Tom Savage: What Other Scientific Data is Collected Besides Ocean Floor Mapping? August 22, 2018

NOAA Teacher at Sea

Tom Savage

Aboard NOAA Ship Fairweather

August 6 – 23, 2018


Mission: Arctic Access Hydrographic Survey

Geographic Area of Cruise: Point Hope, northwest Alaska

Date: August 22, 2018

Weather Data from the Bridge

Latitude  55   44 N
Longitude – 165  23.04  W
Air temperature: 8 C
Dry bulb   8 C
Wet bulb  8 C
Visibility: 0 Nautical Miles
Wind speed: 9 knots
Wind direction: east
Barometer: 1008.4  millibars
Cloud Height: 0 K feet
Waves: 1 feet

Sunrise: 7:10 am
Sunset: 11:01 pm


Science and Technology 

There are other data being collected besides ocean floor mapping using the Bottom sampler.  Ocean floor samples are collected at many positions along the track line.

This is quite a gizmo, at the end is a metal scoop that collects soil samples once it hits the ocean floor. On both sides of the pole near my right hand, there is two underwater lights that is activated prior to deployment and a GoPro placed in a waterproof compartment.  The camera is operated from a wireless connection and the remote control device  is attached by Velcro to your wrist, just like a watch.  The device weighs around 35 pounds.

Bottom Sampler
Bottom Sampler – photo by Megan Shapiro

Once the sample is retracted and emptied on the deck, the size of the aggregate is measured using a scale and recorded. Why is this information useful ?  This data will be used used by mariners when assessing the best place to deploy an anchor. An ocean bottom containing a muddy composition is preferred as it helps to keep in place both the anchor and chain. Below is a sample we retrieved off of Point Hope, Alaska.   Using the bottom sample below, what are your thoughts, is this an ideal located to drop anchor?

Ocean Sample Scale
Bottom sample compared to Ocean Sample Scale ~ photo by Tom


Dropping an anchor for a ship is not a 5 minute job.  I recall fishing with my cousin in his small boat when I was in elementary school; we would arrive at an ideal location to catch lake bass and toss our anchor overboard. It was nothing fancy, a large plastic bucket filled with sand.  With the rope attached, we lowered the bucket “anchor” tie it off with some slack and for the most part it kept us from moving.  Anchoring a large 1,500 ton ship requires around 30 minutes to secure and the ocean depth would determine the amount of chain to use.  The anchor weighs 3,000 lbs and 400 – 700 feet of chain is deployed; this depends on the ocean depth. This brings the total weight of anchor and chain to around 48,000 pounds.  The anchor itself does not secure the ship, it is the combined weight of the chain and anchor.  After the chain is deployed, officers monitor the ships movement to ensure the anchor is not dragging using ECDIS, which uses a GPS feed that tracks the ship’s movement. Interesting fact, the Fairweather can hold 100,000 gallons of fuel, for ship stability purposes the fuel supply never gets below 40,000 gallons.

Personal Log

During the past few days, the sea has been a bit rough, but I love it especially at night, falling asleep is so much easier. It looks like Wednesday, I will be deploying the drifter buoy, stay tuned there will be an entire blog dedicated to it, including how to login and track its movement!. So far on this cruise I have not been able to view the constellations at night, the big obstacle is the fog.  Remember, the sun sets at around 11:30 pm and because of our latitude, it does not get very dark at night.  The other big issue has been the weather the past few days, mostly overcast and fog. As we transit to Kodiak Island, the weather forecast does not mention much about the sun, though we are in Alaska on the water!

Something else interesting to note; recall a few blogs ago I discussed relative humidity as a comfort gauge? It is the dew point temperature that meteorologist use for predicting rainfall, if the dew point temperature is 75 and the air temp is 76 F near the surface rain is almost guaranteed. Cruising in the Unga Strait within the Aleutian Islands today, the cloud deck is roughly currently at 1,000 feet. It is at that location where the dew point and air temperature match and cloud formation begins. This is what we call the LCL, lifting condensation level.

Last night I was talked into played the bass guitar for the first time, playing with the band on board.  They brought me up to par quickly, it was fun! I left the singing to the professionals, our deck hand Kyle and the XO (Executive Officer) Mike!

Until next time, happy sailing !


Lisa Battig: Of Auroras, Anemometers, Anchors and Adult-sized Exposure Suits, September 3, 2017

NOAA Teacher at Sea

Lisa Battig

Aboard NOAA Ship Fairweather

August 28 – September 8, 2017


Mission: Arctic Hydrographic Survey

Geographic Location: Transit from Port Clarence to Yukon River Delta with Ship Surveying on the west side of Norton Sound
Latitude: 62o 32.5 N            Longitude:  165o 48.7 W

Date: September 3, 2017

Weather on the Bridge:
48 degrees F, Winds 6-8 knots from NNE, Seas 2-3 ft increasing, 50% cloud cover

Science and Technology Log


Manda aurora 1
A shot of the aurora taken by Lieutenant Damien Manda, Operations Officer. This was my first aurora ever, and I know I was treated to a truly spectacular display. There was a lot of ooo-ing and aaah – ing and shrieks of delight. I was definitely one of those!

So this isn’t ship science, and it certainly isn’t technology that is made or operated by anyone on the ship, but the aurora is great science and of all the things I’ve experienced out here, has one of the best ties to Chemistry. Why Chemistry? Well, because it’s dealing with electrons. As my chemistry students will learn in a month or so, energy at certain frequencies has the ability to affect the electrons in an atom by causing them to jump up one or more energy levels. That electron does not want to stay in that higher energy position (orbital) so it will shortly drop back down. When it does so, it releases the absorbed energy as a photon of light which is what our eyes see as the brilliant colors. Neon lights follow this principle.

The aurora occurs in an oval shape around the magnetic poles of the earth – both north and south. The reason for this is that the magnetic field of the earth dips closer to earth at the North and South Pole. It is in these regions that highly charged electrons and protons from the solar wind move close enough to the earth that they will interact with the electrons in elements in our lower atmosphere; nitrogen, oxygen, argon and the trace gases.

Because each element has a different emission spectrum, the color given off will vary with the elements being charged. The green that is so often associated with auroras is from atmospheric oxygen. Oxygen in the lower atmosphere is the element that is most commonly affected by the solar wind particles. When higher altitude oxygen is affected, reds will actually be present. Nitrogen will also be charged this way, but less frequently than oxygen. Nitrogen’s color scheme is blues and purples. A strong aurora, which we had the opportunity to see, will have a mix of greens, pinks, purples, whites and blues.

ANEMOMETERS: Weather is one of the more important factors in determining ship navigation. High winds bring heavy seas; heavy moisture in the air may bring low clouds or fog reducing visibility. These factors must be figured into a navigational plan. Weather on the ship is compiled both through analog and digital means. The first wind information given to a seaman standing watch during daylight hours is the wind vane on the bow of the ship. It will tell which direction the wind is from and will give that seaman a sense of how the ship may drift off course while underway.

Fairweather anemometer
Looking up at the anemometers on Fairweather set on the flying bridge. You can see the two levels reasonably well. This is where constant weather data are being gathered which are then relayed to multiple places both on the ship and off.

The ship also has two anemometers. Both are on the mast. One is above the other physically as you somewhat see in the image. They are able to pick up exact wind speed and direction and keep record of maxima. One of the two will be chosen as dominant because the wind is less influenced by obstacles as it (the wind) travels across the ship’s surface. The anemometer chosen will feed into the ship’s digital data stream.The watch also takes data on air temperature, atmospheric pressure, cloud cover, and seas. Air temperature is taken from wet and dry bulb mercury thermometers. The difference between the wet and dry bulb temperatures will give a reading of relative humidity, also, when assessed using a psychrometric chart. A standard barometer is also on the bridge. Swell height and direction are determined by the watch crew visually, as are cloud cover and type. All of these data are recorded hourly. Digital sensors on board also take many of these readings and feed them into the navigation system and the ship’s ECDIS system. The redundancy of these processes, using both digital and analog means, underscore the importance of weather to the ship.

All NOAA ships, UNOLS (university ships) and some merchant vessels also serve as weather stations for the National Weather Service. The digital data is automatically sent on the hour. Visual data on swell direction and height and the condition of the seas is shared through another program, keeping the NWS and other weather agencies more informed of local weather activity.


watching the anchor and chain
Commanding Officer Mark Van Waes and Chief Bosun Brian Glunz checking the anchor and chain to be sure it is clear of the ship. Dennis Brooks is standing by.


When placing the anchor, the ship will initially overshoot the anchor location and then reverse back over it. This is primarily to keep the anchor and chain from ever being underneath the ship. The anchor and chain are extremely heavy and could do serious damage to the scientific equipment underneath, the propellers and even scratch up the hull. Once the ship has reversed slowly to the location, the anchor is dropped along with 5-7 times the amount of chain as the depth of water the ship is in. As the chain is dropping, the ship will continue to slowly back up laying the chain along the seafloor. The chain will then be locked, and as the anchor finally drags back, it will catch and hold. When the anchor catches, the ship will buck slightly, pulling the chain completely taut, and then because the ship will rebound, the chain will slacken. This is done twice (or more, if necessary) to ensure the anchor has really caught. The bosun and deck hands are watching over the side of the ship communicating with the bridge when the anchor is taut and slack as well. For complete safety, fixed points of land are marked on the radar and distances to each are calculated. The bridge will take measurements from these points every 10 minutes for the first half hour confirming that the anchor is set and then every half hour while at anchor.

Heaving the anchor involves “reeling” it in (similar to sport fishing) by getting the ship closer to the anchor as it is being drawn up. The goal is keeping the chain at a 90o angle to the surface of the water. Again, this keeps the anchor and chain from being able to do damage to the ship. During this process, the bridge will continually check the location of the bow relative to the anchor to insure that the hull will never cross over the chain. Once the ship is directly over the anchor, it should pull free. Finally, during the time the anchor chain is being pulled up, it must be cleaned of all the mud and debris.

washing the anchor chain
Me. Washing down the anchor chain as it comes up with SS Dennis Brooks helping hold the fire hose (it’s pretty heavy!)


Exposure suit
Me trying on a VERY large adult exposure suit. Look at those legs!!

Each week, the entire crew of the ship has an emergency drill. Because there are no outside emergency personnel available for the ship (e.g. fire department) all crew must be well trained in how to handle fires, a sinking ship, and a person falling overboard. There are many crewmembers who pursued their MPIC (Medical Person in Charge), and others who are trained in Rescue Swimming, and there are also members of the Engineering crew who are trained firefighters. But regardless of training, the entire crew needs to be clear as to their responsibilities in an emergency situation and how to communicate with one another throughout the ordeal. So once a week, an unannounced drill will be run to sharpen some of these skills.

I had the chance to be involved with “man overboard” drill today. The drill consisted of me screaming as a dummy (Oscar) with a life vest was dumped over the side. After that, a man overboard was called and the ship’s alarm system was initiated. There are differing signals for each type of emergency. As all ship personnel mustered, communication began. The Commanding Officer, Mark Van Waes, was actually the first to spot the MOB (man overboard) and fixed the location for the bridge who subsequently relayed it through ship communications. At that point, two different options were available; bringing the ship to a position next to the victim and rescuing from the ship or deploying the Fast Rescue Boat mentioned in my last post to do a rescue. Although the ship was brought around, the rescue from the ship proved too difficult. The Fast Rescue boat was deployed with a coxswain, rescue diver (outfitted in an exposure suit) and a third. The MOB was found, placed on a back board, brought back to the ship, and rescue breathing was started along with warming up of the body.

It was fantastic watching all of the different pieces of the puzzle come together to be successful.

Department of the Day: The Deck Crew!

The Deck Crew
The amazing deck crew! L-R back row: Terry Ostermeyer, Dennis Brooks, Brian ____. L-R front row: Carl Coonts, Rick Ferguson, Me, Peter “Nick” Granozio

Every department is important on Fairweather, but the deck crew does a lot of difficult tasks that are often overlooked. They are the ones who keep the ship clean and stocked with supplies. They do the heavy lifting and the fixing of anything non-mechanical. They are responsible for driving the small launches – and are indispensable to the surveys since they need to drive the lines and make the call if it gets too shallow or dangerous. They are also on bridge watch and typically have the helm, meaning they are driving the big ship, too!

Deck crew launches the small boats from Fairweather and they head up the line handling to keep everyone safe. Members of the deck crew are also on watch 24 hours a day and do constant security checks throughout the entire ship every hour. They operate all of the cranes onboard. They are responsible for the flow of materials – what will be incinerated or placed in hazmat containers or stored for later disposal – and then take care of it. Finally, they also do the physical work of anchoring and heaving the anchors. The ship certainly would not run without the deck department.

Personal Log

Getting to know the different groups of people that work here has been amazing. I’ve had opportunities to work closely with the Survey team, the NOAA Corps officers, the stewards and the deck department. I’ve had a chance to see a bit of what the engineering group does, too. I’ve learned so much about the work they do and even about the lives they led before and lead now. I’ve also learned that ship life has some big ups and downs. The work is fascinating and most of the time there are new and interesting things to do. The CO, XO and Ops Officer work hard to ensure that daily duties change often and that there is a constant atmosphere of training.

But it’s difficult to be out at sea for long periods of time, and Fairweather in particular does not have a true “home port” – so it’s virtually impossible to have a place to call home. Several of the folks on this ship have family around the area of where Hurricane Irma is about to hit (Florida, the Carolinas…) and so one of the crewmembers is on his way to Florida to make sure everything is going to be okay. On the flip side, you really do get to see amazing places and events – like the aurora at the top of my post, or Russia…

Little and Big Diomede from Kyle
The islands of Little Diomede (left, foreground) and Big Diomede (right, background). Little Diomede is American land but Big Diomede is Russian. I saw Russia!


 Did You Know?

…that exposure (immersion) suits really do extend your life? In March 2008, up here in the Bering Sea, a fishing trawler, Alaska Ranger, went down with 47 people on it. All 47 put exposure suits on prior to abandoning ship – some of them were not properly fitted, one ended up with a gash in it – but at least they all put them on. While lifeboat deploys were attempted, at least two of the lifeboats ended up floating away with no one in them. Only 2 were properly deployed and one of those took on water immediately. So exposure suits were the primary survival tool! Although 5 members of the crew did not make it, 42 were saved through the actions of the US Coast Guard and others in the 1-7 hour window after hitting the water. Some of the crew members were floating in the water in their suits for 3 hours before they were rescued! The necessity of proper training, like the weekly drills on NOAA ships, cannot be overstated. But in these worst case scenarios, even an ill-fitting exposure suit is going to give you more time.

Tammy Orilio, Sand Point, Alaska, June 27, 2011

NOAA Teacher at Sea: Tammy Orilio
NOAA Ship Oscar Dyson
Mission: Pollock Survey
Geographical Area of Cruise: Gulf of Alaska
Date: 27 June 2011

Weather Data from the Bridge:
Latitude: 55.33 N
Longitude: -160.52 W

Wind Speed: 18.24 knots
Surface Water Temp: 7.3 degrees C

Water Depth: 28.43 m
Air Temp: 8.2 degrees C
Relative Humidity: 91%

Personal Log:
I woke up yesterday to the sound of the anchor being dropped (it’s a really loud noise that goes on for a few minutes). We weren’t scheduled to stop anywhere, so I figured something out of the ordinary had to be happening in order for us to be dropping anchor, and I soon found out what happened. Turns out a crew member had an accident onboard, so we headed to the nearest community to get to a medical facility, which is Sand Point- a small little fishing village.

So we ended up spending the day anchored in Sand Point yesterday. It was foggy & rainy yet again, so a few of the scientists purchased fishing licenses online and they fished off the back deck. They ended up catching some cod, halibut, and sculpins (Irish lords to be exact). They also ended up dragging some kelp up to the surface, and of course I was excited about that because I love seaweeds 🙂 And I’ve never seen live kelp in person before- I’ve only seen the dried stuff we ate in Marine 1!

Some buildings and a couple of windmills in Sand Point.
Some buildings and a couple of windmills in Sand Point.
A barge anchored in the bay.
A barge anchored in the bay.
Morning on 26 June 2011.
Morning on 26 June 2011.
A helicopter leaves the airport on 27 June. That spit of land is the runway.
A helicopter leaves the airport on 27 June. That spit of land is the runway.
We think this is Laminaria, but not positive.
We think this is Laminaria, but not positive.
Some kind of kelp. Salty.
Some kind of kelp. Salty.

We are still anchored here, because one of our science team members is going to fly out of here this afternoon to get to a meeting in Juneau. Sadly, our trip is essentially over- we are not going to do any more fishing 🙁 I’m disappointed that the trip was cut a few days short, but the situation was out of everyone’s control, so there’s nothing I can do about it. I am thankful that I did get to go on this trip even if it was short- it was a great experience!

We’re supposed to be leaving Sand Point at some point this evening, and the weather forecast doesn’t look so good. High winds- up to 35 knots (that’s about 40 mph) and 18 ft seas are forecast for tonight, with only a little decrease for tomorrow. Going to be a great time!! I will definitely have to take my seasick medication before we leave here.

Question of the Day:

  • What kingdom & phylum are brown algae (such as kelp) in?

Richard Jones & Art Bangert, January 15, 2010

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Richard Jones
January 4 – 22, 2010

Mission: Oceanographic Survey
Geographical Area: Hawaiian Islands
Date: January 15, 2010

Science Log

We have our last buoy of the 155 West line in the water and the anchor is set. Today began with a ride for Rick over the old buoy where he was responsible for removing an old loop of rope in order to put on the shackle and line that the tow line would be attached to.

Readying to retrieve the buoy
Readying to retrieve the buoy
You would think that cutting a three-eights nylon line would be pretty easy, and you would be right if that line wasn’t attached to a rocking, slime covered buoy floating in the middle of an ocean that is over 5000 meters deep.
Teamwork is essential
Teamwork is essential
It would also have helped if my knock-off Leatherman had a sharper blade.Anyway, Al and I went out the buoy on the RHIB and got a pretty good spray here and there as you can see from the water drops on some of the images.
Reeling it back in
Reeling it back in

Once we were on the buoy Al removed the ‘Bird” and handed to the support crew in the RHIB.If it weren’t for these men and women we (the scientists) would not be able to collect the data.This is science on the front lines and it takes a dedicated and well-trained crew to make the endeavor of science one that produces meaningful, valid, and important data.

Barnacles and all!
Barnacles and all!

Once the ‘Bird’ is off the buoy and the towline is attached it is time to go back to the KA to pick-up the towline so that the buoy can be recovered and the next phase of the process can begin, deployment of the new buoy that will replace this one.

Zodiak returning to the ship
Zodiak returning to the ship
During the recovery Art and Rick often work as a team spooling the nylon because it takes two people to re-spool the line in a way to prevent tangles, one person to provide the turning and another to be the ‘fair lead’.
The fair lead actually has the harder job because they have to keep constant eye on the line as it spools.With seven spools of nylon all over 500 meters and the 700 meters of Nilspin recovery is a team effort by everyone.
KA from RHIB_1
Like the recovery, the deployment is a team effort and many hands make the work easier for everyone.But at this point of the cruise Art and Rick can pretty much handle the nylon line individually, but work as a team to move the empty spools and reload the spool lift with full spools. Deployment of this buoy ended just about 4:30 PM with the anchor splashing and some deck clean up then it was out of the sun and into the air-conditioned comfort of the ship for some clean clothes and good food.
Deployment is also a team effort
Deployment is also a team effort

Richard Jones & Art Bangert, January 13, 2010

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Richard Jones
January 4 – 22, 2010

At the controls
At the controls

Mission: Oceanographic Survey
Geographical Area: Hawaiian Islands
Date: January 13, 2010

Science Log

Bronc Buoy Day! By 8 this morning ship time we were running out the Nielspin and slapping on the fairings from the recovery yesterday.Some of these were pretty clean, but the majority of them, the ones that the teachers got to help with were pretty slimy and even had barnacles stuck to them. The fairings are added to help the reduce shake on the wire that can be produced by currents close to the equator.

We put these airfoil shaped fairings on the first 250 meters, after that it was smooth sailing.Because the Bronc-Bobcat buoy at 0: 155W is a TAO-CO2 buoy it needed a little extra weight on the anchor, 6200 pounds of steel. Once the anchor was off the fantail and sinking we noticed that there was a ship close to the location of the buoy. The science crew commented that this must be a new record for fishermen finding one of the buoys. It seems that fishermen love the TAO buoys since they attract fish.One of the scientists said, “A buoy for these guys is like having your own private fishing hole”. It will be interesting to see if this ship leaves, or just steams away and waits for us to be clear of the area and then comes back.

Broncs buoy deployed!
Broncs buoy deployed!

Around 12:15 today, actually Rick and Art were just finishing up lunch when the call came from Survey, “Teacher’s at Sea report to the CTD deck”. The first order of business was to lower an Argo buoy over the side of the ship and then to release the buoy using a quick release. According the home page for Argo, Argo is a global array of 3,000 (3199 on Jan 13) free-drifting profiling floats that measure the temperature and salinity of the upper 2000 m of the ocean.

These buoys are unique because the sink to between 1000 and 2000 meters and then on regular intervals, generally 10 days the Argo returns to the surface to transmit and the data it has collected. This allows, for the first time, continuous monitoring of the temperature, salinity, and velocity of the upper ocean, with all data being relayed and made publicly available within hours after collection. Once the Argo was on its own a call was made to the bridge for the crew to help with the deployment of the Bronc Buoy. This AOML drifter’s data will be available in a few days from the Adopt-A-Drifter website. It will be interesting to follow the Bronc Buoy and see where it goes over the next several years.

Our afternoon will be spent sailing south, in the Southern Hemisphere for the first time this trip and devoted to teardown of the old 0: 155W buoy and set-up of our next buoy.

After the deployment of the new CObuoy we crossed the equator and entered the southern hemisphere. Our new position put us in the southern hemisphere and we officially went from the winter to the summer season. Currently (at 6:15 pm MST) we are approximately 28.5 miles (at 6:19 MST) miles south of the equator.
Minding the lines
Minding the lines
Reeling it in
Reeling it in

Those of you in Montana today experienced temperatures ranging from 30 to 40 degrees while the temperatures around the equator (regardless of north – winter or south- summer) are staying at about 84 degrees Fahrenheit. Quite a warm temperature when considering the area north of the equator is technically in the Winter season. Regardless, of your position just north or south of the equator, the deck work required to recover and deploy TAO buoys is demanding. An air temperature of 84 degrees seems mild but is really very hot when working on a deck that is painted dark gray. Everyone has to be careful to make sure they drink enough water to stay hydrated. This operation is certainly a team effort. Everyone works together to make sure the job gets done by checking to make sure those participating in deployments or recoveries are safe. This means checking for life jackets, hardhats, application of sunscreen, the need for water etc. Higher education could take a lesson from the way that this crew collaborates and works together!

The anchor sinks to the depths
The anchor sinks to the depths
Decorative spirit
Decorative spirit
The team
The team
How the buoy gathers and sends data
How the buoy gathers and sends data
Crossed the equator!
Crossed the equator!

Mary Cook, December 14, 2004

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Mary Cook
Onboard NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown
December 5, 2004 – January 7, 2005

Mission: Climate Prediction for the Americas
Geographical Area: Chilean Coast
Date: December 14, 2004

Location: Latitude 19°45.13’S, Longitude 85°30.82’W

Weather Data from the Bridge
Wind Direction (degrees) 164.30
Relative Humidity (percent) 75.74
Temperature (Celsius) 18.60
Air Pressure (Millibars) 1016.02
Wind Speed (knots) 15.33
Wind Speed (meters/sec) 8.40

Question of the Day

Why do you think the floaters are made of glass?

Positive Quote for the Day

“Patience is passion tamed.” Lyman Abbott

Science and Technology Log

At about 5:30 this morning the WHOI guys are up early and ready to go! This is the day that the new and improved Stratus 5 surface mooring is deployed! It’s what everyone has been working toward. My understanding is that first, the mooring line and upper 50 meters of instruments will be put in the water and attached to the buoy. Second, the buoy will be deployed with a quick release hook off the port side. Then the ship will move ahead to bring the buoy behind it. Next, the ship will slow down and move ahead as needed to keep the buoy aft while the crew attaches the remaining instruments. The last things to be put on the mooring line are the glass ball floaters, the acoustic release, and then the 9000 pound anchor. We’ll wait around for a couple of hours for the anchor to sink and settle, then, they’ll take a Seabeam (echo-sounding) survey of the ocean floor where the anchor is located. After the survey, we’ll move downwind of the buoy and tomorrow inter-comparison testing will begin.

Now, it’s 5:30 in the afternoon, and all the hard work is completed. Everything went off without a hitch. Well, almost. There were a couple of tense moments throughout the day, but all in all it went very well. The planning and orchestration of the whole process is quite amazing with several people communicating with radios and hand signals, all getting it done just right.

At “6:00 Science on the Fantail”, we interviewed Keir Colbo who works for Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. He shared with us his duties for the day. According to Keir, his job is to stay out of the way and record everything in a logbook. I mean everything. Keir wrote down the deployment time, serial number and order of every instrument that went into the water. He counted every glass ball floater (total 90). He recorded the Global Positioning System (GPS) reading of the anchor as it was dumped into the ocean. GPS uses a receiver to locate an object by detecting a series of satellites. Keir also explained the glass ball floaters. They are 5/8 inch thick glass domes with a diameter of 17 inches. The glass balls are put into bright yellow plastic hulls that protect from breakage and enable them to be chained together. Keir’s job is very important even though at times it may seem monotonous. When the scientists return next, his records will be the first thing they pull for references to make sense of the science.

Personal Log

It’s 5:30 Tuesday morning and I am sitting at my desk thinking about the day that’s before us. The ship is constantly moving with the ocean motions. There’s no way to get away from it – it’s always a presence with me. I can’t help thinking that we’re atop something alive and breathing. Every time there’s a swell it feels like the ocean is taking a deep breath and then slowly exhaling. It reminds me of the rhythmic breathing of someone who is asleep. I must admit, I can more easily understand why some ancient cultures worshipped the ocean or devised amulets for protection from the spirits of the ocean. Well, I don’t worship the ocean but everyday I gain a deeper respect and appreciation for it – for its vastness, and power and how much all of life on Earth is so intricately dependent upon its wellbeing. Even living things that are a long way from the ocean like in Arkansas, or south central Siberia, depend on the ocean.

I enjoyed today. We watched all the guys working in unison to get the work done which has danger lurking around every corner. These guys are safety-minded, too. They do things right and they watch out for each other. It’s also cool to see the Chileans and Americas working together. It’s like it should be. My least favorite part of the day was waiting for all the cable to reel out. I took a nap. My most favorite part of the day was when the 9000 pound anchor was dumped overboard! What a BIG splash! It sounded like someone doing a cannonball at the city swimming pool. Everybody was smiling.

Happy Birthday, Deano.

Until tomorrow…..


Diane Stanitski: Day 8, August 18, 2002

NOAA Teacher at Sea

Diane Stanitski

Aboard NOAA Ship Ka’imimoana

August 16-30, 2002

Day 8: Sunday, August 18, 2002

The weather observations at 1700 today were:
Sea Water Temperature: 26.7°C
Visibility: 12 nautical miles
Wind direction: 055 (on a 0-360° scale) – NE
Wind speed: 20 kts
Sea wave height: 5-7′
Swell wave height: 6-8′
Sea level pressure: 1013.2 mb
Cloud cover: 3/8, cumulus

Today’s quote: “Best be yourself, imperial, plain and true!” – Robert Browning

The crew was abuzz today due to the fact that we were about to deploy a test buoy after surveying a 3×3 mile stretch of the ocean to find an area with a flat surface for the buoy’s anchor to rest upon. The entire exercise took all morning and a part of the afternoon. I interviewed John Bumgardner, our mechanical engineer on the boat, about the buoy array and videotaped a short segment to be used in one of our upcoming webcasts.

A buoy deployment is serious business on the ship. One of two cranes is used to lift the extremely heavy buoy off the starboard side of the ship onto the water. Thousands of meters of durable nilspin and nylon are then spooled out into the ocean behind the buoy with a large anchor (a railroad wheel) weighing approximately 2 tons dropped as a final way to secure the buoy in its location and anchor it to the ocean floor (see photos in the photo log). The buoy drifts off into the sea for a few km as the ship slowly drifts in the opposite direction so that the rope doesn’t become tangled. An acoustic release device is then discharged into the water, which will allow the buoy to become detached from the anchor after it’s at the bottom of the ocean. This will be handy when the buoy is retrieved from the water at the end of September during the return of the KA to Honolulu.

The deployment was successful except for one rope that was caught over the sonic wind sensor. A group of us decided to ride the RHIB to the buoy in order to pull the rope off of the sensor. It was a rough ride through the 6-8′ swells, but boy was it fun! We all hung on and received a nice salty shower during our return to the ship.

While all of this was going on, Larry, our Electronics Technician, hooked me up to my email account so that I could keep in touch with all of you. He also downloaded software so that I could provide photos of my experience for you to view. Larry keeps the ship rolling with his expertise in so many areas. We’re definitely lucky to have him on board.

After turkey, stuffing and mashed potatoes for dinner, John videotaped me on the back deck in front of a beautiful sunset. I then came inside for a short French lesson. Takeshi, our foreign observer, is from France and is teaching us some basic French before our arrival in Nuku Hiva, the French Marquesas. It’s all coming back to me after 3 years of French in High School – definitely worthwhile classes to take in school.

I’m off to bed after a long day in the fresh air. Looking forward to tomorrow’s adventures.

Today’s question: What percent of the ocean’s water is saline?

All the best,

Jane Temoshok, October 19, 2001

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Jane Temoshok
Onboard NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown
October 2 – 24, 2001

Mission: Eastern Pacific Investigation of Climate Processes
Geographical Area: Eastern Pacific
Date: October 19, 2001

Latitude: 20º S
Longitude: 85º W
Air Temp. 18.8º C
Sea Temp. 18.4º C
Sea Wave: 3 – 5 ft.
Swell Wave: 3 – 5 ft.
Visibility: 10 miles
Cloud cover: 7/8

Science Log

It’s done! Everyone was up early and out on the fantail (the aft deck) right after breakfast. Although the waves were a bit higher today the sun was bright and the temperature mild. In the complete reverse order of how the old mooring was brought in on Wednesday the new mooring was deployed. People worked from 7 this morning ’till 4 in the afternoon to get this put out properly and safely. Near the very end, after paying out close to 4000 meters of rope, the glass balls were attached, next the release valve, and lastly the anchor. The anchor consists of 3 large solid steel wheels that weigh close to 10,000 pounds! What a splash it made when it hit the water! Now there is a sense of relaxation and success. Tomorrow the onboard computers will check for signals from the mooring and then we will be on our way.

Temoshok 10-19-01 whoiglassballsdeploy4
The glass balls being deployed. The large objects by the A-frame are anchors. The left side is for the IMET Buoy and he right side is for the TAO Buoys.

Temoshok 10-19-01 whoijaneinribbest
TAS Jane Temoshok in the small boat going out to the buoy.

Temoshok 10-19-01 peoplegirlsinhardhats4
Women in hard hats on the deck: Claudia (Chile), Charlotte (France), Jane (U.S.), and Olga (U.S.) are ready to work on deck.

Travel Log

Wildlife on board

Gordy Gardipe from the engineering crew says that oftentimes seabirds fly onto deck during the night. They are attracted to the lights on the ship and they fly directly into it. Sometimes they die but sometimes they just get disoriented. Gordy has a special box that he uses to capture the bird. He waits until daylight and then sets them free. He said he used to release them right away but often they would just fly right back and do it again. That’s why he waits for sunlight.

Question of the day: What does a petral (type of sea bird) eat?

Keep in touch,