Rebecca Kimport, JUNE 30, 2010 part2

NOAA Teacher at Sea Rebecca Kimport
NOAA Ship Oscar Dyson
June 30, 2010 – July 19, 2010

Mission: Summer Pollock survey
Geograpical Area:Bering Sea, Alaska
Date: June 30,  2010

What’s in your water?

Now that we are at sea, I work a shift each day (as do all members of the crew and science team). I began my shift this morning at 0400 and reported to the Acoustics Lab to meet with chief scientist, Neal Williamson. In addition to Neal, my shift includes Abigail McCarthy, NOAA research fisheries biologist, Katie Wurtzell, awesome biologist and my fellow TAS, Michele Brustolon.We began the shift by observing our first CTD (Conductivity Temperature Depth) profiler which will be deployed at least 10 times throughout our trip. The CTD measures conductivity, temperature, and depth (used to calculate salinity) and gathers samples to measure dissolved oxygen. In other words, it measures many of the physical properties of the seawater mixture in a specific column of water. In addition, fluorescence is measured to monitor chlorophyll up to a 100 m from the surface.How it works: The CTD is lowered down to the ocean floor, collecting data on the way down. Then, on the way back up, the survey tech stops the CTD at specific depths to collect water for the samples. Upon its return, the water is collected and treated for future analysis.

Here is our CTD sensor before its launch

After our first CTD, we completed our first Methot trawl. A Methot trawl is named after the scientist who designed the net used. Here is a picture of the methot getting hauled back on deck (please note, it does actually get dark here. I woke up in the dead of night and had to wait two hours for sunrise. Sunrise is at the “normal” time of 6:30 am and I think that’s because we are on the western edge of the time zone)

Here Comes the Methot

A Methot net grabs the creatures and collects them into a codend (to make it easier for us to process) at 30-40 m below the surface – our Methot collected jellies and euphausiids (also known as krill). My first duty was to sort through the “catch” to pick out jellies. Next, we measured the weight of the krill before counting a small sample. We also preserved a couple samples for use in larger studies.

Launching the XBT

Following our Methot, I assisted with the completion of an XBT (eXpenable Bathymetric Thermograph). At left, you will see that I actually “launched” the XBT overboard. The XBT is used to collect quick temperature data from the surface to the sea floor. The data are graphed at depth vs. temperature to highlight the thermocline, that is where colder water meets water warmed by the sun. Here in the Bering Sea, the thermocline is not always noticeable as the water column is subject to mixing from heavy winds and shallow depths.

Lucky for us, it was a calm day on the water and we were able to see a distinct thermocline:

The thermocline
I think the CTDs and XBTs are really cool because they are pretty routine. Both processes are conducted all over the globe at consistent locations year after year. As you can see from the chart below, the CTDs and XBTs are marked out for the area the Oscar Dyson covers throughout the summer. (As I mentioned in my blog description, theOscar Dyson must travel the same route year after year for the pollock survey to ensure consistency in data collection).

XBT CTD locations

Beyond the Oscar Dyson, these data are collected on every NOAA cruise that I read about and that data can be used to measure how a body of water is doing in general as well as how the water column of a specific location has changed over time. For example, longitudinal data are needed to note climate change within the Bering Sea. Pretty cool huh?

Vocabulary Note: I tried to define all the new terms I used in my entry. Did you notice a term I didn’t define? Ask me about it in the comments and I will make sure to provide you with a definition.

Thought Question: In the XBT data graph, why is the X axis labeled on the top rather than the bottom? (think about your coordinate plane)

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: