NOAA Teacher at Sea
Aboard NOAA ship Oregon II
June 7 – 20, 2012
Mission: Southeast Fisheries Science Center Summer Groundfish (SEAMAP) Survey
Geographical area of cruise: Gulf of Mexico
Date: Saturday, June 9, 2012
Weather Data from the bridge: Sea temperature 27.5 degrees celsius, Air temperature 24.2 degrees celsius, calm seas with thunderstorms in the area.
Science and Technology Log
As I mentioned in the previous entry the Oregon II is conducting a groundfish survey. During this research cruise we are studying many aspects of the Gulf’s ecosystem. We start by collecting general information about the water chemistry. To do this we use a piece of equipment called a CTD which stands for Conductivity/temperature/depth. This piece of equipment collects information on the temperature, salinity, fluorescence and turbidity.
I am going to briefly explain what each of these readings are and why they are important to the scientific community. Everyone knows what temperature is but you may not be aware of its importance to the health of our planet. The phrases global warming and climate change have become very popular in the last few years. By collecting temperature data in the same spot year after year scientists can determine if the oceans really are getting warmer.
The oceans contain salt water which is the most important difference between oceans and lakes. The measurement of the amount of salt in an ocean is called salinity. And the amount of salt in an ocean can reflect the workings of the water cycle. If there is an excessive amount of evaporation due to high temperatures, the ocean will become more salty due to the fact that there is more salt in less water. On the other hand if there is a lot of rain or melt waters from glaciers and mountains then the water will become less salty because now the same amount of salt is dissolved in more water.
Fluorescence is the measurement of light which is connected to the photosynthesis rate of algae. The health of the algae has a direct connection to the amount of carbon dioxide that can be absorbed by the ocean. Algae produces its own food just like a tree so if the algae is healthy, more carbon dioxide will be necessary to carry out photosynthesis and then ocean can absorb more natural and man-made carbon dioxide. These readings can also tell us how well the oceans are responding to climate change.
Turbidity is the measure of water clarity. If the turbidity is high it means that light isn’t getting through to the organisms below which in turn means that the algae and seaweed can’t get the light they need to make their own food. High turbidity can also cause the water temperature to go up due to the excessive amount of silt and particles floating and absorbing energy from the sun. High turbidity can also cause small animals on the bottom of the ocean to be buried alive as the particles settle out the water column.
Greetings from the Gulf of Mexico. I have now been onboard the Oregon II for one complete day and am slowly but surely becoming accustomed to the layout of the ship. It has all the comforts of home even if they have different names and look different from the parts of your home. The place I sleep and keep my belongings in is called a stateroom. It is a small space but honestly the only thing I use it for is sleeping . One other difference from your room at home is that the cabinets have latches which keep them closed even when the ship is rolling with the waves. Given the fact that large waves may come up at any time it is important that all personal belonging are securely stored so that they don’t become flying projectiles which can hurt someone.
The ship also contains restrooms but they are called the heads. Fresh water is an important resource on the ship as we only brought so much with us so the toilets are flushed using seawater which is very easy to come by out here on the gulf. There are also a couple of showers something which is very important given the fact that our work has the ability to make us very dirty and nobody wants to be stuck on a boat with a bunch of dirty stinky people.
Safety is very important on ship so we have drills to practice what to do in case of emergency, just like the drills we do at Maple Crest middle school. Today we had a fire drill during which the scientists were to muster (that means to report) in the lounge and stay out-of-the-way of the crew members who are actually trained to put out a fire if one should occur on the ship. Following that we had an abandoned ship drill during which we had to put on long pants and shirts and a survival suit. The purpose of all this clothing is to keep you protected from the elements if you have to float in the water for an extended time while waiting on a rescue ship to come