NOAA Teacher at Sea
Aboard R/V Roger Revelle
November 6 — December 10, 2011
Mission: Project DYNAMO
Geographical area of cruise: Leg 3, Eastern Indian Ocean
Date: November 13, 2011
Weather Data from the R/V Revelle Meteorological Stations
Wind Direction: 262.400
Wind Speed (m/s): 2.7
Air Temperature (C): 28.1
Relative Humidity: 77.3%
Dew Point: (C): 23.7
Precipitation (mm): 40.2
PAR (Photosynthetically Active Radiation) (microeinsteins): 2092.5
Long Wave Radiation (w/m2): 413.3
Short Wave Radiation (w/m2): 442.7
Surface Water Temperature (C): 29.50
Sound Velocity: 1544.8
Salinity (ppm): 35.2
Fluorometer (micrograms/l): 69.7
Dissolved Oxygen (mg/l): 3.2
Water Depth (m): 4637
Wave Data from WAMOS Xband radar
Wave Height (m) 0.7
Wave Period (s): 8.1
Wavelength (m): 103
Wave Direction: 2090
Science and Technology Log
In addition to launching radiosondes, the Atmospheric Soundings Group operates a Wind Profiler to observe air mass density directly above the radar. Each beam sends back a return and more returns indicate humid or rainy conditions. The wind profiler operates twenty-four hours a day on the ship. The wind profiling is revolutionary for this cruise in that 8 profiles per day will be performed by three people who are dedicated to this experiment. This detail will allow the scientists to see small scale variations in the atmosphere that have not been seen in the past with fewer profiles.
The Ocean Optics team is led by KG Fairbarn of the Earth Research Institute at the University of California Santa Barbara. KG does three optics casts a day using a Microprofiler. The data can be viewed on the computer in real time as the instrument is lowered through the water column to a depth of 50 meters. The Microprofiler measures the irradiance within the visible light spectrum.
Irradiance is defined as the measure of solar radiation on a surface in watts/m2.The amount of irradiance absorbed within the water column is a function of chlorophyll and nutrients. The Microprofiler contains a flourometer to measure chlorophyll and KG obtains the nutrient content from water samples collected from the Revelle CTD.
In terms of Project DYNAMO, KG is measuring light that penetrates a layer of water and heat that penetrates the ocean. This information allows scientists to quantify the heat distribution through the water column and relate it to the flux (transfer or exchange of heat) at the surface and flux at the air-sea interface.
Life at Sea
What is it like to live aboard a ship that is operating 24/7? There are negatives and positives. It is busy and often noisy. Doors are always closing and opening and the maintenance is constant. Privacy is non-existent. I often get up early and go on the bow to watch the sunrises and sunsets and to get some quiet time. However, I don’t have much time to ponder the negatives of life at sea as I am very busy familiarizing myself with and reporting on all 7 science groups. I work a split watch with the Ocean Mixing Group between 1500 and 2100. In addition, I am creating, posting, and grading assignments for my classes at Los Angeles Valley College.
On a positive note, the science teams are interesting, happy with their work, and pleasant to work with. I share a room with another scientist where I have the top bunk. I share lab “office space” with the Atmospheric Soundings group, but float around the ship to the library and other spots for a change of scenery. There is always something good to eat and every day there has been a fresh salad bar at lunch and dinner. The cooks are really nice and try hard to please everyone on the ship which everyone knows is an impossible task.
I was surprised that non-plastic biodegradable materials are dumped at sea and there is a lot of it on a cruise that lasts this length of time. The plastic is burned on the ship in an incinerator. Also, the ship engines operate 24/7 to keep the ship in a fixed location (the term used for a fixed location is “on station”).
Overall, the positives outweigh the negatives on this cruise. My work with the Ocean Mixing Group is going very well and the other scientists are extremely helpful and often contribute to the development of lesson plans for the classes I am teaching from the ship. The positive attitudes of these researchers more than compensates for any negative parts of the cruise. And, as I mentioned in a previous posting, there are endless opportunities for interesting photographs.