Robert Oddo, August 10, 2009

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

Mission: PIRATA (Prediction and Research Moored Array in the Atlantic)
Geographical area of cruise: Tropical Atlantic
Date: August 10, 2009

Weather Data from the Bridge 
Outside Temperature 28.21oC
Relative Humidity 78.32%
Sea Surface Temperature 27.62oC
Barometric Pressure 1019.42 inches
Latitude 23 41.483 N Longitude 80 40.363 W

My last sunset from the Ronald Brown
My last sunset from the Ronald Brown

Personal Log 

I just finished watching my last sunset on the Ronald Brown and it is time that I reflect a little on this entire NOAA Teacher at Sea experience.  The cruise gave me a first-hand look at some of the important work that atmospheric scientists and physical oceanographers examine.  I discovered that the ocean system is huge and scientists around the world are compiling information about the ocean so we can better understand it.  This work is like putting one of those big 1000 piece jigsaw puzzles together. The more pieces that you are able to put together, the better you understand how the pieces fit into the entire picture.  Also because the system is so large, it takes the collaborative effort of many different scientists to really get some sort of understanding about what is happening. This cruise would never have been possible without the crew, the scientist and the NOAA Corp officers working as a team. There was science happening 24 hours and everyone did his or her part.

Sitting at my desk in the computer lab
Sitting at my desk in the computer lab

I feel particularly lucky to be selected as the Teacher at Sea on this cruise and I would like to thank everyone that made it possible.  The crew, the scientists, the NOAA Corp officers were friendly, helpful and always willing to explain things about the ships operation and the science that was happening on the ship. Thank you to the Teacher at Sea support staff that helped with logistics and information pertaining to the cruise.  Special thanks go to than Dr. Rick Lumpkin, the chief scientist, for coordinating the cruise, explaining the science, and reviewing sea logs and Field Operations Officer, Nicole Manning for reviewing sea logs and coordinating things.

Finally thank you to all the people that followed along with this adventure. It was always nice to see how many people were viewing the journal and photos. The questions were great and thanks for all the emails. The impacts that these experiences have on teachers and their students have implications that are far reaching. This has really been a special summer for me and thank you to everyone that made it possible.

Research cruise plan
Research cruise plan

Robert Oddo, August 8, 2009

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

Mission: PIRATA (Prediction and Research Moored Array in the Atlantic)
Geographical area of cruise: Tropical Atlantic
Date: August 8, 2009

Weather Data from the Bridge 
Outside Temperature 28.71oC
Relative Humidity 77.91%
Sea Surface Temperature 27.94oC
Barometric Pressure 1020.21 inches
Longitude 70 01.463 W Latitude 19 23.205 N

Everyone anxiously awaiting arriving in San Juan (left) and the Capital Building (right)
Everyone anxiously awaiting arriving in San Juan (left) and the Capital Building (right)

Personal Log 

After being on the ship for 25 days, people were happy to have a day in San Juan, Puerto Rico as the ship refueled. We pulled into the Coast Guard station in Old San Juan around 9:00 am and then had the next 24 hours to explore. I got a chance to roam around town sample the local cuisine and visit a few historic spots.  Visited the capital building, the Castillo San Cristobol, and San Fillipe de Morro Fort.

The narrow streets of Old San Juan (left) and Fillipe de Morro Fort (right)
The narrow streets of Old San Juan (left) and Fillipe de Morro Fort (right)

We pulled out of the harbor at approximately 4:00pm on 8/7 and now are steaming to our final destination Key West.  It is a bit quieter on the ship now since 9 of the scientists departed in Puerto Rico.  The rest of the scientists are staying on to help unload their equipment in Key West.

Research cruise plan
Research cruise plan

Robert Oddo, August 3, 2009

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

Mission: PIRATA (Prediction and Research Moored Array in the Atlantic)
Geographical area of cruise: Tropical Atlantic
Date: August 3, 2009

Preparing to haul in a buoy
Preparing to haul in a buoy

Weather Data from the Bridge 
Outside Temperature 28.03oC
Relative Humidity 78.65%
Sea Surface Temperature 28.005oC
Barometric Pressure 1018.02 inches
Latitude 19 23.243 N Longitude 52 34.624 W

Science and Technology Log 

We deployed our last CTD and last buoy a few days ago. Two XBTs are deployed daily but that is nothing compared to the 10-12 we were doing a few weeks ago. The atmospheric group is still sending up radiosondes and ozonesondes but it seems now that most of the scientists are wrapping up their work and trying to take a preliminary look at the data they collected. The analysis will really begin when they get back to their labs once we return to land.  In the meantime, the work of packing things up has begun.

Here I am giving my science seminar
Here I am giving my science seminar

We are now steaming directly toward San Juan, Puerto Rico. The crew has begun to stack all the equipment that will be eventually unloaded on the fantail of the ship.  We will be arriving in Puerto Rico on the August 6th to refuel, and then we will be off to Key West on August 7th for the final leg of this cruise. It was my turn a few days ago to give the nightly science seminar.  I talked about teacher-researcher collaboration, which included the NOAA Teacher at Sea Program and other programs I have participated in.

Everything is packed and ready to go
Everything is packed and ready to go

Personal Log 

I have found it important to get some exercise everyday on the ship.  I try to work out everyday in the ships fitness room.  It has a rowing machine, treadmill, elliptical, bike and some free weights. You usually can find me there in the mornings before I get to work in the lab.

Getting in a morning workout
Getting in a morning workout
Research cruise plan
Research cruise plan

Robert Oddo, July 30, 2009

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

Mission: PIRATA (Prediction and Research Moored Array in the Atlantic)
Geographical area of cruise: Tropical Atlantic
Date: July 30, 2009

Deploying a buoy
Deploying a buoy

Weather Data from the Bridge 
Outside Temperature 25.50oC
Relative Humidity 87%
Sea Surface Temperature 25.75oC
Barometric Pressure 1017.3 inches
Latitude 20 09.721 N Longitude 33 34.806 W

Science and Technology Log 

On the 28th of July we did our 34th CTD and changed out our third buoy and started to steam west back towards the states. We have a break now from our 12-hour shifts and only have one more buoy to change out and only one more CTD to deploy. I wanted to write about a couple of things that I have noticed over the last couple weeks when sampling that I thought were noteworthy. The seawater we collect from 1500 feet down in the ocean, even though we are in the tropics, is still very cold. It is about 4 degrees C or 39 degrees F while the sea surface temperature is around 26 degrees C or 79 degrees F.

Nightly Science Seminar
Nightly Science Seminar

Another thing that is really cool is that when we are doing CTDs at night the lights from the ship attract squid and you can watch the squid chasing flying fish at the surface.  The last thing that is strange, is that every once in a while even though we are hundreds of miles away from land, a butterfly or dragonfly darts around the ship. You just wonder where they have come from.  Every night around 8 pm, there is meeting of all the scientists onboard. We usually get a weather briefing and then someone will give a seminar on the work they are doing. There are many links between the work that each scientist is doing on this ship and this is an important way to share ideas, get feedback and create new questions.

Personal Log 

There is down time on the ship and I wrote about the movies earlier.   We have a ping-pong table set up in the main lab where we play in our spare time. Since we are so far from any land, safety is very important on the ship. We have fire drills and abandon ship drills weekly. After the drill there is a briefing and the safety officer discusses some of the safety equipment the ship has and its use.  Today we went out to the fantail and the officers demonstrated how to use flares and smoke signals.

A little ping pong in the main lab (left) and flare demonstration (right)
A little ping pong in the main lab (left) and flare demonstration (right)
Research cruise plan
Research cruise plan

 

Robert Oddo, July 25, 2009

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

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

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

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

Science and Technology Log 

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

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

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

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

Personal Log 

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

 

 

 

 

Got one!  It’s tuna for lunch!
Got one! It’s tuna for lunch!
Research cruise plan
Research cruise plan

Robert Oddo, July 23, 2009

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

Mission: PIRATA (Prediction and Research Moored Array in the Atlantic)
Geographical area of cruise: Tropical Atlantic
Date: July 23, 2009

Weather Data from the Bridge  
Outside Temperature 26.77oC
Relative Humidity 74.89%
Sea Temperature 27.64 oC
Barometric Pressure 1013.98 inches
Latitude 07o 59.993 N Longitude 22o 59.767W

Science and Technology Log 

We arrived at the first buoy two days ago and exchanged the “package” which is kind of like the brains of the buoy. Four people went out with a small boat and exchanged the package.  This is not an easy task since you have to climb off the small boat onto the buoy in what can be pretty rough seas and change instruments. We also deployed the “CTD” for the first time.  After the deployment, we collected seawater from various depths for salinity and dissolved oxygen analysis.  We also are deploying XBTs every 10 nautical miles on a 24 hours schedule as the ship steams along its course.  There are two shifts. I am on the 12 noon to 12 midnight shift.  The XBT (Expendable Bathythermograph) is dropped from a ship and measures the temperature as it falls through the water. Two very small wires transmit the temperature data to the ship.  When it gets to about 1500 meters, the small wire is cut and the operation is over. By plotting temperature as a function of depth, the scientists can get a picture of the temperature profile of the ocean at a particular place.

Preparing to service a buoy (left) and recovered buoy on deck (right)
Preparing to service a buoy (left) and recovered buoy on deck (right)

Yesterday, we got to the second buoy and had to pretty much exchange it with a new package, sensors and an anchor. This took over 8 hours to do and takes a lot of manpower.  The buoy is actually pulled up on the deck as well as the instrumentation below the buoy and then new instruments, buoy and an anchor are deployed. If this is not done exactly right, everything can be destroyed.

Personal Log 

Wow, there is a lot of action right now on the ship.  The atmospheric scientists are releasing sondes, collecting dust and smoke samples, and measuring incoming solar radiation at different wavelengths. There are people getting instrumentation ready for the next buoys we are steaming towards. People are deploying CTDs, XBTs, and drifters.  Behinds the scenes the crew lends all kinds of support, from preparing food, working the winches and cranes, navigating through the ocean and working in the engine room It is really teamwork that makes this all work and not any one person could do all of this work. There are a lot of very dedicated people onboard this ship and all their hard work make this work!!

Here I am deploying an XBT (left) and collecting seawater samples from the CTD (right)
Here I am deploying an XBT (left) and collecting seawater samples from the CTD (right)
Research cruise plan
Research cruise plan

Scott Sperber, July 16, 2009

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Scott Sperber
Onboard Research Vessel Kilo Moana
July 9-17, 2009 

Mission:Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Hawaii Ocean Time series Station; Albert J. Plueddemann, Chief Scientist
Geographical area of cruise: Central Pacific, north of O’ahu
Date: July 16, 2009

Weather Data from the Bridge 
Temperature: 22.64 C
Humidity: 80.6%

Science and Technology Log 

I am up very early today, 0530, the last full day at sea.  I did not make a log entry yesterday it was a very busy day. The day totaled a full 12 hour hard work day for me.  The day started out a about 0545 with the initial recovery of the old buoy.  The acoustic (sound) release mechanism was triggered and the glass balls cam up to the surface with the rope attached.  The glass balls were in a large cluster once onboard and had to be untangled.

Glass balls coming onboard (left) and popped glass ball (right).
Glass balls coming onboard (left) and popped glass ball (right).

Five of the glass balls have imploded at some time and the glass that had remained had turned into a fine white powder.  After the glass balls were brought onboard and untangled and put into their boxes the chore of bringing the 5 miles of line and cable began.  I started out in the box to flake (lay the rope down) the line as it came in.  After quite a while and a lot of rope the capstan (the vertical winch) broke. It was the only break I had since we began. A break when the brake broke. LOL. The line was cut and placed on the main winch to complete the process.  This slowed the whole procedure down because once the rope was on the winch; we had to unwind it all into its storage boxes. This had to be down 2 times and it set the whole recovery procedure behind about 2 hours. If you remember the procedure of deploying the new buoy, one chain link section at a time with the sensors attached, this procedure was now reversed for the recovery.

Scott in the box (left) and Scott on deck (right).
Scott in the box (left) and Scott on deck (right).

When the sensors came up each one was taken into the lab, photographed, videoed and a narrative was taken on to the condition of the sensor including what type of marine (ocean) growth had taken place over the year. I was given the task of taking the sensors into the lab, hanging them for photographic purposes and then bring them back outside.  A dirty job but some one had to do it. This process from start to finish, recovery of the buoy to the end of documenting the condition of the sensors took 10 hours.  After this the real fun started, cleaning the sensors. Now we are talking dirty. We had to clean off all marine growth from the sensors so Jeff could then start recovering data. 

Personal Log 

Well today I was able to put on my new steel toed boots. I should have broken them in a couple of times before this; my feet ached at the end of the day, wore a hard hat all day, a safety vest, got to climb into a box with miles of rope, got to smell like an old aquarium.  All and all a great day. Sure didn’t need to ride the bike, Carly passed on it too.

Jeff and the sensors in the lab (left) and dirty sensor with goose barnacles (right).
Jeff and the sensors in the lab (left) and dirty sensor with goose barnacles (right).

All this said and done I would really like to take the time to thank all the people who made this possible. I have done many things in my professional career to broaden my professional knowledge and this has got to be one of the best experiences of all.  First and utmost I would like to thank the NOAA Organization.  Without their desire to stress the importance of Science education through increasing the knowledge base of the educators of the world this would not have been possible. Thank you to Dr. Al Plueddemann, Chief Scientist, Dr. Roger Lukas and Dr. Fernando Santiago, both of the University of Hawaii. Not only did they share their wealth of knowledge with me but guided me through the practices of this WHOTS project and confirmed in me my beliefs of the importance of long term research in science.  Thank you to the rest of the Science Party. You all put up with me and showed me how to do what you needed.  Thank you to the Captain and the crew of the R/V Kilo Moana.

The R/V Kilo Moana (left) and Dr. Plueddeman, Paul Lethaby, Sean Whelan and Dr. Roger Lukas (right).
The R/V Kilo Moana (left) and Dr. Plueddeman, Paul Lethaby, Sean Whelan and Dr. Roger Lukas (right).

What a great experience. Thank you to my principal, Robert Weinberg, at Sherman Oaks Center for Enriched Studies and to my students. Keep it up kids, it is you that make SOCES number one.  I would also like to thank my wife.  Without her encouragement and enthusiasm towards our profession, she is also a teacher, I don’t know if I would have applied.  She is my inspiration.  Thank you one and all for allowing me to participate in this career and life enriching experience.

I see skies of blue….. clouds of white Bright blessed days….dark sacred nights And I think to myself …..what a wonderful world

~ Louis Armstrong

Folks on the ship take in the beautiful Hawaiian sunset…
Folks on the ship take in the beautiful Hawaiian sunset…

Scott Sperber, July 14, 2009

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Scott Sperber
Onboard Research Vessel Kilo Moana
July 9-17, 2009 

Mission:Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Hawaii Ocean Time series Station; Albert J. Plueddemann, Chief Scientist
Geographical area of cruise: Central Pacific, north of O’ahu
Date: July 14, 2009

Weather Data from the Bridge 
Temperature: 23.66 C
Humidity: 76.34%

R/V Kilo Moana
R/V Kilo Moana

Science and Technology Log 

Today is another slow scientific day today. So today I am doing some other type of scientific learning, some local marine biology.  Today I am learning about how to fish in the local Hawaiian Islands style.  Breeze Simmons, research associate student level 1, is showing me all of his riggings for various types of fish and fishing conditions.  He is even rigging up something for me so I might have an opportunity to try to catch something later today or tomorrow. I have learned that Mahi has eyes like humans and they can see up to the surface.  They are a very strong food source in the ocean the world record is close 86 pounds and that only took about 18 months of growth. Mahi mahi is also known as the dolphin fish, not to be confused with “Flipper” of dolphin fame, also known as Dorado.  Ahi is tuna, Ono is Wahoo. There are also Marlin and Aku, a member of the mackerel family.

Breeze setting up gear for fishing
Breeze setting up gear for fishing

I am also sharing the Pacific Ocean with Hurricane Carlos. It’s a big ocean out here and I have not felt any effect from it and we don’t plan to.  Carlos is still off the coast of Mexico now. This is so cool to be on board this ship with all these experts and to be adding to my knowledge. The meteorologists on board say that if Carlos comes close to Hawaii its strength will die out (lose its energy). The weather balloon launches are continuing on schedule every 4 hours with Tom and me taking the 0700 and 1100 launches. Tomorrow promises to be a very hectic day aboard ship.  We will be recovering the old buoy.  Everything will begin at a 0600 and continue all day.

Mahi mahi
Mahi mahi

Personal Log 

Since today is such a mellow day I have taken this opportunity to catch up on some reading, sun, listening to music and continue by bike riding.  It has now become a bit of competition between, Carly, one of the very young interns, 25 years young from the University of Hawaii, and me as to who is riding the most miles each day. Today she rode more.

The ship has an onboard DVD system where movies and such are piped into each berth (room) along with scientific information.  I was in my berth and I put on one of the channels and what did I see that someone had put on in the main lounge? It was an episode of National Geographic and who was on the episode but my good friends from UCLAs’ Marine Biology Department, Dr. Bill Hamner and his wife Peggy. Small world, Peggy wrote one of my letters of recommendation for this expedition. They are part of the reason I am so involved in Ocean Sciences.

Today’s Task 

Look up and find a picture of all the fish that were mentioned above. 

Me and Carly
Me and Carly

Robert Oddo, July 14, 2009

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

Mission: PIRATA (Prediction and Research Moored Array in the Atlantic)
Geographical area of cruise: Tropical Atlantic
Date: July 14, 2009

Deploying a radiosonde
Deploying a radiosonde

Weather Data from the Bridge 
Outside Temperature 26.01oC
Relative Humidity 89.26
Sea Surface Temperature 28.3oC
Barometric Pressure 1015.9 inches
Latitude 8o 53.96 N Longitude 48o 05.43 W

Science and Technology Log 

We released our first radiosonde this morning.  These balloons have instruments attached to them that will measure atmospheric pressure, temperature and relative humidity as they go up into the atmosphere.  As the balloon rises, it expands as the atmospheric pressure outside the balloon decreases. After about 2 hours the balloon bursts and falls back into the ocean. Four of this particular type of radiosonde will be released every day.  This data is used as input for weather prediction models, weather and climate change research, input for air pollution models and ground truth for satellite data.

Radiosonde is off!
Radiosonde is off!

We also deployed our first global drifter this afternoon. A surface drifter consists of a buoy and a sea anchor. The drifters have sensors that can measure sea surface temperature and the ocean current.  Information is collected by the sensors and uploaded to a passing satellite and then transmitted back to Earth where all the information from all the drifters give us a better picture of what is happening out in the ocean. Drifters are deployed from hurricane hunter aircraft so we can better predict and understand hurricanes. Data from drifters was used to determine where floating debris would be found shortly after the disappearance of Air France flight 447 on May 31, 2009.  For more information on the NOAA Global Drifter Program, visit their website.  

Personal Log 

The drifter buoy is deployed.
The drifter buoy is deployed.

I have received a couple of emails asking about the food on the ship.  We have three meals a day and there is quite a selection. For breakfast, you can have pancakes, eggs, sausage, oatmeal, fresh fruit or a selection of dry cereal.  For lunch, it really varies; today there was a salad, hot dogs, hamburgers and french fries.  Dinner also varies, but so far we have had fish, ribs, chicken and a salad. There is also a veggie option for each meal.  Coffee, tea and other beverages as well as some snack items are pretty much available 24 hours.

Our dining hall
Our dining hall
Tracking the cruise plan
Tracking the cruise plan

Scott Sperber, July 13, 2009

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Scott Sperber
Onboard Research Vessel Kilo Moana
July 9-17, 2009 

Mission:Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Hawaii Ocean Time series Station; Albert J. Plueddemann, Chief Scientist
Geographical area of cruise: Central Pacific, north of O’ahu
Date: July 13, 2009

Weather Data from the Bridge 
Temperature: 24.13 C
Humidity: 72%

Kuhio setting up for fishing
Kuhio setting up for fishing

Science and Technology Log 

The ship moved to the location of the old buoy last night. Visually, what a difference between the two. This one is certainly not the bright yellow color of the new one launched just 3 days ago. Yesterday I mentioned that the two thermometers on the new buoy were not reading identical temperatures and that they were about 0.4 degrees difference.  After asking a few questions I came to be informed that the importance of this particular series of expeditions, WHOTS, is that it is the accuracy of this longevity study that gives it its validity.  NOAA’s value of this study is that the study is an ongoing study not one that collects data brings it back to a lab and analyzes it and that is the end of it.

Science is not a one shot deal.  This is something I have tried to stress with my students over the years.  Good science, good data, is done with multiple sampling, either longevity study or many samples over a shorter period of time.  Any data can happen once but for it to be valid it needs to be substantiated.  For a number of years now the WHOTS study has not only brought back this type of data but has been able to note the small changes in this particular environment.  It has shown how these micro changes, shown over time, have an overall affect on a macro scale. This is the credence of this study is.  The fact that small changes do over a long period of time do show an effect.  The simple fact that the ship stayed on station for 3 days to calibrate the measurements with the new buoy, and then moved to the location of the old buoy shows the effort to make sure that even the most infinitesimal piece of data is made constant and notable.

Fresh Mahi mahi
Fresh Mahi mahi

Today, at this second location, there is being made shallow casts (samplings) with the SEABIRD at depths up to 200m every 4 hours.  These depths are the same depths as those of the instruments on the buoys.  Sometimes during the course of a years study the sensors will have a tendency to drift (change) or jump in their data.  These casts, engineering calibration casts, close to the buoys standardize the CTDs again reading temperature, conductivity, dissolved oxygen and then calculating density. These calibrations of any drifts serve as a comparison over the course of the year and are used to recalibrate the data.  With the recovery of the old buoy, one year worth of data will be downloaded and the similarities of all data with past weather conditions will be analyzed.  Again the sensors that are on the buoy are; MICROCATS, acoustic Doppler current meters and vector measuring current meters.

Personal Log 

Kuhio gave a shot at fishing this morning. Because the old buoy has been in the water for a year it has become a floating reef. So far Kuhio has hooked into and rough aboard 4 Mahi mahi. YUM, fresh fish tonight. I have been told that all over the old buoy and its sensors will be organisms of all types.  Jeff has asked be if I would help scrap off the old sensors.  OH BOY. Dirty smelly job I am sure. 

Robert Oddo, July 13, 2009

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

Mission: PIRATA (Prediction and Research Moored Array in the Atlantic)
Geographical area of cruise: Tropical Atlantic
Date: July 13, 2009

Weather Data from the Bridge 
Outside Temperature 27.7oC
Relative Humidity 80.16
Sea Temperature 28.2oC
Barometric Pressure 1013.76 inches
Latitude 10o 21.11 N Longitude 52o 13.67 W

The replacement PIRATA Buoy
The replacement PIRATA Buoy

Science and Technology Log 

We have been steaming at full speed towards our first buoy. To the right you can see a picture of the replacement buoy that is on the back of the ship.  This buoy will be lowered into the water using cranes on the ship and then anchored in place. These buoys are anchored on the bottom of the ocean, which is very deep here in the Tropical Atlantic.  The ocean here right under this ship is 4,990 meters or 16,371 feet deep. That’s a lot of chain to attach to the anchor!!  A picture of the buoy instruments that will be redeployed are on the right.  There are other instruments that extend down into the ocean.

Personal Log 

Anchors for the buoys ATLAS buoy instruments that will be redeployed
Anchors for the buoys

I was wondering how we were going to deal with time as we traveled to the East.  A notice was put up yesterday telling us that we should change our clocks from 4 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time to 3 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time.  This ship has things going on 24 hours, so it is really easy to lose track of time and the day.

All in all, it is pretty comfortable on board and the people are very friendly. If you need to take a break from your work you can watch a video, read in the library, or sit out on the back deck of the ship.

Anchors for the ATLAS buoy instruments that to redeploy
Anchors for the ATLAS buoy instruments to redeploy
Cruise ship plan
Cruise ship plan
We change our clocks as we move east
We change our clocks as we move east

Scott Sperber, July 11-12, 2009

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Scott Sperber
Onboard Research Vessel Kilo Moana
July 9-17, 2009 

Mission:Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Hawaii Ocean Time series Station; Albert J. Plueddemann, Chief Scientist
Geographical area of cruise: Central Pacific, north of O’ahu
Date: July 11-12, 2009

Weather Data from the Bridge 
Temperature: 24.2 C

Bringing in the SEABIRD CTD
Bringing in the SEABIRD CTD

Science and Technology Log 

Compared to yesterday today is a very slow scientific day.  After releasing the WHOTS buoy, things really calmed down.  Let me take this opportunity to tell you a bit about some of the instrumentation on the buoy itself.  The overall goal of the project is to collect data about the ocean and atmosphere over a long period of time.  These data will serve to help answer questions about such things as global warming and its impact in the tropics. On the buoy itself, pictured in a previous log, there are instruments that measure temperature, humidity, solar radiation, wind direction and speed. A GPS unit keeps track of the buoy’s location at all times. On the buoy there is also an antenna which transmits data to satellites. Each of the two buoys [explain why there are two in the ocean for this 4-day comparison period] in the water has enough slack in the lines to allow for an approximate 2-mile radius circle.

Profile of CTD on shallow casts
Profile of CTD on shallow casts

The weather balloon launching continues every four hours with teams of two or three taking each launch in shifts. Some CTD casts have been done with the small package SEABIRD CTD.  This is set over the side, lowered down by crane and yo-yoed up and down for about four hours.  During this time, data are sent directly to an onboard computer and collected by the scientists. These data include temperature and salinity. This is important information to assess changes going on in the crucial air/sea interface.

These particular locations, ones where temperature and salinity difference vary worldwide, the thermocline and halocline are dependent on variables such a currents and air temperature.  On the final assent collection bottles are closed to collect water samples for further analysis. With all of this sophisticated instrumentation onboard surface water temperature samples are still taken with the old fashioned method of lowering thermometers into the water several times to take an average reading. Some things never change. The information collected by both the oceanographic crew as well as the meteorological crew aboard is truly showing the links, the association between the interaction of the air and sky, in the crucial air/sea interface.

I found out today that the temperatures on the two thermometers on the WHOTS-6 buoy are not matching. They are off by about 0.4 degrees C; that is the level of precision necessary for this research.  The scientists are looking into which one is closest to the temperatures read on the ship before we move off to the old buoy’s location tomorrow. Apparently, this is not something that can be reconfigured so the scientists need to know which thermometer they can rely on for information. There are two of just about every instrument on the WHOTS buoys. This serves as a backup and a comparison for the same location and enables the greatest accuracy in the data.

Profile of weather balloon sonde
Profile of weather balloon sonde

Personal Log 

I’d like to share a bit more about my onboard life. I have gotten acclimated finding my way around the ship (sort of). Well, at least I don’t get lost going to the mess hall anymore.  I am in a berth on an upper bunk with Jeffrey Snyder, one of the primary researchers from the University of Hawaii. The berth is quite comfortable as berths can go since it has been years since I was in a bunk bed. Various alarm clocks go off at anytime at night so the crew can go on their watch.  There is even a ghost alarm that goes off at 01:15 that Jeff and I cannot locate.  Food is not at a shortage. It seems that every time you turn around it is time to eat, and what great food it is too.  There is fresh salad lunch and dinner, fresh fruit, at least 3 entries to choose from each mea and desserts. LA Fitness here I come. I received what I consider a gift today from Fernando Santiago, one of the principle scientists, a DVD of the procedures that are used on the Hawaii Ocean Time-series Project.

July 12, 2009 

Had some down time today after setting off another weather balloon and a great fruit and yogurt breakfast. Took a 7 mile bike ride. You may ask where in the middle of the ocean you can take a 7 mile bike ride.  They have a nice little fitness room on board.

Words of the day: Mahimahi, calibration, dissolved oxygen, interface, thermocline, conductivity, temperature, depth.

Robert Oddo, July 12, 2009

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

Mission: PIRATA (Prediction and Research Moored Array in the Atlantic)
Geographical area of cruise: Tropical Atlantic
Date: July 12, 2009

Weather Data from the Bridge 
Air Temp 27.5o C(81.5F)
Relative Humidity 76.63
Sea Temp 28.22
Barometric Pressure 1015.15 inches
Latitude 11o42.80 North Longitude 56o 07.33 West
Traveling at 10.7 knots

Setting up the lab
Setting up the lab

Science and Technology Log 

There is a lot of unpacking and setup that has to be done on a scientific cruise like this one. Researchers were busy today getting schedules setup, equipment working and orienting themselves to their workspaces. We are now steaming directly to 0o, 23oW to service a buoy in the PIRATA backbone that has not been transmitting data since 21 June 2009.

Yesterday, I wrote about PIRATA (Prediction and Research Moored Array in the Atlantic). Another project that is also going on simultaneously is the Aerosol and Ocean Science Expedition (AEROSE).  Saharan dust storms are estimated to inject three billion metric tons of mineral aerosols a year into the troposphere. The aerosols impact precipitation, fertilize the ocean, and change the air quality and impact ecosystems in the Caribbean and the US eastern seaboard. Red tides, increased rates of asthma and changes in precipitation in the eastern Atlantic and Caribbean have been associated with this dust from the Sahara. The data collected from this cruise will help us understand better the impact of his Saharan dust on the Caribbean and the US eastern seaboard.

Here I am out on the back deck.
Here I am out on the back deck.

One must be prepared for emergencies at sea and today we had an abandon ship drill and a fire drill. There are 49 people aboard the Ronald H. Brown and it is important to know what do in case of an emergency and make sure everyone is accounted for.

Personal Log 

We got underway from Barbados yesterday afternoon and the seas were described as being a bit “lumpy”.  I noticed little by little people seemed to disappear and was wondering what was going on and then it hit me.  Nausea, cold sweats and not being to get comfortable at all.  I got real sleepy and found a spot in the library and crashed for a couple hours. There is really no place to go. I woke up around dinner, took some seasickness medicine and hung out for the rest of the evening. Believe me, I was not the only one trying to get their sea legs.  There were very few people around. It takes time for the body to adjust to the rocking of the boat and some adjust faster than others.  This morning, I feel much better.

The course we have taken since we departed from Bridgetown
The course we have taken since we departed from Bridgetown
Sunset from the back of the ship
Sunset from the back of the ship

Scott Sperber, July 10, 2009

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Scott Sperber
Onboard Research Vessel Kilo Moana
July 9-17, 2009 

Mission:Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Hawaii Ocean Time series Station; Albert J. Plueddemann, Chief Scientist
Geographical area of cruise: Central Pacific, north of O’ahu
Date: July 10, 2009

The crew readying the glass balls for deployment
The crew readying the glass balls for deployment

Weather Data from the Bridge 
Temperature:  23.83 C

Science and Technology Log 

This morning will be when the WHOTS-6 buoy will be deployed. Via the A-frame on the aft deck, the buoy will be hoisted and placed into the water. This process is done after 40m of chain and MicroCats are lowered into the water. These serve as a keel for the buoy prior to attaching the balance of the chain instruments and then thousands of feet of line which is belayed out by tension and hand over hand from many volunteers, the 80 glass balls that provide for floatation and then the massive anchor weights (air weight of 9300 lbs) to hold the whole thing down to a final depth of 4720m. Each individual section of chain with instrumentation has to me attached prior to releasing the buoy. Note the instrumentation on the top along with the large flat white “tail” to keep the buoy set with the wind.

The WHOTS-6 Buoy. Note the instrumentation on top and the wide white fin.
The WHOTS-6 Buoy. Note the instrumentation on top and the wide white fin.

Along with the oceanographic research and data collecting going on there is also atmospheric data being collected with the use of weather balloons. These helium filled balloons are to be launched every 4 hours for the entire expedition. The balloons are filled to 500 psi (pounds per square inch) of helium, the tanks of which are on board, attached to a calibrated sonde (sensing) device which reads data, temperature, air pressure and humidity and transmits the data back to the ship.  Under the careful and watchful eye of Ludovic Bariteau of CIRES and the University of Colorado, at 0730, I was able to successfully set up and launch the fourth balloon of the study. Thomas Dunn and Julie Kelly, also from the University of Hawaii research team aboard, were there to assist.

Preparing the weather balloon for launch
Preparing the weather balloon for launch

Personal Log 

I got to launch a weather balloon.  The thrills and new experiences never stop. I am very anxious to take my experiences and new knowledge back to school. I also had to practice putting on a survival suit during our safety drill. Will the fun never end?

Words of the Day: acoustics; Doppler shift; calibrate, psi

Here I am launching a weather balloon! Donning my survival suit
Here I am launching a weather balloon! Donning my survival suit
Donning my survival suit
Donning my survival suit

Scott Sperber, July 9, 2009

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Scott Sperber
Onboard Research Vessel Kilo Moana
July 9-17, 2009 

Mission:Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Hawaii Ocean Time series Station; Albert J. Plueddemann, Chief Scientist
Geographical area of cruise: Central Pacific, north of O’ahu
Date: July 9, 2009

Weather Data from the Bridge 
Temperature: 23.9 c

The WHOTS-6 buoy getting prepared to be placed on the ship
The WHOTS-6 buoy getting prepared to be placed on the ship

Science and Technology Log 

As a first log I would like to explain a little about this project. Much of what you will be reading will be directly from correspondence I have received from NOAA themselves prior to the expedition.  The following is the cruise plan that the chief scientist, Al Plueddemann sent me before the cruise:

Overview 

The R/V Kilo Moana (KM) will participate in mooring operations associated with the WHOI Hawaii Ocean Timeseries Station (WHOTS) project. The primary intent of the WHOTS mooring is to provide long-term, high-quality air-sea changes and upper ocean temperature, salinity and velocity at a specific location in the central Pacific Ocean.

Receiving tower for the weather balloon information
Receiving tower for the weather balloon information

The first WHOTS mooring was deployed in August 2004, and the site has been continuously occupied since that time by means of annual mooring service cruises. The KM will depart from the UH Marine Center at Sand Island on 9 July 2009 to the WHOTS site. The cruise will include participants from WHOI, U. Hawaii, NOAA ESRL, U. Colorado CIRES, and possibly a NOAA Teacher at Sea (ME). The WHOTS moorings are a design utilizing wire rope, chain, nylon and polypropylene line. The surface buoy is a 2.7-meter diameter foam buoy with a watertight electronics well and aluminum instrument tower. Instruments are attached to the mooring line in the upper 150 m. An acoustic (sound) release is placed above the 9300 lb anchor, and 80 glass balls above the release provide backup flotation. 

These receive information from the sun. The temperature skimmers.
These receive information from the sun. The temperature skimmers.

Two meteorological systems will be deployed aboard the KM in addition to the ship’s standard sensors. The first system is one developed at WHOI to meet the need for more accurate meteorological observations from volunteer observing ships. The configuration on Kilo Moana will include five main components: a splash-proof housing with sensors for AT/RH (Atmospheric temperature and relative humidity), SWR (short wave radiation) and LWR (long wave radiation), a second housing with a BP (barometric[atmospheric] pressure sensor and central data logger, a rain gauge, a wind sensor, and a GPS) global positioning system) logger. Data are made available in real-time using a computer kept temporarily in the ship’s chart room.

Cruise Plan 

Staging/Destaging: Preparation of the WHOTS-6 buoy and mooring equipment will take place at the UH Marine Center during 1-6 July. Loading and staging of scientific equipment on the KM will be done on 7 July (or earlier as the situation permits). As part of the preparation, the two meteorological systems described above will be mounted on the KM. One will be mounted on the bridge mast. Others will be installed on a 30′ high tower on the port bow, and the instrumentation and computers for theses will be kept on the port (left) side of the ship There will also be an installation along the railing for a boom that will support a sea surface temperature skimmer device and mounted on the port side of the bridge.

Operations: The cruise involves four principal operations, as listed below. These operations are expected to require 9 ship days.

1. Deployment of the WHOTS-6 mooring. The buoy will be deployed through the A-frame, after which the ship will proceed slowly ahead. The remainder of the mooring will be deployed over the stern using the mooring winch, capstan, air tuggers, and crane as necessary.  Acoustic ranging from three stations will allow the mooring anchor position, to be determined by triangulation.

2. Sensor comparison period. During a period of approximately 4 days between release of WHOTS-6 and recovery of WHOTS-5, the KM will establish and hold position, with bow into the wind. During the comparison period satellite transmissions from the buoys will be monitored using equipment supplied by the scientists. A series of shallow (200 m) CTD (conductivity, temperature and depth) casts will be done at approximately 4 hr intervals using a CTD and rosette supplied by the science party.

3. Recovery of the WHOTS 5 mooring. The WHOTS-5 mooring is presently on station at another location not far from the new buoy. The WHOTS mooring release will be fired and recovering of the old buoy will begin with the glass balls (lower end) and proceed to about 50 m below the buoy while the ship moves ahead slowly. The work boat will be used tograb the glass balls and pass a leader line to the KM. The work boat will be lowered again and used to connect a line to the buoy and pass the line to the stern of the ship. The buoy will be recovered through the A-frame. Recovery operations will use the A-frame, the mooring winch, capstan, air tuggers, and crane as necessary.

4. Deep CTD casts and CTD Survey. At certain times during operations,several deep (1000 m) CTD casts will be made. The fifth WHOTS WHOI-Hawaii Ocean Timeseries Site (WHOTS) buoy was deployed from the Kilo Moana at 03:24:39 UTC June 5, 2008.

The R/V Kilo Moana will be deploying the WHOTS-6 mooring and will for a number of days be used in the comparison of real time data between the new mooring, the WHOTS-5 mooring and that of the ship.  After which the WHOTS-5 mooring will be recovered via the A-frame on the stern.

Real Time Data 

Hourly averaged meteorological data for the current deployment of the WHOI Hawaii Ocean Time Series Station are received via Service Argos four times daily. Hourly averages are also being transmitted for an engineering study using the Iridium Satellite service. Preliminary data is displayed in unedited form as time series plots, and is available for download as ASCII files.

Personal Log 

Wow. That is a lot of scientific jargon and acronyms which I will try to clear up in the next week. As for my responsibilities they will include but not be limited to:

During this expedition I will try to match the NOAA goals of which are:

Short-term Goals 

I will:

  1. Understand how NOAA oceanic and atmospheric research is linked to National Education Science Standards and Ocean Literacy Principles.
  2.  Understand the education and training paths that lead to NOAA-related careers.

Mid-term Goals 

I will:

  • Use NOAA data and resources in classroom activities. (oh boy)
  • Use NOAA-related career information in classroom activities, when mentoring students and when working with colleagues.

Why am out here in the middle of the ocean?

The vision of NOAA’s Teacher at Sea program is to be NOAA’s main provider to teachers of opportunities to participate in real-world scientific research and maritime activities.

Assembling the long line of sensors
Assembling the long line of sensors

Tasks and Responsibilities 

I will have a defined set of tasks and responsibilities before, during, and after the mission. During the mission, I will be under the ultimate command of the ship’s Commanding Officer. AYE, AYE CAPTAIN. However, I will also be considered a member of the science party, And will also be under the direction of the mission’s Chief Scientist and will be expected to take part in the tasks assigned by the Chief Scientist.

MICROCat sensor to be located at 155 meters
MICROCat sensor to be located at 155 meters

Everyone here is very accommodating of the new guy. I am going to quietly sit back and observe for a while, there is so much going on I do not want to get in the way.  From my berth window, I look directly out on the A-frame, great cautious way to observe the deployment without stepping on anyone’s toes. I am watching the crew assemble the line of MICROCat and other monitoring devices. Lengths of chain, shackles and hitches are laid over the deck in what seems like a chaotic mess but I have been assured that it will all flow out nicely when the deployment of the system begins. You can see how the MicroCATs are labeled with their respective depths.. There is also another device, the Seabird, that will be the one that bobs (yo-yo’s) up and down for daily data regarding, temperature, conductivity and depth.

Words of the day: deployment, winch, capstan, crane, acoustic, triangulation, comparison, bow, stern, A-frame 

Robert Oddo, July 15-20, 2009

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

Mission: PIRATA (Prediction and Research Moored Array in the Atlantic)
Geographical area of cruise: Tropical Atlantic
Date: July 15-20, 2009

Weather Data from the Bridge 
Outside Temperature 24.19 oC
Relative Humidity 78.87
Sea Temperature 24.28 oC
Barometric Pressure 1016.0 inches
Latitude 00o 12.5 N Longitude 23o 37.28W

The CTD
The CTD

Science and Technology Log 

We have been steaming at around 10 knots(approx 11.5 mph) 24 hours a day to our first buoy. The scientists on board are preparing equipment for the work that awaits them once we arrive at our first stop, 0 degrees 01.0 South latitude, 22 degrees 59.9 West.  Replacement tubes for the buoys are being readied and the “CTD” is being prepared for deployment.  The “CTD” is the name for a package of instruments that is lowered in the water that includes sensors that measure conductivity, temperature and the depth of the seawater. Conductivity and temperature are important since salinity can be derived from these values.  The CTD is connected to the ship by means of a cable through which real-time data can be sent back to scientists on the ship as the winch lowers and raises the CTD through the water. The metal frame around the CTD has a number of bottles attached to it that collect seawater samples at various depths.  This water then can be analyzed back in the laboratory when the CTD is brought back on board. 

We have deployed a number of drifters as we are making our way to the first stop.  For the last couple of days, we have not been allowed to collect any data as we traveled through the territorial waters of Brazil. On the night of July 19th we launched an ozonesonde. An ozonesonde transmits information to a ground receiving station information on ozone and standard meteorological quantities such as pressure, temperature and humidity. The balloon ascends to altitudes of about 115,000 feet (35 km) before it bursts.

Deployment of the ozonesonde
Deployment of the ozonesonde

Personal Log 

A few days ago, I toured the bridge of the ship. There is always one officer on the bridge and also a person on watch. Unfortunately there is not a big wheel like I imagined up there to steer the ship (I always wanted my picture at one of those big wheels). But there are a number of thrusters that you maneuver the ship with.  There are also a number of radar screens that enable one to see surrounding objects and well as computers that allow the ship to run on different auto pilot modes. Before a radiosonde or a buoy is launched, one needs to inform the bridge and the operation is logged in. You really get a unique perspective of the ship from up on the bridge.

I have spent hours on deck watching for signs of life out in the ocean. We did have a pod of dolphins of our bow one day, flying fish seem to be out there all the time and one day we believe we saw a pod of false killer whales (maybe).  I expected to see some birds, but so far not one.

Here I am at the helm of the Brown.
Here I am at the helm of the Brown.
Research cruise plan
Research cruise plan

 

Scott Donnelly, April 26, 2008

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Scott Donnelly
Onboard NOAA Ship McArthur II
April 20-27, 2008

Mission: Assembly of Science Team and Movement of Science Gear/Equipment
Geographical Area: Coos Bay to Astoria, Oregon
Date: April 26, 2008

Weather Data from the Bridge 
Sunrise: 0620 Sunset: 2010
Wind: 10-15 kts
Seas: 2 ft
Light rain showers, reduced visibility

NOAA TAS Scott Donnelly ready to deploy a bongo net
NOAA TAS Scott Donnelly ready to deploy a bongo net

Science and Technology Log 

Both the morning and afternoon shifts went off without any problems. Coordinates of the seven sites for the longitudinal sampling along the Coquille Estuary Line are 43O07’N, 124O29’W to 125O15’W extending 2 to 40 miles from shore and from depths of 44m (145ft) to 2,300m (7,550ft).  My tenth 4-hour shift was spent traveling north to the first sampling site along the Umpqua Estuary Line. Coordinates for the longitudinal measurements are 43O40’N, 124O16’W to 125O02’W extending 3 to 40 miles from shore and from depths of 80m (265ft) to 1,300m (4,265ft). See map below.

 Personal Log 

Coordinates for the longitudinal measurements of the first sampling site of my shift
Coordinates for the longitudinal measurements of the first sampling site of my shift

In preparing for Saturday’s early morning shift, I noticed when I walked onto the ship’s fantail that the night sky was clear and stars dotted the dark night heavens. I made my way to the flying bridge to observe the cloudless night sky lit up with millions of stars. All the major constellations visible in the northern hemisphere at this time of year just after midnight were easily seen in all their brilliance and mystery. The cool, crisp salty air added to the beauty of the moment. It made for a peaceful, philosophical moment. But as I have found in my brief stay in Oregon such celestial opportunities do not present themselves often and when they do it’s not for long. Clouds soon appeared, blocking the view and ending any chance to identify and name all the major constellations. After finishing the early morning shift I stayed up until after sunrise to take advantage again of photographing the sun rising above the eastern horizon through a thin layer of clouds.

Such meteorological conditions created a sky painted with various shades and hues of red, orange, and yellow. It was if a giant painter had a brush and painted the sky- his canvas- a riot of colors pleasing to the eye and emotions. The science of immaterial light from the sun interacting with the material gaseous atmosphere and clouds and the timing made for a time of quiet reflection and contemplation of the vastness of the universe and the relative insignificance of the Milky Way galaxy and our blue ocean planet. Tomorrow is the last day of the cruise. I have one more early morning shift. We are scheduled to dock in Coos Bay sometime in the early afternoon.

Sunrise off the southern Oregon coast as seen from NOAA ship McARTHUR II
Sunrise off the southern Oregon coast as seen from NOAA ship McARTHUR II

Debra Brice, November 21, 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 21, 2003

Data from the Bridge
1.  211600Z 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

Today we are underway to the next location which is the area of deployment for the PMEL Tsunami buoy.  I want to talk a little bit about what a Cruise Plan is and why you need one.  I have attached a picture of our latest cruise plan from Dr. Weller.  He had a very nice one ready to go well before we even boarded the ship and everyone in the science party (yes, including me) was given a copy.  Consider this the “game plan.” It can and does change  due to weather or other unforeseen factors and it is very important that the Chief Scientist makes sure that it gets revised as it is necessary to make sure we will have enough time for all of the different deployments and data collections that are planned or to modify as needed.  These cruises are very expensive; from the cost of the ship itself, to the equipment and science party, to the value of the data collected.  For the Stratus Project,  (http://uop.whoi.edu/stratus) this is the big event of the year, everything leads to this moment when the buoy and instruments are recovered and the new buoy is deployed.  Any mistakes made now could potentially result in the loss of data for a whole year.  This brings to mind the importance of really good planning for an expedition of this magnitude.  The Chief scientist has to know how much time he/she need to accomplish their project, build in a few days extra in case of weather or delays, know how much equipment to bring for the project including spare parts (just in case Murphy’s Law kicks in…which it does more often than not!).  Redundancy of equipment is essential from the project itself to the ship which has to be able to repair while on the move with extra parts it has with it or to make a part as needed (yes, they can do that!).  There are no stores out here, if you forget it or run out, you’re out of luck!  That means a year’s work and a big grant could be in danger!

Prior planning is not just a good idea, it is essential and a good Chief scientist has foreseen almost any extenuating circumstance.  There is also the importance of remaining calm and being able to come up with creative solutions to problems in the middle of an important project.  Everyone is watching the Chief scientist and takes their cues on behavior from him/her.  If something happens, they watch to see how he reacts.

The technicians and research associates in a science party need to work well together as they may be at sea for long periods of time (could be a month to several months) .  When you are at sea, 8 hour days doesn’t mean much.  You work whenever there is work to do, deployments or data collection can and do happen around the clock.  The time out here is expensive and data collection is sensitive to many different parameters.  You work seven days a week, but everyone is doing the same and it builds a sense of comradeship to be sharing the work.  Scrabble and Cribbage tournaments in off time are a big event.  Even though they work really hard out here, they all realize the value of what they do and they are here because this is what they wanted to do in life: science.  It is pretty exciting too, you never know what you might see and no matter how long you have been going to sea or how many cruises you do a year, it is still exciting to see whales or dolphins, and beautiful sunset still makes you pause.

Sometimes, as in this cruise, there may be more than one project and multiple scientists.  However, there has to be a Chief scientist to determine priorities and the scheduling concerns so that everyone gets their data, specimens or deploys their equipment.  To be a chief scientist you need to be detail oriented and having workaholic tendencies (at least during a cruise) doesn’t hurt!

This does not mean they don’t have fun after all the hard work is done.  Dr. Weller plans a few days at the beginning and end of a cruise after all the work is done (his group have been working everyday for a month!) to see some of the sights and enjoy the culture of the ports they visit.  Sometimes these days get used for unforeseen circumstances, like extra time for loading, unloading and shipping. Actually that’s why they are put in there.  But if everything gets done in a timely manner, there is a little bit of down time.  He even organizes the tours and had guide books for each of the ports we visited (it’s that detail oriented thing I mentioned!).  He understands the value of appreciating the quality of work your group produces.

Many times the group will consist of one or more grad students under the Chief scientist and this is how they learn to be a chief scientist. It is not a class they take as part of their Ph.D. program, it comes from observation and personal experience.  So mentoring is another important component of the job description.  Seeing the bigger picture is also part of the equation; Dr. Weller really wanted a Teacher at Sea as part of this cruise to help share this experience with younger students and hopefully give a small peek at real scientific research to both k-12 teachers and students.  Many scientists today see the value of this and NOAA has been doing this for 13 years.  Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution has some outstanding education outreach programs such as “Dive and Discover” (check out that WHOI web site!)  Scripps Oceanographic Institution has additional resources at the SIO web site. Please check out the attached picture of the latest cruise plan, as well as a picture of one of the cups that the science party sent down to 4000m on the CTD.  I think the sentiment on the cup is a good reflection of the esteem in which they hold Dr. Weller and I wholeheartedly agree!

Hasta manana