Meredith Salmon: An Incredible Adventure! July 31, 2018

NOAA Teacher at Sea

Meredith Salmon

Aboard NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer

July 12 – 31, 2018

Mission: Mapping Deep-Water Areas Southeast of Bermuda in Support of the Galway Statement on Atlantic Ocean Cooperation

Date: July 31, 2018

Latitude: 36.85°N

Longitude: 76.28°W

Air Temperature: 28°C

Wind Speed:  4.2 knots

Conditions: Cloudy

Personal Log 

We returned to Norfolk this morning and successfully completed our expedition! It is definitely bittersweet to be concluding our work at sea since our team aboard the Okeanos was comprised of such wonderful people. We grew to be really close and truly enjoyed each other’s company.

 

Norfolk
Returning to Norfolk!
norfolk 1
Headed under the draw bridge on our way to the shipyard.

 

These past couple weeks at sea have been an incredible experience and I am excited to share what I have learned with the Peddie community. Being aboard the “America’s Ship for Ocean Exploration” and mapping a region of the seafloor that has not been studied yet was a very exciting opportunity as both a scientist and educator. I plan on creating and teaching a Marine Science elective during the Spring of 2019.  Data collected from the expedition will be utilized to design classroom activities, laboratory experiments, and cross-curricular materials that directly relate to the research completed. Students will understand the importance of exploration and be encouraged to discover, inform, and educate others about the ocean. Since the Okeanos is equipped with telepresence capabilities, I will be able to stream seafloor images, ROV dives, and interviews from sea in my classroom. Having students directly engaged with those completing research in real time will enable them to make associations between the ocean and their local ecosystems to put the research into context.

I really enjoyed meeting everyone aboard and listening to their stories. Since these vessels require 24/7 operations, many people worked very hard over the course of the expedition to ensure that everything was going as planned. The crew, stewards, engineers, NOAA Officers, scientists, and explorers in training were very willing to share their knowledge, insights, and experiences.  I respect their dedication and flexibility while at sea and I am very grateful to have met such awesome people! This experience was definitely one of the highlights of my teaching career and I am very inspired to know that no matter where in the world the Okeanos is located, everyone aboard is committed to understanding the wonders of the unknown ocean.

Okeanos MAPPING TEAM!
The Okeanos Explorer Mapping Team
norfolk 3
Some of the Mapping Team navigating the shipyard!
Okeanos at Norfolk
This photo of NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer was snapped by the mother of one of the Senior Survey Techs! She was waiting for us to arrive the morning of the 31st and got this shot on the drawbridge!

 

Okeanos inbound Norfolk
NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer inbound to Norfolk, VA. [Photo by Captain Eric Stedje-Larsen, USN] [Photo by Captain Eric Stedje-Larsen, USN]

Meredith Salmon: Deciphering the Data! July 30, 2018

NOAA Teacher at Sea

Meredith Salmon

Aboard NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer

July 12 – 31, 2018

Mission: Mapping Deep-Water Areas Southeast of Bermuda in Support of the Galway Statement on Atlantic Ocean Cooperation

Date: July 30, 2018

Latitude: 35.27°N

Longitude: 73.24.°W

Air Temperature: 27.5°C

Wind Speed:  18.17 knots

Conditions: Partly Sunny  

Depth: 3742.65 meters

Qimera is a hydrographic processing software that was used during this expedition. This computer program allows scientists to edit and process the survey line data as it was being collected. 

Qimera Survey Area
The survey area 200 nautical miles off the coast of Bermuda projected in Qimera. Warmer colors indicate depths close to 4,000 meters while the cooler colors represent deeper regions up to 5,500 meters.

To successfully edit incoming multibeam data, it was necessary to isolate a specific section of the line and use Qimera’s 3D Editing Tool. The 3D Editing Tool was utilized to remove outliers that skew the data.

Essentially, each colorful point in the diagram below is a sounding from the multibeam sonar. The soundings are return signals that bounce back and reach the receivers on the sonar. When scientists are previewing and editing data, certain points are considered outliers and are rejected. The rejected points are shown as red diamonds in the diagram below. Once the edits are made, they are saved, and the surface is updated.  

3D editor qimera
Examples of a data set being processed by the 3D Editing Tool in Qimera. The red dots are rejected points that will not be included when the data is completely processed.

It is especially important to ensure that we are collecting as much data as possible as we continue to survey this area. In order to accomplish this, factors such as required resolution, sea state, water depth and bottom type are used to determine line plans.  By partially overlapping lines, we ensure there is quality data coverage on the outside beams. More overlap tends to mean denser, high quality coverage which will allow our team to develop accurate maps of the seafloor.

Qimera Survey Area
Side view of a section of the survey area projected in Qimera. The warmer colors indicate depths around 4,000 meters while the cool colors indicate depths closer to 5,500 meters.

Another program that was used to process data was known as Fledermaus. This interactive 4D geospatial processing and analysis tool is used to reproject Qimera projects as well as export the Daily Product that was completed and sent onshore where it is publicly available. We also projected the edited data on Google Earth (see below) and would include this in the Daily Product that was sent to shore as well.

Google Earth view
The survey and transit lines are displayed in blue, while previously mapped areas of the seafloor are shown in green.

 

Personal Log

Now that we have left the survey area, we are transiting back to Norfolk and still collecting and processing data. We are scheduled to arrive early on the 31st and a majority of us will depart that evening. Since we are still collecting return transit data, it is still necessary for processing to occur. Although we’ve been working diligently, we still like to make time for fun. On Friday night, we hosted a Finer Things Club Gathering complete with fancy cheese, crackers, sparkling apple juice, and chocolate! It was great! On Saturday, we played the final cribbage tournament game as well as other board games, and on Sunday we had an ice cream party!

Finer Things Club
The Mapping Team hosts a Finer Things Club Meeting complete with sparkling apple juice, crackers, cheese, and chocolate!
Finer Things
Our fancy spread of gourmet snacks!
final match
Charlie and Mike in the FINALS!
ice cream social
Sundaes on Sunday!

 

View of calm seas
Super calm seas on the way home!
Calm Seas
Calm Seas

 

Did You Know?

One of the first breakthroughs in seafloor mapping using underwater sound projectors was used in World War I.

Resources:

https://oceanexplorer.noaa.gov/explorations/03fire/background/mapping/mapping.html

Meredith Salmon: Remarkable ROVs, July 25, 2018

NOAA Teacher at Sea

Meredith Salmon

Aboard NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer

July 12 – 31, 2018

 

Mission: Mapping Deep-Water Areas Southeast of Bermuda in Support of the Galway Statement on Atlantic Ocean Cooperation

Date: July 25, 2018

Latitude: 28.37°N

Longitude: 63.15°W

Air Temperature: 27.8°C

Wind Speed:  9.7 knots

Conditions: partly sunny  

Depth: 5236.01 meters

 

Science and Technology Log

Since the Okeanos Explorer is known as “America’s Ship for Ocean Exploration,” it is equipped with two important vehicles that allow scientists to study normally inaccessible ocean depths. Deep Discoverer (D2) is a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) that is mechanically designed with software and video engineering programs that generate precise images and videos. A total of nine cameras, including a Zeus Plus camera with impressive zoom capabilities, produce high-definition images that give scientists and those on shore insights about deep-sea ecosystems. The 9,000 pound ROV contains approximately 2,400 feet of intricate wiring as well as specially designed Kraft predator hand that can hold up to 200 pounds. The hand is especially useful for deep-sea sampling and allows scientists to bring certain organisms to the surface for further analysis. D2 can dive up to 30 meters per minute and is designed to withstand pressures almost 600 times that at sea level.  

Deep Discoverer
Front view of the Deep Discoverer featuring the Zeus Plus Camera
Side view of D2
Side view of D2 (Check out the intricate wiring and size of the circuit board!)
Rear view of D2
Rear view of D2

D2 does not operate alone during the eight-hour dives. Instead, it relies on assistance from Seirios, another 4,000-pound machine known as a camera sled. This device is powered and controlled by the Okeanos Explorer and offers the pilots and scientists a wide-angle perspective as they navigate the ocean floor. Seirios is tethered to the Okeanos Explorer and illuminates D2 from above to allow for increased visibility. The frame of this machine is relatively open which increases the distance cameras can be separated from the mounted lighting. This design reduces the light that reflects off particles in the water (optical backscatter) and results in high-quality images.

rov7
This camera sled, known as Seirios, is used to illuminate D2 during ROV dives.

All of the deep ocean images and video collected by D2, Seirios, and the Okeanos, can be transmitted to the rest of the world by satellite. The Okeanos is fitted with telepresence technology that enables everyone involved in the operation to provide scientific context to the public. The ability to broadcast this exciting information requires effective collaboration between the Engineering Team, NOAA ship crew, and scientists both onboard and onshore. It is amazing that anyone with Internet connection can be involved the expedition and science in real time.

Mapping Team
The Mapping Team learning about Seirios!

 

Personal Log

In order to make it back to Norfolk on time for dry dock, we will have to finish our mapping our survey area on the 27th. In the meantime, we have been continuing to process data, collect sunphotometer readings, launch XBTs, and play cribbage. Our cribbage tournament will conclude on Friday night! Everyone aboard is excited about the data we’ve collected and looking forward to a successful end of the expedition.

bow picture 1
The Mapping Team was on the lookout for dolphins!
Dolphins!
Dolphins playing on the waves near the bow!
sunset photo
Another fantastic end to the day!

 

Did You Know?

The first fully developed ROV, POODLE, was created by Dimitri Rebikoff in 1953. However, it was not until the US Navy took an interest in ROVs that this unique technology became very popular. In 1961, the US Navy created the Cable-Controlled Underwater Research Vehicle (CURV).

Resources:

https://oceanexplorer.noaa.gov/technology/subs/deep-discoverer/deep-discoverer.html

Deep Discoverer and Seirios

Meredith Salmon: Who’s Who Aboard the Okeanos: Part V, July 27, 2018

NOAA Teacher at Sea

Meredith Salmon

Aboard NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer

July 12 – 31, 2018

Mission: Mapping Deep-Water Areas Southeast of Bermuda in Support of the Galway Statement on Atlantic Ocean Cooperation

Date: July 27, 2018

Weather Data from the Okeanos Explorer Bridge

Latitude: 28.48°N

Longitude: 62.41°W

Air Temperature: 27.8°C

Wind Speed:  10.5 knots

Conditions: Partly Sunny

Depth: 5272.37 meters

 

Sid Dunn

Hometown: Virginia Beach, Virginia

Although you would never guess it, Sid is the newest member of the Okeanos Explorer and has been working on the vessel since June 7th. He recently retired after sixteen years as an insurance agent specializing in business claim adjustments. Since his wife’s family is involved in the maritime industry, he thought it would be interesting to research potential post-retirement careers in this field.

Sid began a 5-week training program at the Mid-Atlantic Maritime Academy. This institution is a highly respected, state-of-the-art maritime training center established for individuals who seek to enter a maritime profession. After his training period, Sid completed a two-month internship on the tall ship Oliver Hazard Perry in Rhode Island. Sid sailed from Newport, Rhode Island down to Galveston, Texas while on the Oliver Hazard Perry.

Once he completed his training and internship, Sid was hired as part of the permanent crew aboard the Okeanos Explorer. Sid is a General Vessel Assistant (GVA) and performs work in the deck and engine departments. He is responsible for standing watch two times per day. These watches are four hour time periods and aboard this cruise, he is scheduled from 0800-1200 and 2000-2400. During his watches, Sid performs rounds throughout the entire ship to ensure the safety of the vessel, completes routine maintenance, and stands watch on the bridge. Sid really enjoys being out to sea and is excited to continue his new adventure on the Okeanos Explorer.

Sid Dunn
Sid aboard the SSV Oliver Hazard Perry

Meredith Salmon: Who’s Who Aboard the Okeanos: Part IV, July 27, 2018

NOAA Teacher at Sea

Meredith Salmon

Aboard NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer

July 12 – 31, 2018

Mission: Mapping Deep-Water Areas Southeast of Bermuda in Support of the Galway Statement on Atlantic Ocean Cooperation

Date: July 27, 2018

Weather Data from the Okeanos Explorer Bridge

Latitude: 28.48°N

Longitude: 62.41°W

Air Temperature: 27.8°C

Wind Speed:  10.5 knots

Conditions: Partly Sunny

Depth: 5272.37 meters

 

LT Rosemary Abbitt

Growing up in Norfolk, Virginia, Rosemary spent much of her childhood around the ocean. She was fascinated by the sea and had a strong desire to learn as much as she could about marine ecosystems. During her high school career, Rosemary participated in a summer travel program at the Forfar Field Station in the Bahamas on Andros Island. This experiential learning opportunity allowed Rosemary to be directly involved with field-studies that focused on scuba diving and exploration. Thanks to that unique experience, Rosemary was hooked on marine science.

After Rosemary graduated high school, she earned her Associates Degree in General Studies of Science at a local community college, then transferred to Coastal Carolina University (CCU) to continue studying marine science. During her undergraduate career, she completed an independent research project in Discovery Bay, Jamaica and focused her studies on coral ecology. After she earned her degree at CCU, Rosemary was interested in becoming a NOAA Corps Officer. Since a few of Rosemary’s family members worked for NOAA, she was exposed to the Corps mission and impact from an early age. She applied and did not gain admittance; however, that did not set Rosemary back.

Rosemary started working as a Physical Scientist intern at the Atlantic Hydrographic Branch in Norfolk, Virginia and sailed aboard NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson for two field seasons. After this experience, she reapplied to the Corps, was accepted, and began her Basic Officer Training Class at Kings Point Merchant Marine Academy in February 2012. Officer training school was an intense program that emphasized leadership, teamwork, seamanship, and navigation. Once Rosemary graduated, her first sea assignment was on the hydrographic research vessel, NOAA Ship Rainier in Alaska. After this assignment, Rosemary’s land assignment was at the Florida Marine Sanctuary in Key West. She worked as a support diver to assess coral health and completed grounding assessments for three and half years before rotating to her current position as the Operations Officer aboard Okeanos Explorer. Now, Rosemary is involved with deep sea exploration and loves being on a ship that is dedicated to discovering more about the unknown parts of the ocean. Rosemary is enthusiastic about supporting NOAA’s mission of science, service, and stewardship. She believes that it is incredibly important to set goals, remain determined, and push yourself out of your comfort zone to experience success.

Rosemary Abbitt
LT Abbitt plotting a fix at the charting table on the bridge of the Okeanos Explorer. Image courtesy of Brianna Pacheco, LTJG (Sel.)/NOAA Corps

Meredith Salmon: Who’s Who Aboard the Okeanos: Part III, July 27, 2018

NOAA Teacher at Sea

Meredith Salmon

Aboard NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer

July 12 – 31, 2018

Mission: Mapping Deep-Water Areas Southeast of Bermuda in Support of the Galway Statement on Atlantic Ocean Cooperation

Date: July 27, 2018

Weather Data from the Okeanos Explorer Bridge

Latitude: 28.48°N

Longitude: 62.41°W

Air Temperature: 27.8°C

Wind Speed:  10.5 knots

Conditions: Partly Sunny

Depth: 5272.37 meters

 

Commanding Officer – Commander Eric Johnson, NOAA Corps

Hometown: Maryland but currently resides in D.C

 

Ever since Eric was young, he had been fascinated by the ocean. After reading about Eugenie Clark’s contributions to marine science and shark research, he was hooked on learning as much as he could about the sea. Eric began his studies at St. Mary’s College of Maryland; however, he made the decision to take a six year sabbatical and work in a variety of fields to gain practical experience. During this time, he found employment as an apprentice for a deep sea salvage company and completed electrical work on ROVs for the Navy. This job granted him the opportunity to go to sea and encouraged him to apply what he learned in the field.

 

After this six year period, Eric returned to college at the University of Maryland, majored in Marine Biology, and earned his scuba certification. Upon graduation, he was a manager at REI in College Park and volunteer diver at the National Aquarium in Baltimore. As an exhibit diver, Eric was responsible for feeding the animals by hand in the tanks, maintenance of tanks and scuba equipment, as well as educational outreach.

 

Although Eric learned a great deal about customer service and public speaking during his time at REI and the Baltimore Aquarium, he was interested in researching a more permanent marine science career. While researching potential employment opportunities on the NOAA website, he discovered the NOAA Corps. Eric was very interested in the mission of this Uniformed Service and decided to apply. Eric was not selected the first time since he did not have direct experience working in a related field; however, he was not discouraged. Instead, Eric secured a job working at a Biotech company, reapplied to the NOAA Corps, and was selected. Once he graduated from Basic Officer Training at the Coast Guard Academy, Eric began an extensive and impressive career with NOAA.

 

Eric’s first sea assignment was as navigation officer on the Oregon II.  He was responsible for operations focused on diving, navigation, and safety aboard this vessel. After spending two years at sea, he began his first land rotation as the Executive Officer of the NOAA Dive Program before advancing to the NOAA ship Hi’ialakai. Eric kept track of scientific diving operations aboard the Hi’ialakai, which amounted to approximately 3,000 to 4,000 dives per year! Then, Eric served as the NOAA Recruiter for a year and a half before becoming Chief of the Recruiting Branch. He found the recruiting positions to be incredibly rewarding and enjoyed encouraging those who were looking to make a difference while serving their country to apply to NOAA. Eventually, Eric returned to his original ship, the Oregon II, as Executive Officer before beginning as Commanding Officer on the Okeanos Explorer. Although serving as the Commanding Officer is a major responsibility, Eric is dedicated to supporting NOAA’s mission in regards to science, service, and stewardship. He finds is assignment on the Okeanos very exciting since this ship’s main purpose is ocean exploration.

 

Throughout his career, Eric has learned that it is especially important to pursue your true interests and not be afraid to explore the unknown. Eric believes that stepping outside your comfort zone and learning how to adapt to new situations enables you to construct a skill set that will help you experience success in a variety of situations.

CDR Johnson and wife
CDR Johnson and his wife, Angela, at his Change of Command Ceremony last year

 

Fun Facts about CO Eric Johnson

Eric continues to be an avid diver and has completed over 1,000 dives during his career.

– If you added up all of the hours Eric has spent diving, it would be about one month underwater!

– In Eric’s opinion, the best spot to dive is south of Hawaii at Palmyra Atoll.

Meredith Salmon: Who’s Who Aboard the Okeanos: Part II, July 25, 2018

NOAA Teacher at Sea

Meredith Salmon

Aboard NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer

July 12 – 31, 2018

Mission: Mapping Deep-Water Areas Southeast of Bermuda in Support of the Galway Statement on Atlantic Ocean Cooperation

Date: July 25, 2018

Weather Data from the Okeanos Explorer Bridge

Latitude: 28.37°N

Longitude: 63.15°W

Air Temperature: 27.8°C

Wind Speed:  9.7 knots

Conditions: partly sunny

Depth: 5236.01 meters

 

Ensign (ENS) Anna Hallingstad

Hometown: Anacortes, Washington

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) is built on three principles: science, service, and stewardship, and ENS Anna Hallingstad embodies all of these core values. Anna is currently immersed in her first sea assignment aboard the Okeanos Explorer and has many different responsibilities as a NOAA Corps Officer.

Anna has always been fascinated by the outdoors and enrolling in a Marine Science course in high school set her on a science track in college. After graduating high school, Anna completed an undergraduate and graduate career at Stanford University. She majored in Earth Systems and focused particularly on ocean systems. Earth Systems was a unique interdisciplinary major that investigated the interactions of different ecological, geological, and human systems.

Anna extended her learning outside of the traditional classroom environment by completing a quarter of classes at Hopkins Marine Station in Pacific Grove, California. She spent the fall quarter of her junior year studying abroad in Australia in collaboration with the University of Brisbane and Stanford. During the summer before her senior year, Anna participated in a 10-week Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) through the National Science Foundation. Anna continued her studies at Stanford to earn her Masters in Earth Systems and focused on the human relationship with the ocean.

Upon graduation, Anna did an AmeriCorps term by working for an urban forestry non-profit and was a volunteer for Salish Sea Stewards in Washington. Anna also worked as the Harbor Porpoise Project Coordinator before applying and being accepted into NOAA’s Basic Officer Training Class (BOTC). Anna had a desire to work for NOAA since she was young and began her 19-week training in January at the Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut. Officer training school was an intense program that emphasized leadership, teamwork, seamanship, navigation, etc. After graduating in May, Anna was shipped off to her first assignment in Honolulu, Hawaii and reported to the Okeanos Explorer in 2017. She will spend two years on the Okeanos Explorer until her three-year land assignment in Washington state.

Anna wears many different hats aboard the Okeanos Explorer as the Morale, Safety, and Property Officer as well as a Purchase Card Holder and Diver. As the Morale Officer, she organizes events on aboard such as ice cream socials, cookouts, and cribbage tournaments. She really enjoys seeing everyone having a great time onboard. It can be very busy balancing all of these important responsibilities, but Anna believes that you shouldn’t shy away from difficult things. Having the confidence to tackle the unknown is a valuable life lesson and one that she abides by while at sea.

 

ENS Anna Hallingstad
ENS Anna Hallingstad

Meredith Salmon: CTDs and Cribbage! July 24, 2018

NOAA Teacher at Sea

Meredith Salmon

Aboard NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer

July 12 – 31, 2018

 

Mission: Mapping Deep-Water Areas Southeast of Bermuda in Support of the Galway Statement on Atlantic Ocean Cooperation

Weather Data from the Okeanos Explorer Bridge

Latitude: 28.34°N

Longitude: 64.14°W

Air Temperature: 28.16°C

Wind Speed:  17.34 knots

Conditions: partly sunny  

Depth: 5060.32 meters

Science and Technology Log

Understanding the physical properties of seawater such as temperature, salinity, and depth are important parameters for studying ocean processes. Fortunately, A CTD is an acronym for an electronic instrument that is used on research vessels to measure three important factors: conductivity, temperature, and depth. These data points are key exploration components used aboard the Okeanos Explorer.

 

Conductivity is a measure of how well a solution conducts electricity and it is directly related to salinity. When salinity measurements are combined with temperature readings, seawater density can be determined. This is crucial information since seawater density is a driving force for major ocean currents.

 

The CTD itself is housed in a steel container and is surrounded by a ring of plastic bottles. These water sampling bottles can be individually triggered at various depths to collect water samples allowing scientists to analyze water at specific depths at a particular place and time. The entire structure is connected to a rosette that is lowered by a hydrographic winch crane, and this rosette is capable of making vertical profiles to depths up to 6,800 meters.  

ctd 3
CTD unit aboard the Okeanos Explorer

 

Features in the deep ocean such as hydrothermal vents and underwater volcanoes are associated with changes in chemical properties of seawater, so CTDs are used to measure chemical and physical properties associated with these structures. For instance, changes in water temperature may indicate the presence of hydrothermal vents or volcanoes. Since these features are located in deep waters, a CTD will be raised and lowered throughout the water column as the ship moves over the survey area. Although a CTD cast has not been completed on our expedition, these procedures require effective communication between scientists in the lab and the hydrographic crane operator. Scientists in the lab can monitor the CTD measurements in real time in the lab, and communicate depth for water capture in the rosette bottles to the crane operator. Once back on board, scientists can retrieve the water samples from the bottles and take them into the lab for further analysis.

ctd1
CTD rosette complete with water sampling containers

Personal Log

We have continued to map the survey area, load XBTs, and take sunphotometer readings throughout the course of the week. Since they are few and far between, everyone looks forward to turns. The entire turning process requires effective communication with the bridge and survey team and can take approximately 15 to 20 minutes to complete.

SISTurn
A turn pictured in the Seafloor Information System (SIS) program

Aside from waiting for turns, we have been playing daily trivia or bingo as well as card games including cribbage! Since the cribbage tournament is underway, we have been practicing, playing, and watching other games. There have been some serious upsets and victories so the finals are going to be interesting for sure.

Okeanos Cribbage Tournament Bracket
Okeanos Cribbage Tournament Bracket
cribbage tournament
Savannah vs. Charlie!
cribbage 6
Fernando vs. Christian!

We learned that we are heading back to Norfolk for dry dock towards the end of July so we will need to stop surveying soon to transit back to Virginia. It is crazy to think that we only have a couple more days at sea!

double rainbow.jpeg
A double rainbow seen from the boat deck!

 

Double Rainbow
Savannah, Sally, and I enjoying the view!

Did You Know?

Some CTD instruments are so fast that they measure the conductivity, temperature, and depth 24 times each second! This provides a very detailed description of the water being tested.

Resources: 

https://oceanexplorer.noaa.gov/facts/ctd.html

https://www.windows2universe.org/earth/Water/CTD.html

Meredith Salmon: Who’s Who Aboard The Okeanos Part I, July 23, 2018

NOAA Teacher at Sea

Meredith Salmon

Aboard NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer

July 12 – 31, 2018

 

Mission: Mapping Deep-Water Areas Southeast of Bermuda in Support of the Galway Statement on Atlantic Ocean Cooperation

 

Weather Data from the Okeanos Explorer Bridge

Latitude: 28.34°N

Longitude: 64.14°W

Air Temperature: 28.16°C

Wind Speed:  17.34 knots

Conditions: Partly Sunny

Depth: 5060.32 meters

 

Brian Caldwell

Brian has a true passion for exploration and science, so being part of the NOAA Corp is a perfect fit for him. Brian has an extensive educational background and enjoys advancing his knowledge about the ocean. Prior to NOAA, Brian worked as a civilian mariner for a sail training program. He served as both a captain and educator and taught non-traditional education courses about the ocean. In addition, he worked on the NOAA ship Rainier as a wage mariner.

 

Brian began his schooling at Miami Dade College and earned an Associate’s degree in Biology. He then attended Georgetown University and majored in Biology with a minor in Physics. During his time at Georgetown, he was the captain of Georgetown Sailing Team. Upon graduation, Brian continued his schooling and started his graduate degree abroad at the University Of Wales School Of Ocean Sciences.

 

After 9/11, Brian honorably served in the United States Army for ten years. He completed eight combat deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan and even conducted additional graduate work in Military History and a program in Italian Studies. After his commendable involvement with the military, Brian applied and was accepted to the NOAA Corp. Once he graduated from Basic Officer Training at the Coast Guard Academy, he began his career with NOAA. He is now working on the Okeanos and continues to be fascinated with ocean exploration and discovery. Brian loves adventure and travel, so he considers himself very fortunate to be able to experience both while working at sea. Brian has learned that it is important to be flexible in life and never stop learning.

brian interview pic
ENS Brian Caldwell

 

Meredith Salmon: Tour of the Bridge, July 20, 2018

NOAA Teacher at Sea

Meredith Salmon

Aboard NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer

July 12 – 31, 2018

 

Mission: Mapping Deep-Water Areas Southeast of Bermuda in Support of the Galway Statement on Atlantic Ocean Cooperation

 

Weather Data from the Okeanos Explorer Bridge

Latitude: 29.01°N

Longitude: 61.56°W

Air Temperature: 27.7°C

Wind Speed:  13.91 knots

Conditions: Sunny  

Depth: 5288.3 meters

Science and Technology Log 

The NOAA Corps is composed of professionals trained in engineering, earth sciences, oceanography, meteorology, fisheries science, and other related disciplines. Corps officers are responsible for operating NOAA’s ships, flying aircraft, managing research projects, conducting diving operations, and serving in leadership positions throughout NOAA. Officers are trained for effective leadership and command whether it be at sea or on land. After successfully completing NOAA’s Basic Officer Training Program, the newly trained officers report for their first two-year sea assignment aboard one of  NOAA’s 16 ships. Upon reporting aboard their ships, they will be assigned watch standing responsibilities and tasked with various collateral duties (i.e., Damage Control Officer, Imprest Officer, Navigation Officer, Morale Officer, etc.).

A typical navigational bridge watch consists of two four-hour shifts (ex. 0800-1200 and then 2000-2400) with eight hours in between to work on collateral duties. While on watch, the Officer of the Deck (OOD) is stationed on the bridge (vessel’s room from which the ship can be commanded) and accompanied by an able-bodied seaman acting as lookout or helmsman, and often times a Junior Officer of the Deck (JOOD) who is training for their OOD qualification. The OOD has earned the trust of the Command and is a direct representative of the Commanding Officer, having responsibility for the ship while the CO is not on the bridge.

The Bridge
The Bridge aboard the Okeanos Explorer

Safe navigation is the top priority. Before each change of the bridge watch, it is essential that clear, specific communication has been passed to the oncoming OOD and watchstanders to ensure the oncoming watch are aware of changes regarding navigation, traffic, weather, operations, etc.

Weather Log
Hourly position, weather, and sea conditions are logged aboard the Okeanos Explorer to show trends in meteorological conditions.
Charts
Nautical charts used to record hourly location coordinates (a.k.a. fixes)

The marine radar equipment located on the bridge of the Okeanos Explorer is crucial for carrying out safe navigation operations while underway. Radar instruments are mandatory systems for collision avoidance. The bridge watch rely on radar to successfully identify and track the precise positioning of vessels and aids to navigation out at sea. Radar uses rotating antennas that transmit and receive electromagnetic waves.

S and X Band Radars

Marine radars on the Okeanos Explorer are either X (10GHz) or S (3GHz) band frequencies. Since X-band radars have higher frequencies, they are used to generate a sharper image and resolution; whereas, the S-band radars are used for long-range identification and tracking. The X-band radars pick up weather conditions and small targets and are best used for close ranges (12 mile or less). The S-band radars are very useful in rainy or foggy weather conditions and help identify objects that located farther away (24 mile range or greater). It is especially important to use these radar systems to determine if impending vessels are in the area. The radars are equipped with an AIS (Automated Information System) feed. The AIS tool allows the user to acquire additional information about vessels in the vicinity about the size and type of the vessel, speed, course, distance of the closest point of approach (CPA) and time to CPA.

Steering Stand

The steering stand is used to direct the ship by controlling the rudder and can be put in different modes such as autopilot or manual. This piece of equipment has two gyrocompass inputs (or feeds) to provide accurate heading by determining “true north”. The gyrocompass is an instrument that relies on the use of a continuously driven gyroscope to accurately seek the direction of true (geographic) north. It functions by seeking an equilibrium direction under the combined effects of the force of gravity and the rotation of the Earth.

Steering Stand
Steering stand on the Okeanos Explorer

A magnetic compass is an instrument containing a magnetized needle that reacts to the Earth’s magnetic field by pointing to magnetic north. The magnetic compass on the Okeanos Explorer is housed in a binnacle that uses mirrors to project the compass that is located on the flying bridge. It is important that the magnetic compass is far away from electronics to prevent interference from occurring.

Magnetic Compass
Magnetic compass binnacle
Gyrocompass
Master gyrocompasses

The gyrocompass repeater (pictured below) is mounted on the bridge wings and displays directional information on the basis of electrical signals received from the master gyrocompass. Repeater compasses are designed to receive and indicate the true heading transmitted electrically from the master gyrocompass.

Repeater for gyrocompass
Repeater for gyrocompass

ECDIS

Electronic Chart Display and Information System, known as the ECDIS, is a computer-based navigation system that requires the use of electronic charts, sensors, and radars to offer an alternative to paper charts. ECDIS is an effective tool that allows navigators to plan and monitor routes that even include waypoints and tracklines. On this expedition, we use ECDIS along with a computer programming system known as Hypack to plan survey lines 180 nautical miles in length. Once the precise lines are created on Hypack, they are saved on a flash drive and transferred to the bridge so the person navigating the ship has the exact lines and coordinates necessary to steer the ship and obtain accurate data and overlap. ECDIS eases navigators’ workloads due to its automatic capabilities such as route planning, route monitoring, and automatic ETA.  ECDIS provides many other sophisticated navigation and safety features, including continuous data recording for later analysis. 

Propulsion controls

The propulsion controls located below the ECDIS computer monitor are known as the “sticks”. These throttles control the two fixed pitch propellers under the hull. In case of an emergency, control can be shifted to the engineers in the main control space, and the engine order telegraph (E.O.T) can be used to communicate desired speed.

ECDIS
ECDIS (pictured on the computer screen) is used to view lines created in Hypack

 

Dynamic Positioning System

Although this system is not being used on this particular cruise, the dynamic position system is designed to hold the ship in a precise position exclusively using thrusters. This system is used primarily for Conductivity, Temperature, and Depth (CTD) casts, and during Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROV) cruises when the “vehicles,” Deep Discoverer and Seirios, are in the water.

Dynamic Positioning
Dynamic Positioning (DP) System

Marine Propulsion equipment

Okeanos Explorer is equipped with bow and stern thrusters to help maneuver the vessel and hold station while in DP. In its raised position, the bow thruster is used in tunnel mode, but it can also be lowered to allow it to rotate 360 degrees for better control. The two stern thrusters are in fixed positions and work simultaneously in tunnel mode.

bridge 4

 

Generator Mimic

This screen displays information about the four diesel generators that are used to power the Okeanos Explorer. Three generators are online while the remaining one is used as a backup in case of emergencies. This system provides information about which generators are currently being used, the cylinder temperatures to ensure that the engines are not overheating, and alarms that indicate any potential malfunctions. The engineers abroad conduct daily maintenance to keep these engines in tip-top shape.

Generator Mimic
Generator Mimic

 

Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS)

The GMDSS is a distress and radio communication system that can relay a variety of important information. This system reports weather forecasts for the navigation area approximately every six hours and includes tsunami alerts, boat reports, and ship to ship messages to ensure the safety of all vessels out at sea.

GMDSS
Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS)

 

Personal Log

Cribbage is a card game that can be traced back to the 18th century and has been popular in the U.S. Navy since World War II. Traditionally, the game is played by two players and each player tries to form various counting combinations of cards to earn points. Score is kept by inserting pegs into holes arranged in rows on a cribbage board and the first person to reach 121 points wins. Since there is going to be a cribbage tournament aboard the Okeanos Explorer, we learned the rules of the game tonight and completed a bunch of practice rounds. We are going to make a winners and losers bracket and start the tournament this week!

Cribbage
Cribbage champions
Cribbage
Practicing Cribbage!

 

Did You Know?

Compasses are affected by nearby ferrous materials or electromagnetic fields. When they are placed on the vessels that have high metal contents, they have to be corrected and calibrated. That is done with the use of built-in magnets fitted within the case of the compass.

Resources: 

https://www.google.com/search?q=cribbage+navy&rlz=1C1GCEA_enUS759US759&oq=cribbage+navy&aqs=chrome..69i57j0j69i60j0l3.6401j0j1&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8

http://www.historyofcompass.com/compass-facts/interesting-facts-about-compass/

 

Meredith Salmon: Fun in the Sun with the Sunphotometer, July 19, 2018

NOAA Teacher at Sea

Meredith Salmon

Aboard NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer

July 12 – 31, 2018

 

Mission: Mapping Deep-Water Areas Southeast of Bermuda in Support of the Galway Statement on Atlantic Ocean Cooperation

Weather Data from the Okeanos Explorer Bridge

Latitude: 28.39°N

Longitude: 65.02°W

Air Temperature: 28.3°C

Wind Speed:  11.8 knots

Conditions: Partly sunny  

Depth: 5092.22 meters

 

Science and Technology Log

“Explorations of opportunity” including NASA Maritime Aerosol Network are conducted on the Okeanos Explorer while underway. The Maritime Aerosol Network is an organized opportunity to collect aerosol data over oceans. Aerosols are liquid or solid particles that can be generated in two ways: natural phenomena (volcano, sand storm, pollination, waves, etc.) or anthropogenic sources (combustion of hydrocarbons, chemical industries, etc.). The open ocean is one of the major sources of natural aerosols of sea-salt aerosols. Sea-salt aerosols, together with wind-blown mineral dust, and naturally occurring sulfates and organic compounds, are part of natural tropospheric aerosols.

Depending on their color, aerosols absorb sunlight in different ways. For instance, soot particles generated from the combustion of hydrocarbons absorb all visible light, therefore generating a rise in atmospheric temperature. Conversely, crystals of salt reflect all visible light and cause climatic cooling. Other studies have shown that their presence is essential for the water cycle: without aerosols, water could not condense in the form of clouds. Therefore, these particles influence the climate balance. In order to achieve this, NASA provides sunphotometers to “Vessels of Opportunity.” These vessels can be either scientific or non-scientific in their nature of operations.

SunFun
Sunphotometer device used throughout the expedition
Garmin
Garmin GPS used to collect coordinates before obtaining sunphotometer reading

How Does This Process Work?

Sunphotometer takes aerosol maritime measurements by using a photometer that is directed at the sun to measure the direct-sun radiance at the surface of the Earth. These measurements are then used to obtain a unit-less parameter: Aerosol Optical Depth (AOD). AOD is the fraction of the Sun’s energy that is either scattered or absorbed (attenuated) while it moves through the Earth’s atmosphere. The attenuation of the Sun’s energy is assumed to be a result of aerosols since the measurements are collected when the path between the sun and the sunphotometer instrument is cloud-free.

Why Is This Process Important?

This collaboration between NOAA and NASA allows for the addition of thirteen more data sets to the Maritime Aerosol Network. Regions in the open ocean are unable to be studied from land-based sunphotometers located on islands, so ships are the only other alternative to compile data. As a matter of fact, satellite based measurements are not as accurate over the ocean compared to hand-held surface measurements. Therefore, the measurements we have been logging serve as ground truth verification for satellites. In addition, the Maritime Aerosol Network allows for the expansion of data sets to the Arctic, thanks to NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown and other West Coast hydrographic ships.

SunFUN
Tatum and I collecting sunphotometer readings

sunfun 4 (3)

 

Personal Log

Safety is an absolute priority while out at sea, so the team aboard the Okeanos Explorer conducts weekly fire/emergency and abandon ship drills, and a man overboard drill every three months. We completed a man overboard drill today with an orange buoy. Everyone on the ship has designated reporting locations once the alarm sounds and the drill commences. Once you arrive at your assigned area on the ship, you must scan the water for the target and point in its direction once you find it. The fast rescue boat (FRB) is deployed to go retrieve the target and once it is safely back aboard, the drill is complete.

 

MOB
Fast Rescue Boat used during the Man Overboard Drill
man over board 2
Man Overboard Drill on the Okeanos Explorer

Did You Know?

The Mauna Loa Observatory record of solar transmission of sunlight is the longest continuous record in existence!

Resources:

https://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/grad/instruments.html

https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Features/Aerosols/page5.php

https://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/obop/mlo/programs/esrl/solar/solar.html

 

Meredith Salmon: Sonars, Sub-bottoms, and Summertime! July 18, 2018

NOAA Teacher at Sea

Meredith Salmon

Aboard NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer

July 12 – 31, 2018

 

Mission: Mapping Deep-Water Areas Southeast of Bermuda in Support of the Galway Statement on Atlantic Ocean Cooperation

 

Weather Data from the Okeanos Explorer Bridge

Latitude: 29.03°N

Longitude: 62.11°W

Air Temperature: 27.5°C

Wind Speed:  6.38 knots

Conditions: Sunny

Depth: 5167.70 meters

Science and Technology Log

EK 60
SIMRAD EK 60 echo sounder readings – 38kHz frequency is not pictured

In conjunction with the EM302 multibeam sonar, the Okeanos Explorer uses five different frequencies of SIMRAD single beam echo sounders to identify biomass in the water column: an 18 kHz, 38kHz, 70 kHz, 120 kHz, and 200kHz. (38 kHz is not pictured because it is not used in conjunction with the EM302 since the frequencies are too similar and they can cross talk). These sonar systems are common on fishing boats for estimating fish abundance and they’re used for other marine research, as well. In deeper waters, lower frequency sonar is used. Since we are surveying in approximately 5,000 meters of water, the 18 kHz will be used.

Knudsen sub-bottom profiler
3.5 kHz Knudsen sub-bottom profiler data

The third piece of important equipment used during this mission is a 3.5 kHz Knudsen sub-bottom profiler. This technology is used to assist in many surveys since these systems identify and characterize layers of sediment or rock under the seafloor. In sub-bottom profiling a sound source directs a pulse towards the seafloor and parts of this pulse reflect off the seafloor while others penetrate the seafloor. The portions of the pulse that penetrate the seafloor are both reflected and refracted as they pass into different layers of sediment. These signals return towards the surface and can be used to determine important features of the seafloor. For instance, the time it takes for the reflected sound pulses to return to the vessel can be used to determine the thickness and positioning (ex. Sloped or level) of the seafloor. The refracted pulses can provide information about the sub-bottom layers. The variability in density can be used to explain differences in composition (ex. greater density is representative of harder materials). Frequency differences can help scientists obtain optimal results that can be used when collecting data during a survey. Lower frequency pulses can penetrate the seafloor but produce a lower-resolution picture while higher-frequency pulses produce the opposite.

The EM 302, EK60, and Knudsen sub-bottom profiler are all used simultaneously during this seafloor mapping operation.

Personal Log 

Throughout the cruise, one of the NOAA Corps Officers is in charge of planning fun morale events for everyone aboard to participate in. Today, we had a cookout complete with delicious food, music, and corn-hole on the fantail. Everyone had a great time! Additional morale events are planned throughout the rest of the mission so I will post about those later on!

cookout

Corn Hole!
Competitive Cornhole on the Fantail

 

NOAA Squad
Some of the Mapping Team aboard the Okeanos Explorer!

Did You Know?

The earliest technique of bathymetry (depth measurement in water) involved lowering a weighted-down rope or cable over the side of a ship, then measuring the length of the wet end when it reached the bottom. Inaccuracies were common occurrences using this technique because of the bending of the rope caused by deflection from subsurface currents and ship movements.

This technique was replaced in the 1920s by echo sounding, in which a sound pulse traveled from the ship to the ocean floor, where it was reflected and returned.

The multibeam echosounder was invented in the 1960’s.

 

Resources: 

https://www.simrad.com/ek60

https://www.km.kongsberg.com/ks/web/nokbg0240.nsf/AllWeb/1AE8CC56C6F31E51C1256EA8002D3F2C?OpenDocument

Click to access 1259200b5dddf07c4043b97c1d753782183a.pdf

Meredith Salmon: Let The Surveying Begin! July 15, 2018

NOAA Teacher at Sea

Meredith Salmon

Aboard NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer

July 12 – 31, 2018

Mission: Mapping Deep-Water Areas Southeast of Bermuda in Support of the Galway Statement on Atlantic Ocean Cooperation

 

Weather Data from the Okeanos Explorer Bridge

Latitude: 28.12°N

Longitude: 62.04°W

Air Temperature: 27.0°C

Wind Speed:  14.08 knots

Conditions: Rain and clouds

Depth : 5133.67 meters

Science and Technology Log

Hypack for Line Planning 

This morning, we learned how to upload a variety of planning lines for the survey that will be conducted for the Atlantic Seabed Mapping International Working Group (ASMIWG) established area Southeast of Bermuda.

The black circle pictured on the map below is Bermuda’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). Bermuda’s EEZ is an area of ocean within 200 nautical miles of the island that covers 464,940 km2 of ocean. Under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, Bermuda has special jurisdiction over the use and exploration, management, and conservation of those resources. According to Bermuda’s Department of Environment and Natural Resources, this zone was established in 1996 and this distinction allows Bermuda to gain important economic value from these resources.

 

Bermuda's EEZ
The black circle pictured above is Bermuda’s Exclusive Economic Zone. The red line is the outline of the survey area and the green lines are previously collected data that will be considered when the Okeanos Explorer collects new mapping data.

The red line (ASMIWG Galway mapping box) displayed on the screen is the outline of the survey area. This area is 145,120 km2; however, during this expedition, we will be mapping a quarter to a third of the region. Within the survey area are small blue lines that are considered to be planning lines. These lines were crafted on the computer using Hypack and are 180 nautical miles in length. For efficiency, it is important for them to be oriented to follow the contour lines, and to be long because it requires less turns, which saves time while mapping. The distance between the lines is 4,300 meters and may be subject to change at the discretion of the mapping team.

The green lines are existing multibeam or bathymetric data in the region. This is crucial information to consider because the Okeanos Explorer’s goal is to map what has not been investigated and combine it with the data that already exists in those areas. The previously collected data was recorded from a variety of ships such as Atlantis, Healy, and Knorr, so we will use our EM 302 sonar to edge match their data.

In addition to the existing data, there is a background telemetry layer (blue background) that shows satellite measurements to predict what the seafloor may look like. Scientists use the existing data to update the layers to create a more accurate depiction of the seafloor.

So far, the data collected in transit has been very reliable due to weather conditions and the flat abyssal seafloor. As survey data is incoming, the personnel on watch must ensure that the sonar and computer systems are operating correctly. We will begin the actual surveying this afternoon once we reach the first line!

 

Line Plans in Hypack
Red 180 nautical mile planning lines created for the survey area in Hypack

 

Personal Log

Now that we have begun the survey, everyone is busy collecting, processing, cleaning, and updating data files in the Mission Control room. We have been learning all about the software used to create files, and it is very interesting to learn how all of the different systems are being used to make sense of the data from multiple sources (ex. EM 302, EK 60, and sub-bottom profiler). Everyone on board is really enjoying each other’s company and is eager to collaborate to help one another learn. It is really fun! One of the best parts of being in the middle of the ocean has definitely been watching the sunsets. They are incredible!

sunset 7.14.18
7/14/18 Sunset
sunset 7.15.18
7/15/18 Sunset

Did You Know?

The Sargasso Sea is considered to be one of the great ecological wonders of the world! It is home to golden algae known as Sargassum. This algae serves as a floating habitat and provides food, refuge, and breeding grounds for an array of marine organisms such as fish, sea turtles, marine birds, crabs, shrimp, and more!

The Sargasso Sea is the only sea in the world surrounded by currents, rather than land and Bermuda is the only island within it.

The algae directly benefits Bermuda when it washes ashore and sinks into the sand since it fertilizes the soil and protects the island against storms and erosion.

sargassum
Sargassum off the side of the bow

Resources:

https://www.gov.bm/articles/monitoring-bermuda%E2%80%99s-exclusive-economic-zone-eez

http://www.bermuda-online.org/environ.htm

Meredith Salmon: Xtreme XBTs, July 14, 2018

NOAA Teacher at Sea

Meredith Salmon

Aboard NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer

July 12 – 31, 2018

 

Mission: Mapping Deep-Water Areas Southeast of Bermuda in Support of the Galway Statement on Atlantic Ocean Cooperation

Geographic Area:  Atlantic Ocean, south of Bermuda

Date: July 14, 2018

Weather Data from the Okeanos Explorer Bridge – July 14, 2018

Latitude: 28.58°N

Longitude: 65.48°W

Air Temperature: 27.4°C

Wind Speed:  13.96 knots

Conditions: Rain and clouds

Depth: 5183 meters

 

Science and Technology Log

Temperature and salinity are two main variables when determining the density of water. The density of water or any acoustic medium is a very important factor in determining the speed of sound in water. Therefore, temperature data collected by Expendable Bathythermograph (XBT) probes, as well as historical salinity profiles from the World Ocean Atlas, are used to create sound velocity profiles to use to correct for sound speed changes in the water column.

Expendable Bathythermograph (XBT) probes are devices that are used to measure water temperature as a function of depth. Small copper wires transmit the temperature data back to the ship where it is recorded and analyzed. At first, I was surprised to learn that temperature data is such an important component of multibeam mapping operations; however, I learned that scientists need to know how fast the sound waves emitted from the sonar unit travel through seawater. Since these probes are designed to fall at a determined rate, the depth of the probe can be inferred from the time it was launched. By plotting temperature as a function of depth, the scientists can get a picture of the temperature profile of the water.

On our expedition, we have been deploying XBTs on a schedule as the ship is making its way to the survey area. The XBT Launcher is connected to a deck box, which translates information to computer systems onboard so the data can be logged when the probes are deployed into the water. Aboard the Okeanos Explorer, up to 8 tubes can be loaded at one time and launched by scientists.

XBT closet in the Dry Lab
XBT closet in the Dry Lab

 

XBT Launcher
XBT Launcher on the Okeanos
xbt 2
Loading the XBT Launcher

 

 

xbt 1
Savannah and I after a successful XBT load

 

XBT Data
XBT Data from a launch aboard the Okeanos Explorer. The colors on the graph indicate the XBT number and the data is plotted on a temperature and depth scale.

 

 In addition to launching XBTs and collecting data, we completed a Daily Product so that we can communicate the data we have collected to anyone on shore. The Daily Products are completed not only to ensure that the hydrographic software systems are working correctly but to also inform the public our current location, where we have collected data, and if we are meeting the objectives of the mission. Once onshore, NOAA uses this information to analyze the quality of the data and use it for analysis for dive planning. In order to generate the Daily Field Products, we use hydrographic computer systems such as QPS Qimera for advanced multibeam bathymetry processing, Fledermaus for 4D geo-spatial processing, and Geocap Seafloor for digital terrain modeling. In addition, the Daily Field Products allow us to double check the quality of the data and search for any noise interferences due to the speed of the ship or the type of seafloor bottom (hard vs soft).

 

Personal Log

One of the coolest parts of learning aboard the Okeanos Explorer is the fact that I am a part of scientific exploration and discovery in real time.  Known as “America’s Ship for Ocean Exploration,” the Okeanos Explorer is the only federally funded U.S. ship assigned to systematically explore our largely unknown ocean for the sole purpose of discovery and the advancement of knowledge. This is the first U.S.-led mapping effort in support of the Galway Statement on Atlantic Ocean Cooperation and all of this information is going to be available for public use. Not only do I get the opportunity to be involved with “real-time” research, but I am also responsible for communicating this information to a variety of different parties on shore.

Being immersed in the “hands-on” science, learning from the survey techs and watch leads, and observing all of the work that is being done to collect, process, and analyze the data is a really exciting experience. I am definitely out of my element when it comes to the content since I do not have any prior experience with seafloor mapping, sonars, etc., but I am really enjoying playing the role as the “student” in this situation. There is definitely a lot to learn and I am trying to soak it all in!

 

Did You Know?

XBTs contain approximately 1,500 meters of copper wire that is as thin as a strand of hair!

 

Resources: 

http://www.aoml.noaa.gov/phod/goos/xbtscience/news.php

https://oceanexplorer.noaa.gov/facts/xbt.html

Meredith Salmon: Setting Sail! July 12, 2018

NOAA Teacher at Sea

Meredith Salmon

Aboard NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer

July 12 – 31, 2018

 

Mission: Mapping Deep-Water Areas Southeast of Bermuda in Support of the Galway Statement on Atlantic Ocean Cooperation

Geographic Area:  Atlantic Ocean, south of Bermuda

Date: July 12, 2018

Weather Data from the Okeanos Explorer Bridge – July 12, 2018

Latitude: 32.094°N

Longitude: 69.591°W

Air Temperature: 26.2°C

Wind Speed:  10.7 knots

Conditions: Sunny

Depth: 693 meters

Survey Area
Map showing the planned operations area for the expedition outlined in yellow. Image courtesy of the NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research.

Science and Technology Log

According to the Oceanic Institute, the oceans cover 71% of the Earth’s surface. This is calculated to be 335,258,000 square kilometers! Recently, the Okeanos Explorer mapped over 1,000,000 square kilometers of the seafloor using high- resolution multibeam sonar. Although this may not seem like much, that region is larger than the areas of Arizona and Texas combined!

So why is it so important for the Okeanos Explorer to map the seafloor? The ocean’s terrain plays a very important role in ecosystems since underwater valleys determine currents and weather patterns, sea topography influences fishery management, and seamounts serve as protection against unpredictable storms. Therefore, high-resolution maps allow scientists to categorize marine habitats, provide information vital to protecting and tracking marine life, and enable us to make smart decisions for solid, sustainable conservation measures.

In order to successfully map the ocean floor, multibeam sonar is used. The Okeanos Explorer uses an EM 302 multibeam system that is designed to map a large portion of the ocean floor with exceptional resolution and accuracy. The EM 302 transducers point at different angles on both sides of the ship to create a swath of signals. Transducers are underwater speakers that are responsible for sending an acoustic pulse (known as a ping) into the water. If the seafloor or object is in the path of the ping, then sound bounces off the object and returns an echo to the transducer. The EM 302 has the ability to produce up to 864 depth soundings in a single ping. The time interval between the actual signal transmission and arrival of the return echo (two way travel time) are combined with a sound velocity profile to estimate depth over the area of the swath. In addition, the intensity of the return echo can be used to infer bottom characteristics that can be utilized for habitat mapping. Since the EM 302 creates high density, high-resolution data as well as water column features, this sonar system is ideal for exploring the seabed for geographic features.

The image below shows data being collected by the multibeam sonar on the Okeanos Explorer. The colors are used to indicate swath depth (warm colors indicate shallow waters while cool colors indicate deeper waters).

Multibeam sonar data
Multibeam sonar data including backscatter (lower left), depth (upper center) and water column data (lower center) from 7/12/2018 the Okeanos Explorer

 

As this data is being collected, it must be “cleaned” to eliminate any erroneous points.  Data is collected and cleaned in both the Dry Lab and Mission Control Room.

Dry Lab
Dry Lab, equipped with 12 computer monitors, used to process data onboard the Okeanos Explorer
Mission Control
Mission Control Room aboard the Okeanos Explorer

 

Since we have not reached the survey area yet, we have been monitoring the depth of our path thus far. We are collecting transit data which is considered to still be valuable data for unmapped seafloor area, but it may not be as high quality as focused mapping data. We will continue to collect transit data until we reach the survey area near Bermuda.

Personal Log

Life onboard the Okeanos Explorer has been a very interesting and fun learning experience! The ship runs on a 24/7 operation schedule and people are working diligently at all hours of the day. Everyone on the ship has been really welcoming and willing to share their stories and insights about their careers at sea. I am really looking forward to speaking with more people to learn about their experiences!

We set sail out of Norfolk today and began our 3.5 day/4 day transit to the survey area near Bermuda. This morning, we found out that we will need to schedule an emergency dry dock towards the end of our mission to solve an issue with a stern thruster necessary for ROV cruises. As a result, we will not be ending up in port in St. George, but we will still be able to map the area 200 nautical miles off the coast of Bermuda, so that is great!

norfolk out to sea!
NOAAS Okeanos Explorer (port quarter aspect) navigating the Elizabeth River outbound for sea from the NOAA pier in Norfolk, VA on July 12, 2018. [Photo by Commander Briana Hillstrom, NOAA

Did You Know?

Sonar is short for Sound Navigation and Ranging.

Check out this video for a visual representation of the process sonar uses to generate data! https://oceanservice.noaa.gov/caribbean-mapping/mapping-video.html

 

Resources:

https://www.oceanicinstitute.org/aboutoceans/aquafacts.html

https://oceanexplorer.noaa.gov/okeanos/one-million/welcome.html

Meredith Salmon: The Final Countdown, July 5, 2018

NOAA Teacher at Sea

Meredith Salmon

Aboard NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer

July 12 – 31, 2018

 

Mission: Mapping Deep-Water Areas Southeast of Bermuda in Support of the Galway Statement on Atlantic Ocean Cooperation

Geographic Area of Cruise: Norfolk, Virginia to Bermuda

Date: July 5, 2018

 Weather Data from Home (Clarks Summit, PA)

41.4887°N, 75.7085°W

Air Temperature: 28.0° C

Wind Speed: 1.7 Knots

Wind Direction: Southwest

Conditions: Partly Cloudy, 69% Humidity

 

Introduction

Hi everyone! My name is Meredith Salmon (yes, just like the fish) and I cannot believe that it is almost time to begin my adventure aboard NOAA’s Okeanos Explorer. This June, I finished my fourth year teaching Honors and Regular Biology at the Peddie School located in Hightstown, New Jersey. Peddie is an independent, coeducational boarding and day school that serves 551 students in grades 9-12. We welcome a diverse student body from all across the United States and the world. Our students represent a total of 23 states as well as 34 countries and 64% of students are boarding while the remaining 36% commute. Therefore, I am committed to creating a global classroom where students are engaged in a problem-based curriculum that emphasizes scientific investigation and critical thinking. In addition to teaching, I serve as the Assistant Girls’ Varsity Soccer Coach and will be the Assistant JV Girls’ Basketball Coach this winter. I have also coached winter track the past two years. I live and work as a Dorm Supervisor in a sophomore level female dormitory as well. Working as a teacher, coach, and dorm parent in the Peddie Community has granted me the unique opportunity to shape the lives of many students in and outside the classroom environment.

peddie-vs-blair
Myself (4th from the left) and fellow Peddie Faculty Coaches

Being immersed in current research while engaging with other scientists and crew members onboard the Okeanos Explorer is going to be an incredible experience. I am really excited to take what I learn in these next couple weeks and use it to design a Marine Science/Biology elective for next spring semester. I think it is so important for students to use science, engineering practices, and technology to become well versed in ocean literacy and discovery as well as NOAA’s endeavors in ocean exploration.  I can’t wait to share what I’ve learned with you soon!

 

Okeanos Explorer
NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer at sea. Image courtesy of Art Howard/NOAA OER.

More about the Mission:
The Okeanos Explorer will map an area southeast of Bermuda designated by the Atlantic Seabed Mapping International Working Group (ASMIWG) at the 4th Annual Galway Trilateral Meeting in April 2017. As part of the Galway initiative, the ASMIWG utilized a suitability model to identify priority regions in the Atlantic Ocean factoring in areas of public interest, sensitive marine areas, and areas with marine resource potential. This will be the first U.S.-led mapping effort in support of the Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance/ASMIWG initiative.

Did You Know? 

From the end of May until early July, NOAA and partners conducted an extensive ocean exploration expedition aboard the Okeanos Explorer. The goal was to collect important baseline information about unknown and poorly understood deepwater regions of the Southeastern United States.  For more information and cool videos, check out their website!

https://oceanexplorer.noaa.gov/okeanos/explorations/ex1806/welcome.html