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 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 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