Catherine Fuller: National Mooring Day, July 11, 2019

NOAA Teacher at Sea

Catherine Fuller

Aboard R/V Sikuliaq

June 29 – July 18, 2019


Mission: Northern Gulf of Alaska (NGA) Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER)

Geographic Area of Cruise: Northern Gulf of Alaska

Date: July 11, 2019

Weather Data from the Bridge

Latitude: 59° 00.823 N
Longitude: 148° 40.079 W
Wave Height: 1 ft, ground swell 3-4 ft
Wind Speed: 5.4 knots
Wind Direction: 241 degrees
Visibility: 5 nm
Air Temperature: 13.3 °C
Barometric Pressure: 1014.6 mb
Sky: Overcast


Science and Technology Log

At home, I regularly check information from the buoys that literally surround our islands.  They give me real time, relevant data on ocean conditions and weather so that I am informed about storm or surf events.  We also have buoys that track tsunami data, and the accuracy and timeliness of their data can save lives.  Deploying and monitoring these buoys is a job that requires knowledge of ocean conditions, electronics, rigging and computer programming. 

preparing buoy system
Pete (foreground) and Seth set up the buoy system in preparation for deployment
buoy anchors
The anchors for the buoys were made of train wheels

Pete Shipton is onboard as the mooring technician from UAF’s Seward Marine Center. This morning, he, Dr. Danielson and the crew deployed three moorings near oceanographic station GAK6i (about 60 miles offshore in the Northern Gulf of Alaska) at a depth of 230 meters. The search for the right depth required that R/V Sikuliaq do an acoustic survey of the area last night to find a kilometer-long area of the right depth and bottom slope.  The three moorings will be situated close enough to each other that for all purposes they are collecting a co-located set of readings representative of this site, yet far enough apart, with small watch circles, that they don’t overlap and foul each other.  The set of three is designed to have one surface buoy on either side with sensors at the surface and through the water column and a third buoy in the middle with sensors also distributed across all depths.

The first buoy, GEO-1, gives information on physics, optics, nutrient
chemistry and has a profiling instrument that will “walk” up and down the mooring wire from about 25 m above the seafloor to 25 m below the surface, collecting profiles four times a day. The mooring has many of the sensors that the ship’s CTD has, including an ADCP (Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler), a weather station with a GPS that measures wind speed, relative humidity, sea level pressure, and air temperature.  The buoy system was designed to withstand and operate in 8 m waves; in larger waves the surface buoy is expected to become submerged.  At one meter of depth, GEO-1 measures the temperature, salinity, chlorophyll fluorescence and photosynthetically available radiation. 

On GEO-2 (the center buoy), similar data is recorded at 22 m below the surface.  There will also be a sediment trap, mammal acoustics recorder, particle camera, and an AZFP (acoustic zooplankton fish profiler), which has four frequencies that can detect sea life from the size of fish down to the size of zooplankton. It records sound reflections from all sizes of creatures and can see fish migrations during day or night within a range of 100m (from 100m depth to the surface).

Buoy GEO-3 is the primary “guard” buoy, or marker for the whole set. It also has a real-time transmitting weather station and near-surface measurements.

Linking the mooring lines and the anchors are acoustic releases,
which are remotely controlled tethers whole sole function to listen for a “release” command that will tell them to let go of the anchor.  Since the limiting factor on the instruments is the life of the batteries, they will be picked up in a year and the acoustic release will allow the instruments to be brought back aboard Sikuliaq. These buoys will be providing real time information for groups such as the Alaska Ocean Observing System (www.aoos.org) about weather and ocean conditions, while also collecting
information about sea life in the area.

Pete and Seth on buoy
Pete (left) and Seth (right) test the stability of the buoy

Deploying the buoys was a lengthy process that required careful
coordination of parts, lines, chains and personnel.  Luckily everything
went off perfectly!  As the anchor weights for the two surface buoys deployed, they briefly pulled the buoys under, causing a bit of joking about whether the line length was calculated correctly. The brief “dunk test” was an excellent first trial for submergence during this coming winter’s storm conditions.

The second buoy briefly scares us by going under!


MarTechs:

There are opportunities for careers at sea in a wide variety of positions on board a research vessel.  One of the most interesting is the MarTech (Marine Technician), because of their dual role during a scientific cruise. 

The Marine Technicians are technically assigned to the science team although they are a part of the ship’s crew.  Bern and Ethan are the MarTechs on this cruise and both work specifically with R/V Sikuliaq. They are considered a part of whatever science team is on board at the time. The MarTechs are on 12-hour shifts, from 8:00 to 8:00.  Ethan is on at night, and Bern is on during the day, although there is some overlap.  The two men help to deploy and recover instruments for the science team and as well as helping the crew with any deck operations.  They also are responsible for the computer lab and overseeing the data displays and production from the various sensors, as well as maintaining the instruments on the ship that provide information.  Although they are always at hand to help when we need it, you will often find them also repairing and upgrading ship’s equipment and helping with engineering tasks.

Bern sets up camera
Bern setting up one of his cameras.

Bern has been a MarTech on R/V Sikuliaq since 2013, and had previous experience on other research vessels, both American and international.  Bern is also the ship’s unofficial documentation guy; he has a number of small cameras that he regularly uses to capture the action on board, whether from the vantage point of one of the cranes or on top of his own helmet. You can find examples of Bern’s camera work on R/V Sikuliaq’s Instagram site (@rvsikuliaq).

Ethan and Ana
Ethan helps Ana with the iron fish.

Like Bern, Ethan has also worked on other research vessels but has been on R/V Sikuliaq since it was built.  This is the only ship he’s been a MarTech on.  His interest in oceanography, especially marine acoustics, led him to this career.  Marine acoustics is more than just listening for large species such as whales.  There are acoustic sensors that “listen” to the ship and help ensure that it is functioning normally.  Other acoustic sensors, such as the ones based in the open keel of the ship use sound technology to map the ocean floor as we progress on our path.  Ethan was kind enough to show me the keel and explain the instrumentation. In addition, there are instruments that constantly record salinity, temperature, current strength, solar radiation and other measurements along the path we travel to provide a more complete picture of the environmental conditions existing at every point. 

open keel
The ship’s acoustic instruments are mounted in the open keel; it’s open to the sea!

The marine technicians manage the computer lab when they are not needed for operations.  This lab is the nerve center of the ship and allows the science team to work closely with the bridge to coordinate the movement of instruments and the speed of the vessel through the water to achieve optimum results.  You can find information on meteorology, navigation, engine performance, depth sounders, closed circuit monitors, ship acoustics and deck winch statistics by looking at specific screens.  In addition, the staterooms have monitors that also allow viewing of certain screens. 

computer lab
The screens in the computer lab provide all the information needed to make decisions about how and when to deploy data-gathering instruments.

By far the two displays that are followed most closely are the CTD cast screens and the AIS screen.  The AIS screen gives our course on a map, and shows our progress as well as future waypoints.  It also shows our speed and bearing to our next point as well as ocean depth and wind speed and direction.  The CTD screen shows real-time results in a number of categories such as salinity, oxygen, chlorophyll, temperature, nitrates and light as the CTD descends and ascends through the water column.  Based on the results of the down cast, the teams determine the depths from which they’d like water samples collected as the CTD rises. 

AIS screen
The OLEX or AIS screen shows our path as well as navigational information.
The CTD screen looks like spaghetti until you understand the color code for each line.


The Bridge:

The equipment on the bridge represents the pinnacle of technology as far as ship operations go.  The captain’s chair has been described by some members of the science team as the “Battlestar Galactica” or “Star Trek” chair, and it really does look like it fits in a science fiction movie.  Displays on the bridge show performance of the engines, radar returns and our bearing and range from them, and any other pertinent information to vessel performance.  Ship movement and waypoints are hand plotted by the second mate, who also oversees ship movement along with the captain, chief mate and third mate.  The ship’s officers work the bridge on a rotating watch schedule.  One of the cool features of this ship is that it operates two Z-drives, similar to what is used on tugboats.  These are propellers that can move independently of each other and turn in any direction.  They allow the ship to be maneuvered precisely, which is a great help when we need to stay on a station through multiple operations.  Various views of the bridge and the navigational instruments used by the ship’s crew are shown in the gallery below.

Captain Eric Piper
Captain Eric Piper shows off his new jacket


Personal Log

Happy Mooring Day!  It’s our self-declared “national holiday”! Because the process of deploying the moorings and buoys took up all of the morning and a part of the afternoon, most of the rest of the science team took the morning off and slept in.  So many of them ran on the treadmill that running might become a part of our “holiday” tradition.  My roommate even took bacon back to her room to eat in bed.  Gwenn brought out her Twizzlers…somewhat appropriate because they look like steel cable (even though the moorings did not use cable).  It was a nice breather for the science team, who have been working very hard to collect samples and run experiments.  Somewhere along the line, the idea of making Mooring Day a “holiday” caught on, and it’s become a bit of a joke amongst the team.  We’re down to a week to go, and everyone is beginning to think about what happens when we get in and when we all go home.  But… we’re not quite there yet, and there’s a lot of work left to do.


Animals Seen Today

stowaway
Our stowaway came to inspect today’s deployment.

We apparently have a stowaway…a small finch-like bird that flits about the ship.  It must have joined us when we were near land, and now we ARE the land. 

Julia Harvey: That’s a Mooring: June 29th, 2016

NOAA Teacher at Sea

Julia Harvey

Aboard NOAA Ship Hi’ialakai

June 25 – July 3rd 2016

 

Mission: WHOI Hawaii Ocean Timeseries Station (WHOTS)

Geographical Area of Cruise: Pacific Ocean, north of Hawaii

Date: June 29th, 2016

 

Weather Data from the Bridge

(June 29th, 2016 at 12:00 pm)

Wind Speed: 12 knots

Temperature: 26.3 C

Humidity: 87.5%

Barometric Pressure: 1017.5 mb

 

Science and Technology Log

Approaching Weather
Approaching Weather

When an anchor is dropped, forces in the ocean will cause this massive object to drift as it falls.  Last year, after the anchor of mooring 12 was dropped, an acoustic message was sent to the release mechanism on the anchor to locate it.  This was repeated in three locations so that the location of the anchor could be triangulated much like how an earthquake epicenter is found.  This was repeated this year for mooring 13 so next year, they will know where it is.  From where we dropped the anchor to where it fell, was a horizontal distance of 3oo meters.  The ocean moved the 9300 pound anchor 300 meters.  What a force!

The next morning as the ship was in position, another acoustic message was sent that triggered the release of the glass floats from the anchor. Not surprisingly, the floats took nearly an hour to travel up the nearly 3 miles to the surface.

Float recovery
A small boat went to retrieve the mooring attached to the floats

Once the floats were located at the surface, a small boat was deployed to secure the end of the mooring to the Hi’ialakai. The glass floats were loaded onto the ship.  17 floats that had imploded when they were deployed last year.  Listen to imploding floats recorded by the hydrophone.  Implosion.

Selfie with an imploded float.
Selfie with an imploded float.

Next, came the lengthy retrieval of the line (3000+ meters). A capstan to apply force to the line was used as the research associates and team arranged the line in the shipping boxes. The colmega and nylon retrieval lasted about 3 hours.

Bringing up the colmega line.
Bringing up the colmega line and packing it for shipping.

Once the wire portion of the mooring was reached, sensors were removed as they rose and stored. Finally the mooring was released, leaving the buoy with about 40 meters of line with sensors attached and hanging below.

Navigating to buoy.
Navigating to buoy.

The NOAA officer on the bridge maneuvered the ship close enough to the buoy so that it could be secured to the ship and eventually lifted by the crane and placed on deck. This was followed by the retrieval of the last sensors.

Buoy onboard
Bringing the buoy on board.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The following day required cleaning sensors to remove biofoul.  And the buoy was dismantled for shipment back to Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

Kate scrubbing sensors to remove biofoul.
Kate scrubbing sensors to remove biofoul.

 

Dismantling the buoy.
Dismantling the buoy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mooring removal was accomplished in seas with 5-6 feet swells at times. From my vantage point, everything seemed to go well in the recovery process. This is not always the case. Imagine what would happen, if the buoy separated from the rest of the mooring before releasing the floats and the mooring is laying on the sea floor? What would happen if the float release was not triggered and you have a mooring attached to the 8000+ pound anchor?  There are plans for when these events occur.  In both cases, a cable with a hook (or many hooks) is snaked down to try and grab the mooring line and bring it to the surface.

Now that the mooring has been recovered, the science team continues to collect data from the CTD (conductivity/temperature/depth) casts.  By the end of tomorrow, the CTDs would have collected data for approximately 25 hours.  The data from the CTDs will enable the alignment of the two moorings.

CTD
CTD

The WHOTS (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Hawaii Ocean Time Series Site) mooring project is led by is led by two scientists from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution;  Al Plueddeman and Robert Weller.  Both scientists have been involved with the project since 2004.  Plueddeman led this year’s operations and next year it will be Weller.  Plueddeman recorded detailed notes of the operation that helped me fill in some blanks in my notes.  He answered my questions.  I am thankful to have been included in this project and am grateful for this experience and excited to share with my students back in Eugene, Oregon.

Al Plueddeman
Al Plueddeman, Senior Scientist

The long term observations (air-sea fluxes) collected by the moorings at Station Aloha will be used to better understand climate variability.  WHOTS is funded by NOAA and NSF and is a joint venture with University of Hawaii.  I will definitely be including real time and archived data from WHOTS in Environmental Science.

Personal Log

I have really enjoyed having the opportunity to talk with the crew of the Hi’ialakai.  There were many pathways taken to get to this point of being aboard this ship.  I learned about schools and programs that I had never even heard about.  My students will learn from this adventure of mine, that there are programs that can lead them to successful oceanic careers.

Brian Kibler
Brian Kibler

I sailed with Brian Kibler in 2013 aboard the Oscar Dyson up in the Gulf of Alaska.  He completed a two year program at Seattle Maritime Academy where he became credentialed to be an Able Bodied Seaman.  After a year as an intern aboard the Oscar Dyson, he was hired.  A few years ago he transferred to the Hi’ialakai and has now been with NOAA for 5 years.  On board, he is responsible for rigging, watch and other tasks that arise.  Brian was one of the stars of the video I made called Sharks on Deck. Watch it here.

Tyler Matta
Tyler Matta, 3rd Engineer

Tyler Matta has been sailing with NOAA for nearly a year.  He sought a hands-on engineering program and enrolled at Cal Maritime (Forbes ranked the school high due to the 95% job placement) and earned a degree in maritime engineering and was licensed as an engineer.  After sailing to the South Pacific on a 500 ft ship, he was hooked.  He was hired by NOAA at a job fair as a 3rd engineer and soon will have enough sea days to move to 2nd engineer.

 

 

There are 6 NOAA Corps members on  the Hi’ialakai.  They all went through an approximately 5 month training program at the Coast Guard Academy in New London, CT.  To apply, a candidate should have a 4 year degree in a NOAA related field such as science, math or engineering.  Our commanding officer, Liz Kretovic, attended Massachusetts Maritime Academy and majored in marine safety and environmental protection.  Other officers graduated with degrees in marine science, marine biology, and environmental studies.

Nikki Chappelle, Bryan Stephan and Brian Kibler on the bridge.
Nikki Chappelle, Bryan Stephan and Brian Kibler on the bridge.

ENS Chappelle
NOAA Ensign Nicki Chappelle

Ensign (ENS) Nikki Chappelle is new to the NOAA Corps.  In fact, this is her first cruise aboard the Hi’ialakai and second with NOAA.  She is shadowing ENS Bryan Stephan for on the job training.  She spent most of her schooling just south of where I teach.  I am hoping that when she visits her family in Cottage Grove, Oregon that she might make a stop at my school to talk to my students.  She graduated from Oregon State University with degrees in zoology and communication.  In the past she was a wildfire fighter, a circus worker (caring for the elephants) and a diver at Sea World.

All of the officers have 2 four hour shifts a day on the bridge.  For example ENS Chappelle’s shifts are 8am to 12pm and 8pm to 12am.  The responsibilities of the officers include navigating the ship, recording meteorological information, overseeing safety.  Officers have other tasks to complete when not on the bridge such as correcting navigational maps or safety and damage control. ENS Stephan manages the store on board as a collateral assignment.  After officers finish training they are sent to sea for 2-3 years (usually 2) and then rotate to land for 3 years and then back to sea.  NOAA Officers see the world while at sea as they support ocean and atmospheric science research.

Frank Russo
ET Frank Russo

Electronics technician (ET) seem to be in short supply with NOAA.  There are lots of job opportunities.  According to Larry Wooten (from Newport’s Marine Operation Center of the Pacific), NOAA has hired 7 ETs since November.  Frank Russo III is sailing with NOAA for the first time as an ET.  But this is definitely not his first time at sea.  He spent 24 years in the navy, 10 at Military Sealift Command supporting naval assets and marines around the world.  His responsibilities on the Hi’ialakai include maintaining navigational equipment on the bridge, making sure the radio, radar and NAVTEX (for weather alerts) are functioning properly and maintaining the server so that the scientists have computer access.

I have met so many interesting people on the Hi’ialakai.  I appreciate everyone who took the time to chat with me about their careers or anything else.  I wish I had more time so that I could get to know more of the Hi’ialakai crew.  Thanks.  Special thanks to our XO Amanda Goeller and Senior Scientist Al Plueddeman for reviewing my blog posts.  And for letting me tag along.

 

Did You Know?

The buoy at the top of the mooring becomes a popular hang out for organisms in the area. As we approached mooring 12, there were several red-footed boobies standing their ground. There were also plenty of barnacles and other organisms that are planktonic in some stage of their lives. Fishing line is strung across the center of the buoy to discourage visitors but some still use the buoy as a rest stop. The accumulation of organism that can lead to corrosion and malfunction of the equipment is biofoul.

Boobies to be Evicted
Red-Footed Boobies

Biofoul prevention
Wires and line to prevent biofoul.

 One More Thing

South Eugene biology teacher Christina Drumm (who’s husband was  Ensign Chappelle’s high school math teacher) wanted to see pictures of the food.  So here it is.  Love and Happiness.

Lobster for Dinner
Lobster for Dinner

 

Last supper
Last supper on the Hi’ialakai

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Colors of the sea
I love the colors of the sea.

Sea colors
Sea colors

Richard Jones & Art Bangert, January 16, 2010

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

flipping_2
Donut buoy

Mission: Oceanographic Survey
Geographical Area: Hawaiian Islands
Date: January 16, 2010

Science Log

Today was a day of odds and ends.We had planned to paint first thing after breakfast and Art and Rick got started masking off the water line on one of the orange and white buoys that needs to be painted. This one was chosen to do first because it only needed a coat of yellow and not a complete repaint. The other three buoy floats need the rust colored anti-fouling paint and the yellow. Just about the time we got the tape on, it was determined that all the buoys

would have the anti- fouling paint first so we had to wait while the tolroids or “donuts” were

flipped. In the process of turning them we discovered that a couple of the buoys were partially full of water and Alen had to drill them out to allow the water to pour out. While these were draining and drying we were put on hold for painting until tomorrow. Alen had to carefully look over the donuts and fix any cracks in the fiberglass hull and reseal the mounting brackets where they pass through the hull.

ThroughtheDonut_2

Since painting was sidetracked for a day, we got to participate in one of the necessary, but less exciting aspects of scientific research…inventory. As we mentioned yesterday, science is hard work and hopping a buoy or working on the fantail doing fairings with the ocean breaking over the deck has an element of risk and can be exciting. In order to do the exciting parts of the research safely and efficiently means that you have to have the right equipment and the right number of parts to make the instruments work and the science happen.

Flipping the buoy
Flipping the buoy

So today we counted bolts, and paintbrushes, screwdrivers, nylon zip ties and even pencils and post-it notes, everything that allows us to do the science. Today was a reminder that even the most exciting job in the world, like climbing up a swaying mast on a ship, might have to be done because you need to get the serial number off an antenna, an antenna that allows you to communicate the fruit of your research back to those who can use it to understand the world’s climate a little better.

Doing inventory
Doing inventory

About 4:30 pm today we approached a TAO buoy that needed to be visually checked for any damage. Prior to this check, the ship makes several close passes to the buoy for examinination and more importantly so the crew can fish! Six long lines were in the water as we past the buoy on four separate occasions. No one caught any fish. However, Alen speculated that this was because the buoy had been deployed fairly recently and there was not enough time for it to form a food chain of small microorganisms that eventually attract top level carnivores like Ono, Tuna and Mahi Mahi. Bummer!

Searching for the antenna serial number
Searching for the antenna serial number

The last order of business today was to deploy the last deep (3000 meter) CTD at 8 South on the 155 West Longitude line. Rick sent the remainder of the Styrofoam cups from his school, cups for Art’s wife’s school in Helena (Rossiter Elementary) and a couple for his grand kids plus two extras he had for the Ensigns down in mesh bags attached to the instrument.

Deploying the CTD
Deploying the CTD

Soon we say farewell to the 155 West line as we make our way toward Apia, Samoa and the end of our experiences aboard the Ka’Imimoana.

Richard Jones & Art Bangert, January 15, 2010

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Richard Jones
Onboard NOAA Ship KAIMIMOANA
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 14, 2010

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

Making fish lures
Making fish lures

Mission: Oceanographic Survey
Geographical Area: Hawaiian Islands
Date: January 14, 2010

Science Log

After the buoy deployment yesterday, I spent the afternoon, contributing to our blog, setting up my online courses for this semester and building fishing lures. Yes, building fishing lures. I mean we are in the middle of the Pacific Ocean – why not fish? This type of fishing is very different from what we typically think of when fishing in the rivers and lakes of Montana. Most of the fish are big and require heavy tackle. I had the opportunity to help Jonathan and Doc (Helen) build a lure using multicolored rubber skits tied onto a large metal head.

These lures are then attached to a nylon line that is about 200 feet long and attached to the rear of the boat.

Fishing off the back of the boat
Fishing off the back of the boat

Catch of the day
Catch of the day

The prized fish is the yellow fin tuna (Ahi) that the crew likes to make Sashimi and Poke (Sushi). Other fish caught include Whaoo (Ono) and Mahi Mahi (Dorado). The Chief Stewart even deep fat fried the Ono to produce delicious, firm chunks of fish to supplement on of our dinner meals and tonight we had Ono baked in chili sauce that Rick said was…Ono, which is Hawaiian for ‘good’. After lunch today I launched the Rossiter/MSU Atlantic Oceanographic Meteorological Laboratory (AOML) drifting buoy. These buoys collect surface sea surface temperature and air temperature data and send this information to the Argos satellite system. The data is downloaded and used by agencies such as the National Weather Service to produce models that are used to predict weather patterns. The satellites also track the AOML buoy’s drifting path. These buoys will collect this data for approximately the next three years. You can track the Rossiter/MSU drifting buoy as soon as the information from the deployment is registered with the proper agency.

Rick had a fairly relaxed day today, preparing the
next batch of cups for the 3000 meter CTD cast at 8S: 155W and doing odd jobs on the buoy deck getting ready for our recovery-deploytomorrow at 5S: 155W and future deployments scheduled later in the cruise.

With the drifter buoy
With the drifter buoy

Cups ready for the depths
Cups ready for the depths

Continuing south
Continuing south

As you can see by the GPS, at 4:54 Hawaiian Standard time (7:54 Mountain Standard Time) we continue to move south toward our next buoy recovery and deployment at 5 latitude South and 155 West longitude.
Stay Tuned for More!

Richard Jones & Art Bangert, January 13, 2010

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Richard Jones
Onboard NOAA Ship KAIMIMOANA
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!

Richard Jones & Art Bangert, January 12, 2010

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

Sunrise
Sunrise

Mission: Survey
Geographical Area: Hawaiian Islands
Date: January 12, 2010

Science Log

We are almost there! We are holding station at 0 degrees 3 minutes North and 154 degrees 58 minutes West while we conduct out second deep (3000 meter) CTD. This cast began at 9:13 AM ship time (19:13 Zulu) and made it to depth at 10:10 AM ship time. The depth is 4650 meters at this location.

This cast has significance to Rick’s students (and his Daughter) because this is the first cup cast the cruise.
Rick spent about 30 minutes making sure that the mesh bags with 172 cups (a record for a single cast on the KA) and the bag with the Styrofoam head were attached on the instrument cage securely and in a way that would not interfere with the operation of the instruments on the CTD. As you can see from these pictures the results were profound.

CTD ready to go
CTD ready to go

When Rick returns to the classroom he will return all the cups to their rightful owners. The kids will then recalculate the volume, mass, height and diameter (if they can) and determine the rate of compression for the styrofoam cups. And of course the famous shrunken head his Daughter provided.

After recovery of the CTD Rick and Art spent about a 45 minutes getting the mesh bags off the CTD, untied and for a few of the cups that had nested, carefully pulling them apart so that they would dry as individual “mini-cups”. As soon as this task was completed we moved to the TAO-CO2 Buoy that we are going to replace.The new buoy will be the Bobcat-Bronc Buoy and will be deployed tomorrow since the recovery started around 2 PM and wasn’t complete until just about dark. Tonight we will remaining on station through the night, making five mile loops around the position of the new buoy so there is a very good chance that we will cross the equator 10 or more times tonight.

Cups returned from the depth
Cups returned from the depth

As Rick wrote, today we recovered a buoy designed to measure the amount of COin ocean water in addition to typical data (i.e., temperature, wind speed, humidity, rain and salinity). During the recovery I had the opportunity to ride the RHIB out to the CO2buoy to help the Chief Scientist remove some equipment before pulling the buoy onto the ship. Our ride to the buoy was phenomenal! We were told by the Coxswain to “hold on tight” to the ropes surrounding the top of the RHIB. As we pushed through the indigo waves of the ocean at the equator, I felt like a Montana bull rider holding on for dear life. While Brian was removing the anemometer and the rain gauge, I attached a short rope with a coupling to one leg of the buoy that a larger rope could be attached and bring the buoy aboard the ship. While on the buoy, I realized that the only other thing in site for miles was our mother ship, the Ka’Imimoana!

Out in the zodiak
Out in the zodiak

The RHIB returned to pick us up and then went back to the ship to retrieve the rope that would be attached to the buoy. After some concern that the anchor did not release, the buoy was hauled aboard and stowed for future use. Tomorrow the new CObuoy will be deployed.

This morning we were at 3 minutes North (3 nautical miles) of the equator, about a half hour ago we were only 3/10th of a mile North, we are really getting close. On to the Southern Hemisphere!

Retrieving the buoy
Retrieving the buoy

gettingclose_2

Richard Jones & Art Bangert, January 11, 2010

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

Successfully deployed
Successfully deployed

Mission: Survey
Geographical Area: Hawaiian Islands
Date: January 11, 2010

Science Log

“Science isn’t pretty…” Dexter from the cartoon Dexter’s Laboratory tells his sister. What he really needs to say is that science is hard work, work that takes a team of scientists, technical specialists, and in this case the dedicated crew from the NOAA ship Ka’Imimoana. Yesterday was our first real taste of what it takes to get the data needed to understand the role of the tropical ocean in modifying the world’s climate. We began out day with a shallow cast of the CTD at 6N:155W that ended around 7AM. A shallow cast still goes to a depth of 1000 meters (how many feet is that?) and takes about two to three hours to complete. The Survey Technician, a couple of the deck crew and several officers worked though heavy winds (35knots) and seas of around 18 feet and intermittent downpours of rain to make the data from the TAO Buoy array more solid.

Mahi mahi
Mahi mahi

Once the CTD was back on the ship and secured we headed toward our first recovery/deploy at 5N:155W. Our next task was to recover a TAO buoy that had been sending climate data for the past 8 months. The recovery began with a pass by the buoy to make sure that everything was still attached and that the buoy would be safe to “hop” and then come aboard. During these “fly-bys” or passes to view the condition of the old buoy the crew had an opportunity to fish. The Doc caught a nice Mahi Mahi as you can see in the image. Two Ahi (Yellow fin tuna…fresh poke and sashimi…yum) were caught, a Wahoo or Ono, and a small Galapagos shark that was released back in to the ocean.

After our successful fishing the RHIB was sent over to the buoy to secure the ‘bird’ (how we refer to the anemometer) and attach a line for hauling in the buoy to the ship. Once the winch line is attached the RHIB was brought back onboard and we started the recovery.Retrieving the buoy produced a steady rhythm of line in, filling spools, and switching to empty spools.Even the Ensign’s got in on the deck action running in a spool and scraping the barnacles off the old buoy.

Recovering the buoy
Recovering the buoy

Once the buoy was completely recovered (about 4 hours) we set the deck for deployment of the new buoy and broke for dinner. After dinner we began the deployment which took about 3 hours and ended in the dark around 8PM. Deployment of buoys is basically the opposite of the recovery process: Nielspin, plastic coated steel cable, with its sensors attached are then attached to the buoy with its electronics.

This line along with thousands of meters of braided line feed out into the water until the buoy’s anchor position is reached.Once the buoy was anchored in the water we waited for about a half an hour then swung by the buoy to check that it was operational. Once the buoy was confirmed as successful, the crew began to prepare for the 5N CTD and our first drifter buoy deployment.

Rick helped with this CTD to continue his training for his solo CTD’s coming in a day or so.The 5N CTD, like the 6N was a shallow cast and took about 2 hours and once the CTD was stowed Rick, the Survey Technician and two Ensign’s bid farewell to the first drifter and the day was pau (“done”) as the Hawaiians say.

Reeling in the line
Reeling in the line

Today was our opportunity to take it a little easier as compared to yesterday’s long day of buoy recovery and deployment that did not end until after dark. We had an opportunity to catch-up on some email and work on an article that is due on the 15th of January. Nothing like being under a time crunch to get you motivated. The day is filled with sun and winds are “fresh” as it is called by some. The first order of business was to help with the 3N: 155W shallow cast CTD. It is still had to grasp that shallow is over 3000 feet down into the ocean. When the pressure of the water increases the equivalent of 1 atmosphere each 10 meters that is a lot of pressure when something goes down 1000 meters like the shallow CTD does. When we make our deep cast (3000 meters) at the equator the pressure on the instruments is staggering. What would it be in pounds per square inch? Once the CTD was back on the ship and we resumed our course south along the 155W longitude line we worked on getting the Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory (AOML) drifter prepared for its deployment as the Bronc Buoy at the Equator along the 155W line.

Hard at work
Hard at work

If followers look back to a post from October they can see the stickers that the students at Billings Senior High Freshman Academy prepared for the drifter they were adopting through NOAA’s Adopt-A-Drifter Program. If you are interested in adopting a drifter you can find information about the program in the “links to learning a little more” area of this Blog. After lunch we helped the Brian, Jim and Alan to put together a specialized TAO buoy that collects information about the amount of dissolved Carbon Dioxide in the ocean in addition to the typical temperature, salinity, humidity and rain data that is gathered. These buoys appear to be easy to build.

On the lookout
On the lookout

However, standing on top of a TAO buoy anchored to the ship’s deck while trying to hold on with one hand and attach electronic sensors with the other can be daunting as the ship pitches to and fro considering the seas we had today. One gains a whole new perspective and respect for the power of the Ocean and the scientists who routinely build these buoys so that good data can be collected to help mankind. One added benefit of working on the buoys is that occasionally we have the chance to do a little personalizing. Art painted MSU CATS on one side since he works at MSU and since I just graduated from Bozeman last May. On the other side Rick put in a plug for Billings Senior Broncs. So now the Broncs and the Cats will be part of the TAO array at 155W at the equator for the next year.

We also had our first fresh sashimi and poke.Rick for one can’t wait! It is great that we have a crew with diverse skills and hobbies. Deck crew who prepare top notch sashimi and a doc who makes poke with his help.

Adopted buoy
Adopted buoy

BroncCO2Buoy_1MakingPoke

Richard Jones & Art Bangert, January 9, 2010

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

Mission: Survey
Geographical Area: Hawaiian Islands
Date: January 9, 2010

Sunrise
Sunrise

Science Log

Today was a busy day. We were up before dawn so we could check on an existing buoy close to the location of our new deployment. We made what was called a ‘fly-by’. The ship closed on the buoy and at about a mile it was vaguely visible in the early dawn. The first buoy deployment of our mission began about 7:30 AM and we had the anchor in the water about 11AM and everything went smooth. The new generation TAO buoy was deployed at 155 W longitude and 8 N latitude in a depth of 5200 meters(about 3.2 miles deep!). The TAO buoys, also called moorings, are anchored to the ocean floor using plastic coated steel cable and heavy rope. We have a drawing of the standard buoy to give you some idea what the whole package looks like, at the surface as well as below. The adjacent image is of the actual buoy that we deployed today.As you can see the color scheme has change to a solid International Yellow above the waterline.

Buoy mooring up close
Buoy mooring up close

During the initial deployment electronic sensors are placed at specific depths on a special coated steal wire. These sensors are designed to by induction and send information about conductivity (salinity), temperature and sometimes depth to the instrument tube in the buoy.This image shows two of the science team placing one of these sensors on the line.

The information provided by these sensors, and those on the buoy that measure surface conditions, help climate scientists better model the behavior of the ocean atmosphere interface and understand what patterns are more representative of El Nino, La Nina, or Neutral conditions.

In addition to the deploy of this first buoy on our trip, the ship was also engaged in the deployment and recovery of the first deep CTD. This 3000-meter (about 9750 feet or slightly over 1 3/4thmiles down) cast went fairly smoothly until it was on its way back to the surface. The winch

controller overheated and the CTD had to rest

for about one hour while the instrument package sat at 2000 meters.After the control circuits had a chance to cool we were able to continue the recovery of the CTD and resume or course south on the 155 W to our next station at 7N for a 1000 meter CTD cast. There is a good chance that we will do the CTD later this evening since it will take about six hours for the ship to transit one degree depending on sea conditions.

Deployment
Deployment

Sensors monitor the ocean conditions
Sensors monitor the ocean conditions

CTDs being deployed
CTDs being deployed

Robert Oddo, July 25, 2009

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Robert Oddo
Onboard NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown 
July 11 – August 10, 2009 

Mission: PIRATA (Prediction and Research Moored Array in the Atlantic)
Geographical area of cruise: Tropical Atlantic
Date: July 25, 2009

The Brown seen from a small boat
The Brown seen from a small boat

Weather Data from the Bridge 
Outside Temperature 26.94oC
Relative Humidity 81.85%
Sea Temperature 27.84oC
Barometric Pressure 1013.74 inches
Latitude 13o 07.114N Longitude 23o 00.000W

Science and Technology Log 

I have continued to help out on the 11:30 am to 11:30 pm watch with CTDs and XBTs. Why do so many CTDs and XBTs? The scientists on board are developing a subsurface profile of the water temperature, salinity and density. Based on these data, models can be constructed and refined that can help us better understand what is happening in the Tropical Atlantic.

 Removal of radiometer and anemometer from buoy
Removal of radiometer and anemometer from buoy

The Brown arrived at the second buoy that needed to be serviced on July 24th. I was lucky enough to get on the small boat sent out to take some equipment off the buoy before it was pulled up on the boat. Once at the buoy, the radiometer and the anemometer were removed.  An acoustic message is then sent from the Brown to release the anchor on the buoy. The buoy is then attached to a rope from the Brown and pulled up onto the fantail. All the instrumentation and sensors below the buoy are pulled up on the Brown and exchanged. I attached a picture of the buoy to the right so you get an idea of all the instrumentation that is attached to these buoys. I could not believe all the fish that were around the buoy.  Apparently, the buoy creates a small  ecosystem, where all kinds of marine organism congregate.  Algae and small crustaceans attach to the buoy and some of the cables that are underneath. Small fish eat the algae and crustaceans, larger fish eat the smaller fish and before you know it you have a food web.  Some of the fish are huge. Yellow fin tuna, triggerfish and mahi mahi.  This actually causes a big problem.  Fishermen come out to these buoys and damage the buoy instrumentation when they are fishing and we end up losing valuable data.

This figure shows all the instrumentation attached to the buoy.
This figure shows all the instrumentation attached to the buoy.

Personal Log 

Once the buoy is pulled up onto the ship, the fish that were around it looked for a place to go. Sometimes they come under the ship. We threw a few fishing lines in after the buoy was pulled up on the fantail and the tuna were biting like crazy. We caught a few that afternoon and had them for lunch the next day!!

 

 

 

 

Got one!  It’s tuna for lunch!
Got one! It’s tuna for lunch!

Research cruise plan
Research cruise plan

Jillian Worssam, July 17, 2008

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Jillian Worssam
Onboard U.S. Coast Guard Vessel Healy
July 1 – 30, 2008

Mission: Bering Sea Ecosystem Survey
Geographic Region: Bering Sea, Alaska
Date: July 17, 2008

To fully understand the today I need to go back two nights. I had been up for over 20 hours and was ready for bed. The educational team and I had been working fiendishly ( love that word) on a power point presentation with fun activities for the students. I was also working on putting together the slides for next Monday’s webinar. Anyway, after dinner, I went to bed. The next I knew my clock said eight thirty, and I had slept 13 hours! Frantically I got up got, dressed, and went to “Aft Con” to check on the retrieval of a floating sediment trap. MST Rich Layman told me that the pick-up would be the next day. I of course disputed his time analysis; it had been 24 hours why weren’t we picking up the trap? Rich of course replied, “We just set the trap this morning, we have to wait 24 hours.” My rebuttal was fun and sassy. There was discussion about a quarter and well to make a long story short. Here it is, I had slept for, you got it, an hour. It was still Tuesday night, I was really confused and a great laugh for many people, including myself. The moral of this story; there really is a purpose for military time!But now it is Thursday, and time to take our traveling science show to St. George. The day did not turn out as we had planned, and with the advent of really thick fog well our adventure was different than what we had planned.

Thus today’s journal will be a photo montage, a sequence of eleven shots highlighting (for me) the pleasure in the day!

"Bridge, do we have permission to launch the small boat?"
“Bridge, do we have permission to launch the small boat?”

As the HEALY fades into the background I really get a good glimpse of how huge she really is.
As the HEALY fades into the background I really get a good glimpse of how huge she really is.

The ride was cloaked in fog, a bit choppy and a blast.
The ride was cloaked in fog, a bit choppy and a blast.

I bet John James Audubon knows who these little beauties are.
I bet John James Audubon knows who these little beauties are.

A brief glimpse at the coast as the surf pounded.
A brief glimpse at the coast as the surf pounded.

BM2 Gaines Huneycutt patiently waits to return us to the ship.
BM2 Gaines Huneycutt patiently waits to return us to the ship.

The small boats are ready to leave while getting last minute advice on the change in weather.
The small boats are ready to leave while getting last minute advice on the change in weather.

The swells at over eight feet provided a wonderfully exciting ride, for most!
The swells at over eight feet provided a wonderfully exciting ride, for most!

Both Tasha and I were loving the ride as we crested each swell.
Both Tasha and I were loving the ride as we crested each swell.

At one point we stopped and listened for the fog horn, a muffled sound to the left.
At one point we stopped and listened for the fog horn, a muffled sound to the left.

Today’s quote is from one of my most favorite individuals, and has summed up the day gloriously!

Quote of the Day: The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experiences. -Eleanor Roosevelt

MY STUDENTS: DO you have a hero, someone you look up to as a role model?

From beginning to end an amazing day.
From beginning to end an amazing day.

Jillian Worssam, July 14, 2008

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Jillian Worssam
Onboard U.S. Coast Guard Vessel Healy
July 1 – 30, 2008

Mission: Bering Sea Ecosystem Survey
Geographic Region: Bering Sea, Alaska
Date: July 14, 2008

Prior to sailing on the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter HEALY I had no idea what it took to run such a huge floating, moving, science sampling community. Everyone that works aboard appears to be constantly busy not only with their formally assigned duties, but also with collateral duties, so that each one of the 15 separate divisions is constantly hopping. This was the case yesterday for the deck division, the largest aboard the HEALY with 17 crew members.

The deck department working with the scientists to retrieve an optical array.
The deck department working with the scientists to retrieve an optical array.

The ship was working with scientists to retrieve an optical array, thus the need for small boats and the deck crew. It was through the guidance of Chief Boatswain’s Mate Kidd that not only were two boats launched with appropriate crew, but that they had the equipment necessary to try and accomplish their task.

Always prepared Chief Kidd always keeps a sharp lookout while operations are underway.
Always prepared Chief Kidd always keeps a sharp lookout while operations are underway.

Chief Kidd is a career military man who started as a combat photo journalist. It was while I was listening to his account of the past that I learned even more about the history of the Coast Guard and how technology has really changed their world. Chief Kidd used to be a quartermaster, a traditional navigator aboard a sailing vessel. For twelve years he worked on the bridge of ships using tools such as a compass and sextant to plot and record courses. Then came the GPS. Thus the Chief’s “Legacy skills” became obsolete. Now he runs the deck division, responsible for: Having his crew stand bridge watches. Providing bridge lookouts. All small boat operations. Crane operations (not related to science). Armed bear watch when working in the ice. Rescue swimmer when scientists are on the ice. Line tending/deck work…the list is endless.

Working for Chief Kidd is enlisted crew Chelsey Rheyann Kaleoalohalanimalamalama Fernandez. Chelsey works on the Bridge for four hours a day, her primary duty is to record all ship operations while the HEALY is underway. The rest of her time is spent in, of course, collateral duties: maintaining and checking all float coats, checking the weapons locker, checking immersion suits, regular PMS (Preventative Maintenance Systems) checks of small boats and again the list is endless.

Working on the Bridge using the computer to record all ships operations during her four hour watch.
Working on the Bridge using the computer to record all ships operations during her watch.

Chelsey is new to the U.S. Coast Guard and will have her three year anniversary this winter when she hopes to get accepted into “A School,” to start her training to become a Health Services Technician/Corpsman. There are many opportunities for enlisted personnel within the Coast Guard, and this one will be Chelsey’s path.

The deck department retrieving a mooring.
The deck department retrieving a mooring.

 

Quote of the Day: The survival of the human species is inescapably linked with the survival of all other forms of life. Michael Frome

**FOR MY STUDENTS: **How many different careers do you think there are within the U.S. Coast Guard?

Everyone works hard on the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter HEALY!
Everyone works hard on the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter HEALY!

Patricia Kassis, June 10, 2008

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Patricia Kassis
Onboard Research Vessel Kilo Moana
May 23 – June 10, 2009

Mission: Woods Hole and Hawaii Ocean Time Series
Geographic Region: Hawaiian Islands
Date: June 10, 2008

Science Log

We have remained at the buoy site today. We continue to do the meteorological measurements from the bow (sea surface temperature and humidity), we did a single CTD cast just to test that the instruments were working right for the next cruise, and we’ve been monitoring the data from the new buoy and comparing them to data the ship is collecting.

The mooring data we’ve been watching especially closely is the wind direction, which was off before we replaced the anemometer yesterday. And it turns out… the wind direction is still off. The two anemometers still record a difference of about 30 degrees. Although it took a few hours to get the first readings, we were immediately skeptical that the fix had worked because the old “broken” anemometer seemed to be in good working condition when it was brought back on board. The trouble is directional (the instrument’s speed measurements are consistent), and it turns out that the compass in each anemometer is influenced by the magnetic field created by the bird wire. Why didn’t they think of this? Well, they did, but the bird wire was not supposed to be magnetic. It turns out that we can deflect a compass by bringing it close to some bird wire. This also means that the other anemometer is probably reading an erroneous direction too, as it is surrounded by bird wire also. So the big wigs are bustling around now trying to make an algorithm to correct the wind direction data. In short, we hope the wind direction readings are always deflected by some predictable amount, so we should be able to adjust the data before using it. Shipboard wind measurements will help calculate the errors.

By request, here’s a close-up of the meteorological instruments on top of the buoy.

met_closeup

From left to right, they are:
Temp and Humidity sensor (white cylinder with horizontal stripes)
Rain Gauge (white cylinder with opening at the top, black inside; also associated metal cylinder)
Anemometer (with propellers, in the back)
GPS unit for location data (orange)
GPS unit that transmits via Iridium connection (while cylinder)
Barometer for measuring atmospheric pressure (metal cylinder)
A light that flashes orange at night – in the back, here it is covered with black plastic
Four sunlight radiation detectors in the middle (two long-wave, two short-wave)
Second Barometer (metal cylinder)
Second anemometer
Iridium antenna (cylinder with larger diameter)
battery pack (metal cylinder)
second rain gauge
second temp/humidity sensor

The data that these instruments collect are available in nearly real time for the public to see. Right now, the website is still picking up info from the old buoy, which is sitting on deck and, therefore, not making sense. But if you check this WHOI website later on, you should be able to see graphs of barometric pressure (BPR), air temperature (ATMP), water temperature (STMP), wind speed (WSPD), wind direction (WDIR), relative humidity (RH) and so on. Each quantity is measured by two instruments, so each graph has two lines – hopefully they are close; often they are so close it looks like one curve. But let’s keep an eye on that WDIR – a good algorithm will place the two curves close together.

Personal Log
Tonight will be our last night at sea. We’ll leave the buoy area around sunset tonight and head toward Honolulu. We’ll enter the harbor around daybreak and spend the day unloading equipment.

Patricia Kassis, June 8, 2008

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Patricia Kassis
Onboard Research Vessel Kilo Moana
May 23 – June 10, 2009

Mission: Woods Hole and Hawaii Ocean Time Series
Geographic Region: Hawaiian Islands
Date: June 8, 2008

Buoy alongside the ship
Buoy alongside the ship

Science Log

These couple of days have been relatively calm science-wise, but the seas are the biggest we’ve seen. It’s not stormy or choppy, but big swells rock the ship with a low frequency, especially yesterday. Accordingly, the small boat mission to fix a wind instrument (anemometer, not flute) on the buoy was postponed until today, and it went pretty smoothly despite, in my opinion, pretty big swells. Here are a couple of shots of the mission. The first shows the launch. After the occupants pile in, the boat is lowered from a height of 15 or 20 feet. You can see the buoy (a speck just above the green arm of the crane), and the captain above – in a t-shirt and jeans.

The second photo shows Sean (only his legs are visible) climbing on the buoy while the boat circles. I don’t think these stills convey how the seas are moving, which I’d estimate as 7 foot high faces and wavelengths of about 300 feet. Even tough guy Sean quietly requested some food to help settle his stomach afterwards. The last CTD cast wrapped up yesterday.

We continue to collect more science data. We’re constantly monitoring data from the new buoy; a job powered mainly by computers and overseen by capable experts. Additionally, all along we’ve been doing some low-tech data collection. I’m actually surprised that this data is even taken, and I’m not sure of the extent to which these numbers influence science findings. Here is the psychrometer, a gadget with a fan (on the right, encased in metal) to rush air over two thermometers, one bare “dry” one, and a “wet” one with a thin wet sock covering its bulb (hidden by a metal sleeve). We record the two temperatures, and then use an equation or table to compute the relative humidity.

Here's a picture of some helpers like me "tagging" the lines - that is, steadying the rosette on its way back on board.
Here’s a picture of some helpers like me “tagging” the lines – that is, steadying the rosette on its way back on board.

The whole contraption is lowered into the upper ocean using a rope, brought back up without spilling (luckily, the geometry makes this easy), and the sea surface temperature is read off of the thermometer before the water is dumped out. This is pretty unsophisticated stuff, but it is the most reliable method we have for measuring the sea surface temperature. (CTD’s are too deep and satellites can be fooled by a slightly different temperature in a skin atop the surface.)

Here is the thermometer we use to measure sea surface temperature. It is a small PVC bucket with a fixed thermometer suspended in it.
Here is the thermometer we use to measure sea surface temperature. It is a small PVC bucket with a fixed thermometer suspended in it.

Personal Log

I am on watch from 7 to 11 in the morning, and again from 19 to 23 at night. So I’ve had a lot of free time in the middle of the day. I bug some scientists and technicians to show me the data they were playing with, but I also got laundry done and have enjoyed some ice water and a good book. I actually picked up a little sunburn – was my sunscreen too little, too late or too infrequent?

SST_bucket

Patricia Kassis, June 6, 2008

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Patricia Kassis
Onboard Research Vessel Kilo Moana
May 23 – June 10, 2009

Mission: Woods Hole and Hawaii Ocean Time Series
Geographic Region: Hawaiian Islands
Date: June 6, 2008

Downloading data from the CTDs
Downloading data from the CTDs

Science Log

Science efforts today seem to be split between removing things from the recovered buoy and collecting more data with CTD’s. Part of what we’re getting off of the buoy is that data stored in the CTD’s that hung beneath it. Here’s Jeff (with a corny look on his face) downloading this data. He’s got 6 CTD’s going at once, and the process takes hours.

Also coming off the buoy are the atmospheric instruments on top. Here’s a shot of Sean working on that while Jim moves cable from the winch that pulled it on board onto the spools where it is stored. My roommate Tenley is operating the winch.

The CTD casts have started back up (we took a break from that to recover the buoy), which means I’m on a work shift – about 4 hours on and 8 hours off. I start tonight at 7 pm. I’ve done 2 casts so far, and I’m already getting to be more helpful, successfully steadying the CTD rosette from the deck.

tenleyWinch

Personal Log

Buoy on deck
Buoy on deck

I got to do laundry yesterday. This was a real treat since I arrived at this cruise directly from another trip, already with a sack of dirty clothes. There are two washers and two dryers on the ship and about 35 people on board, so there’s a restriction on when someone can use the machines. For the science party, of which I’m a member, the laundry is available Friday, Saturday and Sunday. That means tomorrow will be my last chance before jetting off on another trip, so I’ll be visiting the laundry room again. We had filet mignon for supper last night and I’m not even kidding.
Hey Parker ‘Ohana, is anyone reading this? When people on the ship find out what I’m doing here, they keep asking what feedback I’m getting from my students and my school. I’m sad to report “none!” So if you’re reading this, and you’re a Parker person, drop me a comment or a line (mrskassis@hotmail.com) so I know I’m not just talking to myself (or typing to myself, I guess.) If you have any questions, or if there’s anything you want me to photograph, I’m happy to accommodate.

Patricia Kassis, June 5, 2008

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Patricia Kassis
Onboard Research Vessel Kilo Moana
May 23 – June 10, 2009

Glass balls
Glass balls

Mission: Woods Hole and Hawaii Ocean Time Series
Geographic Region: Hawaiian Islands
Date: June 5, 2008

Science Log

The old buoy came back on board today. First, an acoustic signal was sent to a device located just above the anchor, which released, severing the connection between the anchor and the 80 glass balls above. These glass balls (encased in yellow plastic) are buoyant, but they live deep underwater. They keep the bottom of the rope off of the sea floor and the anchor, and they aid in recovery. The balls come speeding up, but since they have such a long trip, it takes them 40 minutes or so. I guess sometimes balls get crushed on descent, and others on ascent, so the pile of recovered glass balls includes some that are destroyed. One is shown here. Then came miles of nylon and synthetic line, enough to refill those empty boxes, and then the instruments began coming aboard (CTDs and current meters). First came the deepest instruments, looking shiny and new. At slightly shallower depths, we began to see some biology – some nice clean mussel-ish thingies as big as your thumb.

Things growing on the buoy
Things growing on the buoy

Then the buoy itself came aboard. While it is floating, you can’t remove all the instruments below it or it becomes unstable, without that weight pulling it down. So before the last submerged instruments came up, the buoy came aboard. This was a rocking, dangerous, awkward event, with the buoy slamming against the ship. When I asked if this buoy recovery was typical, I was told, in the nautical style of curt understatements, that this was “not a good one”. The buoy itself was covered with barnacle-like things, crabs, slime and, on top, bird droppings. If you got sick in the zoo’s bird house, cleaning this baby is not a job for you. (Cleaning this baby was, by the way, a job for pretty much every science person on board, from chief scientists and technicians on down to lowly observers like me.)

After the buoy was on deck, we recovered the shallowest, and thereby most biologically covered instruments. These had critters and slime. The sticker on this one says “25 meters”. Can you read it? Can you find it? I was on watch until 4 am this morning, so I actually slept through the early stages of buoy recovery, specifically the glass balls ascending. I woke up for lunch (beef pot pie – the beef bearing significant resemblance to last night’s prime rib. I’m not complaining, leftover prime rib is a-okay with me!)

The area around the old buoy was fertile fishing ground, but the scientists require everyone to wait until everything is recovered before casting. This is to avoid tangling fishing lines around science tools. During the nearly daylong recovery operation, the fishermen aboard were salivating over the mahimahi and ahi they saw circling. Finally, they got two lines in and quickly caught two small ahi. Here’s Paul, who gets the award for catching the first.

He was a little embarrassed to strike a pose with a relatively small fish, so I promised him I’d throw this picture away once he catches a bigger one. As of press time, he’s had no such luck.

Buoy comes aboard
Buoy comes aboard

Barnacles!
Barnacles!

Shallow instruments have the most growth
Shallow instruments have the most growth

Catch of the day!
Catch of the day!

Patricia Kassis, June 4, 2008

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Patricia Kassis
Onboard Research Vessel Kilo Moana
May 23 – June 10, 2009

Mission: Woods Hole and Hawaii Ocean Time Series
Geographic Region: Hawaiian Islands
Date: June 4, 2008

Spools
Spools

Science Log

The deployment of the buoy went fine yesterday, and now we’re monitoring data from both buoys while we take some extra measurements of the water in the neighborhood of the buoy. The new buoy has two of everything, and for the most part duplicate pairs agree. The only exception is wind direction, where the two devices disagree by 45 degrees or so. It is thought that a rope got caught slightly for a second on the little spinning instrument during deployment. At present, the planned solution for that is to send Sean out in a boat to climb aboard and replace it. This sounds rough for Sean but might make a good photo op for you and me. Stay tuned. The extra measurements I mentioned involve lowering a rosette with a CTD (remember? it determines salinity and temperature at different depths) and some bottles for collecting water directly. Here’s me in front of the suite of instruments.

The gray vertical cylinders on top are the bottles, and the black and silver cylinder strapped on lower is the CTD. The whole contraption is lowered by a crane, with me providing some sloppy assistance in steadying it, and it then yo-yos (scientific term) up and down through the top of the water column collecting CTD data, which we can see in real time on a computer inside. On its last trip up, the bottles are closed by a technician’s command, and my awkward self helps get the thing back on board. The operation is very controlled (despite my involvement and unlike my yo-yoing experiences) and takes perhaps 45 minutes.

I’m involved in a couple more data collection projects, too. One is taking humidity measurements on the bow with an old fashioned psychrometer (Did I spell that right, Proofreader Jim?), and the other is taking water samples from an indoor tap that they assure me draws directly from the ocean. Do you think they are making up chores to keep me busy?

CTDme

Personal Log
Remember yesterday’s question? Where do you store 7 miles of rope and cable? Most of it lives in these boxes and on these spools. I helped drag it out of the boxes, which was tedious and tiring, and I’m assured putting the old buoy line back in the boxes is no picnic. Breeze, an incoming UH student and a guy on my CDT team, is in one for scale. We’ve got a Massachusetts contingency here rooting for the Celtics and coveting a cable connection.

Technician Kuhio has started fishing, but reports no bites yet.
Technician Kuhio has started fishing, but reports no bites yet.

Patricia Kassis, June 1, 2008

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Patricia Kassis
Onboard Research Vessel Kilo Moana
May 23 – June 10, 2009

Mission: Woods Hole and Hawaii Ocean Time Series
Geographic Region: Hawaiian Islands
Date: June 1, 2008

buoy_on_deckScience Log

We just got underway yesterday, and today is very exciting. We’re deploying a new buoy a few miles from an old one, and we intend to leave both in for some days, and finally remove the old one before departing the area. The overall concept here is to get a really good dataset about the ocean and the atmosphere in one location over a long period of time. This program has been ongoing since 2004. These data will serve as a piece of the puzzle in the larger question of how global warming works, and what roles the tropical ocean and atmosphere play. The buoy, shown here sitting at the stern of the ship, is loaded with scientific instruments, distributed in three layers.

On top are the meteorological gadgets, which measure air temperature, humidity, solar radiation, wind speed and direction, and barometric pressure. A GPS unit there keeps track of the buoy’s location, elevation and orientation. There’s a fin to keep the buoy facing into the wind (preventing, for example, temperature sensors from being in contact with air that has already passed over other instruments or surfaces), and on the fin is a white capsule-looking object containing instruments to reflect radar from ships to avoid collisions, and a metal box which contains an antenna. With this antenna, all the meteorological instruments can send data to a satellite at regular intervals. You can see this data, graphed in nearly real time, at the website http://uop.whoi.edu/projects/WHOTS/whotsdata.html. On the buoy’s top you can also see bird wire, and I’m told I’ll understand fully the importance of this component when I see how guano-covered the old buoy will be.

buoy_co2A few instruments are located at sea level: carbon dioxide sensors (not shown) and sea surface temperature (SST) sensors. One SST sensor is embedded in foam and moves freely on a vertical rail, going up and down as the buoy bobs, trying to stay just at the surface of the water, and the second is fixed in place and is there for redundancy. The carbon dioxide sensors are important, especially to us in Hawaii. As you probably know, the earth’s carbon budget is intimately tied to questions about global warming, and since a great deal of carbon is in carbon dioxide molecules, and since carbon dioxide dissolves so readily in ocean water, any measured changes in carbon dioxide levels in the surface water are interesting to climate scientists. The carbon dioxide also contributes to carbonic acid, lowering the pH of the ocean water to potentially damage anything that dissolves in acid – like coral reefs and shells. Chief Scientist Bob Weller thinks this rising pH is actually a bigger concern than global warming. Very early data about climate change came from a long term data set of atmospheric carbonic dioxide collected here on Mauna Loa. If you’ve seen Al Gore’s movie, you recall this jagged sawtoothed graph depicting the rising carbon dioxide levels. It is a prime example of how useful a long term dataset from one spot on earth can be. This WHOTS project hopes to create an analogous dataset, but one about ocean conditions instead of about atmospheric conditions, and in this study (as in the Mauna Loa one) carbon dioxide is likely to play a key role.

The third layer consists of instruments hanging below the buoy: CTDs (the bread and butter of physical oceanography) tell us about the temperature and salinity at different depths; and two types of current meters measure how the water moves, one uses little propellers, the other bounces sound off of plankton in the water. These are connected to the buoy and to one another by a segmented strand – including metal chain and cable at depths where sharks would bite through anything weaker, and nylon and synthetic lines to allow some elasticity at depths where sharks aren’t a concern. Nowhere in this length is a communication wire of any kind, and electromagnetic radiation won’t travel through water, so these gadgets can’t communicate with the above water world. Instead, they hoard their data. When we pull up the old buoy, we’ll be able to download a year’s worth of data from each instrument (after we clean off the gunk). We’ll also get to look for shark bites on the chains, cables and lines.

buoy_launchI have the bottom bunk in a stateroom that I share with another observer. She’s a college student interning with Woods Hole. Our room and the one next to it (housing two University of Hawaii students) connect to a shared bathroom. The ship has a wide stance so it is very stable but a little unpredictable. It doesn’t rock much at all, but still you can’t predict in which direction the next rock will tip you. I have no feelings of seasickness yet (the seas are very calm and I don’t know of anyone on board feeling queasy yet), but keep your fingers crossed because I know I’m prone to it.

The food is remarkably good. The cook is fantastic and a hard worker. In fact, the ship seems to be divided between people working really hard (from seamen and cook on up to chief scientist and captain) and people looking for something to do (like me and other observers). I’m hoping to get connected with the guy in charge of CTD stations and water sampling so I can contribute a little more. That type of work will get underway after the new buoy is finished launching. I’m told there is sometimes fishing off the stern, especially when we get near the old buoy, with all its accumulated fish food. No poles yet, but I’ll keep you posted. I have good internet connection, so feel free to write to me at mrskassis@hotmail.com or post a comment on the blog. I’ll answer your questions as quickly as I can.

Picture this:
In total, the ropes, chains and cables connecting the anchor to the buoy is about 7 miles long. How would you store that much thick rope? I’ll show you the empties tomorrow…

Brett Hoyt, October 25, 2006

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Brett Hoyt
Onboard NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown
October 8 – 28, 2006

Mission: Recovery and maintenance of buoy moorings
Geographical Area: Southeast Pacific, off the coast of Chile
Date: October 25, 2006

Weather Data from Bridge 
Visibility:  12nm (nautical miles)
Wind direction:  150º
Wind speed:  5 knots
Sea wave height: 1-2ft
Swell wave height: 4-6 ft
Sea level pressure: 1017.1 millibars
Sea temperature:  16.7ºC or ºF
Air temperature:  17.9ºC or ºF
Cloud type: Stratus

Reggie Glover – Engine Utility Man (“Oilier”) helping keep the ship running smooth. Thanks Reggie!
Reggie Glover – Engine Utility Man (“Oilier”) helping keep the ship running smooth. Thanks Reggie!

The Crew 

For the past 3 weeks we have been highlighting the scientists and their work.  The other unsung heroes of this cruise are the ship’s crew.  These tireless workers work 7 days a week and are on call 24 hours a day. They are up before dawn and go to bed well after sunset. They feed us three square meals a day (they are excellent chefs) and provide us even with the water we drink and bath with.  Without our crew the research does not happen. For this we thank you.

Being a crewmember on a research vessel such as the RONALD BROWN has many hardships. You can’t go to the movies (they show two every night—not always your choice but you can request a movie to be played) or head to the mall (they do have a ship’s store—by the way I’ve seen bigger closets), but it’s our mall, and for this Dave, we thank you for running it. You can’t go for a walk in the park or even stroll down a neighborhood street. Your work place is also your home and you can’t leave either.  But ………………for all these sacrifices how many of you can say you have really seen the world?  For most of us, our “world” may only be the country we live in or perhaps the neighborhood we played in as a child.  To you I ask, have you ever seen the sunset in Fiji or the glaciers in the Straits of Magellan?  Have you ever visited a land that has not seen any rainfall in over 150 years?  Have you ever gazed upon the heads of Easter Island or experienced 45ft waves in the Bearing Sea?  If not, then you have not seen the world.  It is because of this unique attraction for the world and all that is in it, that many people choose the life of a sailor.

Any one like big diesel engines?  Jim Reed inspects the heart of the ship. The RON BROWN has six of these huge diesel engines connected to very large electric generators that in turn feed enough electricity to power the two 3000 horsepower engines that turn the propellers.
Any one like big diesel engines? Jim Reed inspects the heart of the ship, which has six of these huge diesel engines connected to very large electric generators that feed enough electricity to power the two engines that turn the propellers.

Today we will visit with Reggie Glover on board the RONALD H. BROWN.  Reggie is a friendly, always there with a smile, genuinely kind man of 34 years of age.  He has been a seaman for the past 3 years and has served on numerous ships.  He got his start washing dishes for the Military Sealift Command.  He was a civilian who worked on ships that supplied U.S. Naval ships. In only 2 and a half years he has worked his way up to “wiper.” Upon leaving the Sealift Command and joining NOAA, he changed jobs to become an “Engine Utility Man.”  His past jobs have included truck driver, hotel employee, and fast food worker.  When I asked Reggie why he decided to go to sea he replied, “College isn’t for everyone” and his career at sea provided an excellent opportunity to achieve financial freedom. “Money is good, there is tons of overtime, you don’t have to pay rent, and meals are provided. Your paycheck is all yours to save or to spend.”

Reggie has not always had it “easy.” Just before going to sea he was temporarily homeless.  The sea provided a new career and a fresh start. When I asked Reggie what message he wanted to tell students he replied, “Come out to sea with a goal in mind, stick with it, and enjoy the feeling of accomplishment.  If your life isn’t going the way you want, perhaps a job at sea would be an alternative to jail, homelessness, or even college.”  Reggie goes on to say that joining NOAA’s workforce provides many opportunities to advance your skills and education.  NOAA has sent Reggie to Engine Utility School and Refrigeration School and he is planning on taking welding school this fall. He is currently working towards his 3AE (third assistant engineer).

One of the benefits he has enjoyed the most has been the free travel in seeing the world and meeting different people in it.  After visiting with Reggie I can sense he has his goals and will achieve them through his persistence and dedication to a job well done.

If you like to know more about a career at sea, check out the NOAA Fleet and Marine operations website, Automated commerce employment, and Vessel employment opportunities.

Please contact the Marine Operations Center – Atlantic at (757) 441-6206, or Marine Operations Center – Pacific at (206) 553-4548, if you have any questions.

The Teacher 

This is my final log and I would like to thank all those folks at NOAA who saw fit to send me half way around the world for the journey of a lifetime and a chance to participate in one of the most worthwhile projects any teacher could hope to imagine.  I would also like to thank Dr. Bob Weller and all the crew from Woods Hole who took time to answer my questions and make me feel like one of the team.  (Love to scrape those barnacles!) I would like to thank the captain and his crew for keeping us safe and making me feel very much at home 5,000miles from home.  And, I would like to personally thank Lt. (JG) Jackie Almeida for her input and edits on my Teacher at Sea logs and for her help in making my job easier.  If you are a teacher and would like the experience of a lifetime, go to the Teacher at Sea website and apply today.

Brett Hoyt, October 24, 2006

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Brett Hoyt
Onboard NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown
October 8 – 28, 2006

Mission: Recovery and maintenance of buoy moorings
Geographical Area: Southeast Pacific, off the coast of Chile
Date: October 24, 2006

Data from Bridge 

Visibility:  12nm (nautical miles)
Wind direction:  140º
Wind speed:  4 knots
Sea wave height: 0-1ft
Swell wave height: 6-8 ft
Sea level pressure:  1018.5 millibars
Sea temperature:  18.1ºC or 64 ºF
Air temperature:  18.7ºC or 65 ºF
Cloud type: stratus

Deployment of the new tsunami buoy began at 6am on October 23.  The scientists deployed the buoy first and then plan to deploy the Bottom Pressure Recorder (BPR).  The reason for this is that the BPR must be located close enough to the buoy for the acoustic communication from the BPR to reach the surface buoy.  As there are only a few instruments from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution on the buoy, this deployment process only took a few hours instead of most of the day.  They plan on letting the buoy settle for many hours before they deploy the BPR.  One of the challenges for the tsunami buoy is that unlike the Stratus 7 buoy which had a “watch circle” (the distance the buoy could wander) of over 3 miles, the tsunami buoy has a watch circle of no more than 1,500 meters.  This difference is that you don’t want the buoy wandering out of range of the Bottom Pressure Recorder transmitter.  To achieve this, the scientists must make the mooring line exactly the right length.  The day before they deployed the buoy the scientists measured the contours of the ocean floor and knew precisely how deep the water was. At the last minute, the scientists from the Chilean Navy cut and spliced a piece of mooring line to exactly the right length.  (See photo)

The Scientists 

Here a scientist from the Chilean Navy is seen splicing in an eye into the line after it was cut to length.  This process ensures that the buoy stays in the right location and does not wander too far.
Here a scientist from the Chilean Navy is seen splicing in an eye into the line after it was cut to length. This process ensures that the buoy stays in the right location and does not wander too far.

The Machine 

The Chilean Government's tsunami buoy on station in the South Pacific.  This is only one half of the warning equation.
The Chilean Government’s tsunami buoy in the South Pacific. This is only half of the warning equation.

The Bottom Pressure Recorder (BPR) with its anchor attached.
The Bottom Pressure Recorder (BPR) with its anchor attached.

The Experiment 

There was no experiment.

Classroom Activities 

There is no classroom activity, as creating your own tsunami in the classroom would be way too messy.

Brett Hoyt, October 22, 2006

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Brett Hoyt
Onboard NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown
October 8 – 28, 2006

Mission: Recovery and maintenance of buoy moorings
Geographical Area: Southeast Pacific, off the coast of Chile
Date: October 22, 2006

Jeff Lord using an acoustic transmitter to talk to the acoustic release.  This machine also tells the scientists the range to the release that helps them in finding it.
Jeff Lord using an acoustic transmitter to talk to the acoustic release. This machine also tells the scientists the range to the release that helps them in finding it.

Data from Bridge 
Visibility:  12nm (nautical miles)
Wind direction:  130º
Wind speed:  19 knots
Sea wave height: 4-6ft
Swell wave height: 5-7 ft
Sea level pressure:  1019.7 millibars
Sea temperature:  17.3ºC or 63ºF
Air temperature:  18.0ºC or 64ºF
Cloud type: cumulus, stratocumulus, and stratus

Note: 

All day on the 21st was spent traveling to the Chilean tsunami buoy approximately 300 miles off the coast of Chile.  During this time, the Woods Hole group was busy retrieving data from their instruments from Stratus 6.  Many of the instruments collect data all year long and store it on flash memory cards.  When recovered one year later, this data is then downloaded onto computers for later analysis. We arrived late in the day on October 22 at the tsunami site and immediately started the process of recovering the old buoy. As you can see, scientists work day and night to get the job done. I really have never seen a group of harder working people.

Jorge Araya and Alvaro Vera, members of the Chilean Navy, looking for the yellow glass balls which were released over an hour ago and take that long to reach the surface.  Work vests were required but not hard hats for this part of the operation.  Both have over 12 years with the Chilean Navy.
Jorge Araya and Alvaro Vera, members of the Chilean Navy, looking for the yellow glass balls which were released over an hour ago and take that long to reach the surface. Work vests were required but not hard hats for this part of the operation. Both have over 12 years with the Chilean Navy.

The Machine

The glass balls are attached to the Bottom Pressure Recorder, or BPR, and float to the surface leaving the anchor on the bottom of the ocean.

Jorge Gaete, a civilian contractor for the Chilean Navy for the past 2 years, helps with the deployment of the tsunami buoy.
Jorge Gaete, a civilian contractor for the Chilean Navy for the past 2 years, helps with the deployment of the tsunami buoy.

Capturing the yellow flotation balls that have brought the BPR to the surface for recovery.
Capturing the yellow flotation balls that have brought the BPR to the surface for recovery.

The second part of the tsunami warning system is the recovery of the buoy.  This buoy receives the signal from the BPR and quickly transmits the warning via satellite to the Chilean authorities who in turn warn the public.  This recovery was done at night.  Without the vast array of sensors found on the Stratus 7 buoy, this recovery progressed quickly and was completed within 30 minutes.

Hooking lines to the tsunami buoy for a quick recovery.
Hooking lines to the tsunami buoy for a quick recovery.

The Experiment

There is no experiment today; however, I will try to explain how the system works. When a tsunami is triggered by an underwater earthquake the BPR detects the increase in pressure on the bottom of the ocean due to the increase in the height of the water column above the sensor. When I asked Alvaro how this worked when sea swell was 6-7 ft at times and waves could reach a height of 45ft he explained that the pressure is sharp and abrupt. This is indicated by a very short wave (period) of energy passing through the open ocean. In open ocean the height of a huge tsunami wave is so short a ship would hardly know one has passed by.  It is only when this wave heads into shallow water that the wave becomes deadly.

The BPR immediately after recovery, without its anchor that remains on the bottom of the ocean.
The BPR immediately after recovery, without its anchor that remains on the bottom of the ocean.

hoyt_log9ww

Classroom Activities

Please share with your students the DART tsunami warning system.

My next log will cover the deployment of a new warning system.

Brett Hoyt, October 19, 2006

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Brett Hoyt
Onboard NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown
October 8 – 28, 2006

Mission: Recovery and maintenance of buoy moorings
Geographical Area: Southeast Pacific, off the coast of Chile
Date: October 19, 2006

Dan Wolfe, senior scientist at NOAA, at his workstation on board the research vessel the RONALD H. BROWN.
Dan Wolfe, senior scientist at NOAA, at his workstation on board

Weather from Bridge 
Visibility:  12nm(nautical miles)
Wind direction:  130º
Wind speed:  20 knots
Sea wave height: 5-7ft
Swell wave height: 3-4 ft
Sea level pressure: 1020.4 millibars
Sea temperature:  19.4ºC or 66 ºF
Air temperature:  19.2ºC or 66ºF
Cloud type: cumulus, stratocumulus

The Scientists 

Today we will be interviewing Dan Wolfe, a senior meteorologist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration—NOAA for short.  Standing an imposing 6’3”, it seemed only fitting that our next scientist should be studying the heavens.  Mr. Wolfe is a 30-year veteran of NOAA and has been a scientist for the past 31 years.  Mr. Wolfe entered the Coast Guard in 1969 immediately after graduating high school.  He was initially assigned to the Coast Guard icebreaker “Glacier” transferring to the oceanographic unit where he staged scientific experiments.  He traveled to the Arctic and it was there that he discovered his soon to be life long passion for the atmosphere and all that is in it. Mr. Wolfe was a trained scuba diver while stationed on the Glacier. After leaving the Coast Guard he attended Metropolitan State College where he earned his degree in meteorology.  He has the distinction of being the first student to graduate in meteorology at this college.  It was while at Metropolitan College that Mr. Wolfe became a coop student working for NOAA. After earning his degree he went to work for NOAA as a meteorologist where for the next 30 years he has become one if its leading atmospheric scientists.  After seven years on the job he decided that he wanted to know more and enrolled at Colorado State University where he earned his masters degree.

This is a radiosonde, which measures relative humidity, temperature, barometric pressure, and winds as it passes through the atmosphere and radios its data back to the scientist.
This is a radiosonde, which measures relative humidity, temperature, barometric pressure, and winds as it passes through the atmosphere and radios its data back

Mr. Wolfe is one of the few individuals who has worked in BOTH the Arctic (North) and the Antarctic (South) (not just Antarctica but actually at the South Pole). His work has taken him to the depths of the Grand Canyon and to the Arctic more times than he cares to remember.

One of his more exciting job assignments with NOAA is managing a 1,000-ft research tower just off of I25 north of Denver Co.  When I asked Mr. Wolfe what message he would like to give to upcoming scientists he replied, “Kids should seek out paid/or unpaid internships while in high school. Look for internships within your community in careers that you think you might like.  This gives you the opportunity to try a job before investing money and time in college in a future you may not enjoy. If you try a job and discover you don’t like it, try something else until you find something you do like.  Be sure to give the job a chance though.”

NOAA Teacher at Sea, Mr. Hoyt, releasing a radiosonde off the aft deck
NOAA Teacher at Sea, Mr. Hoyt, releasing a radiosonde

The Machine 

One important scientific instrument used by a meteorologist is the radiosonde (pronounced radio sond). This device measures relative humidity, temperature, barometric pressure, and winds by utilizing the global positioning satellite system.  The radiosonde is battery activated then secured to a large helium balloon.  It is then released where it begins its ascent into the upper atmosphere, measuring humidity, temperature, and pressure sending these data back to the scientist via a digital radio frequency. Depending on the balloon used, these radiosondes can obtain heights in excess of 6 miles. The atmospheric data collected on this cruise will be shared with other scientists to help improve global weather computer models.

The Experiment 

There is no experiment as these data are transmitted via satellite link immediately after the flight is finished to the National Center for Environmental Prediction to be fed into their continuously running forecast models.

Classroom Activities 

Elememtary K-6: 

Ask the students, “What is weather?”  “Why is it important to predict the weather?” Have the students take a piece of drawing paper and divide it into four equal parts.  In each part have the students draw and color four different types of weather common to where they live.  Example could be sunny, rainy, partly cloudy, and snow.

Middle School:  

Why do we use calibrated thermometers to measure air temperature?   Ask students to answer on paper whether the classroom is hot, warm, cool, or cold and to estimate the actual temperature of the room.  Then compare the students’ answers to the actual temperature.  Then discuss the importance of a “standard.”  Without this “standard” scientists around the world would have no way of communicating what the atmosphere is doing.

Please examine the High School for more activities

High School: 

Everyday we hear on the radio, television, or newspaper that it will be sunny, partly cloudy, partly sunny, etc.  How do meteorologist arrive at this? Today we will learn how.

Divide the sky into eight parts.  Examine each part and count how many squares have clouds. There is no hard and fast rule on what to do with partially filled boxes

No squares having clouds-Clear or Sunny 

One to two squares having clouds-Mostly Clear or Mostly Sunny 

Three or four squares having clouds-Partly Cloudy or Partly Sunny 

Five, Six, or Seven squares having clouds-Mostly Cloudy 

Eight squares having clouds-Overcast or Cloudy Take the sky photo below and print it out. Draw a grid like the one above on top of the sky photo. Have the students write down what they think the day is.  Then compare the student’s answers. Is this an exact science?

Have your teacher take photos of the weather in your area and do your own.

hoyt_log8w

Brett Hoyt, October 18, 2006

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Brett Hoyt
Onboard NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown
October 8 – 28, 2006

Mission: Recovery and maintenance of buoy moorings
Geographical Area: Southeast Pacific, off the coast of Chile
Date: October 18, 2006

Weather Data from Bridge October 18 
Visibility: 12nm(nautical miles)
Wind direction: 120º
True Wind speed: 10 knots
Sea wave height: 2-4ft
Swell wave height: 3-5 ft
Sea level pressure: 1021.6 millibars
Sea temperature: 19.3ºC or 67ºF
Air temperature: 22.5ºC or 72ºF
Cloud type: cumulus, stratocumulus

We are going to use a different format for today because it is recovery day!

On October 16th we deployed the Stratus 7 buoy. The second part of this cruise is the recovery of the Stratus 6 buoy that was deployed approximately one year ago. To ensure a continuous record, a new buoy is installed at the same time the old one is recovered. Today, October 18th, is the recovery of the Stratus 6 buoy. Please compare and contrast the photos of October 16th (Deployment) with that of October 18th (Recovery).

The Stratus 6 Buoy one year after it was deployed.  The nearest Land is 600 miles to the east.  These birds are feeding off the marine life this buoy collects in the waters around the mooring.
The Stratus 6 Buoy one year after it was deployed. The nearest Land is 600 miles to the east. These birds are feeding off the marine life this buoy collects in the waters around the mooring.

Recovering of the Stratus 6.  Can you spot the Scotsman?  Hint: He’s the one in the cowboy hard hat.
Recovering of the Stratus 6. Can you spot the Scotsman? Hint: He’s the one in the cowboy hard hat.

 Instruments waiting deployment for Stratus 7.
Instruments waiting deployment for Stratus 7.

Stratus 6 instruments one year after deployment covered in barnacles.  What would two years of deployment look like?
Stratus 6 instruments one year after deployment covered in barnacles. What would two years of deployment look like?

Gooseneck barnacles from the Stratus 6 buoy.
Gooseneck barnacles from the Stratus 6 buoy.

Damage to a current meter caused by fisherman’s gear.  Of the 8 meters, 6 were fouled. Here we have entanglement of the current metering fans by fishermen’s lights. They use these lights on their lines to attract fish to their hooks at night.  Once the entanglement occurs data cannot continue to be gathered.
Damage to a current meter caused by fisherman’s gear. Of the 8 meters, 6 were fouled. Here we have entanglement of the current metering fans by fishermen’s lights. They use these lights on their lines to attract fish to their hooks at night. Once the entanglement occurs data cannot continue to be gathered.

NOAA Teacher at Sea, Mr. Hoyt, scraping barnacles off one of the sensors from     Stratus 6. “ I’ve got to talk to my travel agent.”
NOAA Teacher at Sea, Mr. Hoyt, scraping barnacles off one of the sensors from Stratus 6. “ I’ve got to talk to my travel agent.”

Remember the glass balls from Stratus 7?  Here are the glass balls from Stratus 6.  It took them over one hour to reach the surface after the acoustic release was activated.  They are not in the nice neat line as we had in deployment.
Remember the glass balls from Stratus 7? Here are the glass balls from Stratus 6. It took them over one hour to reach the surface after the acoustic release was activated. They are not in the nice neat line as we had in deployment.

Anyone like puzzles?
Anyone like puzzles?

The acoustic release, one year after being sent 13,000 ft to the bottom of the ocean.  Scientists sent a signal to this release to let go of one side of the chain.  Should one release fail, they could trigger the other release.
The acoustic release, one year after being sent 13,000 ft to the bottom of the ocean. Scientists sent a signal to this release to let go of one side of the chain. Should one release fail, they could trigger the other release.

Dr. Weller, leading by example, cleaning the equipment free of barnacles.  Remember in an earlier posting when he stated he was a “hands on scientist”?
Dr. Weller, leading by example, cleaning the equipment free of barnacles. Remember in an earlier posting when he stated he was a “hands on scientist”?

Brett Hoyt, October 16, 2006

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Brett Hoyt
Onboard NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown
October 8 – 28, 2006

Mission: Recovery and maintenance of buoy moorings
Geographical Area: Southeast Pacific, off the coast of Chile
Date: October 16, 2006

Weather Data from Bridge 
Visibility: 12nm (nautical miles)
Wind direction: 060º
Wind speed: 10 knots
Sea wave height: 3-4ft
Swell wave height: 5-6 ft
Sea level pressure: 1020.8 millibars
Sea temperature: 19.3ºC or 66ºF
Air temperature: 19.1ºC or 66ºF
Cloud type: cumulus, stratocumulus

We are going to use a different format for today because it is Deployment Day! Today was deployment day for the entire crew and the best way to tell this story is in pictures. So let’s begin.

Before scientists deploy a buoy they must measure how deep the ocean is. This is the actual bathymetric (bottom measure) read out of the target site for Stratus 7.
Before scientists deploy a buoy they must measure how deep the ocean is. This is the actual bathymetric (bottom measure) read out of the target site for Stratus 7.

This is the map of the bottom of the ocean. Please note the scale in meters on the left as well as + marks the spot. Can you see the pattern the boat is making?
This is the map of the bottom of the ocean. Please note the scale in meters on the left
as well as + marks the spot. Can you see the pattern the boat is making?

With over 4,400 m (13,000 ft) of cable it takes a full crew to stage the cable.
With over 4,400 m (13,000 ft) of cable it takes a full crew to stage the cable.

Jeff Lord making final preparations for the dozens of instruments to be deployed beneath the buoy.  What an amazing man.  “What would we do without you?”
Jeff Lord making final preparations for the dozens of instruments to be deployed beneath the buoy. What an amazing man. “What would we do without you?”

Lifting the Stratus 7 Buoy off the ship.  This process takes the cooperation of about a dozen individuals to do.
Lifting the Stratus 7 Buoy off the ship. This process takes the cooperation of about a dozen individuals to do.

Stratus 7 off the side ready to have the instruments deployed under it.
Stratus 7 off the side ready to have the instruments deployed under it.

Jeff attaching a current meter (Invented and patented by Dr. Weller) to the bottom of the buoy.  It weights about 160lb and there are eight of them.  Please note the safety equipment Jeff is wearing.  SAFETY FIRST!
Jeff attaching a current meter (Invented and patented by Dr. Weller) to the bottom of the buoy. It weights about 160lb and there are eight of them. Please note the safety equipment Jeff is wearing. SAFETY FIRST!

Dr. Weller operating the winch (it has over 2.5 miles of cable on it!) and supervising the deployment operation.
Dr. Weller operating the winch (it has over 2.5 miles of cable on it!) and supervising the deployment operation.

Attaching glass balls (they are located inside the yellow plastic housings which protect them from chipping), which are at the very end of the 13,000 feet of cable just above the acoustic release, which in turn attaches to the anchor.  These hollow glass balls can withstand pressures in excess of 5,300 lb/sqin.
Attaching glass balls (they are located inside the yellow plastic housings which protect them from chipping), which are at the very end of the 13,000 feet of cable just above the acoustic release, which in turn attaches to the anchor. These hollow glass balls can withstand pressures in excess of 5,300 lb/sqin.

This is the acoustic release (actually two) that attaches the buoy mooring line to the anchor. One year from now an acoustic signal will be sent down 13,000ft to trigger the chain to be released.  The reason they use two is that if one fails the release will still take place and the mooring line will begin its ascent to the surface with the help of the glass balls.
This is the acoustic release (actually two) that attaches the buoy mooring line to the anchor. One year from now an acoustic signal will be sent down 13,000ft to trigger the chain to be released. The reason they use two is that if one fails the release will still take place and the mooring line will begin its ascent to the surface with the help of the glass balls.

Everything is just moments before release.  This anchor weighs 9,000lbs and will take over 45 minutes to fall to the bottom of the ocean.  All the instruments are attached, glass balls secured, and the acoustic release in place.  Drum roll please………………….
Everything is just moments before release. This anchor weighs 9,000lbs and will take over 45 minutes to fall to the bottom of the ocean. All the instruments are attached, glass balls secured, and the acoustic release in place. Drum roll please…………………. The anchor is deployed!

Stratus 7 on station in the South Pacific Ocean helping scientist understand this big blue planet we call home.
Stratus 7 on station in the South Pacific Ocean helping scientist understand this big blue planet we call home.

Brett Hoyt, October 15, 2006

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Brett Hoyt
Onboard NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown
October 8 – 28, 2006

Mission: Recovery and maintenance of buoy moorings
Geographical Area: Southeast Pacific, off the coast of Chile
Date: October 15, 2006

Dr. Robert Weller sitting on the aft deck
Dr. Robert Weller sitting on the aft deck

Weather Data from Bridge
Visibility:  12nm(nautical miles)
Wind direction:  110º
Wind speed:  11 knots
Sea wave height: 2-3 ft
Swell wave height: 3-5 ft
Sea level pressure: 1016.8 millibars
Sea temperature:  18.6ºC or 65 ºF
Air temperature:  18.2ºC or 64ºF
Cloud type: cumulus, stratocumulus

The Scientists 

Today we will visit with Dr. Robert (Bob) Weller.  Dr. Weller is the lead scientist for this scientific cruise and upon whose shoulders the success or failure of this expedition rests.  Dr. Weller is an easy going, soft-spoken, easy to approach, modest, and very intense man with a passion for understanding the climate of the earth and all the processes within it.  Many times scientist possess a great mind for academic excellence yet they fail at relating to people. Dr. Weller is the exception, possessing a brilliant mind, keen insight and intuition, and superb people management skills.  It is exactly these qualities that have enabled him to lead such important and ground breaking research on climate and climate studies He understands that the success of a cruise depends on getting people (sometimes of various nationalities, on our cruise five) to work together to accomplish great things.

The Stratus 7 Buoy on station in the South Pacific Ocean just after being deployed from the ship
The Stratus 7 Buoy on station in the South Pacific just after being deployed

Dr. Weller began at an early age to feel the pull of science.  He entered college initially to be a biochemist but something happened.  In the middle of college he accepted a job with an oceanographer and from that time on he knew that a new career was in order. He graduated in 1972 with a degree in engineering and applied physics.  He continued on and five years later in 1978 earned his doctoral degree in oceanography.

Upon earning his doctoral degree he accepted a position working at the prestigious Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. He has been there ever since.  How many people do you know who have stayed at the same job for 28 years!  Dr. Weller finds himself at sea 2-3 months out of the year.  He is a self-described scientist who likes to do things “hand on” (he’s not afraid to get dirty–please see the photo of him on deck and in his hard hat). When I asked him how long he has been a lead scientist he modestly replied” I don’t know if I’m there yet.” When I asked him what one message he would like to send to you future scientists he stated “ Kids and future scientists should be less concerned about outer space and more concerned about the planet we currently live on”.  He wants kids to think about the things you can do about the temperature of the oceans and the role they play in the wellbeing of our planet we call home.

The anchor for the buoy
The anchor for the buoy

The Machine 

Today we will examine the reason we all went to sea, the Stratus 7 Buoy.  This buoy sends real time data from a fixed location off the coast of Chile.  The buoy system maintained by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) out of Woods Hole Massachusetts plays an extremely critical role in understanding weather patterns that have worldwide implications.  These buoys are highly sophisticated weather and climate data-gathering stations. The data collected from these stations is used to check the accuracy of powerful computer simulations that are used to predict climate change.

The Stratus 7 buoy replaces the aging Stratus 6 buoy that has been on station for over a year. There has been a Stratus buoy in this location since 2000.  Dr. Weller stated that in years past buoys would not be on station for years at a time but rather for days at a time.  Most did not exceed 40 days.  Through trial and error, research and innovation, the life at sea for a buoy has been extended into the years.  Concerned about waste and pollution in the oceans, most buoys are serviced, refitted, and given a new life year after year.  Some might wonder about the cost, sometimes in excess of $1million dollars, of the buoy programs.  The economic payoff is immense.  It is buoys like these and the data that they collect that help scientists predict the absence or presence of El Nino. This has a huge and direct agricultural impact upon coastal states and to a lesser degree states far removed from the oceans.  Do you have droughts or floods out of the norm in your area? The cause could be ocean related.

Hundreds of pounds of chain!
Hundreds of pounds of chain!

The Stratus Buoy can make the following measurements: -precipitation -wind speed and direction -air temperature -relative humidity -barometric air pressure -long wave radiation (radiation given off by a hot body) -short wave radiation (incoming energy from the sun) -sea surface temperature. The buoy not only transmits this data real time but also stores much more detailed information on flash cards.  These cards are collected and taken back to the laboratory for further study. In addition to all the above surface instrumentation there is over 5,000 lbs of sub surface measuring instruments.  These include current velocity, salinity, and temperature.  These instruments are located at various depths down to 2,500ft. For example there will be 8 current velocity-measuring instruments at 8 different depths.

Cool facts 

-You probably wonder how this million-dollar instrument is powered.  Wind, solar, high powered lithium batteries, nope none of the above. It is powered by 1,650 D cell alkaline batteries. Exactly the ones you would use in a flashlight in your house.

-The mooring line (the line connected to the anchor) will be over 12,000 feet long

-The anchor is a cast iron weight that weighs over 9,000 pounds. -This anchor will take over 45 minutes to make it’s journey to the bottom of the ocean

-The buoy will have over 5,000lbs of instruments hanging from the bottom of it

The Experiment 

There is no direct experiment with the stratus buoy. The data collected by it is used by scientists world wide to generate new ideas, hypothesis, and conclusions. As stated earlier this data is used to help climatologists improve computer models and check them for accuracy.

Dozens of instruments to be deployed directly beneath the buoy 800 meters worth that’s over 2,400 feet of instruments!
Dozens of instruments to be deployed directly beneath the buoy 800 meters worth that’s over 2,400 feet of instruments!

Classroom Activities 

Elememtary K-6: Items needed- Styrofoam cup or similar floating device, small piece of string and a metal washer some rubber cement or other flexible glue, some round toothpicks and a large tub of water.  Have the students decorate their cup using markers, plastic straws, aluminum foil, or anything else that the kids might think would make their buoy look scientific. Put the string through the bottom of the cup making as small as hole as possible (the point of a compass or the toothpicks work well) tie the string to a toothpick on the inside of the cup and let the toothpick rest on the bottom inside the cup.  Place a small dab of glue on both the inside and outside of the string to keep the water from entering the cup.  With the string dangling from the bottom outside of the cup tie on the washer or other object for weight. Ask the kids what scientific information their buoy collects.

Middle School:  

Items needed- volt-ohm meter, glass beaker, two small copper wires, 500ml of distilled water, and some common table salt.

Salinity of the oceans seawater is of concern to scientists and is one of the tests conducted by the Stratus 7 Buoy. The way scientists test for salinity is called a conductivity test.  That is they measure the conductivity of seawater.  Have the student pour 250ml of distilled water into a glass beaker.  Place two small copper wires on opposite sides of the beaker and submerged in the water.  Be sure that at least 1cm of wire is exposed copper and in the water.  Set the voltmeter to ohms and get a reading and record it.  Add .5 grams of salt and mix well.  Test the conductivity again.  Keep adding salt in .5-gram increments.  Does the readings change? If so how?  Are the numbers getting larger or smaller? If so why?

High School: 

Items needed- volt-ohm meter, glass beaker, two small copper wires, 250ml of distilled water, and some common table salt, and sugar.

Salinity of the oceans seawater is of concern to scientists and is one of the testes conducted by the Stratus 7 Buoy. The way scientist test for salinity is called a conductivity test. That is they measure the conductivity of seawater.  Have the student pour 250ml of distilled water into a glass beaker.  Place two small copper wires on opposite sides of the beaker and submerged in the water.  Set the voltmeter to ohms and get a reading and record it.  Add .5 grams of salt and mix well.  Test the conductivity again. Keep adding salt in .5-gram increments. Does the readings change? If so how? Are the numbers getting larger or smaller? If so why?

Now run the test with sugar. What are your results?  Was there a change? Now change the temperature of the solution by heating or chilling with ice.  Does this make a difference in your readings?

Lead a class discussion on what each instrument of the stratus buoy does and why it is important to scientists.

Brett Hoyt, October 13, 2006

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Brett Hoyt
Onboard NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown
October 8 – 28, 2006

Mission: Recovery and maintenance of buoy moorings
Geographical Area: Southeast Pacific, off the coast of Chile
Date: October 13, 2006

This is a Sea Surface Drifter.  The students of Burlington Elementary School in Billings Mt adopted this drifter.  It was deployed off the coast of Chile
This is a Sea Surface Drifter. The students of Burlington Elementary School in Billings Mt adopted it, deployed off the coast of Chile

Weather Data from Bridge 
Visibility:  12nm (nautical miles)
Wind direction:  160º
True Wind speed:  7 knots
Sea wave height: 0-1ft
Swell wave height: 5-7 ft
Sea level pressure: 1015.1 millibars
Sea temperature:  20.7ºC or 69.2ºF
Air temperature:  21.0ºC or 69.8ºF
Cloud type: cumulus, stratocumulus

The Scientists 

We will not highlight a scientist today, as the star of our show is the floats and drifters.

The Machine 

Today we will examine the Argo Floats and drifters. The two machines do basically the same measurements but in different layers of the ocean. The drifters that we are deploying during the Stratus 7 cruise measure sea surface temperature (SST) and transmit that temperature and their location as they drift with the upper ocean currents.  This tells scientist how warm or cold the water is and how the currents in the ocean move about.  The reason scientists use drifters is that even though satellites are fairly good at acquiring sea surface temperatures some, at present, cannot penetrate cloud cover and all need the drifter data to improve their accuracy.  By using the hundreds of drifters scattered throughout the globe, scientist can use this data to improve the current computer models of global climate condition and get real-time data to use in their work.

This is an Argo float. It will spend most of its life in the very deep ocean (up to 6,000ft deep) and come to the surface every 10days to send off its data.  It is approximately 4 •••ft to 5 ft long and weighs about 30 lbs.
This Argo float will spend most of its life in the very deep ocean (up to 6,000ft deep) and come to the surface every 10 days to send off its data. It weighs about 30 lbs.

Argo floats lead an active life traveling very little compared to surface drifters.  The reason for this is that floats spend most of their time in extremely deep and very slow-moving ocean waters. Some deep ocean water takes thousands of years to make their cycles through the oceans systems.  These floats descend to about 1,500m to 2,000m (approximately 4,500ft to 6,000ft) and every 10 days a bladder inflates and it rises to the surface taking measurements along the way; at the surface it transmits its data back to the scientists thousands of miles away. These floats are built to last about 4 years.

The Experiment 

No experiment with the drifters and floats.

Classroom Activities 

Mr. Hoyt and Jeff Lord are examining a drifter adopted by the Burlington Elementary Research Team (B.E.R.T.).  We all wish BERT a pleasant journey as he travels the Pacific Ocean.
Mr. Hoyt and Jeff Lord are examining a drifter adopted by the Burlington Elementary Research Team (B.E.R.T.). We all wish BERT a pleasant journey as he travels the Pacific Ocean.

Elememtary K-6: 

Since measuring environmental temperatures is one of the primary functions of the drifters and floaters, lead the students in a discussion of:  What is hot? What is cold? What can we use to measure temperature?  Do students have a temperature?

Middle School:  

The thousands of drifters are used to get real time readings of sea surface temperatures worldwide. Start by asking the students what is the temperature of our classroom.  After they give you the answer ask them if it is that temperature everywhere in the classroom.  Have them devise a way to check their theory.  Why is it the same/different around different parts of the room? Hint: This hint is for the classroom teacher and will be found at the bottom of this posting.

High School: 

This is the drogue chute that is deployed in the water beneath the drifter to stabilize its deployment with the ocean currents.
This is the drogue chute that is deployed in the water beneath the drifter to stabilize its deployment with the ocean currents.

Students should go to the Datastreme Oceans website to explore some of the cool findings available to the public.

Thought Experiment provided by Dr. Weller: 

How does an Argo float rise to the surface and later sink to a desired depth?

Middle School hint: 

Have the students set about 20 cups or glasses, filled with water, in various locations around the room.  Be sure the containers are covered to reduce cooling due to evaporation.  Let the water stabilize overnight.  The next day, have the students take temperature readings at the different “sites”.  Compare the different readings around the room.  Are they all the same or are they different.  Lead the students in a discussion on the reasons for their results. Can they make any predictions about tomorrow’s readings? Do the readings change over the weekend?  (Most schools turn down the heat on the weekend). Have each class post their findings so that other “scientists” from other classes can be compared with their own.  Maybe 1st period is different from 7th period.

High School Hint: 

The ocean is stratified–the seawater is denser the deeper you go.  This is because it is colder and sometimes saltier at depth.  The density of the float depends on the ratio mass/volume.  The float has a reservoir of oil inside that is pumped into or taken back from an external inflatable rubber bladder.  Filling or emptying the bladder changes the volume of the float while its mass remains the same, so the float can change its density, allowing it to become buoyant enough to float to the surface or to adjust itself to match the density of seawater at 1,500m.

hoyt_log4d

Brett Hoyt, October 12, 2006

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Brett Hoyt
Onboard NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown
October 8 – 28, 2006

Mission: Recovery and maintenance of buoy moorings
Geographical Area: Southeast Pacific, off the coast of Chile
Date: October 12, 2006

Weather Data from Bridge 
Visibility:  12nm(nautical miles)
Wind direction:  185º
Wind speed:  9 knots
Sea wave height: 2-3ft
Swell wave height: 3-4 ft
Sea level pressure: 1011.9 millibars
Sea temperature:  23.9ºC or 75.0ºF
Air temperature:  21.0ºC or 69.8ºF
Cloud type: cumulus, stratocumulus

Dr. Byron Blomquist (seated) and graduate student Mingxi Yang (standing) beside the Atmospheric Pressure Ionization Mass Spectrometer or APIMS.
Dr. Byron Blomquist (seated) and graduate student Mingxi Yang (standing) beside the Atmospheric Pressure Ionization Mass Spectrometer or APIMS.

The Scientists 

As I mentioned yesterday, today I will begin to introduce the scientists, their equipment, and their experiments. Today I would like to introduce to you Dr. Byron Blomquist (lead scientist) and graduate student Mingxi (pronounced ming-she) Yang, both from the University of Hawaii. They plan to study the exchange of gases between the ocean and the atmosphere.

Dr. Blomquist is a quiet, soft-spoken, and self-professed tinkerer. He began his love of science at an early age with a fascination for all things living. He took a great interest in bugs, snakes, birds, and other animals and insects.  He stated that Biology was his favorite subject. Dr. Blomquist has a few interesting facts about himself he is willing to share with us; one is that he works in Hawaii however he lives in Colorado and the other is that he finished high school in only three years! 

Mr. Hoyt standing in front of Dr. Blomquist’s portable lab.  Please note the wires leaving the lab to the left of the photo.
Mr. Hoyt standing in front of Dr. Blomquist’s portable lab. Please note the wires leaving the lab to the left of the photo.

The other scientist is graduate student Mingxi Yang, we just call him Ming for now but someday we will have to address him as Dr. Yang as he plans on earning his doctorate degree. Ming is a very intelligent and self-confident graduate student from the University of Hawaii. Ming originally was born in Beijing China, when at the age of 14 his family moved to Massachusetts. He originally was going to get a degree in chemistry when in his junior year in college he accepted a summer internship with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. It was during these 12 weeks that Ming decided that he could impact the world in a more positive way by switching majors and getting a degree in Oceanography.

Here is a view of the mast at the front of the ship where Dr. Blomquist’s instruments are located.  Because his instruments are so sensitive, no smoking will be allowed on the bow (front) of the ship during the experiment.  The mast is over 20m high that is over 60ft!
Here is a view of the mast at the front of the ship. Because the instruments are so sensitive, no smoking will be allowed on the bow. The mast is over 20m high that is over 60ft!

The Machine 

The Atmospheric Pressure Ionization Mass Spectrometer or APIMS for short is one of only three that exist worldwide. Dr. Blomquist built this machine from scratch.  Many of the components and circuit boards were custom designed and built specifically for this machine.  If cool and shiny is your thing and you have $300,000 in your piggy bank then you might be able to get Dr. Blomquist to build you one.  What cool scientific discovery you make with it is up to you.  Many students envision that science takes place only in large land based laboratories, but they would be wrong. Below is the portable (you might need a big truck or ship) laboratory that Dr. Blomquist and Ming brought with them.  It’s sort of like a camper without the wheels.

The Experiment 

We have read about man-made global warming and generally believe that this is not good for the earth and its climate.  Scientists also believe that the main source of global warming is the buildup of excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.  Since it would be impossible to measure everywhere on the earth at the same time scientists use powerful computers to create models (computer programs) to predict what is happening over the entire earth.  The Atmospheric Pressure Ionization Mass Spectrometer or APIMS measures a gas, which in computer models is similar to carbon dioxide.  What Dr. Blomquist and Ming are doing is collecting data to compare with model predictions to improve current computer models of the climate.  What they are looking for is the interaction between the atmosphere and the ocean. Liquids can and do absorb gasses.  To illustrate this open up a can of soda pop. The bubbles you see are the gas carbon dioxide leaving the liquid.  The ocean both absorbs and releases carbon dioxide, and therefore plays an important role in climate regulation.

The Teacher 

I spent my day interviewing scientist and preparing for upcoming interviews with other scientist.  Tomorrow we enter international waters and the experiments can begin.  I will also begin drifter watch. My watch time will be from 8am to 12 noon and 8pm to 12 midnight.  I will provide more details tomorrow and discuss drifters and how they are used.

Classroom Activities 

Elememtary K-6: 

Because of the complexity of this experiment we will have no classroom activity but perhaps you could enjoy a bubbly beverage of your choice.

Middle School:  

How many liquids could you list that have dissolved gases in them that are commonly found in the home.  What gases do you think they are?  Are they harmful to the planet?

High School: 

How many liquids could you list that have dissolved gases in them that are commonly found in the home.  What gases do you think they are?  Are they harmful to the planet?

We will continue to visit with some of the scientists and find out more on what experiments are being conducted on this Stratus 7 cruise and why.

Mr. Hoyt “driving” the ship.  The two controls I am holding are how the ship is steered. The ship has no rudder and the pilot need only to rotate these controls to turn the propellers in a different direction. Much like turning the motor on a small boat.
Mr. Hoyt “driving” the ship. The two controls I am holding are how the ship is steered. The ship has no rudder and the pilot need only to rotate these controls to turn the propellers in a different direction. Much like turning the motor on a small boat.

Brett Hoyt, October 11, 2006

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Brett Hoyt
Onboard NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown
October 8 – 28, 2006

Mission: Recovery and maintenance of buoy moorings
Geographical Area: Southeast Pacific, off the coast of Chile
Date: October 11, 2006

Weather Data from Bridge 
Visibility:  10nm (nautical miles)
Wind direction:  220º
Wind speed:  12 knots
Sea wave height: 3-4ft
Swell wave height: 3-5 ft
Sea level pressure: 1012.9 millibars
Sea temperature:  25.5ºC or 77.9ºF
Cloud type: cumulus, stratocumulus

The Commanding Officer of the RONALD H.BROWN, CAPT. Gary Petrae
The Commanding Officer of the RONALD H.BROWN, CAPT. Gary Petrae

The Ship and Crew 

I am presently on board the NOAA ship RONALD H. BROWN.  This ship was commissioned in 1997 and is 274 feet in length (just 16 feet shorter than a football field) and 52 feet wide. The ship displaces 3,250 tons and has a maximum speed of 15 knots.  Captain of the RONALD H. BROWN (RHB) is Gary Petrae.  Captain Petrae has just celebrated his 28th year serving in the NOAA Officer Corps. The RHB is the fifth ship Captain Petrae has served on and the second ship he has commanded in his tenure with NOAA. We are truly lucky to have such an experienced captain at the helm.  When you are thousands of miles out to sea, you entrust your life to the captain and crew. One of the interesting facts about a ship at sea is that someone must be at the helm 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Now the captain cannot be there all the time so he turns over the job of “driving” the ship to one of his other officers. 

They take “watches” which in this case are four hours in duration.  During a recent trip to the bridge (this is what they call the command center for the ship) I was fortunate enough to visit with the Officer Of the Deck (OOD for short) Lieutenant (Junior Grade) Lt (JG). Jackie Almeida.  She stands approximately 5’0” with reddish/brown hair and a confidence that fills the bridge. Her bright eyes and effervescent personality quickly put me at ease. She earned her degree in meteorology and joined the NOAA Officer Corps. When she finishes her assignment with the RHB she will join the NOAA hurricane hunters and be advancing our knowledge of these deadly storms.

Ltjg. Jackie Almeida On the bridge of the RONALD H. BROWN
Ltjg. Jackie Almeida on the bridge

The Scientists 

The scientists are spending the day checking and rechecking their equipment making sure that when the crucial time comes all will go well.

The Teacher 

I spent the day observing the scientist preparing equipment and rechecking systems.  I am trying to remember all the safety information that was delivered on the first day. Just like in school, we have safety drills so that in the event something goes wrong everyone knows what to do. We practice fire drills just as you do in school. We also have abandon ship drills.  Below you can see me modeling the latest fashion in survival suits.  The crew calls them “Gumby suits.” 

Classroom Activities 

Mr. Hoyt “looking good” in his survival suit.  Hey kids, wouldn’t your teacher look good in this suit?
Mr. Hoyt “looking good” in his survival suit. Hey kids, wouldn’t your teacher look good in this suit?

Elememtary K-6 

Today’s activity is to give the students an idea of the ship that I’m on.  The teacher will need at least 650 ft of string (you can tie shorter rolls together) and as long a tape measure as you can find (a 100ft one works best).  This activity would be best done on the playground or any other large open space.  Have student-A hold one end of the string and measure out 274 feet in a straight line.  Then have student-B hold the string loosely and run the string back 274 feet to a different student-C but even with student-A. Now have students A and C move 52 feet apart and finish up with student A holding both the beginning and end of the length of string-Do not cut the string as you will need to keep letting out more string as you complete the next part.  Now have the rest of your class hold the string 52 feet apart between the two long lengths of string working your way up to student B remembering that the ship comes to a point (the bow). Go to this website for complete drawings.

Middle School  

At the beginning of this log, I mentioned that the Ronald H. Brown displaces 3,250 tons. What does this mean?  Can you use the concept of water displacement to measure other objects? Hint.

High School 

The ship travels at a maximum speed of 15 knots.  Approximately how long would it take for the ship to sail at maximum speed from Panama City to 25 degrees south latitude and 90 degrees west longitude off the coast of Chile?  How many nautical miles would be traveled?  How many land miles would that be? Hint.

Here, a scientist is checking an acoustic release mechanism.  They lowered it to 1,500 m or approximately 4,500 feet to test it. It will eventually be located 4,000 m beneath the surface or approximately 12,000 ft!
A scientist is checking an acoustic release mechanism. They lowered it to 1,500 m to test it. It will eventually be located 4,000 m beneath the surface!

On my next few postings we will be visiting with some of the scientist and finding out more on what experiments are being conducted and why.

Brett Hoyt, October 10, 2006

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Brett Hoyt
Onboard NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown
October 8 – 28, 2006

Mission: Recovery and maintenance of buoy moorings
Geographical Area: Southeast Pacific, off the coast of Chile
Date: October 10, 2006

Weather Data from Bridge 
Visibility:  12nm (nautical miles)
Wind direction:  240º
True Wind speed:  11 knots
Sea wave height: 2-3ft
Swell wave height: 4-5 feet
Sea level pressure:  1010 millibars
Sea temperature:  28.7 ºC or about 84 º F
Cloud type: cumulus, stratocumulus

Mr. Hoyt on the RONALD H. BROWN leaving Panama passing under The Bridge of the Americas
Mr. Hoyt on the RONALD H. BROWN leaving Panama passing under The Bridge of the Americas

The Cruise Mission 

The overall mission of this cruise is to replace two moorings anchored off the northern coast of Chile. First we will retrieve the Stratus 6 buoy, which has been actively sending weather and ocean data for the past year.  We then will deploy the Stratus 7 buoy approximately 800 miles from land.  This mooring consists of a buoy that contains numerous meteorological sensors that collect data on relative humidity, barometric pressure, wind speed and direction, precipitation, short- and long-wave solar radiation, temperature, salinity, and velocity of the upper ocean and sea surface temperature.  The buoy serves as an extremely accurate weather station, one of few such stations in the open ocean.

Secondly, we will replace a tsunami (a potentially dangerous large wave of water) warning buoy belonging to the Chilean Navy Hydrographic and Oceanographic Service.  This buoy provides Chile with warning of approaching tsunamis.

The Teacher 

Masked Boobie- these birds fly in front of the ship for hundreds of miles seeking fish.  They will occasionally land on the ship to rest.
Masked Boobies fly in front of the ship for hundreds of miles seeking fish and occasionally land on the ship to rest.

Let me introduce myself—I’m Brett Hoyt, a NOAA Teacher at Sea.  NOAA’s Teacher at Sea program is open to all teachers K-16 who would like the opportunity to experience first hand working side by side with some of the planet’s top scientists conducting cutting-edge research. If you would like to apply or just know more about the Teacher, go here.

I will be bringing into your classroom the day-to-day happenings that are happening on board the NOAA research ship the RONALD H. BROWN.  Please feel free to email me (hoytbk@gmail.com) with any questions you might have about the program, the research, the scientists or any question in general about the ocean.  I will try to answer as many as I can.  In return, I will from time to time pose questions for you or your class to tackle.  I will give hints as to where you might find the answer.

Questions of the Day 

Elememtary K-6:  How much of the earth is covered by Water?  How much is covered by Land? Hint.

Middle school: What chemical compound makes up water? Are the elements solid, liquid, or gas? Hint.

High School: Why is the ocean blue?  Are all oceans blue?  Why or Why not? Hint.

On my next posting I will be giving you a tour of some of the staff and equipment on board the ship.