Scott Sperber, July 16, 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 16, 2009

Weather Data from the Bridge 
Temperature: 22.64 C
Humidity: 80.6%

Science and Technology Log 

I am up very early today, 0530, the last full day at sea.  I did not make a log entry yesterday it was a very busy day. The day totaled a full 12 hour hard work day for me.  The day started out a about 0545 with the initial recovery of the old buoy.  The acoustic (sound) release mechanism was triggered and the glass balls cam up to the surface with the rope attached.  The glass balls were in a large cluster once onboard and had to be untangled.

Glass balls coming onboard (left) and popped glass ball (right).

Glass balls coming onboard (left) and popped glass ball (right).

Five of the glass balls have imploded at some time and the glass that had remained had turned into a fine white powder.  After the glass balls were brought onboard and untangled and put into their boxes the chore of bringing the 5 miles of line and cable began.  I started out in the box to flake (lay the rope down) the line as it came in.  After quite a while and a lot of rope the capstan (the vertical winch) broke. It was the only break I had since we began. A break when the brake broke. LOL. The line was cut and placed on the main winch to complete the process.  This slowed the whole procedure down because once the rope was on the winch; we had to unwind it all into its storage boxes. This had to be down 2 times and it set the whole recovery procedure behind about 2 hours. If you remember the procedure of deploying the new buoy, one chain link section at a time with the sensors attached, this procedure was now reversed for the recovery.

Scott in the box (left) and Scott on deck (right).

Scott in the box (left) and Scott on deck (right).

When the sensors came up each one was taken into the lab, photographed, videoed and a narrative was taken on to the condition of the sensor including what type of marine (ocean) growth had taken place over the year. I was given the task of taking the sensors into the lab, hanging them for photographic purposes and then bring them back outside.  A dirty job but some one had to do it. This process from start to finish, recovery of the buoy to the end of documenting the condition of the sensors took 10 hours.  After this the real fun started, cleaning the sensors. Now we are talking dirty. We had to clean off all marine growth from the sensors so Jeff could then start recovering data. 

Personal Log 

Well today I was able to put on my new steel toed boots. I should have broken them in a couple of times before this; my feet ached at the end of the day, wore a hard hat all day, a safety vest, got to climb into a box with miles of rope, got to smell like an old aquarium.  All and all a great day. Sure didn’t need to ride the bike, Carly passed on it too.

Jeff and the sensors in the lab (left) and dirty sensor with goose barnacles (right).

Jeff and the sensors in the lab (left) and dirty sensor with goose barnacles (right).

All this said and done I would really like to take the time to thank all the people who made this possible. I have done many things in my professional career to broaden my professional knowledge and this has got to be one of the best experiences of all.  First and utmost I would like to thank the NOAA Organization.  Without their desire to stress the importance of Science education through increasing the knowledge base of the educators of the world this would not have been possible. Thank you to Dr. Al Plueddemann, Chief Scientist, Dr. Roger Lukas and Dr. Fernando Santiago, both of the University of Hawaii. Not only did they share their wealth of knowledge with me but guided me through the practices of this WHOTS project and confirmed in me my beliefs of the importance of long term research in science.  Thank you to the rest of the Science Party. You all put up with me and showed me how to do what you needed.  Thank you to the Captain and the crew of the R/V Kilo Moana.

The R/V Kilo Moana (left) and Dr. Plueddeman, Paul Lethaby, Sean Whelan and Dr. Roger Lukas (right).

The R/V Kilo Moana (left) and Dr. Plueddeman, Paul Lethaby, Sean Whelan and Dr. Roger Lukas (right).

What a great experience. Thank you to my principal, Robert Weinberg, at Sherman Oaks Center for Enriched Studies and to my students. Keep it up kids, it is you that make SOCES number one.  I would also like to thank my wife.  Without her encouragement and enthusiasm towards our profession, she is also a teacher, I don’t know if I would have applied.  She is my inspiration.  Thank you one and all for allowing me to participate in this career and life enriching experience.

I see skies of blue….. clouds of white Bright blessed days….dark sacred nights And I think to myself …..what a wonderful world

~ Louis Armstrong

Folks on the ship take in the beautiful Hawaiian sunset…

Folks on the ship take in the beautiful Hawaiian sunset…

Scott Sperber, July 14, 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 14, 2009

Weather Data from the Bridge 
Temperature: 23.66 C
Humidity: 76.34%

R/V Kilo Moana

R/V Kilo Moana

Science and Technology Log 

Today is another slow scientific day today. So today I am doing some other type of scientific learning, some local marine biology.  Today I am learning about how to fish in the local Hawaiian Islands style.  Breeze Simmons, research associate student level 1, is showing me all of his riggings for various types of fish and fishing conditions.  He is even rigging up something for me so I might have an opportunity to try to catch something later today or tomorrow. I have learned that Mahi has eyes like humans and they can see up to the surface.  They are a very strong food source in the ocean the world record is close 86 pounds and that only took about 18 months of growth. Mahi mahi is also known as the dolphin fish, not to be confused with “Flipper” of dolphin fame, also known as Dorado.  Ahi is tuna, Ono is Wahoo. There are also Marlin and Aku, a member of the mackerel family.

Breeze setting up gear for fishing

Breeze setting up gear for fishing

I am also sharing the Pacific Ocean with Hurricane Carlos. It’s a big ocean out here and I have not felt any effect from it and we don’t plan to.  Carlos is still off the coast of Mexico now. This is so cool to be on board this ship with all these experts and to be adding to my knowledge. The meteorologists on board say that if Carlos comes close to Hawaii its strength will die out (lose its energy). The weather balloon launches are continuing on schedule every 4 hours with Tom and me taking the 0700 and 1100 launches. Tomorrow promises to be a very hectic day aboard ship.  We will be recovering the old buoy.  Everything will begin at a 0600 and continue all day.

Mahi mahi

Mahi mahi

Personal Log 

Since today is such a mellow day I have taken this opportunity to catch up on some reading, sun, listening to music and continue by bike riding.  It has now become a bit of competition between, Carly, one of the very young interns, 25 years young from the University of Hawaii, and me as to who is riding the most miles each day. Today she rode more.

The ship has an onboard DVD system where movies and such are piped into each berth (room) along with scientific information.  I was in my berth and I put on one of the channels and what did I see that someone had put on in the main lounge? It was an episode of National Geographic and who was on the episode but my good friends from UCLAs’ Marine Biology Department, Dr. Bill Hamner and his wife Peggy. Small world, Peggy wrote one of my letters of recommendation for this expedition. They are part of the reason I am so involved in Ocean Sciences.

Today’s Task 

Look up and find a picture of all the fish that were mentioned above. 

Me and Carly

Me and Carly

Scott Sperber, July 13, 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 13, 2009

Weather Data from the Bridge 
Temperature: 24.13 C
Humidity: 72%

Kuhio setting up for fishing

Kuhio setting up for fishing

Science and Technology Log 

The ship moved to the location of the old buoy last night. Visually, what a difference between the two. This one is certainly not the bright yellow color of the new one launched just 3 days ago. Yesterday I mentioned that the two thermometers on the new buoy were not reading identical temperatures and that they were about 0.4 degrees difference.  After asking a few questions I came to be informed that the importance of this particular series of expeditions, WHOTS, is that it is the accuracy of this longevity study that gives it its validity.  NOAA’s value of this study is that the study is an ongoing study not one that collects data brings it back to a lab and analyzes it and that is the end of it.

Science is not a one shot deal.  This is something I have tried to stress with my students over the years.  Good science, good data, is done with multiple sampling, either longevity study or many samples over a shorter period of time.  Any data can happen once but for it to be valid it needs to be substantiated.  For a number of years now the WHOTS study has not only brought back this type of data but has been able to note the small changes in this particular environment.  It has shown how these micro changes, shown over time, have an overall affect on a macro scale. This is the credence of this study is.  The fact that small changes do over a long period of time do show an effect.  The simple fact that the ship stayed on station for 3 days to calibrate the measurements with the new buoy, and then moved to the location of the old buoy shows the effort to make sure that even the most infinitesimal piece of data is made constant and notable.

Fresh Mahi mahi

Fresh Mahi mahi

Today, at this second location, there is being made shallow casts (samplings) with the SEABIRD at depths up to 200m every 4 hours.  These depths are the same depths as those of the instruments on the buoys.  Sometimes during the course of a years study the sensors will have a tendency to drift (change) or jump in their data.  These casts, engineering calibration casts, close to the buoys standardize the CTDs again reading temperature, conductivity, dissolved oxygen and then calculating density. These calibrations of any drifts serve as a comparison over the course of the year and are used to recalibrate the data.  With the recovery of the old buoy, one year worth of data will be downloaded and the similarities of all data with past weather conditions will be analyzed.  Again the sensors that are on the buoy are; MICROCATS, acoustic Doppler current meters and vector measuring current meters.

Personal Log 

Kuhio gave a shot at fishing this morning. Because the old buoy has been in the water for a year it has become a floating reef. So far Kuhio has hooked into and rough aboard 4 Mahi mahi. YUM, fresh fish tonight. I have been told that all over the old buoy and its sensors will be organisms of all types.  Jeff has asked be if I would help scrap off the old sensors.  OH BOY. Dirty smelly job I am sure. 

Scott Sperber, July 11-12, 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 11-12, 2009

Weather Data from the Bridge 
Temperature: 24.2 C

Bringing in the SEABIRD CTD

Bringing in the SEABIRD CTD

Science and Technology Log 

Compared to yesterday today is a very slow scientific day.  After releasing the WHOTS buoy, things really calmed down.  Let me take this opportunity to tell you a bit about some of the instrumentation on the buoy itself.  The overall goal of the project is to collect data about the ocean and atmosphere over a long period of time.  These data will serve to help answer questions about such things as global warming and its impact in the tropics. On the buoy itself, pictured in a previous log, there are instruments that measure temperature, humidity, solar radiation, wind direction and speed. A GPS unit keeps track of the buoy’s location at all times. On the buoy there is also an antenna which transmits data to satellites. Each of the two buoys [explain why there are two in the ocean for this 4-day comparison period] in the water has enough slack in the lines to allow for an approximate 2-mile radius circle.

Profile of CTD on shallow casts

Profile of CTD on shallow casts

The weather balloon launching continues every four hours with teams of two or three taking each launch in shifts. Some CTD casts have been done with the small package SEABIRD CTD.  This is set over the side, lowered down by crane and yo-yoed up and down for about four hours.  During this time, data are sent directly to an onboard computer and collected by the scientists. These data include temperature and salinity. This is important information to assess changes going on in the crucial air/sea interface.

These particular locations, ones where temperature and salinity difference vary worldwide, the thermocline and halocline are dependent on variables such a currents and air temperature.  On the final assent collection bottles are closed to collect water samples for further analysis. With all of this sophisticated instrumentation onboard surface water temperature samples are still taken with the old fashioned method of lowering thermometers into the water several times to take an average reading. Some things never change. The information collected by both the oceanographic crew as well as the meteorological crew aboard is truly showing the links, the association between the interaction of the air and sky, in the crucial air/sea interface.

I found out today that the temperatures on the two thermometers on the WHOTS-6 buoy are not matching. They are off by about 0.4 degrees C; that is the level of precision necessary for this research.  The scientists are looking into which one is closest to the temperatures read on the ship before we move off to the old buoy’s location tomorrow. Apparently, this is not something that can be reconfigured so the scientists need to know which thermometer they can rely on for information. There are two of just about every instrument on the WHOTS buoys. This serves as a backup and a comparison for the same location and enables the greatest accuracy in the data.

Profile of weather balloon sonde

Profile of weather balloon sonde

Personal Log 

I’d like to share a bit more about my onboard life. I have gotten acclimated finding my way around the ship (sort of). Well, at least I don’t get lost going to the mess hall anymore.  I am in a berth on an upper bunk with Jeffrey Snyder, one of the primary researchers from the University of Hawaii. The berth is quite comfortable as berths can go since it has been years since I was in a bunk bed. Various alarm clocks go off at anytime at night so the crew can go on their watch.  There is even a ghost alarm that goes off at 01:15 that Jeff and I cannot locate.  Food is not at a shortage. It seems that every time you turn around it is time to eat, and what great food it is too.  There is fresh salad lunch and dinner, fresh fruit, at least 3 entries to choose from each mea and desserts. LA Fitness here I come. I received what I consider a gift today from Fernando Santiago, one of the principle scientists, a DVD of the procedures that are used on the Hawaii Ocean Time-series Project.

July 12, 2009 

Had some down time today after setting off another weather balloon and a great fruit and yogurt breakfast. Took a 7 mile bike ride. You may ask where in the middle of the ocean you can take a 7 mile bike ride.  They have a nice little fitness room on board.

Words of the day: Mahimahi, calibration, dissolved oxygen, interface, thermocline, conductivity, temperature, depth.

Scott Sperber, July 10, 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 10, 2009

The crew readying the glass balls for deployment

The crew readying the glass balls for deployment

Weather Data from the Bridge 
Temperature:  23.83 C

Science and Technology Log 

This morning will be when the WHOTS-6 buoy will be deployed. Via the A-frame on the aft deck, the buoy will be hoisted and placed into the water. This process is done after 40m of chain and MicroCats are lowered into the water. These serve as a keel for the buoy prior to attaching the balance of the chain instruments and then thousands of feet of line which is belayed out by tension and hand over hand from many volunteers, the 80 glass balls that provide for floatation and then the massive anchor weights (air weight of 9300 lbs) to hold the whole thing down to a final depth of 4720m. Each individual section of chain with instrumentation has to me attached prior to releasing the buoy. Note the instrumentation on the top along with the large flat white “tail” to keep the buoy set with the wind.

The WHOTS-6 Buoy. Note the instrumentation on top and the wide white fin.

The WHOTS-6 Buoy. Note the instrumentation on top and the wide white fin.

Along with the oceanographic research and data collecting going on there is also atmospheric data being collected with the use of weather balloons. These helium filled balloons are to be launched every 4 hours for the entire expedition. The balloons are filled to 500 psi (pounds per square inch) of helium, the tanks of which are on board, attached to a calibrated sonde (sensing) device which reads data, temperature, air pressure and humidity and transmits the data back to the ship.  Under the careful and watchful eye of Ludovic Bariteau of CIRES and the University of Colorado, at 0730, I was able to successfully set up and launch the fourth balloon of the study. Thomas Dunn and Julie Kelly, also from the University of Hawaii research team aboard, were there to assist.

Preparing the weather balloon for launch

Preparing the weather balloon for launch

Personal Log 

I got to launch a weather balloon.  The thrills and new experiences never stop. I am very anxious to take my experiences and new knowledge back to school. I also had to practice putting on a survival suit during our safety drill. Will the fun never end?

Words of the Day: acoustics; Doppler shift; calibrate, psi

Here I am launching a weather balloon! Donning my survival suit

Here I am launching a weather balloon! Donning my survival suit

Donning my survival suit

Donning my survival suit

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:

Overview 

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