Wesley Struble, 3 August, 2010

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Wes Struble
Onboard NOAA Ship Ka’imimoana
July 8 – August 10, 2010

Mission: Tropical Atmosphere Ocean (TAO) cruise
Geographical area of cruise: Equatorial Pacific from 110 degrees W Longitude to 95 degrees W Longitude
Date: 3 August 2010

Weather Data from the Bridge
Position: 7 degrees north latitude & 95 degrees west longitude
Cloud Cover: 5/8
Cloud Type: Cumulus, Stratocumulus, & Cirrus
Visibility: 10 nautical miles
Wind Speed: 14 knots; Wind Direction: 240 degrees
Wave Height: 1 foot; Swell Height: 3 – 4 feet
Atmospheric Pressure: 1010.5 mb
Temperature: 27.2 degrees C (81 degrees F)

Science and Technology Log

As I have mentioned before many of the buoys in this part of the Pacific Ocean are badly vandalized and some are completely missing. Buoys that have been deployed for 6 months or more often sit low in the water. This is not because the flotation toroid loses buoyancy (although when damaged they can take on large volumes of water), rather it is usually due to the massive amounts of marine life that tends to cling to the buoy and its underwater substructure.

Cleaning a buoy substructure

Cleaning a buoy substructure

When the buoy is slowly lifted onto the fantail work area at the stern of the ship it will be encrusted with barnacles that can add up to an additional 500 to 1000 lbs to the buoy’s weight. Many are attached directly to the float’s surface while others have extended themselves and hang down several inches. Sometimes they have completely covered the substructure. These barnacles create a lot of extra work for the science crew – scraping, cleaning, and repainting of the buoy toroid.

A colorful crab found on the buoy’s substructure during cleaning

In addition to the barnacles one often finds small crabs. Most of these are no bigger than a half dollar coin (although we did find one larger specimen – see the included photo). One of the most odd and dangerous creatures often present hidden in and around the barnacles are Fireworms (see photos). These particular polychaeta organisms can reach up to 20 inches in length and have a diameter about the same size as an average adult human finger. They are covered with a very impressive set of spines and/or hairs that carry a potent toxin that stings and burnstouched. I have been told that the sting is particularly painful. These organisms can get relatively large and at times there can be quite a few on one buoy. The science team has to be wary when they are handling and cleaning a buoy so as to avoid touching these creatures. On the previous buoy we found a total of six.

In addition, we even found one small fish that got caught in the substructure and brought in with the buoy. It is not difficult to understand barnacles attaching to the buoy substructure because we know that ships often will have problems with barnacles on their hulls. But it is more difficult to understand how Fireworms and crabs (which usually inhabit the sea floor) could be living on the buoys where the water is over 10,000 feet deep!

Two Fireworms removed during a buoy cleaning

We have also had more aerial visitors the last several days (probably due to our relative proximity to the Galapagos Islands – which are currently about 200 nautical miles to the east). Earlier today some members of the crew sighted a Boobie and we are now being followed by a small flock of frigate birds. In fact, one of the frigate birds was hiding inside the central cavity of the buoy. It escaped when we began retrieving the buoy line.

SST Tonya Watson prepares an Argo float for release

We just released an Argo buoy yesterday afternoon. There are a number of differences between the Argo buoys and any of the other floats or buoys we work with here on the KA. First of all they are much smaller and lighter (they weigh about 60 pounds, but are precision weighted in order to maximize buoyancy ability. Nothing extra can be put on them without buoyancy compensation being taken into consideration) than the large TAO buoys (which weigh in the neighborhood of 1500 lbs.). Most buoys are anchored to the ocean floor in order to get a constant data return from a particular location. The Argo buoy, on the other hand, is a drifting buoy, like a disposable/portable CTD – it is not tethered to the sea bed but drifts with the currents collecting temperature, salinity, and density readings.

The other main difference is the way that Argo buoys collect data. These buoys are semi-autonomous being programmed to follow a particular sequence of data collection events and motions. When released the buoy begins floating at the surface in a horizontal position. There is a small hole in a compartment at the base of the buoy. This cavity slowly fills with water causing the buoy to flip to an upright position. When in this position the buoy’s antenna is out of the water and is able to transmit data to the data collection center. After a time it slowly sinks to a depth of 2000 meters (over 6000 feet or over 1 mile) where it remains for 10 days. After this period the buoy then rises to the surface to expose its antenna and transmit data, which it does for a period of hours depending on how long it takes to transmit the data. There are many Argo buoys drifting in the Pacific and you can see their current positions and review the collected data on this web site http://www.argo.ucsd.ed

KA crew member Francis Loziere prepares to release an Argo float

Argo float drifting away from the KA

Personal Log

I have been at sea now for just about four weeks and I am starting to get a bit anxious to get back home. Assuming there are no problems or difficulties we should be pulling into Manzanillo, Mexico on the morning of the 10th of August. After being out of sight of land for over a month it will be a welcome sight. It has been a very interesting experience to get up in the morning day after day, week after week, and see nothing but water in every direction for as far as one can see. It took me a while to adjust to the constant motion of the ship – now I take it for granted and don’t really think about it that much. I am curious how I will react and how it will feel when I step back on land and have a completely stable surface on which to walk. The ship seemed very large when I first came on board but as you can imagine as the days and weeks have gone by the vessel has gotten smaller and smaller.

Animals Seen

We had a rare treat during one of our recent buoy operations. While recovering the buoy at 5 degrees north latitude we noticed many fish in the water around the ship – especially off the stern. All of a sudden off the starboard side a small school (10 – 20) of large Mahi mahi started jumping out of the water in arcs as they swam. They did this for several hundred meters, first moving parallel to the ship and then off the starboard stern. A number of them were very large (4 – 5 feet) and a beautiful blue color. It makes one wonder if they are enjoying themselves.

We also have had quite a few birds, mostly gulls and frigate birds, beginning to follow the ship, although I did see a smaller bird darting around the fantail that I could not identify (but it reminded me of an oversized starling).

Dave Grant, November 16, 2008

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Dave Grant
Onboard NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown
November 6 – December 3, 2008

MissionVOCALS, an international field experiment designed to better understand the physical and chemical processes of oceanic climate systems
Geographical area of cruise: Southeast Pacific
Date: November 16, 2008

Weather Data from the Bridge 
Sunrise: 10:16 UTC Sunset: 23:16 UTC
Wind: AM Slight; PM Slight
Seas: 4’
Precipitation: 0.0
Pressure: 1015

Science and Technology Log 

Flotsam and Jetsam “Never bring anything onto a boat that you can’t afford to lose.” (Nancy Church – Cape Cod Museum of Natural History)

Except for the anchor, there are very few items that go overboard intentionally on a ship. A hat blown off your head by the wind becomes flotsam, but something deliberately discarded is jetsamARGO  is the international program that deploys and monitors a global network of autonomous floats that monitor ocean conditions (“Taking the pulse of the oceans.”). The buoys are deployed from a variety of vessels and one of the main advantages is that a vessel does not have to slow down or stop to launch them. Because of this, a vessel dedicated to research is not required, and commercial and even cruise ships have participated in this world-ocean study.

Drifter currents

Drifter currents

Drifters have been distributed since 1999 and continuously monitor temperature, salinity and currents. They will provide a global network spread out on a 3º by 3º ocean grid (180-miles by 180miles). Data transmitted automatically to satellites is broadcast to the Global Drifter Program and available continuously to researchers.

Stickers on the drifter buoy

Stickers on the drifter buoy

Teachers and students also are involved through the Adopt-a-Drifter Program and we deployed drifters marked with decals from two schools partnered through it: Universite Nancy (France) and Grandview Elementary School – Grades K, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. Drifters actively transmit data for over a year, but like anything in the sea, can become the home for bio-fouling organisms that can interfere with their operation. We deployed several of them. The simplest are blue-andwhite basket ball-sized floats with a drogue (a large sock-like bag) that acts as a sea anchor or drift sock so that the movement of the drifter is by current, not wind. Once in the water, the packing materials dissolve, the drogue sinks to about 15 meters, and the currents, satellites, scientists and students do the rest. All researchers have to do to explore the oceans is log-on to the drifter website with a computer.  

“After the sea-ship, after the whistling winds… Toward that whirling current, laughing and buoyant, with curves… (After the Sea-Ship – Walt Whitman)

Dave holding the drifter buoy

Dave holding the drifter buoy

Other larger drifters are shipped in sturdy but degradable cardboard cartons. These too are launched off the stern and the shipping boxes rapidly fall apart after the water dissolves the glue. They are rather mysterious since we did not actually see what they look like, but I’ve seen others in the repair shop at WHOI (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution). They are tube-shaped and designed to automatically sink to as deep as 1000-meters, and then rise periodically to broadcast their data. What a wonderful journey they will have to share with the world when they start reporting their data in dark and stormy seas and on sunny days. Falling away astern of us, floating high and looking coffin-like, I was reminded of Queequeg’s casket and some of the most memorable lines from Moby Dick:  “These are times of dreamy solitude, when beholding the tranquil beauty and brilliancy of the ocean’s skin; one forgets the tiger heart that pants beneath it…”

Drifter array

Drifter array

Screen shot 2013-04-19 at 9.23.30 PM

Personal Log 

Drifter in the water on its way!

Drifter in the water on its way!

We have had a great string of days. I have settled into an interesting work routine with  helpful and interesting scientists and crew. Weather balloons and sondes are released every four hours and the readouts from their fights are very informative. Along with the evening lectures, the week has been like a short semester on meteorology. Hourly water sampling has gone well too, and we are learning more about these peculiar eddies of warm and cold water each day.

My roommate (RW) is very nice and accommodating, and since we work different hours and find the best way to relax is with headphones and a book, the room does not seem crowded at all. There are a few items I am glad I brought, and I suggest they be added to the TAS list: coveralls, ski cap, knee pads and eye drops. The coveralls are great for cool mornings on deck and to quickly pull on for the weekly “abandon ship” drills, since you are required to report to your muster station in long pants and sleeves, and with a hat. My light-weight volleyball knee-pads are good if I have to kneel on the metal deck for a while to take pictures. And eye drops are a relief since we do get wind almost every day, and some very bright days since we are headed into the Austral Summer, and the sun’s position is moving south every day.

Crew holding the Argos drifter

Crew holding the Argos drifter

I have been checking my Almanac, and perhaps as early as tomorrow, our course will cross paths with the sun’s southern movement, and it will be directly overhead at Noon. This can only occur at locations in the “Tropics” (Between the Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn) and I have heard sailors refer to it as a “Lahaina Noon.” This term comes from the old sailing days when whalers made port stops at Lahaina on Maui. When it occurs there, fence posts, and for that matter, people, do not cast a shadow. Hopefully the clouds will clear around midday and we will be able to see the phenomenon.

“Thus drifting afar to the dim-vaulted caves Where life and it ventures are laid, The dreamers who gaze while we battle the waves May see us in sunshine and shade.” (Sun and Shadow by Oliver Wendell Holmes – 1857) 

Mary Cook, December 20, 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 20, 2004

Location: Latitude 26º19.99’S, Longitude 77º07.65’W
Time: 0810

Weather Data from the Bridge
Air Temperature (Celsius) 17.88
Water Temperature (Celsius) 18.41
Relative Humidity (percent) 64.16
Air Pressure (millibars) 1016.86
Wind Direction (degrees) 183.76
Wind Speed (knots) 12.37
Wind Speed (meters/sec) 6.41
Sunrise 0714
Sunset 2101

Question of the Day

What is reverse osmosis?

Positive Quote of the Day

“Never spit into the wind.” Anonymous

Science and Technology Log

The last Argo float was deployed today. Bob Weller gave me the honor of waking it up! Waking up an Argo float is pretty simple. I passed a magnet across the “reset zone”. This triggers the float to inflate. The float is “awakened” a couple of hours before it is deployed.

Diane, Bruce and I continued working on the book. Bruce just has a few touch ups to do on the paintings. Diane and I are almost finished with the text and we’ve completed the scans of the original paintings. We must get finished soon because we’re doing a reading and presentation for everyone onboard tomorrow night at 7:30!

Mike Gowan, the Chief Engineer for the RONALD H. BROWN, gave us a tour of the engine room this afternoon. He said the ship’s engines are diesel/electric. We started in the control room which has a wall of computer screens, buttons and joysticks. They can drive the ship with joysticks from the engine room. But I wondered how they’d see where they’re going from deep inside the ship? There are huge computers and automated compartments through the engine room. I didn’t know the “engine room” was going to be numerous rooms located at different places throughout the ship. Our tour was like a hike from one end to the other going up and down several ladderways. After the control room we went into the engine room. It’s really LOUD in there. We were required to wear earplugs. The ship has six engines and one emergency engine. They provide electricity for propulsion and ship service needs. He showed us some huge canisters of carbon dioxide that are standing ready to be used to smother a fire in the engine room should one occur. Mike told us about the marine sewage device which works on a vacuum principal. When we push the flush button on the head (toilet) there is a great suction sound and all the “stuff” is whisked away! Mike also explained to us how they make water. There are two ways: reverse osmosis and evaporation. The reverse osmosis forces water through a semi-permeable membrane that separates the water molecules from everything else. The evaporation technique uses the excess heat from the ship’s generators to cause the water to evaporate and then the fresh water vapor is condensed and collected for use.

This afternoon was sunny and gorgeous! Diane and I took some time soaking in the warmth, enjoying the fresh air while gazing out across the glistening water. It can be mesmerizing.

This evening we interviewed Bruce Cowden, Chief Boatswain and artist-in-residence of the RONALD H. BROWN. Wow! Bruce has led an interesting life. He’s been working on ships since he was a teenager and started working for NOAA about 15 years ago. He has worked his way up to the boatswain position and he supervises seven people who keep the ship in good working order. They clean and paint all the time. Bruce also oversees the large machinery operations and conducts the buoy deployments. His main job is to make sure that everyone is safe and the equipment is kept in good condition. He has had “Captain Nemo” adventures like driving a one-man submarine at the bottom of the Caribbean in search of ancient fossils! The life of a seaman is not an easy life. He spends about ten months a year out to sea. He also shared with us his artistic hobbies. Bruce is a painter and carver. He showed us the carvings from the Taigwa nut. The Taigwa nut grows in Central America and looks like a small coconut. When carved and polished it looks like ivory. Bruce makes jewelry and whatnots. He is planning to have a craft show when he gets back to South Carolina.

This has been another great day at sea!

Until tomorrow,


Debra Brice, November 15, 2003

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Debra Brice
Onboard R/V Roger Revelle
November 11-25, 2003

Mission: Ocean Observation
Geographical Area: Chilean Coast
Date: November 15, 2003

Data from the Bridge
1.  151700Z Nov 03
2.  Position: LAT: 19-50.1’S, LONG: 085-03.3’W
3.  Course: 189-T
4.  Speed: 12.3 Kts
5.  Distance: 295.6 NM
6.  Steaming Time: 24H 00M
7.  Station Time:  00H 00M
8.  Fuel: 4233 GAL
9.  Sky: OvrCst
10. Wind: 110-T, 09 Kts
11. Sea: 110-T, 2-3 Ft
12. Swell: 200-T, 3-5 Ft
13. Barometer: 1018.9 mb
14. Temperature: Air: 23.5 C, Sea 19.0 C
15. Equipment Status: NORMAL
16. Comments: None.

Science and Technology Log

We arrived at the Stratus Buoy at 1:30pm.  We had some problems putting out the zodiac and will have to go and do a survey of the buoy up close tomorrow.  Dr. Weller’s group will be calibrating the instruments on the buoy all day tomorrow and the following day they will be taking it out of the water in preparation to store it and ship it home.  The new Stratus Buoy will be deployed in a couple of days.  We continued to release radiosondes at 6 hour intervals.  We are finished drooping surface drifters for awhile as well as ARGO floats. Dr. Weller did 2 CTD casts tonight to 4000m and we attached our styrofoam cups to the CTDs.  I have attached some photos of our cups and my wig head after their trip into the abyss.  We filmed a video of the cast that should be up in a couple of days.

A CTD stands for Conductivity, Temperature and Density.  Sea water conducts electricity as a function of the amount of dissolved salts, in other words it will be a better conductor of an electrical current if it has a higher amount of salts dissolved in it.  The density is calculated based on the salinity and the temperature.  The salinity is calculated using the conductivity and temperature. Warm water is less dense than cold water and water with a higher salinity is more dense than water with a lower salinity.  Evaporation removes water but leaves behind the salts and creates more dense water at the surface.  The densest (heaviest) water sinks and the less dense water rises and you get stratification or layering of different water masses.  The wind does cause mixing of the surface layer but this varies with wind speed and can vary in depth between 1 meter to 1500 meters in some areas.  The CTD that we just took shows a very shallow mixed layer and we will be analyzing it a bit more closely later today.  I have included a picture of the temperature/salinity/density plot from the CTD cast.   The green line represents density, which is increasing from the surface down.  The red line is salinity which is decreasing from the surface down but you can see some variations which show different water masses and some mixing.  The brown is conductivity and the blue is temperature. We sent down the styrofoam cups and the wig heads as a demonstration of  the effects of pressure.  All of the air piled on top of us from the surface of the earth up into the stratosphere equals one atmosphere, but water is much more dense so if you go down 33 feet you are under 2 atmospheres of pressure and another atmosphere for every 33 feet.  So how many atmospheres were our cups under?  E-mail me (Debra.Brice@noaa.gov)and let me know your answer?

Personal Log

Long day punctuated by being on watch.  Food is wonderful, the cooks are really creative and we have enjoyed all the meals.  After dinner a lot of people will go into the lounge and watch DVDs or play board games.  Most of us read or check e-mail.  There is always something to do or sea and sometimes it is just nice to go outside and watch the sunset or the cloud shapes.  At the CTD cast we had a spotlight on the water where the CTD went in and it attracted quite a group of large squid up to the surface.  They were over 3 feet long and quite fast.  The buoy has a group of 4 boobies that live on or near it feeding on the fish that gather around it.  They will be most unhappy when we take it out but they will have a nice new one soon.  Well, my watch is almost over and I am fading fast and this will be a busy day coming up…rumor has it that those styrofoam “cup of soup” cups shrink really well, hmmmm we need to do some more experiments on pressure……can we carve some pieces of packing styrofoam…..getting a bit carried away here:)


Debra Brice, November 13, 2003

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Debra Brice
Onboard R/V Roger Revelle
November 11-25, 2003

Mission: Ocean Observation
Geographical Area: Chilean Coast
Date: November 13, 2003

Data from the Bridge
1. 131700Z Nov 03
2. Position: LAT: 10-01.0S, LONG: 084-55.0W
3. Course: 180-T
4. Speed: 12.5 Kts
5. Distance: 299.5 NM
6. Steaming Time: 24H 00M
7. Station Time: 00H 00M
8. Fuel: 4238 GAL
9. Sky: OvrCst
10. Wind: 130-T, 21 Kts
11. Sea: 130-T, 2-3 Ft
12. Swell: 140-T, 3-5 Ft
13. Barometer: 1013.8 mb
14. Temperature: Air: 22.4 C, Sea 19.0 C
15. Equipment Status: NORMAL
16. Comments: Drifter array deployment in progress.

Science and Technology

We are still underway towards the Stratus buoy. We spent the day deploying Surface drifters and 2 radiosondes. Surface drifters are small instruments attached to a “drogue” or sock that is about 40 feet long. The are thrown off the back of the ship while it is still moving. They will float on the surface and the drogue will float about about 15 meters below the suface taking sea surface temperatures and sending the data back to a satellite that is operated by the French ARGOS System. The data is downloaded at Wallops Island in Virginia and processed at various laboratories. We deployed 10 surface drifters today and will send off another group tomorrow. We are deploying them for the Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory in Miami, Florida. This is a NOAA research facility. A noted drifter researcher is being done by Dr. Pieter Niiler at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, Ca.

The purpose of the drifters is to measure sea surface temperature and check the accuracy ( calibrate) satellite data on sea surface temperature. Infra-red satellite data is sometimes blocked by stratus clouds and volcano eruptions. This brings to the light the question of why we need to go to sea in ships to study oceanography when we can supposedly get all the information we need from satellites. I will be interviewing Dr. Weller on one of my webcasts and he will address this question. Since I needed some additional enlightenment on why ships and shipboard research are still so essential to the study of climatology, atmospheric science and, of course, oceanography and Dr. Weller was busy today, I went to Scripps Institution of Oceanography ( via e-mail….those satellites are quite useful) and asked Dr. Robert Knox to help me out. Dr. Knox is the Associate Director of Ship Operations and Marine Technical Support and has helped me many times in the past with education outreach. The following is his wonderful explanation of why ships are still an essential tool for scientists in our exploration of the oceans and atmosphere.

Dr. Robert Weller’s research is an excellent example of why this type of data collection is so important and cannot be replaced by satellite data. It absolutely depends on using ships to handle his systems and is vital to gain a quantitative understanding of what the satellite sensors are seeing. In the absence of programs like Dr. Weller’s we could be seriously misled as to what the satellite data are telling us about the properties we actually care about, like sea surface temperature, heat flux between air and sea, etc. No satellite ever has measured or ever will measure sea surface temperature (SST). Yet we often see “satellite maps” of “sea surface temperature.” How? The satellite measures some component of electromagnetic radiation coming upward from the sea surface. That in turn can be related to the temperature of the sea surface, but only by way of a number of assumptions and calibrations having to do with basic physics of the radiation, the interactions of that radiation with whatever is in the atmosphere between the sea and the satellite, and on and on. In order to construct the formulas or recipes used to convert the radiation numbers to temperature numbers, real temperature measurements at the sea surface will always be needed to some extent, and with some distribution around the globe and over time. This is particularly true for long-term climate purposes, where slow changes in, for example, the atmospheric properties could lead to slow, subtle and unrecognized shifts in the correct recipes/formulas, and thus to unrecognized shifts in the deduced temperature results that were not real. Temperature is just one parameter. There are others, most of them harder to do via satellites.

The list goes on. Ships are needed for any number of laboratory-style experiments and measurements that simply cannot be done by remote sensors, but require samples of water, organisms or seafloor to be acquired and dealt with at sea. Questions in biology, chemistry and geology figure prominently here. New remote sensors, whether destined for satellites or unmanned vehicles in the ocean, in most cases require lengthy periods of development, testing and comparison against existing (shipboard) techniques before they can really be trusted to deliver the data desired – and even then (as in the case of SST above) there may well be an open-ended need for some level of ship-based, high-quality measurements to serve as a calibration standard in space and time. There are a host of chemical and biological parameters for which no remote sensor exists or is even imagined, yet shipboard/manned techniques do exist and can be used to answer important research questions. Take for example the identification and quantification of species or species assemblages in water samples (plankton, etc) and how these change over time, perhaps as a result of climate variations. If we waited until a remote sensor existed we might wait ad infinitum, yet we can do this identification and quantification now, using people and samples. The accumulation of those observations over time (more than 50 years thus far in the case of the CalCOFI program) sheds considerable light on the actual ecological changes taking place in the ocean and will continue to do so; we should most certainly not stop doing these measurements just because we cannot do them remotely. Or consider the business of measuring trace metals, notably iron, in seawater. This has gone from a curiosity to an important set of research programs in just the last couple of decades. It depends on exquisitely sensitive shipborne lab-style analyses of seawater samples for minute concentrations of these metals. Yet the tiny amount of iron in seawater may be a key limiting nutrient for phytoplankton under some circumstances. So iron trace concentrations get connected to important policy and economic questions such as whether deliberate iron fertilization could be a viable technique to enhance phytoplankton growth, thereby drawing down atmospheric CO2 via photosynthesis, and thus ameliorating greenhouse warming. Both the scientific and policy answers are far from clear at this juncture, but you can readily see the basic importance of the shipboard effort underlying the whole issue.

Finally, the advent of various remote sensors, on satellites and on unmanned vehicles, creates a whole new possibility for joint ship/other device campaigns that can do a much better job of focussed observation than has been possible in the ship-alone mode characteristic of nearly all history to date. The ship can serve as home base/deployment platform/data integration and analysis center/command post for adaptive, real-time control of a fleet of these devices, for ingesting streams of satellite data from overhead, and for deploying its own specialty ship-deployed instruments. Sort of a vision of the ship as the AWACS centerpiece of a flotilla or network of tools aimed at some common experimental objectives. Oceanography historically has been bedeviled by the inability to measure with coverage in both space and time matched to the problems of interest. A single ship can never be “here” and “there” simultaneously, nor can it cover the distance between “here” and “there” fast enough for some purposes. But operating as the mother ship/control center, many of these gaps can be closed. It’s going to be fascinating to see how some of these potentials are used in the coming decades.

Personal Log

As a teacher at sea one of the things I have learned in the short time I have been on the ship is that many times observing the conditions under which the data are collected can be as essential as the actual data itself in enabling a scientist to analyse it and put the data in the proper perspective. For example: when we retrieved the Equadorial Buoy and brought up all the instruments that were hanging on the mooring it was absolutely amazing to see the vast numbers of animals that had made these instruments their home ( see my pictures). Could these animals have effected the instruments and their data collections by blocking water flow or changing environment around the instruments? Yes. Is it important to note this and take this into consideration when analysing the data? Very possibly. The ship I am travelling on is named for a very famous and well respected oceanographer, Dr Roger Revelle, who understood how important it is for scientists to actively participate in the collection of their data by going to sea in order to get a more accurate perspective on what the data they collect is telling them about the oceans. As a teacher I hope I can share this with my students, I know that in my classroom, no amount of lecture or reading can replace the experience of doing a laboratory and collecting and analysing your own data. My watch is almost over and I have 2 more surface temperature readings to take before I sleep……the old fashioned way, drop the bucket with the thermometer over the side, fill it with water and read the thermometer. We are just checking those computerised sensors to make sure everything is working:)

Hasta manana

Debra Brice, November 11, 2003

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Debra Brice
Onboard R/V Roger Revelle
November 11-25, 2003

Mission: Ocean Observation
Geographical Area: Chilean Coast
Date: November 11, 2003

Latitude: S01’59.7754
Longitude: W084’00.4949
Visibility: 10 nautical miles ( nm)

Science and Technology Log

We started the day already underway toward the Equadorian Meteorological Buoy that we were to retrieve for the Equadorian Navy. We estimated that our time of arrival at the buoy’s location would be approximately 1:00pm.  Our first order of the day was a meeting to set up the Underway Watch schedule and train us in our duties during the watch. All of the watches for the scientific teams would be in the main lab. The responsibilities include being in the lab to respond to calls from the bridge, to record events in the log, to be available for other activities as needed. Take a record of hourly sea surface temperatures using a bucket thermometer. (A bucket thermometer is just what it sounds like, a thermometer with a small plastic bucket at the bottom with a line attached that you throw over the side to fill it with seawater and then read the temperature and record in the log). Deploy Argo floats as scheduled from the stern of the ship. I will describe the Argo Floats in more detail tomorrow as well as add a link to the website. You can see the Argo floats and the bucket thermometer on my pictures. Deploy surface drifters (Drogue floats). Assist in launching radiosondes. To work on the deck we need to wear safety vests at all times, hard hats, steel toed boots, strobe lights at night, and we must always work in pairs. We are to inform bridge when we are to deploy the floats. For the ARGO floats the ship comes to a stop, for the Drogue drifters we just throw them overboard while we are still underway.

We arrived at the location of the Equadorian Buoy at 1:15 pm to find that it was about 2 miles off its original location and had been damaged. The small zodiac was deployed from the ship with several crew members and an Equadorian Naval Officer who accompanied us, to help with the retrieval. An Equadorian naval ship met us at the buoy site. The buoy was towed over to the stern of the ship and hauled aboard using the “A” frame. It was secured and re-attached to the crane so that it could be lifted overboard after the instruments from the mooring were removed and returned to the Equadorian ship. The instruments were retrieved and the buoy and instruments were transferred to the Equadorian Naval vessel. Large numbers of strikingly beautiful barnacles and several species of tubeworms, crabs and various amphipods were attached to the bottom of the buoy and all the instruments that were submersed. A large number of fish were observed near the buoy and the crew caught several species of tuna, including yellowfin and bonita from the ship. We removed several samples of the barnacles, worms and amphipods, put them in a bucket and froze them for preservation and study in Arica. We are underway again and will be deploying 2 ARGO floats before tomorrow morning. My watch begins at 00:00 until 04:00 and I will probably be assisting in at least one deployment.

Personal Log

We did life boat, fire and man overboard drills today and I spent most of the afternoon answering e-mails and working on the computer. Finally got my software loaded and was able to tranfer some of my digtal pictures of the trip so far. I spent some time talking to the various scientific groups onboard and learnng about their projects that I will be describing later in our video broadcasts. On this cruise we have scientists from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, NOAA Pacific Marine Environmental Labs, INOCAR (Equadorian Oceanographic Institute), Texas A&M meteorologist, NOAA ETL (meteorologists) and the Chilean Navy. We did a broadcast at sunset from the bow of the ship and I am working on lesson plans for the next few hours until my watch begins. Hasta Luego…..