Mary Cook, January 5, 2005

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

Mission: Climate Prediction for the Americas
Geographical Area: Chilean Coast
Date: January 5, 2005

Location: Latitude 53°49.76’S, Longitude 71°39.22’W
Time:
0900

Weather Data from the Bridge
Air Temperature (Celsius) 7.66
Water Temperature (Celsius) 8.94
Relative Humidity (percent) 87.33
Air Pressure (millibars) 987.72
Wind Direction (degrees) 270.59
Wind Speed (knots) 6.27
Cloud Cover 8/8 Stratus
Sunrise 0526
Sunset 2218

Question of the Day

What is the ozone layer?

Quote of the Day

“A smooth sea never made a skilled mariner.” English proverb

Science and Personal Log

Today, I interviewed Victoria Carpenter. Vickie is an Able Bodied (AB) Seaman and she has a variety of duties aboard this ship. These duties include watch-stander, deckhand, winch operator, securing the ship for departure and darkening the ship. Darkening the ship means that she makes sure all portholes on the ship are closed at night so that the light from inside the ship’s rooms doesn’t shine out and reflect off the water which blinds the bridge crew. We all want the bridge crew to be able to see because they’re driving the ship! Vickie grew up in southern California with three brothers. She now resides in Vancouver, Washington. Vickie has traveled around the world. Really. She’s been to Asia, Africa, Europe, North and South America, and Australia. And she’s ridden a bicycle from coast to coast in the United States. It seems to me that she has done just about everything from being a Girl Scout Leader, to a berry picker, to a camp director, to an Outward Bound leader, and even a tour guide!

She will be attending the AB to Mate School for 19 weeks later this year. Besides getting a raise, becoming a Mate will enable her to plot charts and steer the ship.

Vickie says she loves the sea and the seagoing life. She considers Ernest Shackleton, the great explorer of Antarctica, to be her inspiration. Vickie is a true adventurer and I’ve loved listening to her stories.

For some reason, I awoke at 0430 this morning. I’m not sure why I stirred at such an early hour but it could have something to do with the fact that we have been in the famed Straits of Magellan since 0200. I most certainly did not want to sleep through it. So I was out at first light. Reggie, the watch-stander called me and said that the seals were putting on a show, so up I headed to the bridge. There were seals frolicking all about! These remind me of dolphins in the way they come up out of the water. We were passing through the Tortuoso Passage. According to the Chilean pilot Luis Holley, Tortuoso means “very difficult” in Spanish. To me it sounds like torturous. A torturous passage. This is the place where the Atlantic Ocean currents meet the Pacific Ocean currents. All this water converging in a narrow canal makes for a difficult place to transit. At this junction back in early navigation days the current actually pushed ships aground. That would definitely be torturous in my book. I was intrigued that we could really see the current. It was a place of choppy waters called the “the cross tide” and when the ship encountered the current, it slid sideways a little bit! Whoa!

One of the bays on this route is called Seno Ballena which means whale fjord. The pilot explained this to be a place where whales come to have their babies. A whale nursery! We saw two whales that flipped their flukes (tails) up in the air. It’s a nice feeling to watch whales just living their lives.

Shortly thereafter, the RONALD H. BROWN with all its inhabitants rounded the southern-most tip of the continent! It’s called Cape Froward and has a huge steel cross perched on the point which is covered with gnarly looking trees.

We’ve just arrived in Punta Arenas and Captain Wright called an “all hands” meeting. At the meeting the Chilean pilots awarded us certificates documenting our passage through the Straits of Magellan! It has a map tracing our route and says that I am a “certified explorer of the Straits of Magellan”. ? Signed and sealed by the Chilean pilots!

Les Cruise, the medic reminded everyone to wear sunscreen, long sleeves, and hats because we are under the “hole” in the ozone layer. Punta Arenas has one of the highest occurrences of skin cancer per capita than any city in the world.

This is a very attractive small city. It is situated on the coast with only a few tall buildings and has low, rounded mountains as a backdrop. The main square is a tree-lined park with a central statue of Ferdinand Magellan. The statue also has a native South American on it whose foot is projecting from the base. It is said that if you rub his big toe then you’ll return to Punta Arenas someday. That big toe is shiny smooth! Well, here’s a question for you. Do you think I rubbed the colossal toe? You know the answer to that question. The Punta Arenas downtown is European quaint and bustling with people shopping, relaxing, and going somewhere. Ice cream must be a popular treat. It seems that everyone has a cone. I even saw a sign in a store window that said “Do not enter with ice cream.” I love ice cream, but when I’m wearing three layers and a muffler scarf, I prefer hot chocolate. There are tour offices that offer excursions to penguin colonies, trekking in Patagonia or boat rides to glaciers. Tomorrow morning will be my last full day here, and I’ve decided to check out the penguins. I’ll let you know how they’re doing in my next log installment!

Until tomorrow,

Mary

Mary Cook, January 4, 2005

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

Mission: Climate Prediction for the Americas
Geographical Area: Chilean Coast
Date: January 4, 2005

Location: Latitude 49°28.60’S, Longitude 74°26.42’W
Time: 0835

Weather Data from the Bridge
Air Temperature (Celsius) 10.34
Water Temperature (Celsius) 11.83
Relative Humidity (percent) 74.17
Air Pressure (millibars) 997.56
Wind Direction (degrees) 226.45
Wind Speed (knots) 6.89
Cloud Cover: 8/8 Low Stratus
Precipitation: Steady rain
Sunrise 0559
Sunset 2205

Question of the Day

What does NOAA stand for?

Quote of the Day

“Midwesterners make some of the best sailors.” Tim Wright, Captain of the RONALD H. BROWN.

Science Log

Today I’ve conducted several interviews of the ship’s officers, merchant marines, and Chilean channel pilots. I’d like to thank each person for giving their time and for being enthusiastic and open in sharing about themselves and their work.

Interview: Captain Tim Wright

Captain Wright shares with us that growing up as a boy in land-locked Kirkwood, Missouri he loved to read about the ocean and romanticized about becoming a sea-faring man. He joined the Navy at 18 and served in the Vietnam War. After his time in the service he went to the University of Washington and obtained a degree in Physical Oceanography. Captain Wright achieved this rank in October of 2003 and has been the Captain of the RONALD H. BROWN since February, 2004. Captain Wright says that his most important duties are the safety and security of the crew and ship. His responsibility is a 24 hour a day job for navigation and safe overside operations. Captain Wright shares that his most enjoyable time with NOAA was when he worked three years in Paris for the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission. It was a time when he could have his family living with him. Another very enjoyable time was his stint as the Captain of the KA’IMIMOANA, a NOAA ship stationed in Pearl Harbor. They deployed buoys along the equatorial Pacific. Captain Wright says he loves his work and wouldn’t dream of having any other career. He highly recommends oceanography and the seafaring life for the person who enjoys the outdoors, adventures, and challenges.

Interview: Navigator Jeffery Shoup

Navigator and Bridge Officer Jeffery Shoup grew up with two older sisters in Oak Park, Illinois. He obtained a Chemistry/Chemistry and Physics Education degree from “Miami of Ohio” in Oxford, Ohio. He considers his responsibilities to be standing watch, driving the ship and laying out the trackline for the scientists. After the scientists turn in a statement telling him where they want to go to do their projects, Mr. Shoup maps out a safe and efficient course for the ship. He has been with NOAA for three years and considers this cruise to be the highlight. Since he left Charleston, he has traveled through the Panama Canal and the Straits of Magellan will be great place to get off the ship. He has also been to the Canary Islands and Iceland. Mr. Shoup says that persons who aspire to the seafaring lifestyle should be independent, self sufficient and able to get along well with others. He says the only negative thing about going to sea is that the family relationships suffer because of your absence for long periods of time. This is Jeffery Shoup’s last cruise. He’s taking a new position in Maryland to work for Search and Rescue Satellite (SarSat). This is where they receive messages from beacons on ships and aircraft in distress. The SarSat beacons use GPS to locate the needy vessel and then personnel proceed with the rescue.

Interview: Ensign Silas Ayers

Junior Officer Silas Ayers grew up in Pennsylvania as one of five children. He has been with NOAA for one year. Before that, he served three years in the Army and attended school for eight years at Westchester University in Pennsylvania where he obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Earth and Space Education and a Master’s Degree in Physical Science.

Ensign Ayers says that he chose this career and way of life to gain real world experiences to become better equipped for a teaching career. He considers his responsibilities on the ship to be ship safety, damage control, and property accountability. Mr. Ayers says the most fascinating experience for him has been the personalities aboard the ship. “I’m a ‘people’ person not a ‘place’ person.” The human dynamics involved in living aboard a seagoing vessel are fascinating to him.

Interview: Jim Melton

Mr. Jim Melton is a pilot, a lookout and a deckhand. He is a merchant marine and works under the Department of Commerce. Mr. Melton grew up in Florida and has been going out to sea since he was about three years old. He graduated from the University of Florida in 1970. Mr. Melton has a colorful and exciting life of doing all sorts of work such as pipefitting, welding, grooming ski resort slopes, farming, being a real working cowboy, and of course all kinds ship work. He shares that his most fascinating experiences have been at sea. He loves it. But he also shares that it’s not the life for everyone. It’s lonely and hard on relationships. The sad part for a father at sea is not being there to raise your kids. He considers his father to be his inspiration because he was a hard worker, a jack-of-all-trades, and an adventurer.

Interview: Chilean Pilot Luis Holley

Mr. Luis Holley of Reñaca, Chile has been a Patagonian Channels and Magellan Straits pilot for 4.5 years. Before that he was in the Chilean Navy for 33 years and retired at the rank of Captain. Mr. Holley shared with me that before one becomes a pilot he must have certain credentials. These credentials include being an advanced Captain in the Chilean Navy or the Chilean Merchant Navy. He said that they often use the channels for navigation and military exercises. If one has the credentials then that person may apply to the Chilean Coast Guard for the position of pilot. The Coast Guard puts them through a three week course of simulations and real navigation through the passages. There are only 88 channel pilots.

Interview: Chilean Pilot Alex Waghorn

Mr. Alex Waghorn has been a pilot for the Patagonian Channels and the Magellan Straits for three years. He makes 18-20 passes through here per year. Mr. Waghorn shared with me that to become a pilot for these channels you must be ever vigilant, memorize charts and become very familiar with the passageways. He said overconfidence is dangerous and he treats every trip just as if it were his first time.

Personal Log

I awoke at 0530 in eager anticipation of passing through the English Narrows. It is a cold, foggy, rainy morning. I can see my breath. It’s cold enough that even the “die-hards” have to come in to warm up and get a cup of hot chocolate. The English Narrows are narrow. We were so close to the land, I could see the individual leaves of the trees! Just this morning in the span of one hour, I saw more waterfalls cascading down the mountains and plunging into the sea than I’ve ever seen in my entire life! I started to count them, but as the ship rounded every bend, there were more and more of them, so I just gave up on the count and enjoyed the view. I’ve never been anywhere like this before.

There’s something I’ve come realize about the RONALD H. BROWN: this is a boatload full of map-lovers! I’ve never been so surrounded with people, like myself, who love to read maps. They are magnetically attracted to maps. And when they’re reading a map, it’s like they’re being transported to that place and can visualize it as though they are really there.

It’s ironically funny that yesterday, I was on the bridge and I spied a new and different kind of map. So I strolled over to get a closer look. It was a detailed chart of the Patagonian Channels and the Straits of Magellan! I smiled and said, “I want a map like that!” Ensign Ayers said, “You and everyone else on this ship.” I realized I wasn’t the only person who had an interest in that map. I soon discovered that these maps are printed especially for the Chilean pilots who guide ships safely through these passageways. Hopefully, there’s a way to get my hands on a copy.

Now, wouldn’t that be something? ?

This evening as I sit here and ponder all the day’s happenings, I think about the remoteness of this place. How we’re one little ship seemingly in the middle of nowhere. The land and water and sky are beautiful and cold and cloudy and ………….. empty of people. I look at those massive, worn, eroded mountains with snow and blue-hued glaciers and realize that I can’t even fathom the magnitude of the powers that have formed them. It causes me to recognize my place. The reality is I’m weak and small and made of dust. And that I have absolutely no jurisdiction over the driving forces behind the natural cycle of Earth. The Earth is essential for my fleshly existence but I’m not at all essential for Earth’s existence.

Until tomorrow,

Mary

Mary Cook, January 3, 2005

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

Mission: Climate Prediction for the Americas
Geographical Area: Chilean Coast
Date: January 3, 2005

Location: Latitude 45°49.53’S, Longitude 75°03.22’W
Time: 0930

Weather Data from the Bridge
Air Temperature (Celsius) 11.90
Water Temperature (Celsius) 13.55
Wind Direction (degrees) 343.52
Wind Speed (knots) 5.85
Relative Humidity (percent) 66.50
Air Pressure (millibars) 1016.06
Cloud Cover 6/8 Altocumulus
Sunrise 0615
Sunset 2152

Question of the Day

What is phytoplankton?

Quote of the Day

“Dream no small dreams for they have no power to move men.” Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Science Log

This afternoon I interviewed Co-chief Scientist, Julio Sepúlveda, an oceanography graduate student from the University of Concepción. Julio did his Master’s thesis work for eight months at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts. In April, he’s leaving for Germany to spend three years continuing his education toward a PhD. in marine organic geochemistry. Julio has been kind enough to further explain the work they’ve been doing onboard the RONALD H. BROWN. The Chilean group of scientists include Pamela Rossel, Sergio Contreras, Rodrigo Castro, Alejandro Avila, and Luis Bravo. He says that their work has two parts: the water column process and the sedimentary record. The water samples and the sediment traps give a “picture of the moment”. They conducted the transect of samples starting at the shallow coastal waters and moving into the deeper offshore waters. These samples will provide a gradient of the nutrient concentrations at the Bay of Concepción which is part of an active upwelling location. To put it simply, they are looking at how the phytoplankton (plant-like microscopic organisms) uses the nutrients in the water. In particular they are looking at the nitrogen stable isotopes (nitrogen atoms with different masses) and their concentrations. They are trying to see how this is related to El Niño which greatly affects Chile and many places around the world. Julio explained that normally the upwelling brings cooler water containing nutrient-rich materials up to the surface. During El Niño events, the upwelling brings warmer, less nutrient-rich waters to the surface. This changes many things including the weather. The causes of El Niño are multi-varied air-sea fluxes that are not fully understood. In the last ten years the scientific community has been especially interested in knowing the possible influence of global warming in the El Niño variability. It seems that its frequency is changing and several articles indicate that El Niño is occurring more often. So their research provides a few “pixels” for capturing the entire “picture” of El Niño.

The second part of their research involves the core samples. The purpose of the core sampling is to collect the layers of sediments on the ocean floor. Julio described the layers to be like pages in a history book. Each layer tells the “story” of what was going on in the water at that location during that time. They are also looking at the degradation of the organic matter in the core samples. So, Julio says the water samples tell us about the present and the core samples tell us about the past. Using these methods of research, it is their intention to better understand the history of El Niño and better predict future El Niño events.

Personal Log

This morning we entered the fjords! Several of us were up and outside on the deck at 0630, “ooohing” and “aaahing”, taking pictures even though it’s very cold and windy out there. It is an irresistible attraction. We’re passing by the peninsula Tres Montes and we’re headed for the Bay of Tarn. All morning we’ve been sailing by emerald forest-covered mountains and black craggy rocks that have been eroded into peculiar shapes by the waves relentlessly smashing against them. The clouds are ominous and hanging low. The albatross are soaring with wings spread wide. An occasional whale sends a plume of spray into the air. I want these scenes to be indelibly saturated into my mind’s eye. I never want to forget this. No dwellings. No other ships. It’s just us. Just us and the birds and the whales. It’s good. It’s all good.

Until tomorrow,

Mary

Mary Cook, January 1, 2005

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

Mission: Climate Prediction for the Americas
Geographical Area: Chilean Coast
Date: January 1, 2005

Happy New Year!!
Feliz Años Nuevos!!!!

Location: Latitude 37°47.97’S, Longitude 74°02.84 W
Time: 1000

Weather Data from the Bridge
Relative Humidity (percent) 91.44
Air Pressure (millibars) 1015.72
Air Temperature (Celsius) 17.28
Water Temperature (Celsius) 17.58
Wind Direction (degrees) 212.20
Wind Speed (knots) 12.20
Cloud Cover 8/8 Stratus
Sunrise 0638
Sunset 2120

Question of the Day

What causes seasickness?

Quote of the Day

“The best portion of a good man’s life is the little, nameless, unremembered acts of kindness and love.” William Wordsworth

Science Log

All the Chilean scientists plus Jordan Watson from Scripps and the ship’s wage crew are all sleeping soundly after their 48 hour marathon project of collecting water and sediments. They will continue collecting surface water every 30 minutes of latitude but the ship will not stop for these collections.

Sometime tonight we will meet up with the pilots who will safely guide the RONALD H. BROWN through the inside passages. There will be two pilots so that one will be on the bridge at all times.

Today, Les Cruise shared with me that it is a seafaring tradition that the first log entry of the year for the ship should rhyme. So I want to share with you the first log entry of 2005 for the NOAA ship the RONALD H. BROWN.

Underway in the South Pacific 2004 was terrific.
Collecting mud on station six, all three thrusters in the mix.
Punta Tumbes, bearing 119º, at 34 nautical miles away is the closest point of land, in accordance with the Ronald Brown science plan.
All our lights are burning fine and our bow thruster is on line.
Main Power Diesel Generator Two keeps us going through and through.
Ship Service Diesel Generator Five gives us power to survive.
Auto-Positioning is how she sits, on a heading of 206°.
The sky is clear, I will not lie, Watch-Stander Melton is standing by.
Engineer-on-Watch Jacobson is down below, making sure the engines go.
Maneuvering various courses and speeds for sediment trap recovery, maybe there will be a new discovery!
Multiple personnel working in accord have brought the sediment trap aboard. Main Power Diesel Generator Three on line to help us make good time.
Increase speed 700 rpm, Auto track mode now as then.
190° is the way we go. Bow thruster power taken to zero.
Security round complete. That Jim Melton, he’s pretty neat.
Lt. Jones has the deck and conn ensuring the ship carry on.
13.3 nautical miles is our distance run. Hope 2005 will be fun! ”

Personal Log

This evening, my seasick queasiness is much better. I took the medics advice which was, “Stop looking at the computer and go to bed in a dark room. And stay there!” He was right.

But as a consequence of taking his advice my personal log is severely lacking. Most of the time, I’ve been in my stateroom, snuggled under a blanket looking at the backside of my eyelids.

Until tomorrow,

Mary

 

Mary Cook, December 31, 2004

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

Mission: Climate Prediction for the Americas
Geographical Area: Chilean Coast
Date: December 31, 2004

Location: Latitude 36°13.8’S, Longitude 73°31.25’W
Time: 0830

Weather Data from the Bridge
Wind Direction (degrees) 206.36
Wind Speed (knots) 3.94
Air Temperature (Celsius) 15.50
Water Temperature (Celsius) 14.58
Relative Humidity (percent) 96.10
Air Pressure (millibars) 1015.21
Cloud Cover 3/8 Altocumulus and Cirrus
Sunrise 0639
Sunset 2114

Question of the Day

Why are the daylight hours getting longer as we travel southward?

Quote of the Day

“Information is the commodity of science.” Kevin Sullivan

Science and Technology Log

No stargazing last night due to cloudiness. So I’ll try again some other night.

Today we’ve been hovering in one place for six hours waiting on the drifting sediment trap to do its thing, which is to trap sediment.

We’re farther from land and in deeper water so it takes longer for the trap to collect a sufficient amount of sediment. They’ve just gotten it out of the water so now we’ll transit for about two hours to the next station and hover there for about eight hours. At this station they will deploy the bigger, heavier core sampler that looks like a 4 meter-long hollow rocket. It will go down to about 1000 meters depth and gravity will ram it into the mud. The layers of sediment will fill the hollow tube then it will close under the pressure as it is brought back to the surface by the winch.

This afternoon as we hovered in one place, the seagulls gathered around the ship for a siesta. There were hundreds of them just sitting in the water like ducks. It was almost like they were waiting to see what we were up to. It was interesting to watch them take to flight from the water. They’d spread their wings and begin flapping. But that wasn’t providing enough lift so they’d start paddling with their feet. It looked they were walking on water!

Finally, up they’d go, soaring through the air and then swooping down, gliding just above the water’s surface.

Personal Log

Today, I’ve been moderately seasick. I think it was the 10-12 feet swells passing under the ship as we hovered at station. The seasick medicine made me drowsy so I’ve spent time lying down in my stateroom off and on all day.

At 0230 in the morning we are supposed to make the turn due south and steam toward the inside passages! I’m ready to move on.

I eagerly anticipate traveling the same paths as the great explorers of Ferdinand Magellan and Sir Francis Drake. We’ll meet up with the pilot who will board the ship and take us safely through the narrow straits.

This is the last day of 2004. As I reflect back on my life during the past year I can’t help but know I’m blessed. With a wonderful family and circle of friends that love me, a good job and great co-workers, good health and great opportunities to live life abundantly. And for all this I am deeply thankful. Of course, we all know that life isn’t always smooth sailing. We all have struggles. Some are life and death struggles, some are relational struggles, some are financial struggles, and some are spiritual struggles. This journey in the Pacific has been more than an adventure for me. Being removed from my comfort zone has compelled me to contemplate. Contemplate just about everything. There’s one phrase that keeps coming to my thoughts over and over again. “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” And I don’t think this means money or other material possessions. I think it means giving of self. This is a much greater challenge, for me anyway. I want to absorb this into my life philosophy for the coming year and for always. I fully realize that I do not know the depth to which I may be called upon to live out this truth, but I have confidence that the future is brighter with this mind set.

Happy New Year!!

Until tomorrow,

Mary

p.s. Happy Birthday, Diane!

Mary Cook, December 30, 2004

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

Mission: Climate Prediction for the Americas
Geographical Area: Chilean Coast
Date: December 30, 2004

Location: Latitude 36°21.31’S, Longitude 72°59.65’W
Time: 9:15

Weather Data from the Bridge
Air Temperature (Celsius) 14.33
Water Temperature (Celsius) 14.81
Air Pressure (millibars) 1015.24
Cloud Cover 3/8
Cloud Type: Stratus
Wind Direction (degrees) 325.6
True Wind Speed (knots) 1.26
Sunrise 636
Sunset 2112

Question of the Day

What is a light year?

Positive Quote of the Day

“The influence of each human being on others in this life is a kind of immortality.” John Quincy Adams

Science Log

Last night I went up to the bridge at about 2300 hours. Vickie, Jeff, and Jackie were stargazing in search of the Southern Cross. There it was, almost directly in front of the ship! It had just risen over the horizon and looked more like a baseball diamond than a cross. We also spotted Alpha and Beta Centauri. At about 4.3 light years away, these are among the closest stars to Earth other than our Sun. Vickie also pointed out Orion with his belt of stars and the seven sisters called Pleiades. I’m going to get out my textbook and read up on the Magellanic Clouds because I’m wondering if we can see those from here. Then Jackie looked over the edge of the ship in the wake and caught a glimpse of some momentary flashes of light! Bioluminescence! I stood there pressing my face against the window staring at the darkened waters waiting patiently for some more microorganisms to glow. Sure enough it happened. They looked like little sparks of lightening in a cloud. It happened several times. I’ll definitely be back on the bridge again in search of more wonders of the sea at night.

For this leg of the journey, I’ve been moved to a different stateroom. I’m now down below in the science quarters. The sounds are different down here. I can hear the water splashing up against the ship’s hull. It sounds like I’m in a perpetual carwash!

It’s a soothing sound, though. I slept like a bear in hibernation.

Today begins the science operations. Right now, the scientists are on the fantail preparing the drifting sediment trap with its radar-reflector, floaters and nighttime strobe light. We’ll deploy the instrument then leave it while we make a short transit to the next station for CTD casts and core sampling. Afterwards, we’ll return and retrieve the sediment trap. According to the work plan, we’ll do this same thing at six different locations across the continental shelf and slope off Concepción, Chile. Most of the CTD casts are in fairly shallow water with the deepest one going down to 980 meters. These scientists will be working 48 hours non-stop.

It’s beautiful here in the Bay of Concepción. The water is so smooth and glistening in the sunshine. We’re nearly surrounded by a crescent-shaped coastline and we can see houses, forests, and other ships. This afternoon, we saw several ghostly-white jellyfish pumping their way through the water. Jim pointed out little anchovies swimming nearby. Yum!

I spoke with Kevin Sullivan of the NOAA research branch in Miami and Jordan Watson from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. They patiently explained some of the science to me. And I really appreciate that.

This is how the drifting sediment trap works. After the instrument collects the sediments from the water near the surface and is retrieved, it will be set aside for a few hours to allow the sediments to settle to the bottom of the tubes. Then a lever is turned that empties the sediments into bottles containing a preservative. Sediments can be particles from the air like dust or particles from the ocean such as little deceased sea creatures called diatoms.

The Rhumor gravity core sampler is basically a one meter long hollow tube with heavy weights attached to the top. After being lifted by the winch, it is slowly lowered into the water. When the tube gets about 10 meters from the ocean floor it is lowered very quickly and gravity rams it into the mud. In this process, the mud layers fill the hollow tube and as the core sampler is raised the pressure closes a valve that keeps the mud from coming out.

I’ve noticed on the SeaBeam readout that the depth here is only about 100 meters. That’s a huge contrast to a couple of weeks ago when we were in waters with a depth of 5000 meters!

It is my understanding that the rationale for their research is to explore the effects of nitrogen distribution and how that affects the marine algae nutrient usage in the present day water column. They are conducting the sampling in this location because of the upwelling that occurs which brings nutrients to the surface and because there are algae present that utilize the nutrients in these upwelling plumes. Likewise, they are interested in evaluating the amount of nitrogen left in the sedimentary record. This will help scientists better understand the history of the oceans.

Personal Log

Today has been a quiet but interesting day. All the science was new to me so I had to pay attention and ask lots of questions. It’s very rewarding to have people around who are eager to share with me what they are doing and the significance of it all in the whole scheme of things. I’ve learned a tremendous lot and my brain is kind of tired. Plus, I miss my mentor. She’s got enough energy for two people! I did take some time to go to the ship’s bow and watch the water skim by and look around for animals. I saw lots of birds and jellyfish. I like watching jellyfish because I never see jellyfish in Arkansas. To me they are intriguing critters because they are transparent. I can see right through them!

Well, I’m headed for the exercise room to rest my brain and work off that cake with chocolate icing that I ate for dessert. Then, after dark, up to the bridge for more stargazing in the Southern Hemisphere!

Until tomorrow,

Mary

p.s. Congratulations Brandon and Becky!

Mary Cook, December 29, 2004

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

Mission: Climate Prediction for the Americas
Geographical Area: Chilean Coast
Date: December 29, 2004

Question of the Day

What is sediment?

Quote of the Day

“Rust never sleeps.” Dan Wolfe

Special Edition Log: Part 2

We’ve just left the port of Valparaiso and we’re underway, headed for the inside passages and the Straits of Magellan!!! I’ve looked on the ship’s course chart and it’s going to be a great voyage!! We’ll be sailing between islands and there’ll be land on both side of the ship. I expect to see lots of wildlife-hopefully penguins and an albatross or two.

Bruce, the boatswain and Jeff, the chief computer technician have set me up in the science office with a desk, Internet, a big, comfy chair and a phone. And I’ve just found someone’s secret stash of Dr. Pepper’s under my desk. Yep, things are looking good.

I wanted to share with you about the Easter Island Museum that we went to yesterday. This will be my personal interpretation of what I saw since most of the museum’s information was in Spanish.

Easter Island is a volcanic island situated in the Pacific Ocean several hundred miles off the coast of Chile. The indigenous people or Rapi Nui made huge monolithic statues called maori and placed them all around the island. These gods are thought have been put in place for protection and worship. The native people had four quarries from which they extracted the stones and carved the features. Then they slid them into place with wooden rails and ropes. There are only four of these statues outside of Easter Island and one of them stands in front this museum. The Rapi Nui had a complex and organized society led by a chief. They made pottery, arrowheads, harpoon heads, and jewelry. They were great fishermen. It appears as though they had a sophisticated system of ocean navigation with bamboo and seashell “maps” that indicated currents and islands. (I love maps. So seeing this was “way cool”!) Sometime during the 1700’s the first white man arrived. Some of the Rapi Nui were taken as slaves. Different diseases were introduced that spread rapidly throughout the island. And so this was the beginning of the end for their culture. Today, Easter Island is part of the country of Chile and the maori are being restored and preserved as a world heritage site. So, that’s my take on the fascinating museum of Easter Island loaded with its artifacts of history, mystery and intrigue.

Tonight, my plans are to stay up late and go hang out on the ship’s bridge and search the dark waters for bioluminescence. Wow, that’s a big word. Bioluminescence refers to microorganisms that emit light when disturbed. I’ve heard about bioluminescence in the ocean but I’ve never witnessed it. Silas says it’s there almost every night so, hopefully, tonight we’ll see the ocean glow!!!! In Arkansas, we have lightning bugs that flash a glowing, neon green light. When I was a kid I loved catching them and holding them gently in my fist to watch the rays of green light shine between my fingers. It was fascinating, but they smelled like, I don’t know, lightning bugs. Anyway, I’ve heard that the bioluminescence in the ocean can be red or blue or green! I can’t wait. If I don’t see any tonight, I’ll go back every night until those little rascals get disturbed enough to emit a sparkle.

Tomorrow, we begin the scientific work with the University of Concepcion. According to the plan, a drifting sediment trap will be deployed, a CTD rosette cast will be conducted, and a sediment core sample will be taken.

The sediment core sampler looks like a rocket. It’s a long narrow metal cylinder with fins on the bottom. But instead of going up into space, it’s going down into the ocean floor. Co-chief scientist, Julio says it will collect sediments that were laid down thousands of years ago. This will enable them to better understand the history of the ocean.

Before I sign off for the day, I’d like to thank Alvaro Vera of the Chilean Navy for his thoughtfulness and generosity extended toward us during our stay in Viña del Mar. Alvaro invited all the Stratus 5 scientific crew over to his house for a barbeque in celebration of a job well done and the good working partnership between the Chilean scientists and the American scientists. It was great food and great fun-another fine example of Chilean hospitality.

Until tomorrow,

Mary

Mary Cook, December 22, 2004

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

Mission: Climate Prediction for the Americas
Geographical Area: Chilean Coast
Date: December 22, 2004

Location: Latitude 31º58.92’S, Longitude 73º01.21’W

Weather Data from the Bridge
Relative Humidity (percent) 88.87
Air Pressure (millibars) 1012.32
Air Temperature (Celsius) 16.59
Wind Direction (degrees) 228.6
Wind Speed (knots) 16.9
Wind Speed (meters/sec) 8.66
Sunrise 0643
Sunset 2058

Question of the Day

What is the highest mountain outside of the Himalayas?

Positive Quote of the Day

“The air doesn’t even know its own temperature.” L.F. Richardson

Science and Technology Log

Actually, not much science happened on the ship today because everyone’s packing up and getting ready to off load tomorrow morning. The last radiosonde was released at 1600. We had an All Hands meeting with Captain Wright in the library. We were given instructions about disembarking and when to return to the ship.

It has been very sunny today. I think we have finally left the stratus cloud layer!!!! Bob Weller told me that today’s sunset was a good opportunity to see the green flash. I have never seen a green flash! I can’t wait!

Personal Log

This morning, out on the fantail, Diane videotaped me recapping the last three weeks of my life at sea. It’s hard to recap something of such magnitude. I’ve been putting it off for a couple of days because I just didn’t want to think about it being over. Besides, how do I condense it? Diane recommended that I focus on the highlights. It’s funny because everything has been a highlight. Of course, recovery and deployment of big buoys would be on everyone’s highlight list. And that was amazing. Just to think about being with the world’s best oceanic and atmospheric scientists who are deploying the world’s most sophisticated instrument for studying air-sea interactions is both humbling and exciting. The coordination of scientists, crew, and officers was really something to see. But what nobody knows is, that for me, just finding out how an acoustic release works was a highlight. And watching the SeaBeam as we passed over the Nazca Ridge. And holding the miniature cups for the first time. I’ve never touched anything that’s been 9000 feet down in the ocean. And watching the graph develop on the computer as the radiosonde flew up into the clouds. Having all those squiggly lines explained to me in a fashion where they now have meaning and substance was enlightening. When they deployed the Chilean Tsunami Buoy, I couldn’t help but think about how many lives this obscure little buoy could help save. Just gazing out over the ocean and letting my spirit soar has been wonderful, inhaling some of the cleanest air on Earth. There are so many monumental things that have happened to me in the last three weeks. My heart swells with gratitude to be given this opportunity. I have to say that the absolute most meaningful occurrence in the scientific realm to me was tossing the drifting buoy that my students have adopted. Our school’s logo and all their signatures are out there somewhere on that little drifter. Our little drifter. When I tossed it into the ocean I felt as though I was giving all my students a gift. A gift of opportunity and challenge. I’ve decided to name the little drifter Bob, for two reasons, the drifter is bobbing around at the ocean’s surface plus the Chief Scientist who requested a Teacher at Sea is named Bob. We’re going to put a big map up in the hallway at Southside Middle School entitled “Where’s Bob?” Each morning Bob’s latitude and longitude will be announced and plotted on the map. Bob Weller has been so helpful and willing to answer all my questions and helped ensure that I got involved in every scientific work done on the ship. Dr. Bob Weller is a big reason why the opportunity was opened up for a Teacher at Sea to participate in the Stratus 2004 cruise. Had he not requested that a Teacher at Sea be onboard then I would still be back in Arkansas eating Christmas candy, watching football, and hoping for a snowflake.

Of course, I’ll never forget those rip-roaring RHIB rides!

And still, I’ve yet to mention the human side of this experience. I’ve loved meeting all these people, each with their own special qualities that make ship life such a dynamic process. There’s not enough space to mention everyone’s name but each person on this ship contributes in a vital way. It may be washing the dishes or mopping the floor or operating the winch or taking pictures of clouds or standing watch. It’s all important and the people doing those jobs are valuable. The officers, marine crew and scientists all have my respect and admiration. Something I’ve noticed about everyone on the ship is that they have a refreshing spirit of exploration.

There’s no way I can recap this cruise without mentioning my mentor, Diane Stanitski. Not long after we met and the very first day onboard, she said (in her excited and bubbly way) “We’re going to write a book about this cruise! You’ll write it. Bruce will illustrate it. I’ll edit it.” I thought to myself, “Lady, you’ve got to be kidding.” But I smiled and said, “Sure, that sounds great.”

Now looking back, I can see that was a foreshadowing of things to come. Not just the book but everything else, too. Diane has helped me get the most out of being here. I mean, squeeze every bit of information, joy, and opportunity out of this experi

ence. “Redeem the time” must be her motto. She made sure that I knew what was going on and helped me understand the science behind it. Just like a good teacher, she showed me, told me, modeled proper technique for me, then, let me go on my own.

I knew that I liked Diane before I ever met her. On the NOAA Teacher at Sea website I had read her logs from a couple years back while she was in Hawaii. There was one scenario that conveyed her personality in such a way that I knew she would be a great person to work with. She wrote in her log about taking a RHIB ride to the buoy. The buoy needed repairs. Someone had to climb up on the buoy while it was bobbing in the ocean and fix it. A dangerous feat, I’d say. Anyway, Diane volunteered. In her log entry when she was writing about it she said, “Mom, don’t read this part.” I instantly admired her for considering her mother’s feelings even though it had been an exciting adventure for herself.

Diane has been a great mentor and I’m glad to say that, in her, I have found a new friend with a kindred spirit of adventure and yearning to live life to its fullest.

I have been truly blessed to have been a part of this whole operation.

After tomorrow, all the scientists will have left the ship and be going back home. I will spend a few days ashore then I will re-board the RONALD H. BROWN and continue on to Punte Arenas! I’d like to thank my school, the ship’s captain, and NOAA’s offices for given me this extended opportunity of a lifetime. This is my last log for about 5 days. When I return to the ship I’ll resume sending pics and logs once again. So tune in next week, same time, same station!

Until next week,

Mary

Mary Cook, December 21, 2004

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

Mission: Climate Prediction for the Americas
Geographical Area: Chilean Coast
Date: December 21, 2004

Location: Latitude 26º56.06’ S, Longitude 72º17.13’ W

Weather Data from the Bridge
Relative Humidity (percent) 75.05
Air Temperature (Celsius) 17.08
Water Temperature (Celsius) 17.88
Air Pressure (millibars) 1015.65
Wind Direction (degrees) 205.79
Wind Speed (knots) 13.98
Wind Speed (meters/sec) 7.01
Sunrise 0652
Sunset 2042

Question of the Day

What does RADAR stand for?

Wayne’s Question of the Day

Are we there yet?

Positive Quote of the Day

Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but rather we have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.” Aristotle

Science and Technology Log

Today is both the longest and shortest day of the year! How can that be, you might ask? Today, December 21st has the longest daylight hours in the Southern Hemisphere and the shortest daylight hours in the Northern Hemisphere. This day is called the Solstice-the summer solstice down here and the winter solstice up there. The sun reaches its highest point in the sky for the southern hemisphere and its lowest point in the sky for the northern hemisphere. It’s the first day of summer here in Chile and the first day of winter back home in the United States! Today, the sun is almost directly overhead here at 26º S. But as Frank Bradley said, “It would really be nice if we could see it, wouldn’t it?” We’re still under the consistent stratus cloud deck so we haven’t even gotten a glimpse of the sun today.

Diane and I completed our first draft of the “Teacher at Sea” book and the special reading in the library went fabulously!

Personal Log

I have to tell you that the “Teacher at Sea” book has been a cathartic process for me. The book features Miss Cook, NOAA’s Teacher at Sea. It begins at Southside Middle School with Miss Cook and her students getting the good news of being selected for the Teacher at Sea program. Then the story follows her as she has all the wonderful experiences with the scientific work being done aboard the RONALD H. BROWN over a three week period. So during all this writing and rewriting and rewriting and rewriting we’ve had to review and analyze many things. On the last page we wanted to convey Miss Cook’s feelings as she returned home to her students. So how do you do that? How do you convey satisfaction and happiness and exhaustion and feeling blessed? How do you convey that your cerebrum has been inundated with fascinating, cutting edge science? My brain is so full of new information I wonder how long it will take for me to process it into my knowledge base as though it had always been there. Have you ever heard this saying? “The more you know, the more you realize what you don’t know.” I’m constantly saying, “Wow, I didn’t know that.” And I’m constantly thinking how can I make a good lesson plan from this scientific event? I’ve learned all this cool scientific “stuff” and all about ship life and it makes me realize how much more I need to know. I want to know more. And how do you convey that you want to be a teacher that leads her students to achieve their best; a teacher who inspires and guides her students into a higher plane of knowledge and experience?

Tomorrow is the last full day of this cruise. Everyone will be going their own separate ways. This particular group will never be together again. Never.

Until tomorrow,

Mary

Mary Cook, December 20, 2004

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

Mission: Climate Prediction for the Americas
Geographical Area: Chilean Coast
Date: December 20, 2004

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

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

Question of the Day

What is reverse osmosis?

Positive Quote of the Day

“Never spit into the wind.” Anonymous

Science and Technology Log

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

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

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

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

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

This has been another great day at sea!

Until tomorrow,

Mary

Mary Cook, December 19, 2004

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

Mission: Climate Prediction for the Americas
Geographical Area: Chilean Coast
Date: December 19, 2004

Location: Latitude 25°07.83’S, Longitude 81°54.62’W
Time: 0830

Weather Data from the Bridge
Air Temperature (Celsius) 19.04
Water Temperature (Celsius) 19.42
Relative Humidity (percent) 56.95
Air Pressure (millibars) 1018.17
Wind Direction (degrees) 155.6
Wind Speed (knots) 15.91
Wind Speed (meters/sec) 7.99
Sunrise 0734
Sunset 2116 (9:16 pm)

Questions of the Day

Why is the sunset so late in the day?

Positive Quote for the Day

“The world of achievement has always belonged to the optimist.” J. Harold Wilkins

Science and Technology Log

We tossed the last of fifteen drifting buoys this morning! It’s not the end, but the beginning of a wonderful new program. I’d say the Adopt-a-Drifter program got underway with a big splash! Teachers and their students around the world can adopt a drifting buoy just like my students at Southside Middle School in Batesville, Arkansas. They can map its path as it goes with the flow of the ocean currents. These drifting buoys also provide sea surface temperature and air pressure. This information can be utilized to gain a better understanding of the global oceans. I watched as Jeff and Bob deployed another Argo float. These floats are lowered over the back of the ship and when the quick-release mechanism comes in contact with the water, the powder in a small device dissolves and this releases a spring that unhinges the float from the straps. The straps are pulled back onboard as the ship leaves the Argo float in its wake.

I sat down and had a conversation with Chief Scientist Dr. Robert Weller of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution about the importance of oceanic/atmospheric studies. He made some very good points that highlighted the fact that when just 1ºC of heat energy is released from the ocean water into the atmosphere it affects the air flows for thousands of miles. This then can be like a domino effect and continue around the globe influencing weather patterns for people everywhere.

At 2:00 we interviewed Richard Whitehead, Chief Steward. Richard is over the food preparation in the galley. Richard shared that he has been working on ships for over 40 years and has had several trainings for the position he now holds. He said that the menus were developed based on nutritional guidelines and availability of produce. Richard shared with us that they keep the produce fresh for weeks by keeping it very cool and placing it in special bags that slows the deterioration. He also said that there are many safety issues that concern food preparation on a moving ship. All the pots and pans are deep, there are railings on the stovetop, and special care must be taken with knives. The countertops must be covered with anti-slip cloths to keep everything from sliding around. He also said that they consider the weather when deciding what to prepare because you wouldn’t want to bake a cake while the ship was moving through rough waters.

We changed “6:00 Science on the Fantail” to “6:00 Science in the Van on the Bow” because we wanted to interview Jason Tomlinson of Texas A & M about his work with aerosols. First of all, Jason explained that an aerosol is not a spray can. It is a small particle in the air. Jason showed us the Tandem Differential Mobility Analyzer (TDMA). It looks like a mad scientist’s invention with wires, tubes, canisters, and radioactive components! It is one of the best devices in the world for analyzing small particles in the air. It draws in air from outside then dries the air. It then separates the particles according to size. Jason said that these particles are too small to see with the naked eye but they have a great influence on cloud formation and cloud life length. The TDMA can determine what the particles are made of by adding moisture or by adding heat. The TDMA costs about $70,000! He also showed us the Aerodynamic Particle Sizer (APS) which analyzes larger particles. They mostly get sea salt and dust out here in the ocean. Jason said that there’s a mystery about the sea salt and its influence on clouds. The APS costs about $35,000. He also said that occasionally they take in the ship’s exhaust and that destroys their data for that particular time. He concluded by saying that it all gets back to climate change and using these data to make better models for predictions.

After our interview with Jason, we ran outside to glimpse San Felix and San Ambrosio Islands! Our first land sighting in over two weeks! These small islands, located about 300 nautical miles from Chile, are volcanic in origin. They are basically huge, desolate rocks protruding up from the ocean floor. As far as I could tell nothing is growing on them. Seafaring birds do nest on the cliffs. Since 1975 the Chilean Navy has had an installation on San Felix Island where they operate a short airstrip, a weather station and a tide station.

Personal Log

I’m just beginning to realize that this trip is nearly over. We only have four days left. I knew it wouldn’t go on forever but as the old saying goes “time flies when you’re having fun”. What a superb voyage this has been for me-a voyage that is continuing my personal quest to search out the majesty of Earth. In doing so it is my heart’s desire to absorb the inexplicable magnificence of our Earth. I want to be permeated with awe for the splendor as I soak it in with my eyes and ears and nose and skin. I am amazed. How can I take it all in? Where was I when the Earth was formed and hung in the nothingness of space? From where did this splendor come? Clouds and rain and snow and hail are amazing! Mountains and valleys and canyons and caves are amazing! Oceans and rivers and glaciers and springs are amazing! Rocks and minerals and soil and sand are amazing! People and animals and languages and ideas are amazing! And they all work together in a symphony of overwhelming magnitude. I believe that we’re all an inextricable part of this grand masterpiece. Traveling is not the essential element in a voyage. Life is a voyage no matter where you are. Our voyage is how we perceive our surroundings, how we face our challenges, and how we come to Truth. Actually, none of us ask for this voyage called life. We’ve been thrust into it by forces greater than ourselves. So here we are. We do have some choices, though. Will we make the most of this journey or will we let it sweep us along without ever wondering, and questioning and being amazed?

Until tomorrow,

Mary

Mary Cook, December 18, 2004

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

Mission: Climate Prediction for the Americas
Geographical Area: Chilean Coast
Date: December 18, 2004

Location: Latitude 22°16.32’S, Longitude 86°10.94’W
Time: 8:30 am

Weather Data from the Bridge
Air Temperature (Celsius) 19.46
Water Temperature (Celsius) 19.81
Relative Humidity (percent) 69.46
Air Pressure (millibars) 1016.99
Wind Direction (degrees) 123.54
Wind Speed (knots) 15.73
Wind Speed (meters/sec) 7.20
Sunrise 07:57
Sunset 21:27 (9:27 pm)

Question of the Day

What does a psychrometer measure?

Positive Quote of the Day

For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. Jesus Christ

Science and Technology Log

Today Diane and I journeyed up to the bridge struggling against the strong winds and the lurching of the ship. We interviewed Ensign Silas Ayers and “Pirate” Jim Melton. Silas gave us instruction on ship safety and navigation. He said the two most important things in navigation are: don’t hit anything and don’t run aground. Silas showed us how they plot the ship’s course on a map/chart and all the navigational instrumentation. The RONALD H. BROWN has radar that ranges up to 96 miles but it is set for 24 miles at this time. The radar is used to detect other ships that might be in our path. He also showed us the autopilot computer and controls. They can set the coordinates and the ship will drive itself!!! Of course someone has to stay on the bridge at all times, because as everyone knows computers have glitches that could cause a malfunction. That could be a disaster. Something that I find fascinating is that this ship can hover in one place! It’s officially called dynamic auto positioning. They set all the thrusters at a specific setting and the ship stays in one place. He then explained the ship’s lights. The ship has a red light on the port side and a green light on the starboard side. These lights reveal our ship’s location to other ships and enable them to ascertain our heading by watching the movement of our lights.

There’s another series of light signals that communicate the ship’s condition. For example, when we hover to do a CTD cast, the ship displays a set of red/white/red lights that tell other ships we are unable to make quick maneuvers. There’s also a set of lights that means man overboard. Another cool thing on the bridge was the spinning window. Yep. I said spinning window. It wasn’t spinning today but it can spin. (I hope they weren’t pulling my leg.) The purpose of the spinning window is to reduce ice buildup on the glass.

“ Pirate” Jim Melton shared with us the lookout duties. He keeps a watch that scans the horizon constantly. Jim uses an alidade. An alidade is a telescopic instrument that has a special swiveling balance that can compensate when the ship rolls, pitches, or yaws.

I looked through the alidade and saw a line across my field of vision. Jim said that they use that line as a reference point and they can determine the size of the ocean swells. Everyone working on the bridge must also report the complete weather data to NOAA every hour.

Before we finished, I sat in the captain’s chair and scanned the horizon for whales and other ships at sea!

Late this afternoon, Diane and I continued working on the children’s book. Bruce Cowden, the illustrator, is producing artwork faster than we’re writing the story! So we’re feverishly trying to catch up. It’s fun writing with Diane. She has a bright mind and she has a genuine excitement for atmospheric and oceanic science.

Tonight at “6:00 Science on the Fantail”, we interviewed meteorologist Dan Wolfe of the Environmental Technologies Laboratory in Boulder, Colorado and Frank Bradley physicist/ meteorologist of Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. They have been studying clouds, precipitation and humidity, as well as launching radiosondes (weather balloons) 4-6 times a day. Dan explained how the radiosondes work. The instrument package records temperature, pressure, and humidity as the helium-filled balloon ascends into the sky. The radiosondes have a GPS antenna that transmits its location and another transmitter that communicates the data being collected back to the computer in the lab. All of this information is compiled to help develop a “picture” of the atmosphere in this region which has never been thoroughly studied. This information can then be used in making models for more accurate weather prediction.

Frank Bradley shared with us his work which has been in collaboration with Dr. Bob Weller and Dr. Chris Fairall for the past 20 years. Frank showed us the somewhat “old fashioned” Assman psychrometer that he uses to take the wet bulb and dry bulb temperature readings several times a day. A psychrometer’s temperature readings can be used to determine relative humidity. Frank says that he uses this low-tech instrument because nothing can go wrong. This psychrometer’s readings are then used as a validation of the high tech instruments on board. Frank said that he has studied air-sea interaction, the interface of the ocean and the atmosphere, for many years and considers it a very important area for developing better models to predict the weather.

Personal Log

Wow! I really liked the bridge! It is cool. I don’t know why they wouldn’t let me drive the ship. I mean, come on, we’re out in the middle of the biggest ocean on Earth. What could I run into? And there’s no ground in sight. Actually, there’s nothing in sight. So I’d be satisfying the two most important rules of ship navigation and safety: don’t hit anything and don’t run aground. It seems though, that I remember something about needing a license to drive. I’m not sure.

While on the bridge, I saw that our planned course will take us right by the San Felix islands. It’ll be the first land I’ve seen since December 5! I wonder what that will feel like?

As we near the end of the cruise and it seems almost all the work is done, everyone is reading guidebooks about Valparaiso and planning some excursions. Even though I’m not ready to get off the ship, I am feeling a little excited about seeing a new place. I just love to go to new places and I’ve heard that Valparaiso is one of Chile’s most beautiful cities. Diane and I are deciding what to do during our two days there. One day we want to see the city and another day we want to drive toward the Andes Mountains and get glimpse of Aconcagua, the highest mountain in all of the Americas!

Yeah! Another adventure awaits!

Until tomorrow,

Mary

Mary Cook, December 17, 2004

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

Mission: Climate Prediction for the Americas
Geographical Area: Chilean Coast
Date: December 17, 2004

Location: Latitude 19°40.26’S, Longitude 89°46.38’W

Weather Data from the Bridge
Air Temperature (Celsius) 19.59
Water Temperature (Celsius) 20.13
Relative Humidity (percent) 73.07
Air Pressure (millibars) 1017.14
Wind Direction (degrees) 101.42
Wind Speed (knots) 15.44
Wind Speed (meters/sec) 7.67

Question of the Day

What are the ship’s three types of motion?

Positive Quote of the Day

“Never say “No” to opportunity.” Melvin G. Marcus

Science and Technology Log

Today, we made the big turn toward the San Felix islands and we’re heading southeastward at 12 knots. We did our last CTD cast of the cruise! Several of us decorated more Styrofoam cups to send down for compression by the pressure of the ocean water at 1000 meters depth. This afternoon and for the remainder of the cruise we will be tossing drifting buoys and Argo floats over board from the fantail. The Argo float has a bladder that inflates and deflates to allow it to go down to 2000 meters, drift in the current for about 10 days, and then record temperature and salinity as it comes back to the surface. It then transmits the data to a satellite where it is then sent to a ground station. The Argo float goes up and down over and over until the battery runs out. These floats are never recovered. It is hoped that there will be 3,000 of them in the oceans by 2006.

As we toss the drifters we are doing a promotional video segment to describe what a drifter measures and encourage teachers and their students to adopt a drifting buoy. This is a great way to get real science in the classroom. The Adopt a Drifter Program is sponsored by NOAA’s Office of Climate Observation and can be accessed online at http://osmc.noaa.gov/OSMC/adopt_a_drifter.html.

This afternoon Diane and I toured the ship and recorded it with the video camera. We went to the galley, mess hall, our stateroom and toilet room, the ship’s bow and the bridge. The bridge is where the ship is driven. While on the bridge, we spoke with NOAA Corps officer Silas Ayers and he explained how they record and report the weather observations to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) offices located back in the United States. Tomorrow, he will give us a complete tour of the bridge.

In “6:00 Science on the Fantail”, we interviewed Chris Fairall, a physicist/mathematician who works for the NOAA Environmental Technology Lab (ETL) based in Colorado. Chris explained some of their instrumentation for measuring clouds and precipitation. He said that some of their instruments can individually measure the smallest of mist droplets! They have worked closely with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution over the past few years to compile data for the stratus cloud deck over this part of the Pacific Ocean. Chris said that the main reason this particular location was selected for the study was lack of data because it had never been thoroughly studied.

This evening, Diane and I continued the writing of the children’s book documenting this Stratus 2004 cruise.

Personal Log

Today has been another good day at sea. I’ve gotten emails from students, family and friends. I’ve had good food to eat and good conversation and laughter with new friends. I spent some quiet, alone time to ponder and count my blessings. The sun momentarily broke through the stratus clouds like a smile from up above! We tossed some Argo floats and drifters overboard. We’re steaming ahead to new and exciting places! What more could I ask for?

An observation: the Argo float is tossed in the water without removing the biodegradable cardboard box, so it looked to me like a casket as it floated away in the wake of the ship. I guess it really is a burial at sea because the Argo floats are never recovered.

Paul and I are about to deploy another Argo float shortly. This will be my first Argo float where I actually get to do the hands-on tossing! I’ve just been observing up until now. We’ll lower it by a rope over the back of the fantail then release it into the water.

Another observation: As the ship steams along it is rolling and pitching. All that motion causes stuff to shift and creak and rattle. Even if I’m in a room all alone, I still feel like someone else is there, too. It’s an odd sensation to hear a noise, turn expecting to see someone and nobody is there!

I look forward to tomorrow. We have a couple of interviews and will continue working on the book plus tossing a few more drifting buoys and floats along the way.

Until tomorrow,

Mary

Mary Cook, December 16, 2004

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

Mission: Climate Prediction for the Americas
Geographical Area: Chilean Coast
Date: December 16, 2004

Location: Latitude 19°44.39’S, Longitude 86°20.07’ W
Time: 8:00 am

Weather Data from the Bridge
Relative Humidity (percent) 72.50
Air Temperature (Celsius) 19.34
Water Temperature (Celsius) 19.78
Air Pressure (Millibars) 1016.06
Wind Direction (degrees) 97.86
Wind Speed (knots) 20.90
Wind Speed (meters/sec) 10.31

Question of the Day

When is the first day of summer in the Southern Hemisphere?

Positive Quote of the Day

“Most of us miss out on life’s big prizes. The Pulitzer. The Nobel. Oscars. Tonys. Emmys. But we’re all eligible for life’s small pleasures. A pat on the back. A kiss behind the ear. A four-pound bass. A full moon. An empty parking space. A crackling fire. A great meal. Hot soup. A glorious sunset” -Anonymous

Science and Technology Log

Yesterday was probably the last RHIB ride I’ll ever get to go on and last night at midnight, we left the Stratus 5 buoy all alone moored to the Pacific Ocean floor. I felt a little wistful.

So far today has been a quiet day. We’re steaming toward the San Felix islands. We’ve started watch duty again. Alvaro Vera and I have watch duty together from 8:00 am to noon and from 8:00 pm to midnight. This evening we’ll do another CTD cast. All the WHOI guys are dismantling the old buoy and packing up all the components to be sent back to Woods Hole. I finally got tons of email from my students and many of them are tracking the adopted drifting buoy which makes me proud of them. It seems I’ve spent half the day answering them. I’ve enjoyed it though. It’s good to have connection across the miles. We came out from under the stratus cloud deck and what a beautiful day! People are sitting out on the fantail soaking in the sun and warmth.

Personal Log

I’ve just been out on the ship’s bow peering over the edge to watch the ship slice through the water. It’s mesmerizing and clears my mind of thoughts. I think it’s like meditating. It’s especially calming to just look and listen and forget everything else. I see the many hues of blue in the water. I hear the waves splashing and the hum of the ship’s engine. The salty air feels clean in my lungs. Even the greens of the slimy algae growth just below the water line add another dimension to the sights and sounds of life at sea.

With a clear mind and clean lungs,

Until tomorrow,

Mary

Mary Cook, December 15, 2004

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

Mission: Climate Prediction for the Americas
Geographical Area: Chilean Coast
Date: December 15, 2004

Location: Latitude 19°43.66’S, Longitude 85°33.13’W
Time: 10:00 am

Weather Data from the Bridge
Wind Direction (degrees) 132.47
Relative Humidity (percent) 66.35
Air Temperature (Celsius) 19.44
Water Temperature (Celsius) 19.41
Air Pressure (Millibars) 1016.60
Wind Speed (knots) 15.05
Wind Speed (meters/sec) 7.54

Question of the Day

For what purpose are the lights in the hallways colored red at night?

Positive Quote for the Day

“The life that conquers is the life that moves with a steady resolution and persistence toward a predetermined goal. Those who succeed are those who have thoroughly learned the immense importance of plan in life, and the tragic brevity of time.” W.J. Davison

Science and Technology Log

We had another early morning RHIB ride! The purpose was to visually inspect the newly deployed Stratus 5 buoy. It looked so small out there in the choppy ocean water. The buoy was found to be in good working condition with a minor break in a railing that surrounds the weather instruments that sit atop the buoy. The break will have no bearing on the workings of the instruments so all was approved by Jeff Lord, the WHOI engineering technician. Then we took another wild ride back to the mother ship!

I think today is a good day to show you pictures of the inside of the ship and talk about ship life. Here are some of my impressions of the ship interior. The hallways are narrow and if two people meet, one must step aside. The doors seem to weigh two tons and if one slammed on your fingers it would crush them off.

You must step up and over as you cross the threshold of a doorway. It’s built up to prevent water from getting into every room if there’s a flood. In the stateroom (bedroom), the bunk beds are comfortable but there’s no room to sit up in bed. The round windows are called portholes. The toilet (called the head) has no lid. The toilet is flushed by pressing a button then a powerful vacuum suctions everything down! There are handles to hold on to in the shower. The shower room doors have huge, strong magnets that hold them open. All the drawers and cabinets have latches so they won’t swing open when the ship moves around. Everything is tied down or secured in some fashion. There are no wheels on the office chairs. At night the hallway lights are turned to red instead of white. The food is outstanding. We eat three meals a day plus snacks are available 24 hours a day. There’s an exercise room and a laundry room and a TV room where two movies are shown each evening. There’s a library, too. It seems that computers are in every nook and cranny. There’s lots of equipment onboard like scientific instruments and big machinery. They make water on the ship. I’ll explain that on another day.

Diane, Bruce and I collaborated on the children’s book again today. Things are coming together nicely.

At “6:00 Science on the Fantail” we interview the Chief Scientist, Dr. Robert Weller of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. He gave us the reasons for placing the Stratus 5 buoy at this particular location in the Pacific Ocean. Bob said that there needs to be greater understanding of air-sea interactions for scientists to make better models and predictions of weather and climate patterns. The area just off the coast of Chile is one that has had minimal data collected in past years. Plus, it is an area that has a constant stratus cloud deck which isn’t clearly understood. That’s why the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and the Office of Climate Observation have partnered to fund the Stratus program for, possibly, as long as 15 years. Now, in its fifth year, the Stratus program has collected very useful data that has helped in better understanding the eastern Pacific Ocean and the weather that originates there. Dr. Weller was also very pleased with the work effort and cooperation between the WHOI scientists, the crew, and the Chilean scientists and students. It took a well organized work effort to get it all done. Now the WHOI scientists and engineers are taking the data collected from last year’s buoy and beginning the evaluation process.

Personal Log

I have to tell you about the exercise room. Last night, Diane invited me to go down for a workout. Diane’s a runner and so she goes to workout every evening. I’d never really taken a good look in there, except to see several pieces of equipment because I hadn’t brought any clothes or shoes appropriate for working out. So, I thought, why not? I need to exercise. So I put on my trusty, old clunky hiking boots and headed down to the exercise room. When I opened the door there was a red and black stairway leading down toward a yellow grate. Most of the exercise equipment was sitting on the grate. The room was dimly lit and the air was cool. I could hear the humming of fans. There was one gray door that had a claxon sounding off from within. I considered opening it but changed my mind. I saw a red “Danger High Voltage” sign and about ten huge carbon dioxide tanks sitting upright in the corner. There were some blinking lights coming from a partially opened doorway leading into another room. Running along the ceiling and walls were cables and pipes. I knew I was alone so I looked around to survey which machine I’d try first. Over in the far corner were rows of orange-colored coveralls hanging from the ceiling by their hoods with their arms outstretched. All the orange suits were moving with the swaying of the ship. It appeared as though people were inside the suits and just hanging in mid-air! I stopped, and looked around with an eerie thought. I felt like I was in an episode of Star Trek where they have rooms filled with extra worker-drones waiting to be activated during times of crisis. OK. Maybe I have been on this ship too long. But it’s a great place for the imagination to run wild. Don’t you think?

Until tomorrow,

Mary

Mary Cook, December 14, 2004

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

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

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

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

Question of the Day

Why do you think the floaters are made of glass?

Positive Quote for the Day

“Patience is passion tamed.” Lyman Abbott

Science and Technology Log

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

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

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

Personal Log

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

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

Happy Birthday, Deano.

Until tomorrow…..

Mary

Mary Cook, December 13, 2004

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

Mission: Climate Prediction for the Americas
Geographical Area: Chilean Coast
Date: December 13, 2004

Location: Latitude 19°45.88’S, Longitude 85°30.36’W

Weather Data from the Bridge
Wind Direction (degrees) 147
Relative Humidity (percent) 72.19
Air Temperature (celsius) 19.34
Water Temperature (celsius) 19.36
Air Pressure (millibars) 1015.75
Wind Speed (knots) 15.71
Wind Speed meters/sec 8.08

Question of the Day

Why aren’t light waves or radio waves used for ocean exploration?

What is a nautical mile?

Positive Quote for the Day

“The Earth is given as common stock for man to labor and live on.” Thomas Jefferson, letter to James Madison, 1785

Science and Technology Log

Today the Woods Hole scientists are making preparations for the new Stratus 5 mooring deployment. Early this morning Paul and Jason were placing the CTD units in ice water to spike the temperature sensors and set the clocks on each unit. Using cranes, winches and ropes, the boatswain and his crew in conjunction with the WHOI scientists moved the old Stratus 4 away from the launch site and put the new Stratus 5 in position for tomorrow. All the instruments are being readied and the ship is making a horseshoe-shaped transit as the Seabeam records echo soundings from the ocean floor. Echo sounding is when sound waves are sent to the bottom and then bounced back to a receiver. This can then be used to show the depth of the ocean at that location. The Seabeam can make an 8 kilometer-wide reading as the ship moves along. The computer display of the ocean floor looks like several parallel ridges. Bob Weller says the ship is also running parallel to those ridges which will aid in the placement of the anchor. If we were going perpendicular to the ridges the anchor deployment would be more difficult and hampered by the ship going against the trade winds.

We had our weekly fire and abandon ship drills and they announced that we are over 800 nautical miles from Chile. The San Felix islands are about 300 nautical miles from here. All of the WHOI guys have turned in early because tomorrow is an even bigger day than yesterday!

Personal Log

OK. I know I wimped out last night. Sorry. So today I’ll try to do better. Besides being really tired last night, it was windy and the ship’s motion tossed me back and forth in the bed. All night long I had the instinctive feeling that I needed to hang on tight to the railing. Even when I was asleep, there was a persistent apprehension in the back of my mind that I was about to be thrown from my bed!

Yesterday, everyone worked outside so much that today we’re all sunburned and have red noses. It doesn’t seem to matter how much sunscreen I use, the sunrays still penetrate and zap me.

I’ve been working on my lesson plans and, boy, do I have some of the greatest resources! Chris and Dan, the meteorologists sat down with me and we brainstormed some radiosonde lesson plan ideas. Diane has given me some great input and is helping it all come together. I want these lesson plans to be useful, practical and interesting all the while meeting or exceeding our state and national education standards.

It’s a beautiful sunshiny day (which is rare here) and the white capped waves skipped across the indigo-colored waters as far as the eye could see. Very picturesque. I wanted to go out to the ship’s bow but the wind was whipping around too strongly. I enjoyed watching the guys move the two buoys into position. It’s fascinating to watch big machinery work. My stomach got a little tense when the buoy was suspended by ropes in midair and the ship’s motion caused it to swing. There’s just not much room for error on the fantail because there’s equipment stored everywhere. But the guys did a great job and made it look easy. “All in a day’s work” is what they say. I’m still impressed.

“Chester”, one of the young men in the Chilean navy, just showed us his CD photos of Antarctica, when he was there for research and training. His research was with whales. He said that he took biopsies of whales. That sounds dangerous to me, but the photos were so cool! (pun intended)

I got more emails today from school and family. It always makes me smile to open the messages and read what’s happening back home. It’s an encouragement to know that out of sight doesn’t mean out of mind. I have to say, I’m missing my students. I’ve never realized how much energy they give me. I think about them often. I’ll be glad to see them again in January.

Well, this has been another great day for this Teacher at Sea!

Until tomorrow…

Mary

Mary Cook, December 12, 2004

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

Mission: Climate Prediction for the Americas
Geographical Area: Chilean Coast
Date: December 12, 2004

Location: Latitude 19°46.24’S, Longitude 85°30.89’W
Time:
7:00 am

Weather Data from the Bridge
Wind Direction (degrees) 145.06
Relative Humidity (percent) 80.68
Air Temperature (Celsius) 19.22
Water Temperature (Celsius) 19.32
Air Pressure (Millibars) 1014.64
Wind (knots) 13.76
Wind Speed (meters/sec) 6.53

Question of the Day

Why are the water and the air temperatures nearly the same?

Positive Quote for the Day

Physical concepts are free creations of the human mind, and are not, however it may seem, uniquely determined by the external world. Albert Einstein, Evolution of Physics

Science and Technology Log

Today’s the big day! The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution scientists will begin bringing the old Stratus 4 buoy onboard the RONALD H. BROWN. They’ve enlisted the help of just about everyone on the ship. At 6:00 this morning, the sky was dark blue and overcast. As daylight began to creep in, we all gathered in the main lab to prepare for the day’s work. First of all, the scientists triggered the acoustic release at the bottom of the ocean which is about 4400 meters deep. This released the buoy and array of instruments underneath it from the anchor. The 9000 pound anchor was left on the ocean floor. Then we waited.

And waited. And waited some more. It was about 45 minutes in all. We were waiting for the floats to come to the surface. The floats are big glass balls covered in yellow plastic hulls. They’re about the size of a medicine ball. And they are heavy, too. Wouldn’t you think a float would be lightweight? After the floats popped up out of the water, David, Phil, Jason and I went out on the RHIB to hook onto them and tow them to the ship. Once again the RHIB ride was awesome!

Pulling the floats onto the ship began the whole process of reeling in the old Stratus 4 mooring. This took all day. First they reeled in all the cable connecting the surface buoy to the anchor. At the beginning the buoy was a little speck near the horizon but as the cable got shorter, the buoy got closer and bigger until it was just behind the ship. That alone took several hours. When the instruments began coming in, we had to log and photograph each one. Then another RHIB ride was in order!

This was the RHIB ride of my life! Jeff, Diane, Jason, Phil and I went barreling across the swells and hit a wave that bounced Jason into midair for a second or two! I was hanging on with all my might and waves came over the edge right into my face. When we arrived at the buoy the guys hooked onto it and we towed it back to the ship. Then the crew on the ship hauled it aboard with a crane. While they were hauling it in we stayed out in the RHIB and pitched and rolled. That’s when I started to feel a little bit green. Fortunately, we were soon retrieved but on the starboard side of the ship…home, sweet home. We then watched the final removal of subsurface instrumentation. Wow! The Stratus 4 buoy was covered in amazing barnacles! Big ones and little ones. Long-necked barnacles are bizarre looking creatures. They attach themselves to anything in the water, just like suction cups. It’s like they’re stuck on with Super Glue. Once everything and everyone was safely onboard we had a barnacle scraping party. All available hands scraped those little rascals off and threw them back into the ocean. It was a mess but with everyone pitching in things got nicely cleaned. Tomorrow, we get everything ready for the deployment of the new and improved Stratus 5 buoy!

Personal Log

I am so tired.

Until tomorrow,

Mary

Mary Cook, December 11, 2004

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

Mission: Climate Prediction for the Americas
Geographical Area: Chilean Coast
Date: December 11, 2004

Location: Latitude 19°44.43’ S, Longitude 85°32.17’ W
Time:
9:30 pm

Weather Data from the Bridge
Wind Direction (degree) 134.18
Relative Humidity (percent) 74.66
Temperature (Celsius) 19.46
Air Pressure (Millibars) 1014.06
Wind Speed (knots) 15.04
Wind Speed (meters/sec) 8.14

Question of the Day

When we send the Styrofoam cups down to 3000 meters in the ocean, what will happen to them and why?

Positive Thought of the Day

“I think laughter may be a form of courage. As humans we sometimes stand tall and look into the sun and laugh, and I think we are never more brave than when we do that.” Linda Ellerbee

Science and Technology Log

This morning we arrived at the Stratus 4 buoy site! The buoy looked so small bobbing out there all alone on the ocean. David Owen took Jeff Lord, Phil Pokorski and I for a boat ride in the RHIB (rigid hull inflatable boat). The RHIB is an orange raft-looking motor boat. The RHIB is raised and lowered into the water on a lever lifting device called a small boat launch. We went out to make a quick inspection and to see if the temperature sensors were working. Jeff said it all looked pretty good and there weren’t as many barnacles as he’d expected. He took pictures then we returned to the ship. Today, all the scientists are quietly working on inter-comparison testing with the ship’s sensors and the buoy.

At “6:00 Science in the Main Lab”, we interviewed Jason Smith, an engineering technician for Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. Jason explained the instrumentation that will be attached to the bottom of the Stratus 5 moored buoy. The first instrument is a temperature sensor, which is an electronic device. It has a resistance that changes with temperature and that resistance can be measured with an electronic circuit. These instruments can also measure conductivity which is an indicator of salinity. In addition, there are various styles of current meters used. Some are mechanical and some use acoustics. All these instruments will be suspended at different depths with most of them concentrated from the surface down to 300 meters. One problem that they encounter is marine animals adhering to the instruments and fouling up their functions. Different types and colors of anti-fouling paints are being tested to see which one inhibits the marine life from sticking to the machinery. Jason emphasized that it was very important to develop an anti-fouling paint that is both environmentally safe and keeps the marine life from setting up housekeeping on the instruments.

This evening, Diane and I sat down to begin writing the children’s book about the cruise. Don’t let anyone ever tell you this is easy. But we’re progressing nicely and I can see an interesting book emerging.

Personal Log

Well, the last thing my mentor, Diane, said to me last night was “Tomorrow will be a more relaxing day”. So I thought, “I’ll sleep in and take my sweet time getting out and about in the morning.” You know, do some of those personal hygiene things we often take for granted like blowing our hair dry and trimming our toenails.

And so there I am peacefully sleeping like a baby being rocked when Diane comes in and says, “Mary, Bob said the RHIB is leaving in about 30 minutes!” At first, I thought I was dreaming, but then I realized, “This is for real!” Anyway, I jumped up and threw on some clothes and ran out to the small boat launch deck. Sure enough, they were getting ready to leave. I made it in just the nick of time! Yeah! Diane and Bob had my life vest, hard hat and radio ready. I grabbed them and climbed in.

The RHIB ride was awesome! It’s funny how the ocean swells look a whole lot bigger when you’re in a little boat than from the ship’s deck. As the boat zipped up and down across the surface, I was hanging on for dear life and ocean spray was splashing me in the face and running down my back to make a puddle right where I was seated. The buoy would disappear then reappear time and again.

Even in all this excitement and adrenaline rush, my mind was thinking about those early explorers like the Polynesians who launched out in small thatched boats. For a moment, I felt a cosmic connection across time and cultures. And then it hit me, “What were they thinking? This is nuts!” I mean they had to be daring and bold of personage to cast their lives onto the rolling, endless waters in search of the unknown. Then, I gazed back on the RONALD H. BROWN, my temporary home, floating like a little toy ship in a great big tub. I like that ship. It’s like my whole universe for the next 2.5 weeks. Then what happens? My universe will disappear and everyone will go to their own real world lives. I’m still trying to wrap my mind around that thought.

After we did a visual inspection of the buoy, we posed for pictures and zoomed back to the mother ship. As David pulled alongside the ship, Phil and Jeff grabbed the ropes and hooked us up to the small boat launch, then, the operator lifted the RHIB aboard. We banged against the boat launch so hard it knocked my hat off! It went tumbling around in the bottom of the RHIB. I felt like one of those persons who loses their hat in the wind and keeps chasing after it.

We were all wet but with great big smiles on our faces. Riding the RHIB was as good as the Zippin’ Pippin’ rollercoaster in Libertyland! I’m ready to go again!

Until tomorrow,

Mary

Mary Cook, December 10, 2004

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

Mission: Climate Prediction for the Americas
Geographical Area: Chilean Coast
Date: December 10, 2004

Location: Latitude 19°39.97’ S, Longitude 83°40.08’ W
Time: 9:30 a.m.

Weather Data from the Bridge
Wind Direction (degrees) 118.48
Relative Humidity (percent) 70.62
Temperature (Celsius) 18.99
Air Pressure (Millibars) 1015.61
Wind Speed (knots) 12.97
Wind Speed (meters/sec) 7.21
Cloud Type Stratus

Questions of the Day

What does CTD stand for? (answer is found in the previous logs)

What season is it right now in the southern hemisphere?

Positive Thought for the Day

“Life leaps like a geyser for those willing to drill the rock of inertia” Alexis Carrel

Science and Technology Log

Today Bob Weller and Jeff Lord of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) helped me deploy two more adopted drifting buoys for Viviana Zamorano’s class at the Escuela America in Arica, Chile and Debra Brice’s class at San Marcos Middle School in San Diego, California! Their classes will be able to electronically access the drifter’s location along with the sea surface temperature and pressure. They can then use this information to study the ocean currents.

Late tonight and early tomorrow we will arrive at 19º45.91’S 85º30.41W , the location very near the Stratus 4 moored buoy that has been in the water for over a year. We will hover here for a day and conduct inter-comparison tests of the old buoy’s instruments with the instruments onboard the ship. This is a very important part of the research and data collection because they must prove that the information gathered is accurate. Accuracy of the data is of the utmost importance. After the testing is complete, they will begin the process of reeling in the old Stratus 4. This will take quite a while because there’s about 3 miles of cable to bring onto the ship. Then the old Stratus 4 will be hoisted onboard. I’ll give more details about the new Stratus 5 deployment as the time draws near.

This evening we interviewed Jeff Lord for “6:00 Science on the Fantail”. Jeff is a senior engineering tech for WHOI. He’s intricately involved in the new design of the Stratus 5. Jeff said that two really big changes in this new design are the construction materials and the modular-style architecture. The buoy is made of Surlyn foam, a tough but soft and buoyant substance. It can withstand wear and tear of whatever the ocean environment throws at it. Also, when taking it in and out of the water, if it bangs into the side of the ship, no problem! The other new design aspect is that the Stratus 5 can be taken apart and shipped in closed containers. The old Stratus design has a big aluminum hull that is one solid piece. It is too big to fit in a closed container, therefore the end of it sticks out about two feet. Jeff said that nowadays, transporting in open containers is very difficult because it limits the stackability and transportation companies find it difficult to deal with. Jeff also told us about the cables and ropes attaching the buoy to the 9000 pound anchor. The upper section is made of strong cable wire that can support the instrument packages and resist being bitten in two by fierce sea creatures. Then there’s lighter nylon rope that goes down nearly to the bottom and the last portion is made of a buoyant material so it doesn’t drag on the seafloor and get tangled. Jeff said to just wait until the old buoy is reeled in and new one deployed because it’s an impressive operation!

Personal Log

Today has been a good day. I like throwing the drifter buoys overboard. It only takes a few seconds but it makes me feel part of something important, something important on a global scale. This evening the sky is overcast but beautiful nonetheless. It’s cool and fresh out on the deck. I smiled to see that Phil has donned his reindeer antlers to set the holiday mood. Diane has been taking pictures of everyone and posting them on the doors. Bruce completed another great illustration for our book. It’s been approved for me to tour the engine room! The WHOI guys are getting excited because time is drawing near for the big buoy.

This afternoon I worked on developing lesson plans based upon the science work being done on the ship. I’m very excited about coming up with some practical and interesting lessons. Tonight during my watch, I am operating the radio as the Chilean university students perform a 3000 meter CTD cast. It takes about 3 hours to complete. Several of us have decorated Styrofoam cups and sent them down with the CTD rosette. Many people put Christmas greetings on them. Some of the Chileans put an American flag and a Chilean flag on their cups. I drew the Ron Brown ship with a “Christmas star” overhead. We are anxiously awaiting their return from the depths of the deep blue sea. I just found out that watch duty is suspended for the next five or six days! My watch times are good because they’re during waking hours but some people have the night shift plus an afternoon shift. So they’ll get a much needed break and get to sleep the night through instead of catching a nap here and there. Like I said, today has been a good day.

Until tomorrow….

Mary

Mary Cook, December 9, 2004

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

Mission: Climate Prediction for the Americas
Geographical Area: Chilean Coast
Date: December 9, 2004

Location: Latitude 19°39.99’ S, Longitude 80°16.85’ W
Time: 8:30 am

Weather Data from the Bridge
Wind Direction (degrees) 138.27
Relative Humidity (percent) 84.01
Temperature (Celsius) 18.65
Air Pressure (Millibars) 1014.24
Wind Speed (knots) 12.00
Wind Speed (meters/sec) 5.10

Thought for the Day

“No man who has once heartily and wholly laughed can not be altogether irreclaimably bad.”
Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881) Scottish writer

Science Log

This morning we are passing over a significant underwater ridge called the Nazca Ridge. The ridge is a series of mountains rising from the ocean floor. Yesterday, the ocean bottom was 5,000 meters down. This morning it was just 960 meters deep. We dropped CTD’s over this shallow area and we had to be very careful not to let them hit the bottom. When I was operating the radio for the CTD commands to the winch, I accidentally said “Bring it up at 600 meters per minute” (It was supposed to be 60 meters per minute). Thankfully, that speed is an impossible one for the winch to do! Because it would have shot out of the water like an Olympic sprinter!

Congratulations to Mary Castleman, an eighth grader at Southside Middle School in Batesville, Arkansas! She correctly answered the “Question of the Day”. Mary said, “A muster station is a place where people get together before going to a lifeboat loading station.” Thanks, Mary, for your extra effort!

At “6:00 Science on the Fantail” tonight, we interviewed Paul Bouchard, the senior engineering assistant for Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. Paul is a hard worker with a good sense of humor. His job is to prepare, maintain, and repair all the various units of instrumentation on the Stratus 5 mooring so the scientists can analyze the data retrieved. Paul explained all the instruments mounted atop the buoy. There are instruments that measure temperature, relative humidity, precipitation, air pressure, short and long wave radiation, wind speed and direction, Also, there are several units that extend underneath the buoy for a few hundred meters that record temperature, conductivity, depth, and water current. These instruments take readings every minute and send the data via satellite every hour. The Stratus 5 mooring is the most sophisticated array of instrumentation for the collection air-sea interaction data in the world! Another amazing fact is that there’s five miles of rope and chains connecting the buoy to the anchor at the bottom of the ocean floor. Paul said that all the instruments are battery powered. Three thousand “D” cell batteries are used to keep it going for over a year! The buoy has a “bleeper” on it to alert ships so they won’t run into it. The Stratus 5 will be deployed in three days! It’ll be a big moment. For the last year, lots of hard work, problem-solving, dreams and money have gone into the Stratus 5 and soon it will finally be a reality.

Personal Log

This afternoon, I had to find the laundry room because well, I didn’t have any clean clothes left to wear for tomorrow. So I ventured into the bowels of the ship in search of the laundry room. It’s five decks from my stateroom. That’s a lot of stairs to climb up and down. Actually I need the exercise. Anyway, while my clothes were washing, I ran back upstairs to help Frank Bradley do the 2:00 radiosonde launch. With that completed, I then ran back down the stairs to put the clothes in the dryer. Then, I walked back up to the main lab and answered a few emails. After about 20 minutes, (you know the drill) I went back down to fold my clothes then carried them up five flights to my room. So I sat down on my bed to rest for just a minute and woke up an hour later!

After interviewing Paul, Diane and I decided we wanted our picture taken on the most sophisticated mooring instrument in the world. So we climbed around on it and had an impromptu photo session.

I’d like to say that I’m enjoying all the emails from students, friends, and family. You make me smile. I’m happy that you’re interested enough to send me a message. And too, it makes me feel connected even though I’m way out here in Pacific. So keep ‘em coming!

Until tomorrow,

Mary

Mary Cook, December 8, 2004

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

Mission: Climate Prediction for the Americas
Geographical Area: Chilean Coast
Date: December 8, 2004

Location: Latitude 19°39.99’S, Longitude 77°07.27’W
Time: 8:30 am

Weather Data from the Bridge
Wind Direction (degrees) 126.27
Relative Humidity (percent) 72.01
Temperature (Celsius) 18.87
Air Pressure (millibars)
Wind Speed (meters/sec) 7.30
Cloud Type Stratus at 2810 feet

TODAY’S BIG NEWS!

I tossed the first adopted drifting buoy overboard with the help of Dr. Bob Weller of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution! My eighth graders and I at Southside Middle School in Batesville are proud to be the first school to adopt a drifting buoy. We will periodically access the buoy’s coordinates online and track it as it moves with the ocean currents. It’s a great feeling to be a part of this important scientific endeavor!

Question of the Day

How do you think I can determine the exact elevation of the clouds?

Positive Quote for the Day

To be capable of steady friendship or lasting love, are the two greatest proofs, not only of goodness of heart, but of strength of mind. William Hazlitt (1778-1830) English essayist

Science Log

Yesterday evening, we had our first interview with a scientist. We’re going to try and schedule one every evening and call the session “6:00 Science on the Fantail”. The fantail is the back of the ship. It’s flat and open with an A-frame used to hoist and guide objects off of the ship. Alvaro Vera is an engineer with a Master’s degree in oceanography and is from the Chilean Armada (Navy). Alvaro and his team have been working for over a year preparing to deploy the first tsunami buoy in the Southern Hemisphere. They have trained in Seattle and gotten the buoy ready for this moment. A tsunami is a wave generated by an undersea earthquake. The instruments for this buoy can detect changes in pressure at the bottom of the ocean as small as 2 centimeters and will give the coastal areas about one hour warning. He said that about 100 years ago a tsunami devastated Arica on the coast of Chile. For this reason and continued threat, it is important that the Chilean population living along the coastal areas have ample warning of an impending tsunami.

Today, we sent several Styrofoam cups down to 1500 meters depth in the ocean. We decorated the cups with drawings, the date and location, then put them in mesh bags. When the cups were brought back to the surface they were miniatures! Styrofoam has air between the particles and as the water pressure builds during the descent the air is forced out and the cup is compressed.

This afternoon, two acoustic releases were tested. An acoustic release is used to release the buoy from the anchor at the bottom of the ocean by using a signal from the surface. One worked. The other did not. The working acoustic release will be used with the Stratus 5 moored buoy that is scheduled to be deployed this weekend. The acoustic release will sit at the bottom of the ocean with the anchor until this time next year. When the scientists come back to replace the Stratus 5 buoy with the Stratus 6 buoy, they’ll signal the release and it will separate the anchor from the buoy. The anchor is then left on the ocean floor.

Personal Log

This evening I went out on the ship’s bow and took a deep breath. My, the ocean is big. And blue. And deep. And always moving. Who can comprehend it? I know I’m just a little speck floating along the surface, but for some reason I don’t feel insignificant. I feel satisfied. And curious. I wonder how the early seafaring explorers felt? It doesn’t seem to matter whether I’m working in the lab, answering emails, wearing a hard hat and life vest on the fantail, or just sitting on the bow looking over the shimmering water, I really like what I’m doing. I’m getting to know some of the other people on board. As we waited for the acoustic releases to be pulled up from a depth of 1500 meters, I had the opportunity to just hang out with Bruce, Bob, and Paul. Bruce did his pirate’s “Aarrrgh” and told a bit about the true story of Moby Dick. Bruce Cowden is the ship’s boatswain. He and his crew keep the ship in working order. He’s also an artist and is illustrating a book about our cruise. His artistic talent is impressive. Everyday, I eagerly await his next illustration. Bruce designed the tattoos around his ankles which resemble Tahitian tiki idols. He said there’s one for each of his two sons. Bruce let me operate the A-frame hoist on the back of the ship as they were lowering the acoustic releases into the water. I felt like “Bob the Builder”! I have to say it is fun operating big machinery!

Today, I learned that both Jonathan Shannahoff who is the man in charge of all the CTD launches, and I have been to Lake Baikal near Irkutsk, Russia. I enjoyed sharing and looking at the pictures of his trip.

It seems to me that the people on this ship have been everywhere in the world. They’re just amazingly intelligent and adventurous individuals.

Until tomorrow,

Mary

Mary Cook, December 7, 2004

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

Mission: Climate Prediction for the Americas
Geographical Area: Chilean Coast
Date: December 7, 2004

Location: Latitude 19°41.54 S, Longitude 74°55.66 W
Time: 10:00 am

Weather Data from the Bridge
Wind Direction 156.10
Relative Humidity (percent) 70.98
Temperature (Celsius) 19.07
Barometric Pressure (Millibars) 1014.09
Wind Speed (Knots) 12.46
Wind Speed (Meters/sec) 6.51
Cloud type: Stratus at 2950 feet

Question of Day

What is a muster station?

Personal Log

It’s another great start for this seafaring teacher! A pod of about 12 pilot whales are hovering around the ship. They’re black with a crescent-shaped dorsal fin that breaks the water surface like a shark’s fin. It looks like they are about 10 feet long and I can hear a swoosh as a spray of water shoots up into the air when they exhale. As I was standing on the deck scanning the ocean for the whales, the cool breeze in my face, I was thinking how blessed I am to be here and my heart swells with gratitude for the grandness of it all. I just love to look out over the horizon where the sky meets the water and I wonder what other magnificent creatures are lurking below!

Today, I will be working a small part of the CTD deployment in conjunction with the Chilean Armada (Navy) team. CTD stands for conductivity, temperature, and depth. The CTD array contains a series of canisters that are opened at various depths to collect water for gas and nutrient sampling. As the data are collected and displayed, they will locate the ocean’s thermocline in this area. The depth of the thermocline can be used as a component to better understand El Nino which can affect worldwide climate changes. My job as part of the CTD deployment is to be the English speaking person on the radio to relay information to the winch operator as the CTD rosette is being lowered into the water and then brought back on the ship. We had an extensive meeting with all people involved and ran a practice deployment to make sure responsibilities and communications were clearly understood. Everything must run smoothly like clockwork or expensive equipment could get damaged or even worse someone could get injured. A lot of prior research time, effort, and money have gone into these projects and it would be a shame to botch a deployment.

Frank Bradley and I just successfully launched another radiosonde (weather balloon). After we launched it, we went back into the computer room to check the data being transmitted. Dan Wolfe explained that according to the data the thick, overcast stratus cloud layer was thinning. Shortly thereafter, the sun popped out and it was a gorgeous, bright sunshiny day!

Jeff Lord helped me get our drifter buoy out of storage and I placed the stickers of the Southerner man and all the 8th graders’ signatures on it. Southside School is the first school to ever adopt a drifting buoy. We are excited to be one of the first schools involved in the “Adopt a Drifter” program.

At 6:30 this evening, Diane and I will conduct “Science on the Fantail” with Alvaro Vera, leader of the Chilean Armada group that deployed the tsunami warning buoy. I will report on his interview tomorrow. I have watch duty from 20:00-24:00. During nighttime watches, I may have to go outside in the DARK. It’s really, really dark out here, too! All the ship’s outside lights are turned off. Anyway, if they deploy buoys at night I have to go out and help do whatever they need. While working on the deck at night everyone must attach a strobe beacon to themselves so if they fall overboard someone will be able to see them in the dark ocean waters. “Hey, who’s afraid of the dark?”

Until tomorrow, I’m signing off.

Mary

Mary Cook, December 6, 2004

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

Mission: Climate Prediction for the Americas
Geographical Area: Chilean Coast
Date: December 6, 2004

Location: Latitude 19° 50.49` S, Longitude 73° 22.51`W
Time:
8:30 am

Weather Data from the Bridge
Wind Direction (degrees) 144.45
Relative Humidity (percent) 68.72
Temperature (Celsius) 18.65
Barometric Pressure (Millibars) 1012.77
Wind Speed (knots) 11.36
Wind Speed (meters/sec) 5.51

Question of Day

Based on the name, what do you think a thermosalinograph measures?

Personal Log

Good morning, everyone! Wow! What a great way to get a good night’s sleep, in a gently rocking ship. It’s like sleeping on a waterbed. The morning shower was a challenge, though. Being wet and soapy even on a gently rocking ship could be very dangerous. After breakfast, we met with Dan Wolfe and Chris Fairall for radiosonde deployment training. A radiosonde is a really cool giant helium filled balloon with instruments attached to a cord dangling beneath it. The radiosonde must be assembled and calibrated before launching. As the instruments detect the relative humidity, wind speed, wind direction, and temperature readings they transmit these data back to the computer onboard the ship. A radiosonde lasts for about one and a half hours and goes about 20 kilometers (12.4 miles) high. Dan actually deployed a radiosonde and we watched it go up, up and away! Then we went back into the lab and observed the data coming into the computer. I can’t wait until it is mine turn to deploy a radiosonde!

Our next training session was led by Jeff Lord and he showed us how to deploy the drifter buoys and the Argo floats. These are fairly simple to get into the water. Just record their identification numbers, fill in the log sheet for time, date, GMT, latitude and longitude, then toss them overboard. The drifting buoys are small and they measure surface temperature and pressure. The drifters have a long caterpillar-shaped drogue extending far down into the water that ensures the buoy will drift with the ocean currents and not the wind. In a few days we will deploy the first of fifteen drifter buoys and my students at Southside School will adopt this one and keep track of it online. I am amazed at the designs of all these instruments. It’s almost unbelievable what ingenuity has gone into these designs. Some are high-tech and some are low-tech but they all work together to obtain the necessary data for the scientists.

The Argo floats sink down to 2000 meters then float to the surface. On their way up they measure temperature and salinity. When the float reaches the surface, it then sends the information to a satellite. The float has a bladder that deflates and it sinks again to repeat the process. The Argo floats can keep on going for two to four years depending on their battery life.

After our training sessions, Diane and I sat down with Bruce Cowden, the ship’s boatswain, who’s also an artist, to brainstorm for a children’s book about the science work of this cruise.

At 1415, we had our “surprise” safety drills: a fire drill and an abandon ship drill. The fire drill was pretty simple. Upon hearing the alarm, we reported to our muster stations. Then the chief scientist called the bridge and said that all persons were present.

The abandon ship drill was quite another story. When we heard the alarm, we had to go to our staterooms to get our life vests and emergency bag containing the big red “gumby suit”. Then we went to our lifeboat station and put on the suit. Its purpose is to keep you dry and afloat in the event you were forced to abandon the ship.

Diane and I are taking water surface temperature readings every thirty minutes. This is really kind of fun. There’s a thermometer in a tube-shaped “bucket”. The bucket is attached to a long cord. We then swing it over the edge of the ship into the water until the bucket fills up. We raise the bucket and read the temperature immediately. This is compared to the temperature reading on an instrument mounted underneath the ship called a thermosalinograph.

Later this afternoon, we finally arrived at the deployment site for the Chilean Armada tsunami buoy. We are about 200 miles off the coast of Chile. The ship hovered over the location while the buoy was hoisted by a crane then swung over the edge and lowered into the water. At this time the men are unrolling over 5000 meters of cable to attach to the anchors which happen to old railroad wheels. It will take about one hour for the anchors to sink to the bottom of the ocean. The bottom pressure recorder will then be lowered. It detects the slightest changes in pressure as small as two centimeters and sends messages back to the surface buoy which then relays that to a satellite which has direct ground communications. The ship will stay in this position for a few hours to make sure the tsunami buoy and ground pressure recorder are communicating with each other. A RHIB ride is in the near future!

And I hope I’m on it. RHIB stands for rigid hull inflatable boat and they go really fast! Some of the workers will be riding out to the tsumani buoy to check everything out before we leave it.

I’ve just found out that I will have morning watch each day from 0800 until 1200. Everyone on board is assigned a daily four hour watch duty. My duty will be in the main lab and I will stay in contact with the bridge and help out when needed.

So tune tomorrow for more on our exciting adventure!

Mary.

Mary Cook, December 5, 2004

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

Mission: Climate Prediction for the Americas
Geographical Area: Chilean Coast
Date: December 2-5, 2004

Personal Log

This afternoon we will board the NOAA Research Vessel RONALD H. BROWN and depart from Arica, Chile and steam westward for the Stratus buoy. I look forward to this adventure with great anticipation and a little trepidation. I’ve never been out to sea for three weeks and can’t help wondering how I will react to this challenging environment. I’ve already met several of the crew and scientists, all of whom have been very cordial and hospitable. I look forward to interviewing them, working with them and just getting to know these incredible people who’ve dedicated themselves to this research effort that will help us better understand the Earth’s systems and benefit mankind in so many ways.

As I reflect upon the last few days since we’ve arrived in Chile, I am overwhelmed by all the wonderful experiences that have been bestowed upon me. First of all, I must mention my mentor Dr. Diane Stanitski. She is a great teacher and a sincere encourager. She is patient yet exudes an energy that’s contagious. Diane has already gained my trust and I look forward to her continued mentoring. Another person with whom I have worked closely is Dr. John Kermond. Dr. Kermond’s the movie-maker. He makes documentaries for NOAA. He’s a very good coach for a novice like me, and a fine tour guide, too. Both he and Diane have put me at ease, modeled proper on-camera techniques and given me advice that’s helped me considerably. I like being their student because I’ve witnessed their expertise and I know they genuinely have a love for this work. What more could a student ask for?

Well, let me tell about some of the sights we’ve seen in the last couple of days while waiting for the cruise to begin. We’re staying at the Hotel Arica. It’s a resort situated right on the beach. I can hear the big waves crashing on the rocks and smell the salty air from my room. It’s a very comforting sensation. The first morning here as I walked along the beach and out on the rocks looking at the ocean, I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face! There’s just something about it that causes my spirit to soar. It’s so mysterious and grandly beautiful.

Then Diane and I went to the ship to participate in a tour for school children from the Escuela America. The mayor of Arica and the local television station were there, too. The kids were great, well-behaved and asked interesting questions! They were third graders and eighth graders. This tour is part of the education efforts of the NOAA.

After the tour, we went to the top of El Morro, a hill that looks like a giant mound of sand. It stands guard over Arica with a statue of an open-armed Jesus overlooking the city and the harbor. We shot a movie clip of Diane and me giving a brief history of Arica.

The next day we journeyed into the Atacama Desert and Andes mountains to have a look. But first we stopped to get water and food because we were going into such a remote area. Wow! The Atacama Desert is one of the driest places on the Earth. It’s a stark yet breathtaking sight to behold. Even though this is a desert there’s abundant evidence of water erosion where a multitude of rounded rocks have been carried into gullies.

As we were driving we suddenly began to see some interesting cacti. These were the Candelabro cacti which grow only between 2500-2800 meters elevation. They have a narrow life zone and are fragile for that reason alone. We were told by a local Chilean woman that they grow very slowly and only after about 30 years will the cactus begin to grow the branches at the top. Diane and I also collected a few rocks to take back to my classes.

As we continued along the main highway that connects Bolivia to the ocean, we stopped at Pueblo de Mallku. This is a village of six! Actually, it’s a homesteaded property of a very interesting family who are conducting the Center for Renewable Energy Resources in conjunction with the university in Arica. They live out in the middle of the desert in a nearly subsistence lifestyle with their closest neighbors being several miles away. They were eager to show us their setup which was quite amazing. They have a solar oven, solar water heater, and a high-tech electrical generator. They have built their dwelling from hand-mixed adobe and cactus logs. They home school their children who’ve compiled a book of local plants and animals along with traditional indigenous Chilean instructional songs on cultivation and medical uses of the plants. During our visit they served us tea with bread and jam. It was quite tasty. The tea was a concoction of leaves and boiling water that will help a body adjust to the extreme altitude.

After we said our goodbyes, we continued to ascend toward the Chungara Lake area. As we went higher and higher on the winding road, two snow-capped volcanoes came into view! I noticed the air started to get very chilly and it was windy. We saw llamas and alpacas grazing in the mountain meadows along the snow-melt streams from the mountaintops. These animals are curious critters! When we stopped for a photo op, they’d perk up their ears, take a long look at us, chew for awhile as though they were thinking about us, then move away occasionally looking back to see if we were looking back. We were fortunate to get to meet a pet alpaca named Cookie. Cookie likes to eat cookies. She was owned by some merchants who had a craft stand near the border stop. John dug out the last of the coconut cookies and shared them with Cookie. She was a true blue friend after that! Cookie’s fur is thick wool and can sell for a high dollar in the U.S.

At this point we were at about 14,000 feet elevation and I was really feeling it. I had a headache, dizziness, and my leg muscles were quivering from fatigue only after a short walk. I didn’t drink enough tea back at Pueblo de Mallku! So we got back in our trusty Puegot and descended to a village called Putre. Putre is a town that caters to tourists. They were happy to see us and very outgoing. Everyone we saw said “Hola” and waved with a smile. We went into a tiny grocery store and purchased supper. We had meat, egg, and olive stuffed empanadas followed by a delicious fig and coconut pastry.

We then took the long and winding road in total darkness back to Arica.

Now I am aboard the NOAA Ship RONALD H. BROWN and we’ve been sailing for six hours. No land in sight. We’ve had two meetings and a delicious supper in the galley. They have an interesting sign in the eating area that says, “Eat it and beat it” There aren’t enough chairs to seat all 45 people at once so when we finish eating we must get up and go elsewhere. It seems everyone has lots of work to do anyway.

Our first meeting was about ship rules and regulations with a focus on safety. We will have our surprise fire drill tomorrow at 2:15 pm promptly! Our science meeting was about the several scientific endeavors and the logistical problems to solve. Our chief scientist Dr. Bob Weller of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, encouraged us all to be helpful and considerate.

Some members of the Chilean Navy and Concepcion University are on board to deploy a tsunami detecting buoy which will get underway tomorrow afternoon. We will be deploying CTDs (conductivity, temperature, and depth sensors), and ARGO floats which go down 2000 meters then float to the surface measuring salinity and temperature. Once they break the surface then they send the information to a satellite. These floats then go back down and do it all over again. We’ll also be sending up radiosondes (weather-balloons) and tossing out drifting buoys which measure temperature, pressure, and ocean current pathways. Then the “biggie” is the Stratus 5 buoy! We’ll be out into the Pacific Ocean about 800 miles off the coast of Chile when we do this work which will take about six days. All this stuff is so cool I can’t believe I actually get to witness and participate in even a small way! I’m amazed. I’ll be giving you more information as the time comes so stay in touch and don’t forget to look at the pictures.

Mary

Debra Brice, November 22, 2003

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

Mission: Ocean Observation
Geographical Area: Chilean Coast
Date: November 22, 2003

Data from the Bridge
1.  221600Z Nov 03
2.  Position: LAT: 20-00.0’S, LONG: 083-44.8’W
3.  Course: 090-T
4.  Speed: 12.6 Kts
5.  Distance: 102.7 NM
6.  Steaming Time:  8H 06M
7.  Station Time:  15H 54M
8.  Fuel: 2583 GAL
9.  Sky: OvrCst
10. Wind: 140-T, 14 Kts
11. Sea: 140-T, 2-3 Ft
12. Swell: 130-T, 3-4 Ft
13. Barometer: 1015.9 mb
14. Temperature: Air: 20.0 C, Sea 19.4 C
15. Equipment Status: NORMAL
16. Comments: Deployment of surface drifter array #4 in progress.

Science and Technology Log

NOAA Climate Studies of Stratocumulus Clouds and the Air-Sea Interaction in Subtropical Cloud Belts. Today we are still underway and I am going to talk about another science group that is onboard and how their research is related to the Stratus Project. We are presently located along the coast of Northern Chile and I just finished interviewing scientist Chris Fairall with NOAA’s Environmental Technology Laboratory in Boulder, Colorado.  A group of 4 ETL scientists are participating in a study of oceanography and meteorology in a region of the ocean that is known for its persistent stratus clouds.

The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) has maintained a climate monitoring buoy at this location for the last 3 years.  Each year they come out to take out the old buoy and replace it with a brand new one with fresh batteries and new sensors.  A year in the marine environment takes a toll on the toughest instruments.  This is a special buoy which is festooned with atmospheric sensors to measure air-sea fluxes and with a long chain of subsurface instruments to measure ocean currents, temperature and salinity.  If you go to the WHOI website ( http://uop.whoi.edu/stratus) you can read about this project and see the data from the buoy.  The data are transmitted via satellite everyday.  WHOI removed the old buoy on Nov 17 and put in a new one on Nov 19.

Why are these clouds so important?  Because the earth’s climate is driven by energy from the sun and clouds dominate how much solar energy reaches the surface.  On average, almost 40% of the sun’s energy is reflected back into space and half of that is reflected by clouds.  In the cloudy regions more than 60% of the sun’s energy can be reflected by clouds.  The surface temperature of the ocean is a result in a near balance between solar heating and cooling by evaporation and cooling by infrared (IR) radiation from the water surface into the sky.  The global circulation of the atmosphere and ocean are driven by region differences in this net heat input, so clouds have a direct effect on the winds and currents. Cloud effects on the ocean surface energy balance are very tricky because clouds affect both the solar flux (i.e., by reflecting energy back into space) and the IR flux.  It might surprise you, but the sky is ‘warmer’ when there are low clouds present than when the sky is clear.  Think about those cold clear nights in the winter and note the ‘cold’ often appears with ‘clear’. More specifically, the IR radiation coming down from the sky is higher when clouds are present than when skies are clear.  In the tropics and sub-tropics, the solar reflection cooling effect of the clouds is much stronger than their compensating IR warming effect.  Thus, these stratus clouds play an important role in keeping the subtropical oceans cool.

The region we are studying is one of 5 stratus regions around the globe (west coast of U.S.. west coast of S. America, west coast of S. Africa, west coast of N. Africa/Europe, and the west coast of Australia) that occupy vast expanses of ocean.  Both of the pictures I attached to this log show the stratocumulus clouds in this region.  Each of these cloud types has about the same area-average liquid water content but, because of the horizontal distribution, vastly different radiative properties.  The physical processes that lead to these different forms are one of the objective of the ETL studies.

Clouds are formed through various related mechanisms; most involve cooling air to below its dew point temperature so droplets condense ( i.e., clouds are suspensions of liquid water drops with typical sizes of about 10 micrometers radius).  Convective clouds are associated with cooling in strong updrafts; fog and many mid-atmospheric clouds form when an atmospheric layer cools by IR radiation.  The stratus clouds we are studying are quite different.  The key elements are a strong atmospheric cap that traps ocean moisture in a fairly thin ( about 1 km high) boundary layer over the surface.  The stratus clouds occupy the top of the trapped layer from just below the cap to down the altitude ( cloud base height) where temperature and dew point just meet.  Below that, the relative humidity is less than 100%.  The ‘cap’ on the atmosphere boundary layer is warm/dry air descending in subtropical regions, particularly on the western boundaries of continents.  This descending air is actually driven by deep convection in the tropics.  To meteo- nerds this is an amusing paradox – cool stratus clouds off Chile and California are essentially caused by thunderstorms near the Equator.

Clouds are a pain to study because they are so inaccessible.  To get into clouds with sensors you need a really tall tower, a tall building or an aircraft.  Most of these are hard to come by 500 miles from land. Thus, most climate studies of clouds rely on remote sensing methods using satellites and surface based sensors.

ETL has deployed a suite of remote sensors on the R/V Revelle to study clouds from the bottom. The showcase sensors are a special high frequency cloud radar and a 2-frequency microwave radiometer system (this system is the attached picture of the large, white van).  This is the 6th time such sensors have ever been deployed from ships and only the second time to a stratocumulus region.  The first time was to this same spot in 2001; see the web site: http://www.etl.noaa.gov/programs/2001/epic for information on that cruise.

The radar has a wavelength of 8mm, which is so small that it is sensitive enough to receive  detectable signals from scattering cloud droplets.  With this device the ETL group can determine profiles of cloud properties ( such as size of the droplets) through the entire cloud.  The microwave radiometer uses the emissions from the atmosphere at 2 frequencies ( 21 and 31 GHz, or wavelengths of 14 and 9mm) to determine cloud base height and, most importantly, we also measure IR and solar radiative energy reaching the surface.  Instead of just looking at the cloud, they collect megabytes of data every minute.  The beauty of this set up is that they can simultaneously measure the effect the clouds have on the surface energy budget of the ocean and the cloud properties ( liquid water content, thickness, soiled versus broken, number of cloud droplets per unit volume) that go with the radiative effects.  The ETL group are only out here a few weeks each year, but their detailed measurements provide vital information to interpret long-term continuous time series measured by the buoy or inferred from satellite overpasses.

Personal Log

We are surveying for a location for the PMEL Tsunami buoy and the weather is beautiful.  Due to our heading we have lost internet connections periodically.  The food on the REVELLE  is really amazing; last night we had steak and King crab for dinner and a group of the crew and science party met in the lounge to watch a movie.  Card games and cribbage are popular in the dining room and some of us just sit outside and enjoy the sunsets.  I’m going to sleep early as I have the late watch.

Cheers

Debra Brice, November 16, 2003

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

Mission: Ocean Observation
Geographical Area: Chilean Coast
Date: November 16, 2003

Data from the Bridge
1.  161700Z Nov 03
2.  Position: LAT: 20-10.6’S, LONG: 085-08.0’W
3.  Course: Hove to
4.  Speed: 0 Kts
5.  Distance: 20.8 NM
6.  Steaming Time:  1H 48M
7.  Station Time:  22H 12M
8.  Fuel: 2215 GAL
9.  Sky: Ptly Cldy
10. Wind: 120-T, 14 Kts
11. Sea: 120-T, 2-3 Ft
12. Swell: 150-T, 3-5 Ft
13. Barometer: 1019.7 mb
14. Temperature: Air: 20.3 C, Sea 19.5 C
15. Equipment Status: NORMAL
16. Comments: On station in vicinity of WHOI buoy.

Science and Technology Log

We are at the STRATUS buoy from last year and are preparing to trigger the acoustical releases so that the glass ball floats will bring up the instruments, almost 50 of them!  it will take about 40 minutes from triggering the release until they surface and they the retrieval will begin in earnest.  We will spend the day bring them all aboard, recording the depth, serial number and condition of each of them before Dr. Weller’s group will begin downloading the data.  Then we will clean them and begin to pack them for the return to WHOI. A little background on the project first:  The purpose of the cruise was to recover and then deploy a well-instrumented surface mooring under the stratocumulus clouds found off Chile and Peru in the vicinity of 20’S and 85’W.  The mooring has been deployed for  for 3 years as a component  of the Enhanced Monitoring element of the Eastern Pacific Investigation of Climate ( EPIC) programs.  Cruises for recovery and redeployment have occurred each October or November.  The science objectives of the Stratus Project are to observe the surface meteorology and air-sea exchanges of heat, freshwater, and momentum, to observe the temporal evolution of the vertical structure of the upper 500m of the ocean.  This year the Stratus project was joined by the ETL/NOAA group out of Boulder, Colorado.  The Environmental Technology Laboratory people are meteorologists who are looking at the formation of the stratocumulus clouds that are formed off the coast of Chile and Peru.  They brought and are using cloud radar and radiosondes to look at these phenomena. The Stratus moorings carry two redundant sets of meteorological sensors and the mooring line also carries a set of oceanographic instruments.  Although Acoustic rain gauges were deployed on the last 3 moorings, this year there will not be one on the buoy and there will be several more current meters and temperature gauges.  The Chlorophyll sensors will not be on the new one either.

Types of measurements taken by Stratus moorings:

  • Surface measurements
  • Subsurface measurements
  • Wind speed
  • Water temperature
  • Wind direction
  • Conductivity
  • Air temperature
  • Current speed
  • Sea Surface temp
  • Salinitybarometric pressure
  • Current direction
  • Relative humidity
  • Incoming short-wave radiation
  • Incoming long wave radiation
  • Precipitation

Most of the equipment , including the new buoy, was loaded on the R/V REVELLE in San Diego with some of the equipment being shipped to Guayaqil, Ecuador and loaded onboard in Manta, Ecuador.  The science party flew into Manta to meet the ship and we will fly out of Arica to return to the U.S. On November 15, we stopped to lower and test the acoustic releases to be used in the mooring.  They were lowered to  500,  and 1500m depths.  Jason Smith (WHOI) communicated with the releases at each depth.  After the release test two CTD casts were made to 4000m.  When we arrived at the buoy mooring ship and buoy data comparisons began.  This is a check to see whether the sensors on the mooring are still calibrated. At 7:20 the release of the glass balls was triggered and they should surface about 45 minutes later.  The small boat will go out to put a line on the mooring and bring it back to the ship.  The line will be secured on deck the the recovery will begin.  As the instruments are brought onboard they will be laid out in the order they are hung on the mooring up the starboard side of the ship and photographed and labeled by depth and type of instrument.  This is to document the condition of each instrument before cleaning begins.  Most of the instruments are covered by barnacles and a host of other organisms, this is termed Bio-fouling.  The bio-fouling is dominated by goose-neck barnacles.  These are quite thick on the buoy hull and down to 30m; some goosenecks were even found down to 135m last year.  These can be quite a problem for the data collection, for example: last year the floating SST on the buoy hull was stuck in the down position by the barnacles.  This is why it is important to document the condition of the instruments with photographs so that when you are looking at your data and it suddenly changes or stops you might get some clue as to why the flow on the current meters changes significantly in one of the sensors ( bio-fouling for example).  We will finish recovery of the instruments today and tomorrow will recover the buoy late today.

Personal Log

Went out on the zodiac in the morning to look over the buoy.  Sunny, beautiful, water was 20’C and 30 to 35′ visibility.  There were 3′ swells and it was a wonderful view of the REVELLE, see the attached photos.  Many fish around the buoy and there will be many around the back of the boat today when we bring up the mooring.  We are 800 miles off the coast of Chile and the ship is in water  of about 4400m depth.  Nothing but blue ocean all around and it is breathtaking, reminds you why oceanographers go to sea.  You are surrounded by a mysterious blue liquid and it becomes a lifelong fascination to learn what lies beneath.  We began our “Fantail Interviews” last night with the chief engineer, Paul Mauricio, Nan Galbraith, WHOI Information systems associate and Paquita Zuidema a scientist with NOAA Environmental Technology Laboratory.  We talked about their research, jobs and experiences working at sea.  Our first videos should be online today.  We will be touring the ship and video taping interviews with other science party and crew members all week as well as filming the work onboard. There is something special about being part of science as the observations are made.  Jason was checking his aerosol readings last night and sharing his graphs.  He was seeing some things he expected and some he didn’t.  Many things he was seeing had as much to do with visual observations of the changing cloud shapes and precipitation as the sensor readings.  This kind of on-site observation is irreplaceable in science and definitely what makes science exciting.  Chris Fairwell of ETL was talking about the stratocumulus formations and how the behavior of the clouds was not necessarily what was expected, but then observations in this area had never really been done before and this was really exciting.  For me as a teacher it is interesting because these are things that my students can share by logging onto the internet and seeing on various NOAA , WHOI and SIO web sites as well as many other good science web sites and no text book can hope to compare with this.  We can also e-mail these scientists to ask questions about what they are seeing and a possible explanation.  Well they just call the acoustical release and may watch is almost over which just means the real work begins:)

Cheers


Debra Brice, November 15, 2003

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

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

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

Science and Technology Log

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

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

Personal Log

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

Cheers

Debra Brice, November 14, 2003

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

Mission: Ocean Observation
Geographical Area: Chilean Coast
Date: November 14, 2003

Data from the Bridge

1.  141700Z Nov 03
2.  Position: LAT: 14-54.6’S, LONG: 084-55.0’W
3.  Course: 180-T
4.  Speed: 12.2 Kts
5.  Distance: 293.6 NM
6.  Steaming Time: 24H 00M
7.  Station Time:  00H 00M
8.  Fuel: 4245 GAL
9.  Sky: OvrCst
10. Wind: 120-T, 17 Kts
11. Sea: 120-T, 2-3 Ft
12. Swell: 140-T, 3-5 Ft
13. Barometer: 1016.2 mb
14. Temperature: Air: 21.5 C, Sea 19.0 C
15. Equipment Status: NORMAL
16. Comments: None.

Science and Technology Log

We are still underway, about 800 miles off the coast of Peru.  We will arrive at the Woods Hole Stratus Buoy tomorrow at about noon.  We will be taking out a small boat ( zodiac or the RHIB) to look it over before we try to bring it in.  It is heavily instrumented and will be covered in many animals.  They will have to be cleaned off and I will enjoy preserving and identifying some of them.  I found a copy of my old invertebrate zoology book onboard so this should be worth several hours of entertainment for me.  Dr. Weller’s group will be removing the instruments in preparation for taking the buoy out of the water and loading it onboard.  Then we will spend another day deploying the new Stratus Buoy.  The old one will be shipped back to Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution for Arica, Chile.

Most of the day we were deploying sea surface drifters and several radiosondes for the ETL group.  Tomorrow Jason Tomlinson, from Texas A&M will be taking some aerosol samples for his research.  I will be interviewing the Chief Engineer, Paul Maurice and touring the engine room of the REVELLE. Radiosondes are used to collect data on atmospheric temperature, humidity, pressure and uses onboard GPS for wind direction and windspeed from the surface up to the lowest part of the Stratusphere.  I have put up some pictures of the radiosondes.  My e-mails and internet access are being made possible by the ROADnet system that is installed here on the R/V REVELLE.  We have “live” cameras off the fantail of the boat and in the main lab as well as telphone and internet capabilities due to ROADnet.  The Visualization Center at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, located at the Cecil H. and Ida M. Green Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics ( IGPP),houses the state of the art system  that allows scientists to take enormous data sets, such as earthquake activity east of San Diego, the morphology of the global seafloor, or the topography of Mars and illustrate them on a large screen in 3 dimensions.  One new project taking advantage of the Visualization’s data management capabilities is termed ROADnet ( Real time Observatories, Applications, and Data Management Network). ROADnet sensors, located throughout the world and on Scripp’s largest ship, the Roger Revelle, deliver real-time data to the center for nearly instantaneous review by scientists on campus.  I will be using ROADnet to do a broadcast to a geography class next week at San Marcos HIgh School in San Marcos, California.  The class of teacher Larry Osen will be able to see me and the scientists on the Revelle as we deploy a CTD as it is happening and ask questions of the scientists.  This system is presently being installed on Scripps other large ship the R/V MELVILLE.  This is an exciting example of how technological innovations help advance scientific understanding of the oceans.

Personal Log

I’m a little disoriented on my times as I am doing the 12am to 4am watch.  I get up a little later that I normally would, about 10:30am.  Tomorrow we will come up on the buoy so I need to be up earlier enough to participate.  We will be filming and doing interviews during the recovery.  Besides if I get up earlier enough they might let me go out in the zodiac!  I will ride on any boat that floats, so this is too good an opportunity to miss.  Since the buoy has been out at sea for a year it will be covered in animals and surrounded by fish.  Anything that floats in the open ocean becomes a little miniature ecosystem,  So there will be some fishing and lots to see.  We will also being doing our first CTD cast tomorrow and I will have some pictures and descriptions of what a CTD is and why we are deploying it ( actually some of us are deploying it just to shrink our decorated styrofoam cups!)  I will be explaining that tomorrow too.  What oceanographers do for entertainment on long voyages.  So tune in tomorrow for some fun at sea!

Cheers