Caroline Singler, August 16-20 2010


NOAA Teacher at Sea: Caroline Singler
Ship: USCGC Healy

Mission: Extended Continental Shelf Survey
Geographical area of cruise: Arctic Ocean
Date of Post: 20 August 2010

Out in the Canada Basin — 16-20 August 2010

NOAA Teacher at Sea: Caroline Singler
Ship: USCGC Healy
Mission: Extended Continental Shelf Survey
Geographical area of cruise: Arctic Ocean
Date of Post: 20 August 2010Location and Weather Data from the Bridge
Date: 16 August 2010
Time of Day: 2240 (10:40 p.m. local time); 05:40 UTC
Latitude: 71º 34.5’ N
Longitude: 156º 42.2’ W
Ship Speed: 16.5 knots Heading: 19.2º (NE)
Air Temperature: 8.2ºC/46.7ºF
Barometric Pressure: 1006.3 mb Humidity: 92.6%
Winds: 16.6 knots NE
Wind Chill: 2.5ºC/36.7ºF
Sea Temperature: 6.3ºC Salinity: 30.96 PSU
Water Depth:124.7 m (on continental shelf near Barrow AK)Date: 17 August 2010 Time of Day: 2120 (9:20 p.m. local time); 04:20 UTC
Latitude: 74º 6.1’ N Longitude: 150º 26.4’ W
Ship Speed: 4.2 knots Heading: 14.8º (NNE)
Air Temperature: 1.5ºC/34.7ºF
Barometric Pressure: 1003.7 mb Humidity: 91.5%
Winds: 22.9 knots E
Wind Chill: -5.7ºC /21.7ºF
Sea Temperature: -0.7ºC Salinity: 25.00 PSU
Water Depth:3729.1 mDate: 18 August 2010
Time of Day: 2320 (11:20 p.m. local time); 06:20 UTC
Latitude: 75º 25.1’ N Longitude: 153º 16.9’ W
Ship Speed: 4.7 knots Heading: 311.1º (NW)
Air Temperature: 0.45ºC/32.8ºF
Barometric Pressure: 1010.1 mb Humidity: 95.3%
Winds: 20.7 knots SE
Wind Chill: -5.8ºC /21.5ºF
Sea Temperature: -1.0ºC Salinity: 24.87 PSU
Water Depth:3848.4 mDate: 19 August 2010
Time of Day: 2230 (10:30 p.m. local time); 05:30 UTC
Latitude: 76º 11.8’ N Longitude: 155º 14.3’ W
Ship Speed: 4.4 knots Heading: 83.1º (NE)
Air Temperature: -0.47ºC/31.1ºF
Barometric Pressure: 1013.9 mb Humidity: 100%
Winds: 7 knots SE
Sea Temperature: -0.76ºC
Salinity: 24.7 PSU
Water Depth:~2100 mDate: 20 August 2010
Time of Day: 2200 (10:00 p.m. local time); 05:00 UTC
Latitude: 76º 28.4’ N
Longitude: 149º 5.3’ W
Ship Speed: 4.9 knots Heading: 80.1º (NE)
Air Temperature: -0.23ºC/31.6ºF
Barometric Pressure: 1020.9 mb Humidity: 98.2%
Winds: 5.7 knots WNW Wind Chill: -0.23ºC /31.6ºF
Sea Temperature: -1.2ºC Salinity: 25.99 PSU
Water Depth:3824.4 mScience and Technology Log
I have fallen behind on my writing this week, and I am trying to get back on track. I have a couple of logs in progress, but none are finished yet. So I thought I would give a quick update on where we are and what we are doing.

Small Boat to Barrow
Small Boat to Barrow

We started the week with a quick trip to Barrow, Alaska to pick up a crew member and some equipment for Louis. It was a beautiful day. Healycannot dock in Barrow, so we waited a couple of miles offshore while a small boat went in to shore.
We had a great view of the coastline. The air smelled different that close to land; there were lots of birds flying around, and some people evenspotted whales. Late Monday we started our trip back into the Canada Basin and met up with Louisearly Tuesday morning.

Noon Sky Over Barrow
Noon Sky Over Barrow

We are now fully involved in the two-ship partnership with the Louis. We have been traveling together for four days. Most of the time, Healyleads Louis, though once yesterday the two ships switched positions, and Louis broke ice for Healywhile they made repairs to their seismic equipment. My personal theme for the mission is “If we’re moving, we’re mapping” which means that the multibeam and subbottom profiler are always collecting data. Sometimes in ice we don’t get perfect data, but all data are useful data, and each line we follow unveils a little more information about the Arctic seafloor. Sometimes we cross areas that were mapped on previous trips by Healy or other vessels, filling in gaps in the bathymetry and giving Louis the opportunity to collect deeper subsurface data. My favorite times are when we cross areas that have never been mapped before.Most of the time, we have been out on the abyssal plain of the Canada Basin. The abyssal plain is FLAT – flatter, I am told, than a pool table. Yesterday we crossed the eastern side of a feature called the Northwind Ridge which separates the Canada abyssal plain from the Chukchi plateau and abyssal plain. It was a nice change to see some different depths on the multibeam. Different depths show up as different colors on the screen display – yellows, greens and light blues instead of just the deep blue and purple that represent depths over 3000 meters. As a watch stander, there is more to watch when we are crossing an area changing depths, and we have to make frequent adjustments of the depth limits for the instruments. Sometimes in the lab at night, I look at the display screen and forget that what I see on the bathymetric map is the seafloor, not what is out my window. I look at the camera that shows the water in front of and behind the ship, and I see flat water or ice, but underneath, there are ridges, slopes, and plains. It is incredible that we can use sound to remove the cover of the water and see what lies beneath.

Personal Log
I still find it surprising when I go out on one of the aft decks and see another ship behind us. I wonder how it would look to someone flying over us – way out in the ocean, no other boats around, but there are two ships following the same course about a mile apart. It takes a lot of coordination for two ships to work together like this. The chief scientists and captains consult frequently about the planned course. When I am on watch, I enjoy listening to the chatter between the bridges of the two ships, sharing information about ice conditions, checking speeds, confirming how well the track cleared by Healy is staying clear for Louis. That is not as easy as it might sound. The ice is drifting, and Healy’s crew must take that into account and determine where the ice might be when Louis reaches it.

I am fascinated not only by the sea and ice but also by the constantly changing Arctic sky. Every day, the sky is a new canvas for interesting cloud formations, sun shining through fog, and the sometimes subtle and sometimes spectacular colors of Arctic sunsets, which for a while (when we were in the southern part of the basin) coincided with the end of my nightly watch stander shift. Now that we are north of 75º, the sun sets between 1 and 2 a.m. local time and rises again around 4 a.m., so it is usually still quite bright when I leave the computer lab. Perhaps one night before we head south, I will stay up all night and get a sense of how dark it really gets between sunset and sunrise – my impression is that it is not fully dark – there always seems to be at least some light coming through the porthole when I wake up during the night. Here are some of my favorite sky-shots from the last week.

Sky Past Midnight
Sky Past Midnight
Clouds over water near Barrow 8/16/10
Clouds over water near Barrow 8/16/10
High wispy clouds 8/16/2010
High wispy clouds 8/16/2010
Sky at Midnight 8/17/2010
Sky at Midnight 8/17/2010
Clouds over Ice 8/17/2010
Clouds over Ice 8/17/2010
Fog Bow 8/20/2010
Fog Bow 8/20/2010
Bottom of the Arctic on a map
Bottom Relief of the Arctic on a map

Sometimes when I’m in the Science conference room, I like to look at the map of “Bottom Relief of the Arctic Ocean”. The other night, I noticed a picture in the picture. What do you see?FYI…

I got an email from a colleague (thanks, Mark) who asked me how far from land we were when we saw the polar bear that I photographed on August 9th. The map below shows where we were relative to the coastline of Alaska. We were stopped at the station labeled “001” at the time, which is approximately 172 nautical miles (319 kilometers) north of the town of Gordon, Alaska. (The dotted red line connects the two points.) Gordon is just west of the U.S./Canada border. As of today, that is still the only polar bear that I have seen. There have been at least six sightings from Healy and several more from Louis.
Polar Bear Map
Polar Bear Map

Caroline

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