be made. The fifth WHOTS WHOI-Hawaii Ocean Timeseries Site (WHOTS) buoy was deployed from the Kilo Moana at 03:24:39 UTC June 5, 2008.

The R/V Kilo Moana will be deploying the WHOTS-6 mooring and will for a number of days be used in the comparison of real time data between the new mooring, the WHOTS-5 mooring and that of the ship.  After which the WHOTS-5 mooring will be recovered via the A-frame on the stern.

Real Time Data 

Hourly averaged meteorological data for the current deployment of the WHOI Hawaii Ocean Time Series Station are received via Service Argos four times daily. Hourly averages are also being transmitted for an engineering study using the Iridium Satellite service. Preliminary data is displayed in unedited form as time series plots, and is available for download as ASCII files.

Personal Log 

Wow. That is a lot of scientific jargon and acronyms which I will try to clear up in the next week. As for my responsibilities they will include but not be limited to:

During this expedition I will try to match the NOAA goals of which are:

Short-term Goals 

I will:

  1. Understand how NOAA oceanic and atmospheric research is linked to National Education Science Standards and Ocean Literacy Principles.
  2.  Understand the education and training paths that lead to NOAA-related careers.

Mid-term Goals 

I will:

  • Use NOAA data and resources in classroom activities. (oh boy)
  • Use NOAA-related career information in classroom activities, when mentoring students and when working with colleagues.

Why am out here in the middle of the ocean?

The vision of NOAA’s Teacher at Sea program is to be NOAA’s main provider to teachers of opportunities to participate in real-world scientific research and maritime activities.

Assembling the long line of sensors
Assembling the long line of sensors

Tasks and Responsibilities 

I will have a defined set of tasks and responsibilities before, during, and after the mission. During the mission, I will be under the ultimate command of the ship’s Commanding Officer. AYE, AYE CAPTAIN. However, I will also be considered a member of the science party, And will also be under the direction of the mission’s Chief Scientist and will be expected to take part in the tasks assigned by the Chief Scientist.

MICROCat sensor to be located at 155 meters
MICROCat sensor to be located at 155 meters

Everyone here is very accommodating of the new guy. I am going to quietly sit back and observe for a while, there is so much going on I do not want to get in the way.  From my berth window, I look directly out on the A-frame, great cautious way to observe the deployment without stepping on anyone’s toes. I am watching the crew assemble the line of MICROCat and other monitoring devices. Lengths of chain, shackles and hitches are laid over the deck in what seems like a chaotic mess but I have been assured that it will all flow out nicely when the deployment of the system begins. You can see how the MicroCATs are labeled with their respective depths.. There is also another device, the Seabird, that will be the one that bobs (yo-yo’s) up and down for daily data regarding, temperature, conductivity and depth.

Words of the day: deployment, winch, capstan, crane, acoustic, triangulation, comparison, bow, stern, A-frame 


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