Tom Savage: Farewell Fairweather and the Drifter Buoy, August 23, 2018

NOAA Teacher at Sea

Tom Savage

Aboard NOAA Ship Fairweather

August 6 – 23, 2018

 

 

Mission: Arctic Access Hydrographic Survey

Geographic Area of Cruise: Point Hope, northwest Alaska

Date: August 23, 2018

Weather Data from the Bridge

Latitude  87  43.9 N
Longitude – 152  28.3  W
Air temperature: 12 C
Dry bulb   12 C
Wet bulb  11 C
Visibility: 10 Nautical Miles
Wind speed: 2 knots
Wind direction: east
Barometer: 1011.4  millibars
Cloud Height: 2000 K feet
Waves: 0 feet

Sunrise: 6:33 am
Sunset: 11:45 pm

 

Science and Technology Log

Today we deployed the drifter buoy off the stern of the Fairweather off the southeast coast of Kodiak Island Alaska, at 3:30 pm Alaskan time zone. The buoy will be transmitting its location for approximately one year. During this time, students will be have the opportunity to logon and track its progress.

This project is very exciting for many of my students at the Henderson County Early College and elementary students at Atkinson Elementary (Mills River, NC) and Hillandale Elementary (Henderson County, NC) that have participated in my “Young Scientists” program.  Prior to my journey to Alaska, I visited those elementary schools introducing them to the mapping that we were going to collect and the important mission of NOAA.  As part of this outreach, students designed stickers that I placed on the buoy prior to deployment yesterday.  In addition, Ms. Sarah Hills, a middle school science teacher from the country of Turkey, is also going to track its progress.

An interesting note: my “Young Scientists” program was inspired in 2015 after participating in my first Teacher at Sea trip on board NOAA Ship Henry Bigelow. I would like to thank the NOAA Teacher at Sea Alumni coordinator Jenn Annetta and Emily Susko for supporting this effort!

 

Drifter buoy
Deploying the drifter buoy off the stern of the Fairweather – Photo by NOAA

All schools are welcome to track its current location. Visit the following site  http://osmc.noaa.gov/Monitor/OSMC/OSMC.html. In the upper left hand corner enter the WMO ID# 2101601 and then click the refresh map in the right hand corner.

The last day at sea, crew members had the opportunity to fish from the ship in a region called the “Eight Ball,” which is a shoal just of to the southwest of Kodiak Island.  Within ten minutes, the reels were active hauling in Halibut.  I have never seen fish this big before and Eric reeled in the biggest catch weighing around 50 lbs! Alaska is a big state with big fish!

Halibut
Eric hauling in his catch! Photo by Tom

Personal Log

This is my last day on board the Fairweather. For three weeks I witnessed a young NOAA Corps crew orchestrate an amazing level of professionalism and responsibilities to ensure a productive mission. While on board and I met new friends and I have learned so much and will be bringing home new lessons and activities for years to come.  The crew on board the ship has been very warm, patient and very happy to help answer questions. I am very honored to be selected for a second cruise and have enjoyed every minute; thank you so much!  As we sailed into Kodiak Island, witnessed an eye catching sunrise, wow!

Kodiak Sunrise
Sunrise, Kodiak Island – photo by Tom

 

I wish the crew of the Fairweather,  Fair winds and happy seas.

Tom

Wes Struble: Science Research in the Bahamas? Sign me up! February 27, 2012

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Wes Struble
Aboard NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown
February 15 – March 5, 2012

Mission: Western Boundary Time Series
Geographical Area: Sub-Tropical Atlantic, off the Coast of the Bahamas
Date: February 27, 2012

Weather Data from the Bridge

Position: 26 degrees 31 minutes North Latitude & 76 degrees 48 minutes West Longitude / 9 miles east of the Bahamas
Windspeed: 8 knots
Wind Direction: East by Southeast
Air Temperature: 24.8 deg C / 76.5 deg F
Water Temperature: 24.2 deg C / 75.5 deg F
Atm Pressure: 1025 mb
Water Depth: 3830 meters / 12,770 feet
Cloud Cover: Approximately 60%
Cloud Type: Some altostratus and cumulostratus

Science/Technology Log:

The temperature has become quite warm and it has been a delight to walk around the deck in the sunshine in a t-shirt and shorts (the current weather back home is between 10 and 20 deg F and snowing). As you can see from the photo below the weather continues to be clear with some fair weather cumulus clouds and a light breeze.

A view of the wide western Atlantic off the Ron Brown's bow from the weather deck several days after leaving the port of Charleston, SC
The Ron Brown's wake trailing off into the west as we head toward our first CTD station
NOAA research scientist, Dr. Molly Baringer, Chief Scientist during the cruise, catches up on some computer work and reading in the shade of the bridge on the "lifeguard chair" on the "steel beach" (the weather deck) of the NOAA research vessel Ronald H Brown
A drifter buoy arrives prepackaged and ready for deployment
Removing the plastic packaging and recording the coordinates and serial number of the drifter buoy before deployment
A drifter buoy ready for deployment by Dr. Aurelie Duchez
Dr. Aurelie Duchez tosses the drifter over the stern of the Ron Brown. This cruise is a continuation of a long period of study (over 30 years) of the Gulf Stream and the Western Boundary currents in and around the region of Florida and the Bahamas. This region is of particular interest because of the impact these currents have on the weather and climate patterns of the northeastern North America and Northern Europe. The Gulf Stream current helps transport large amounts of heat energy derived from the equatorial Atlantic to the northern latitudes of America and Europe. An image of the Gulf Stream current from space - NASA photo. The Gulf Stream is the orange colored current that passes on the east coast of Florida and flows north along the eastern seaboard of the US

This phenomenon helps to moderate the climates of those areas by producing milder temperatures than would normally occur at these latitudes. Changes in the characteristics of these currents could potentially have a profound affect on the climates of these regions and it would be of particular interest to understand in detail the nature and interaction of these mobile bodies of water. To study these currents a combination of techniques have been employed. We should all be familiar with the concept of induction – the process of producing a current in a conductor by moving it through an electromagnetic field. This was one of the more important discoveries of Michael Faraday and is one for which we should be very grateful since most of our modern world depends upon the application of this scientific discovery.

Michael Faraday - the great British Scientist

As an example think of what modern life would be like without electric motors or generators. Well, it just so happens there exist old communications cables on the seafloor under these very currents between south Florida and the Bahamas. These cables are affected by a combination of the earth’s magnetic field and the motion of the seawater (a solution composed primarily of dissolved ions, charged particles, of Na+ and Cl). This combination of charges, motion, and the earth’s magnetic field causes a weak electrical current to be induced in the cable – a current which researchers have been able to measure.

A schematic showings the induction of an electric current in the underwater cable by motion of the sea water current (NOAA Image)

The electric current in the cable can be related mathematically to the strength of the ocean currents flowing over them. In addition to the data produced by the cable, the NOAA scientists are also deploying moored buoys below the surface that measure the characteristics of the seawater (temperature, density, etc) and use an Acoustic Doppler array to measure the relative motion of the current.

ADCP (Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler) and two other types of buoys - image from Grand Valley State University
An ADCP (Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler) buoy - Image from SAIC
A buoy deployment operation on the Ron Brown. Notice the large orange spherical ADCP buoys in the right foreground on the deck of the ship
These two data acquisition systems (in addition to the drifter buoys and CTD sampling) provide the data used to analyze the dynamics of the currents. As more data is collected and analyzed the nature and impact of these currents is slowly unraveled. Consider visiting the following website for a more detailed explanation:

http://www.aoml.noaa.gov/phod/wbts/index.php

Kathy Schroeder, May 10, 2010

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Kathy Schroeder
Aboard NOAA Ship Oscar Dyson
May 5 – May 18, 2010

Mission: Fisheries Surveys
Geographical Area: Eastern Bering Sea
Date: May 10, 2010

5/10 Drifter Buoy

My hard hat
My hard hat
Deploying a drifter buoy
Deploying a drifter buoy
Last night I couldn’t sleep. I still saw my glow-in-the-dark alarm clock at 1:15am. I guess I was looking forward to waking up in the middle of the night to deploy the drifter buoy. It was 5am and it was time to go. It was still dark and I put on my float coat, gloves and hardhat. We went to the stern of the ship where it was lightly snowing and set up the drifter. I was able to write on the side of the drifter! 🙂 Key Biscayne Community School is now being represented in the Bering Sea! Of course I drew a Green Sea Turtle for Jonah on the top!A drifter buoy floats on the surface and is tracked by satellite. Some drifters make observations of currents, sea surface temperature, atmospheric pressure, winds and salinity. The ball floats on the surface of the water. It is attached to a wire that is 40 meters long and attached to a holey sock drogue, which looks like a tunnel Jonah would play in. They usually are active for 3-12 months. This particular drifter will just be tracked only by location because we are placing it close to large amounts of larvae pollock to determine where they are headed. Usually they are headed closer to shore. Once I return home I will be able to track it for our science class. We hope to deploy two more on this trip. The water got much rougher tonight. Using two hands to hold on while going up and down the stairs. Headed towards the Pribilof Islands tomorrow.

Richard Jones & Art Bangert, January 18, 2010

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

Mission: Oceanographic Survey
Geographical Area: Hawaiian Islands
Date: January 18, 2010

Science Log

Painting in the morning, painting in the afternoon.We had a time change this morning, we set our clocks back (retarded) them one hour so we are now four hours earlier than Montana or 11 hours earlier than GMT (Greenwich Mean Time) or Zulu. This means that we are almost half way around the world from the Prime Meridian that runs through Greenwich England.

Ensigns onboard
Ensigns onboard
You might notice that it looks like Rick is in a fog, well he is. The difference between the inside of the ship and the outside of the ship in regards to temperature and humidity is huge. The ship is generally around 21 degrees c or close to 70 degrees F with low humidity and outside has been close to 31 degrees c or about 87 degrees F with high humidity. When you bring something like a camera outside from the cooler interior of the ship the moisture in the humid outside air condenses on the camera and instant fog.
More buoy maintenance
More buoy maintenance
We painted the international yellow on the top half of the four tolroids and now all the buoys will be the new color scheme, no more orange and white top half’s anymore.
Hitch hiking onboard
TAS Rick hitch hiking onboard
You may have noticed that the sky is gray and the sea is fairly calm. We are in the Doldrums, an area of low pressure and often very little wind. This area is also known as the “Horse Latitudes”. Do you know why?
Small cups
Small cups
While we were waiting for the paint to dry we watched Alen refresh the sonic releases that connect the anchor to the nylon anchor line. Each of these releases costs about $12,000 and it is essential to use them over and over so replacing the battery, the rubber “O” rings and filling them with argon is a must after they are recovered with the anchor line Nilspin and nylon, pretty much ever thing that can be re-used is reused in order to minimize the cost of the project. Because we are able to use the acoustical releases only the iron anchor and some chain are left on the bottom of the ocean where they rust away eventually. It is hard to see but just before the releases are approved for re-deployment Argon is put into the body of the refreshed unit to provide and inert environment for the electronics. By removing the air, the risk of oxidation to the components is reduced.

Cleaning up the lab
Cleaning up the lab
After lunch the paint was dry enough that we taped in prep for painting the black waterline and we put the TAO on the donuts.Now these are ready for deployment on the next two legs of the cruise. We also had some time today to interview some of the crew on the KA. Today we chatted with three of the four young Ensign’s who are stationed on this ship. We asked them a variety of questions about life in NOAA and the types of degrees that they have and their interests. We discovered that one of the Ensign Rose (white shirt) is from Wyoming and that Rick went to school with one of her uncles and that she is distantly related to his wife through a cousin. Weird how small the world really is.

DSC02155
Two days ago, on 1/16/10, we conducted the last deep CTD at about 3,000 meters (about 2 miles). Rick had about 130 cups to send down and Art ran an experiment with control for Rossiter School in Helena. Just to review, this operation sends down a large, round instrument with tubes that collect water samples at different depths up to 3,000 meters. The intent of this procedure is to measure the salinity, Temperature and Pressure at different depths of the Ocean. As the depth of the ocean increases, so does the pressure of the water. An experiment that we can do to see the strength of the pressure is to attach a bag of Styrofoam cups to the CTD instrument. As the instrument sinks, what do you think would happen to the Styrofoam cups? Look at the picture of the cups before being sunk into the ocean depths and after. How would you describe the pressure of the ocean waters at 3,000 meters?
The batch of cups, back from the depths
The batch of cups, back from the depths

Richard Jones & Art Bangert, January 17, 2010

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

Mission: Oceanographic Survey
Geographical Area: Hawaiian Islands
Date: January 17, 2010

Science Log

Today was not all that physically demanding which is good since it was 30.5 degrees Celsius by 9:30 AM ship time.My students should be able to figure out the temperature in temperature units they are more familiar with.While it was still fairly cool this morning Art and Rick helped Alen paint the anti fouling paint on the bottom of each of the three tolroids that needed it. Once the deck crew flipped them back to top side up, Alen discovered that one of the buoys had been hit and was cracked and so he needed to do some grinding and patching before painting the yellow. So we are going to finish the paint job early tomorrow after the patch has time to cure.

TAS Art painting
TAS Art painting
Land Ho! Later in the day we sighted land for the first time since we lost sight on Hawaii on the 6th. We came upon Tautua Island, which is part of the Cook Islands. If you take a look on Google Earth around 9 degrees: 13 minutes South and 157 degrees: 58 minutes West you can see the

island and the village on the island. We weren’t very close, so we couldn’t actually see the village, but it was nice to see land after 10 days of the vast expanse of the Pacific in every direction to the horizon.

Rick painting the buoy
Rick painting the buoy
Tautua
Tautua

Richard Jones & Art Bangert, January 15, 2010

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

Mission: Oceanographic Survey
Geographical Area: Hawaiian Islands
Date: January 15, 2010

Science Log

We have our last buoy of the 155 West line in the water and the anchor is set. Today began with a ride for Rick over the old buoy where he was responsible for removing an old loop of rope in order to put on the shackle and line that the tow line would be attached to.

Readying to retrieve the buoy
Readying to retrieve the buoy
You would think that cutting a three-eights nylon line would be pretty easy, and you would be right if that line wasn’t attached to a rocking, slime covered buoy floating in the middle of an ocean that is over 5000 meters deep.
Teamwork is essential
Teamwork is essential
It would also have helped if my knock-off Leatherman had a sharper blade.Anyway, Al and I went out the buoy on the RHIB and got a pretty good spray here and there as you can see from the water drops on some of the images.
Reeling it back in
Reeling it back in

Once we were on the buoy Al removed the ‘Bird” and handed to the support crew in the RHIB.If it weren’t for these men and women we (the scientists) would not be able to collect the data.This is science on the front lines and it takes a dedicated and well-trained crew to make the endeavor of science one that produces meaningful, valid, and important data.

Barnacles and all!
Barnacles and all!

Once the ‘Bird’ is off the buoy and the towline is attached it is time to go back to the KA to pick-up the towline so that the buoy can be recovered and the next phase of the process can begin, deployment of the new buoy that will replace this one.

Zodiak returning to the ship
Zodiak returning to the ship
During the recovery Art and Rick often work as a team spooling the nylon because it takes two people to re-spool the line in a way to prevent tangles, one person to provide the turning and another to be the ‘fair lead’.
The fair lead actually has the harder job because they have to keep constant eye on the line as it spools.With seven spools of nylon all over 500 meters and the 700 meters of Nilspin recovery is a team effort by everyone.
KA from RHIB_1
Like the recovery, the deployment is a team effort and many hands make the work easier for everyone.But at this point of the cruise Art and Rick can pretty much handle the nylon line individually, but work as a team to move the empty spools and reload the spool lift with full spools. Deployment of this buoy ended just about 4:30 PM with the anchor splashing and some deck clean up then it was out of the sun and into the air-conditioned comfort of the ship for some clean clothes and good food.
Deployment is also a team effort
Deployment is also a team effort

Richard Jones & Art Bangert, January 14, 2010

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

Making fish lures
Making fish lures

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

Science Log

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

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

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

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

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

Richard Jones & Art Bangert, January 13, 2010

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

At the controls
At the controls

Mission: Oceanographic Survey
Geographical Area: Hawaiian Islands
Date: January 13, 2010

Science Log

Bronc Buoy Day! By 8 this morning ship time we were running out the Nielspin and slapping on the fairings from the recovery yesterday.Some of these were pretty clean, but the majority of them, the ones that the teachers got to help with were pretty slimy and even had barnacles stuck to them. The fairings are added to help the reduce shake on the wire that can be produced by currents close to the equator.

We put these airfoil shaped fairings on the first 250 meters, after that it was smooth sailing.Because the Bronc-Bobcat buoy at 0: 155W is a TAO-CO2 buoy it needed a little extra weight on the anchor, 6200 pounds of steel. Once the anchor was off the fantail and sinking we noticed that there was a ship close to the location of the buoy. The science crew commented that this must be a new record for fishermen finding one of the buoys. It seems that fishermen love the TAO buoys since they attract fish.One of the scientists said, “A buoy for these guys is like having your own private fishing hole”. It will be interesting to see if this ship leaves, or just steams away and waits for us to be clear of the area and then comes back.

Broncs buoy deployed!
Broncs buoy deployed!

Around 12:15 today, actually Rick and Art were just finishing up lunch when the call came from Survey, “Teacher’s at Sea report to the CTD deck”. The first order of business was to lower an Argo buoy over the side of the ship and then to release the buoy using a quick release. According the home page for Argo, Argo is a global array of 3,000 (3199 on Jan 13) free-drifting profiling floats that measure the temperature and salinity of the upper 2000 m of the ocean.

These buoys are unique because the sink to between 1000 and 2000 meters and then on regular intervals, generally 10 days the Argo returns to the surface to transmit and the data it has collected. This allows, for the first time, continuous monitoring of the temperature, salinity, and velocity of the upper ocean, with all data being relayed and made publicly available within hours after collection. Once the Argo was on its own a call was made to the bridge for the crew to help with the deployment of the Bronc Buoy. This AOML drifter’s data will be available in a few days from the Adopt-A-Drifter website. It will be interesting to follow the Bronc Buoy and see where it goes over the next several years.

Our afternoon will be spent sailing south, in the Southern Hemisphere for the first time this trip and devoted to teardown of the old 0: 155W buoy and set-up of our next buoy.

After the deployment of the new CObuoy we crossed the equator and entered the southern hemisphere. Our new position put us in the southern hemisphere and we officially went from the winter to the summer season. Currently (at 6:15 pm MST) we are approximately 28.5 miles (at 6:19 MST) miles south of the equator.
Minding the lines
Minding the lines
Reeling it in
Reeling it in

Those of you in Montana today experienced temperatures ranging from 30 to 40 degrees while the temperatures around the equator (regardless of north – winter or south- summer) are staying at about 84 degrees Fahrenheit. Quite a warm temperature when considering the area north of the equator is technically in the Winter season. Regardless, of your position just north or south of the equator, the deck work required to recover and deploy TAO buoys is demanding. An air temperature of 84 degrees seems mild but is really very hot when working on a deck that is painted dark gray. Everyone has to be careful to make sure they drink enough water to stay hydrated. This operation is certainly a team effort. Everyone works together to make sure the job gets done by checking to make sure those participating in deployments or recoveries are safe. This means checking for life jackets, hardhats, application of sunscreen, the need for water etc. Higher education could take a lesson from the way that this crew collaborates and works together!

The anchor sinks to the depths
The anchor sinks to the depths
Decorative spirit
Decorative spirit
The team
The team
How the buoy gathers and sends data
How the buoy gathers and sends data
Crossed the equator!
Crossed the equator!

Jacob Tanenbaum, October 14, 2008

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Jacob Tanenbaum
Onboard NOAA Ship Henry Bigelow
October 5 – 16, 2008

Mission: Survey
Geographic Region: Northeast U.S.
Date: October 14 2008

Here is Doctor Kunkel collecting samples with Watch Chief Mel Underwood.
Here is Doctor Kunkel collecting samples with Watch Chief Mel Underwood.

Science Log

Dr. Joseph Kunkel from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst is investigating a mystery on board our ship. In the last few years, fisherman and biologists have all noticed that lobsters are disappearing from waters south of cape cod near shore. This includes Narragansett Bay and our own Long Island Sound. Why? Thats’ what Dr. Kunkel is trying to find out.

He and other scientists have found that the lobsters are infected with a bacteria. Dr. Kunkel has a hypothesis. He believes that some lobsters get the bacteria because their shells are not as strong as other lobsters and don’t protect them as well. He is here collecting samples to test his hypothesis.

Shellfish are affected by acid rain
Shellfish are affected by acid rain

He has even made a discovery. He and another scientist, named Dr. Jercinovic, discovered that this shell fish actually has boney material in certain places in the shell. The boney material helps make the lobster strong enough to resist the bacteria. Effected lobsters may not have as much bone, so their shells are weaker. Why are the shells weaker? There may be a few reasons. The water South of Cape Cod is warmer than it normally is. Climate change may be to blame. The water has a lot of pollution from cities like New York and Boston. There are many streams and rivers pouring into the area that are Affected by acid rain. All of these things may effect the lobsters in the sea. They may effect other creatures in the sea as well. Can you think of things that are happening in our neighborhood that may contribute to this problem? Post your ideas on the blog and I will share them with Dr. Kunkel. What does shell disease look like? Can you see the red spots on the photo on the right? That is shell disease. It can get much worse. Thanks Dr. Kunkel for sharing your work and your photograph.

Cups are ready!
Cups are ready!

The art teachers, Mrs. Bensen in CLE and Mrs. Piteo in WOS had groups of students decorate Styrofoam cups for an experiment on the ship involving technology, water pressure in science and perspective in art. You probably have felt water pressure. When you swim to the bottom of the deep end of a pool, you may have felt your ears pop. This is water pressure. It is caused by the weight of the water on top of you pushing down on you. Well, a pool is only 10 or 12 feet deep. Just imagine the pressure at 600 feet down. We wanted to do an experiment with water pressure. Since Styrofoam is has a lot of air in it, we wanted to see what happened when we sent the decorated cups to the bottom of the sea. Click here for a video and see for yourself. If you decorated a cup, you will get it back when I come in next week.

Here are some more interesting creatures that came up in our nets overnight. We have been in deeper water and some some of the creatures have been quite interesting.

This “sea pen” is a type of soft coral.
This “sea pen” is a type of soft coral.
Two sea-hags
Two sea-hags

This is a sea-hag. It is a snake-like fish that has some amazing teeth. We put one inside a plastic bag for a few minutes to watch it try to eat its way out. Take a look at this video to see what happened.

Spoon Arm Octopi
Spoon Arm Octopi

Here are three Spoon Arm Octopi. Each octopi has three hearts, not one. One pumps blood through the body and the other two pump blood through the gills. There are three octopi in this photo. How many hearts to they have in all?

Red fish
Redfish

This redfish are also an interesting criters. When they lay eggs, you can see the babies inside. They live in deep water. We caught this one at a depth of 300 meters. How many feet is that?

Squid and sea star
Squid and sea star

Here is a bobtail squid and a sea-start. The squid looks like an octopus, but it is not.

Skate case with a baby skate inside
Skate case with a baby skate inside

This skate case had a baby skate inside. Here is what it looked like as the tiny creature emerged.

Crab and eggs
Crab and eggs

Finally, the red on the underside of this crab are the eggs. Biologists call them roe.

Zee and Snuggy paid a visit to the ship’s hospital to take a look around. The hospital is amazing. They are able to treat a wide variety of injuries and ailments without having to call for help. They can even put in stiches if they need to. In cases of serious injury, however, the Coast Guard would have to take the patient to land with the helicopter or fast boat. Zee and Snuggy had a great time touring the hospital, and all three of us are just fine.

IMG_6859-737787

Jacob Tanenbaum, October 11, 2008

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Jacob Tanenbaum
Onboard NOAA Ship Henry Bigelow
October 5 – 16, 2009

Mission: Survey
Geographic Region: Northeast U.S.
Date: October 11, 2008

Science Log

Greetings from Canada, my son Nicky’s favorite place! We are now in Canadian waters. We have crossed the international boarder. More amazing things keep coming up in our nets. Today we had some interesting sea-stars. Take a look. The larger ones are called Sun-Stars. Do they look like the sun to you? Sea stars are scavengers. They will move around the bottom looking for whatever food is laying around. The legs of the sea star have small tentacles that push food towards the mouth in the center.

Can you find the mouth?
Can you find the mouth?

Did you know that squid can change color? Often male squid change color to attract a mate or to scare off other males who are competing with them. If there are two males near one female, they able to turn one color on the side facing the female, and then turn another color on the other side facing the male.

Squid
Squid

We had more dolphins circling the ship last night. We think our lights may be attracting certain fish or squid, then the dolphins come to eat that. They are not with us during the day at all. One of the benefits, I guess, of being on the night watch. I cannot shoot still photos due to the low light, but have wonderful video. The sounds that you hear on the video were recorded with the ship’s hydrophone. This is a special microphone that can record sounds underwater. The sounds were recorded as the dolphins swam around the ship. You can hear the sound of them swimming by as well as the sound of their sonar as they locate fish to eat. Click here to watch and listen. Thanks to survey technician Pete Gamache for recording this for us. Click here to see the video. Don’t miss it!

Floating Sargassum mat
Floating Sargassum mat
Close up Sargassum
Close up Sargassum

We drove past some seaweed called sargasum weed. It normally grows in an area towards the middle of the Atlantic called the Sargasso Sea. We are well west of the Sargasso, but this seems to have drifted our way. Sargasum Weed grows on the surface of the water. These huge mats of seaweed support an entire ecosystem of sea creatures. Many come to seek shelter in the weeds. Many more come to feed on smaller creatures hiding there.

Snuggy and Zee paid a visit to the fantail of the ship.
Snuggy and Zee paid a visit to the fantail of the ship.

The fantail is an area by the stern of the vessel where the nets are deployed. The photos show the area where the work gets done. Our ship works all night long, of course, and trawls are done at night as well as during the day. Take a look at this video which explains how trawls are done.

NOAA Ship Albatross
NOAA Ship Albatross

Our ship is shadowing another NOAA ship, the Albatross. Why? The Albatross is an old ship and will be replaced by the Bigelow in the years to come. At this point, the ships are trawling in exactly the same place to see if they get similar results in their surveys. Making sure the vessels measure the same thing the same way is called calibration. Right now we are doing calibration with the Albatross.

—————————————————–

IMG_6425-724011Now some answers to your questions:

RM – No we did not see Nantucket yet. We were too far out to sea. We may see it on the way back. Thanks for writing.

T – I love Block Island too. Thanks for the warning about rough seas. I am glad you and your mom are both enjoying the blog as much as I enjoy writing it for you. I’m used to the 12 AM shift now. I that I finally got 8 hours of sleep.

AR – There were TONS of skates in the water.

Hello to Mrs Eubank’s Class. Its great to hear from you. Great questions. Now for answers:

— Amanda, I think fish can get smaller pieces of plastic confused with tiny plankton, but our buoy is too large for that. I don’t think it will hurt fish. I think they will stay away from it.

–Tiffany, this is a tough question and a very good question. I guess over time, our buoy will stop working and will become floating trash. The truth is all science effects the environment you study. The trick is to do more good with your work than harm. Our buoy will help us understand our environment better so that all of us will do less harm in the future. Our ship also burns fuel as we study the ocean. That pollutes a little, but hopefully through our work, we do more good than harm to what we study.

Weston, It felt like the drifter weighs about 35 pounds or so.

Bryce, we use a large net to scoop along the bottom. The opening is about 4 meters wide.

Luke, we have not, nor do I expect to find new species. Our purpose is to learn more about the species that we already know about.

Bryce, we were about 140 miles from the nearest land the last time I looked.

RJ, some scientists made our drifter.

Weston, there are about 1000 drifters right now in the open sea.

I enjoyed your questions. Thanks for writing.

Mr. Moretti’s class, I’m not sure what killed the whale, but remember, all things the live also die. We cannot assume that something human beings did killed that whale. With all the pollution we create, we cannot assume, however, that we did not hurt it. We should stop polluting just to be sure we do not hurt other living things.

Many of you have are working hard to figure out our math question from the other day. Here is how it works. If we are going 8 knots for 24 hours, we multiply 8 times 24 and get 192 knots in a day. If we want to convert that to miles, we multiply again by 1.15 because each knot is 1.15 miles. We get 220.8 Congratulations to all who got this correct. It was a tough question.

Several of you have asked how long I would be on the ship. I will be here until the end of next week. I leave the ship on Friday October 17th.

LP – I enjoy the show Deadliest Catch very much. I think it is cool that scientists sometimes do that same kind of exciting work.

SD, there is no way for me to videotape under that water, but tomorrow I will show you how our sonars (we call them echosounders) work. That is one way to see under the water.

DT from SOMS dont’ worry, there is no light pollution out here. I am on the back deck of a working ship, so right where I am there are lights. I need them to do my job. I just have to go to the upper decks to get away from it or ask the bridge to shut them down for a bit.

Jacob Tanenbaum, October 10, 2008

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Jacob Tanenbaum
Onboard NOAA Ship Henry Bigelow
October 5 – 16, 2008

Mission: Survey
Geographic Region: Northeast U.S.
Date: October 10, 2008

IMG_6354-743446Science Log

Did you figure out the answer to yesterday’s question? Those creatures were the real cast of Sponge Bob Square Pants TV Show. We saw a sponge, like Sponge Bob, and sea stars like Patrick, plankton, like Sheldon Plankton, some squid like Squidward, a crab like Mr. Krabs next to a sand dollar (because Mr. Krabs loves money), a lobster like Larry the Lobster and a snail like Gary. All the creatures in the program actually exist in the sea, except for squirrels, and we have seen them all on this adventure. Amazing creatures keep coming up in our nets day after day. Let’s take a look at a creature called a skate. The skate makes those funny black rectangles that you find on beaches. Take a look at where those rectangles come from and what is inside of them. Click here for a video!

Skates also have interesting faces. They live along the bottom of the sea. Their eyes are on top of their head to spot predators and their mouthes are below to eat what is on the bottom. They have two nostril -like openings above their mouth called spiracles. They look just like eyes but actually help the skate breathe. Here are a few interesting skate faces.

IMG_6247-720301

This sea robin uses three separate parts of its pectoral fin, called fin-rays to move, almost like its walking along the bottom of the sea as it looks for food. This helps is move very quietly, making it able to sneak up on prey unobserved.

Sea Robin
Sea Robin

These two baby dog-fish show different stages of development. This one is still connected to an egg sack. The other has broken loose from it, but you can still see where it was attached just below the mouth. Usually in this species, just like most fish in the shark family has eggs that develop inside the mother’s body. She gives birth to the pups when they have hatched from their eggs and are ready for the open sea.

Dogfish egg sack
Dogfish egg sack

IMG_6374-789593Many people have asked me about garbage. Here is some of what we have found so far. We caught part of someone else’s fishing net. Here is a Styrofoam cup and here is a plastic bag, which we caught 140 miles from the nearest land. How do you think it got here?

Finally, we were visited by some dolphins last night. They were eating smaller fish and as they came in for their attack, you can see the smaller fish jumping straight out of the water into the air to try to avoid being caught. Click here for a video.

IMG_6125-731150

IMG_6383-764446Snuggy and Zee decided to visit the kitchen today. Here are Zee and Snuggy with our chief Steward Dennis M. Carey and our 2nd cook, Alexander Williams. The food here is fantastic. See how large the kitchen is? We have a lot of people to feed on this ship, and the cooks here work hard. You have seen a few of the many different jobs that people can do on a ship like this. You have seen the scientists at work in the labs, you have seen the engineers who make the engine go. You have been to the bridge where the NOAA Corp officers run the ship. You have been to the kitchen where the cooks keep us so well fed. Tomorrow, you will see how the deck crew trawl our sample nets through the water. Keep checking the blog this weekend. There will be lots to see.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Now, some answers to your questions and comments:

Hi to KD and to Derek Jeter. We are staying safe. Thanks for writing.

Hello to St. Mark School in Florida. I’m glad you are enjoying the blog. I really enjoyed your thoughts about what these fish have in common. Great work. Here are some answers:

If a ship hit a drifter, the drifter would probably be broken. But the ocean is a big place, and that does not happen very often.

Can your school adopt a drifter? Of course! Take a look here: http://www.adoptadrifter.noaa.gov/. In the mean time, you are welcome to follow the adventures of our buoy. Keep checking this website!

I have Snuggy because some of my kindergarten classes asked me to take a bear with me to sea. So I did!

How heavy are the drifters? It weight 30 pounds or so, I would guess. Enough to make me work to pick it up.

I knew the whale was dead because part of it was decomposing. We could see it and we could smell it. Yuck.

Did any fish try to bite me? Yes. One scallop closed its shell on my finger. I had to be quick to get my hand out of the way in time. Other than that, no.

At 8 knots per hour, the ship could travel 192 knots, or about 220 miles in a day.

Congratulations to all who calculated correctly. The truth is that we have to stop for sample trawls every hour or two, so we seldom make our top cruising speed when we do work like this. So, we usually travel less than we could.

Oh, and to all those who asked, so far I have not gotten sick. Yet.

Thanks all for writing. Keep checking the blog!

Jacob Tanenbaum, October 9, 2008

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Jacob Tanenbaum
Onboard NOAA Ship Henry Bigelow
October 5 – 16, 2008

Mission: Survey
Geographic Region: Northeast U.S.
Date: October 9, 2008

DSCN3867-789283Science Log

Hello everyone. I hope you are all enjoying your day off today. Since you have time off from school, I bet many of you are spending time observing these sea creatures…

Can you guess what they all have in common? Post your answers on the blog.

Need a hint? That crab is standing right by a sand dollar. Money. Hmmm.

This angler fish is an interesting character. It sits on the bottom of the water and blends in with its surroundings. It has a small hair that sticks out of its face that is use to lure prey closer to its mouth (just like its cousin from deeper waters, the angler fish). When the prey get close by it strikes. With all of those rows of sharp teeth it makes short work of smaller fish. Can you imagine a fish with a built in fishing rod. Very interesting. We came across a dead whale floating in the open sea. What an amazing sight (and smell). Yuk. Look how big it is next to the ship. The barnacles on its face were the size of baseballs.

A lot of you have asked what my stateroom looks like. Here are Snuggy and Zee in my “rack.” That’s what we call a bed. Do I have a roommate? Yes. Sean is very nice. I’ve only met him once or twice because he sleeps when I work and I sleep when he works, so we don’t run into each other much. That’s often how things work on a ship like this. The second picture is the door to the corridor. The locker to the right is where I keep my gear. The door on the left leads to the “head,” which is what we call the bathroom on a ship.

Many of you asked what the engine room is like. Joe Deltorto, our Chief Engineer, was kind enough to give me a tour. The Bigelow has an interesting engine room. Huge diesel generators make electricity. Lots of it. Enough to power all of our computers, sensors, lights, and even the ship itself. The propeller is turned by large electric motors. This makes the Bigelow one of the most quiet research ships anywhere. Why is that important? Sound is often used to see what is below the surface of the water. Sonars push sound through the water and listen when it echos back. That’s often how boats see what is under them. The Bigelow has a more sophisticated version of this called an echosounder. It can see much more, but still uses sound to see. So the engines have to be super quiet.

Today we will deploy our Drifter Buoy. This is an instrument that we are adopting. It will float in the open sea for the next 14 months or so and tell us where is has gone and what the temperature of the water around it is. Drifters are an important way that scientists measure. Keep watching here. I will update the blog when I deploy the drifter.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Here are some answers to your wonderful questions and comments.

Have I gotten sea-sick? No. So far, the water has been very calm. I feel very luck. The ship has hardly moved at all.

Does it smell on board because of all the fish? Surprisingly, no. even the fish labs have lots of fresh ocean air coming through. There is no bad smell. When we came across a rotten whale floating in the ocean, then there was a smell! Oy!

The whales we have seen so far were all humpback. Even the dead one.

Have I seen fish that were new to me. Oh yes. Most of what we have seen has been new to me! That’s what makes these trips so much fun! I love learning new things.

What do I want to see that I have not seen yet? Dolphins.

In answer to so many of your questions, no, I have not fallen in yet. Either has anyone else. The Bigelow is a very safe ship. Everyone is well trained and very concerned for the saftey of themselves and all the others on board. I feel very safe here.

Hello to Ms. Farry and classes in TZE. I’m glad you are looking at the blog.

Hi Turtle. Nice to hear from you. Yes, I think we can work that out. We are on the shelf, so our deepest CTD deployment will be only be about 300 meters. Will that do?

FD and JEGB, thanks for your questions. No, so far we have not seen any 6 pack rings on any creatures. I did see some garbage float by many dozens of miles from shore. It was right where the whales were swimming. Sad.

IJ, cool idea, though I wonder, though if the water would carry toxins from the smoke into the streams rivers and oceans? Keep thinking maybe you will discover a way to solve this problem someday.

Mi Mrs. Bolte’s class. I’ll get you engine room photos very soon, and there is a photo of my stateroom for you today. I’m glad you like the blog.

MS, the people here are friendly, very professional and so helpful with everything I have needed for all my projects.

MH, yes I do miss my family.

MJ, we see lots of ships out here. Yes. It has been fun to see.

Several of you asked about cell phones. They do not work out here. We are way too far from land. All the crew were on deck as we left port making their last calls to their families. So was I.

Hello to Mrs. Ochman’s class, Mrs. De Vissers’s class, Mrs. Sheehy’s and TN’s class. I hope the pictures in the last few days answered lots of your questions.

Mrs. Christie Blick’s class, here are some answers to your questions: No, the clothes just keep you dry (and comfortable) when you are working. You get used to them. I am adjusting well to the time change. It is a little like going to New Zealand like Mrs. Christie-Blick did recently. I wake up at about 8:00 PM, go to work at midnight and then go to sleep in the early afternoon. Our time, that is. If I were in New Zealand, I would be on a normal schedule. I’ll post pictures for your soon for my stateroom. It is very relaxing here. There is not a whole lot to worry about. There is a lot of work, but it is not hard.

The zig in our course, by the way is probably where we stopped for a trawl. We sometimes circle around when we do that.

Hello Mrs. Benson. Thanks for checking out the blog. No artists here at the moment. I enjoy amature photography and what subjects there are out here!

Hello Guy D. Thanks for following the blog. I appreciate your support.

Rebecca Bell, August 23, 2008

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Rebecca Bell
Onboard NOAA Ship Delaware II 
August 14-28, 2008

Mission: Ecosystems Monitoring Survey
Geographical Area: North Atlantic
Date: August 23, 2008

Alison, Shrinky Cup Project Director, with the cups before being sent beneath the water.
Alison, Shrinky Cup Project Director, with the cups before being sent under.

Weather Data from the Bridge 
Time: 1919(GMT)
Latitude: 4219.5N Longitude: 6812.5 W
Air Temp 0C: 20.7
Sea Water Temp 0C: 19.6

Science and Technology Log 

The Shrinky Cup Caper 

A trip to sea is not complete without the classic experiment on ocean depth and pressure— Styrofoam cup shrinking. Styrofoam cups are decorated with markers, and then lowered in a bag attached to the cable during a vertical cast. In our experiments, pressure is measured in decibars (dbar). This means that 1 dbar equals about 1 meter of depth. So 100 dbars = 100 meters; 1000 dbars =1000 meters. For every 10m (33ft) of water depth, the pressure increases by about 15 pounds per square inch (psi). At depth, pressure from the overlying ocean water becomes very high, but water is only slightly compressible. At a depth of 4,000 meters, water decreases in volume only by 1.8 percent. Although the high pressure at depth has only a slight effect on the water, it has a much greater effect on easily compressible materials such as Styrofoam.

Attaching the bag of cups to cable Over they go!
Attaching the cups

Styrofoam has air in it. As the cups go down, pressure forces out the air. See the results of the experiment for yourself. The depth of the cast was 200 meters or about 600 feet. (You can now calculate the total lbs of pressure on the cups). Addendum: Alison discovered that putting one of the shrunken cups down a second time resulted in an even smaller cup. The cups were sent to 200 meters again. Below right is a photo of the result of reshrinking the cup. Apparently, time has something to do with the final size as well. Resources: NOAA Ocean Explorer Web site – Explorations; Submarine Ring of Fire. AMNH Explore the Deep Oceans Lessons.

Over they go!
Over they go!

Personal Log 

There is a noticeable difference in the amount of plankton we pull in at different depths and temperatures. I can fairly well predict what we will net based on the depth and temperature at a sample site. I’ve also noticed that the presence of sea birds means to start looking for whales and dolphins. I assume that where there is a lot of plankton (food) there are more fish and other lunch menu items for birds and dolphins. A high population of plankton means we are more likely to see more kinds of larger animals.

Animals Seen Today 

  • Salps
  • Krill
  • Amphipods
  • Copepods
  • Ctenophores
  • Chaetognaths (arrow worms)
  • Fish larvae
  • Atlantic White-sided Dolphins
  • Terns
  • Minke whales
  • Pilot whales
  • Mola mola (4)
The results of what happened to the cups at a depth of 200 meters. The white cups are the original size.
The results of what happened to the cups at a depth of 200 meters. The white cups are the original size.
Left, a cup shrunk 2 times; center 1 time; and right, the original size
Left, a cup shrunk 2 times; center 1 time; and right,
the original size

Rebecca Bell, August 22, 2008

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Rebecca Bell
Onboard NOAA Ship Delaware II 
August 14-28, 2008

Mission: Ecosystems Monitoring Survey
Geographical Area: North Atlantic
Date: August 22, 2008

Weather Data from the Bridge 
Latitude: 4224.2 N Longitude: 6659.1 W
Sea Surface Temperature: 21.2 C
Depth: 202m

Becky proudly displays her drifter buoy before its deployment!
Becky proudly displays her drifter buoy before its deployment!

Science and Technology Log 

It’s a buoy! Today has been busy—a vertical cast, baby bongos and the big bongos. But let me tell you about the other things. First of all, Alison and I deployed my very own buoy. NOAA has an Adopt-A-Drifter (buoy) program. Jerry Prezioso, our Chief Scientist, thoughtfully signed me up for it before we sailed. We deployed it today at George’s Bank, the deepest station we will reach.

The deployment consisted of picking up the basketball-sized buoy and throwing it over the side. There is a transmitter in the black float which will allow us to track the buoy’s motion for years. NOAA uses these buoys to assemble weather reports, monitor climate changes, etc. The buoy consists of the round ball with the transmitter and a “drogue” a long “tube” of cloth that fills with water. The purpose of the tube is to make sure it is the ocean current that moves the buoy, not wind.

With a little help, Becky gets ready to throw her drifter into the ocean
With a little help, Becky gets ready to throw her drifter into the ocean

There is a diagram on the Adopt-A-Drifter site. The ball and drogue (sounds like an English pub) are attached to a metal ring which anchors the drogue and the ball. Here I am with the MSDE-decorated buoy. You can barely see the metal ring. The drogue is the green thing, folded up. You throw the whole thing overboard. The paper and tape dissolve and the drogue unfurls. It has to be kept tied up so you don’t go overboard with the drifter.  NOAA’s Office of Climate Observation sponsors the “Adopt-A- Drifter” program.  According to the Web site: “The “Adopt-A- Drifter” program (allows you to access) information about drifting buoys (drifters) that move with the ocean currents around the globe. The drifter floats in the ocean water and is powered by batteries located in the dome. The drifter data that are collected, including location with a GPS, are sent to a satellite and then to a land station where everyone can access the data.

And off it goes on its long journey
And off it goes on its long journey

Drifters are continually being deployed from ships around the world. They last for a number of years unless they collide with something like an island in the middle of the ocean or a continent. Each drifter receives aWMO ID # (World Meteorological Organization Identification Number) so the data can be archived. The purpose of the drifters is to gather the information necessary for countries to: 1) forecast and assess climate variability and change, and 2) effectively plan for and manage response to climate change.”

This map indicates where the drifty buoy was deployed: where the Labrador Current, the Gulf Stream, and the North Atlantic current converge
This map indicates where the drifty buoy was deployed: where the Labrador Current, the Gulf Stream, and the North Atlantic current converge

We will release it in George’s Basin at 4224.2 N latitude; 6659.1 W longitude. This is an interesting area because of the way currents converge near this site.  Above is a map of the area.  Below it is a diagram showing the major currents.

A map showing the area where the drifter buoy was deployed from the Delaware II
A map showing the area where the drifter buoy was deployed from the Delaware II

As you can see, the buoy was deployed where the Labrador Current, the Gulf Stream and the North Atlantic Current encounter each other. There is a chance that the buoy will travel into the Gulf Stream or through the Northeast Channel into the North Atlantic Current. It might also just stay within the basin, caught in the large gyre within the Basin. You can get on-line and track the buoy to see what happens to it.

More from the Web site:

“The Adopt-A- Drifter program provides an opportunity for teachers to infuse ocean observing system data into their curriculum. An educational sticker from each school is adhered to the drifter before deployment and teachers and their students access sea surface temperature and/or sea surface pressure data from the drifter online. Students plot the coordinates of the drifter on a tracking chart as it moves freely across the ocean and make connections between the data accessed on line and other maps showing ocean currents and winds. Drifter data are used to track major ocean currents and eddies globally, ground truth data from satellites, build models of climate and weather patterns and predict the movement of pollutants if dumped or accidentally spilled into the sea. It is important for teachers and students to understand how the data are measured, how often data are downloaded, and what data are available for schools and the general public to access.”

Source: Modified from Follow the world’s ocean currents with NOAA’s Adopt a Drifter Program 

Stanitski, D.M.; Hammond, J. OCEANS, 2005. Proceedings of MTS/IEEE

Personal Log 

As we move further north, our nets started pulling in krill. I hoped that whales were not far behind. I was not disappointed. Yesterday we encountered dolphins on three separate occasions. One group came very near the ship and I have some good video of them “porpoising” through the waves. We also spotted a whale spout, but I could not see the whale. Later in the day, during our safety drill, I was looking out to sea just as a pilot whale leaped straight into the air. We were able to see that there were a number of these whales feeding in that area. Towards afternoon, we saw a group of Minke whales. In late afternoon, another spout was spotted and we saw a huge tail disappear under the water- probably a humpback whale.

For More Information 

NOAA’s Adopt-A- Drifter Program

NOAA Lesson plans: Ocean Currents

Climate Observation System

Ocean Explorer related lesson: Islands in the Stream- How geologic feature(s) in the structure of the ocean floor may cause an eddy to form in the current above it

NOAA National Environmental, Satellite, Data and Information Service Lesson on the dynamics of the ocean using satellite data; Investigating the Gulf Stream 

NASA Lesson: Global Winds

Climate and Weather Animations Educypedia

NOAA Office of Climate Observation

NOAA Buoy and Drifter Oceanography 

Karolyn Braun, October 29, 2006

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Karolyn Braun
Onboard NOAA Ship Ka’imimoana
October 4 – 28, 2006

Mission: TAO Buoy Array Maintenance
Geographical Area: Hawaii
Date: October 29, 2006

Chief Scientist, Patrick A’Hearn replaces a rain gauge and sea surface salinity sensor on a TAO buoy.
Chief Scientist, Patrick A’Hearn replaces a rain gauge and sea surface salinity sensor on a TAO buoy.

Plan of the Day: Repair TAO buoy 8N/International Date Line and Transit to Kwajalein, RMI

Today was our last TAO buoy of the cruise. I was able to go on the repair and assist the Chief Scientist, Patrick A’Hearn in a rain gauge and a sea surface salinity sensor replacement.  Let’s talk TAO buoys.

Development of the Tropical Atmosphere Ocean (TAO) array was motivated by the 1982-1983 El Nino event, the strongest of the century up to that time, which was neither predicted nor detected until nearly at its peak. The event highlighted the need for real-time data from the tropical Pacific for both monitoring, prediction, and improved understanding of El Nino. As a result, with support from NOAA’s Equatorial Pacific Ocean Climate Studies (EPOCS) program, Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory,  (PMEL) began development of the ATLAS (Autonomous Temperature Line Acquisition System) mooring.  This low-cost deep ocean mooring was designed to measure surface meteorological and subsurface oceanic parameters, and to transmit all data to shore in real-time via satellite relay.  The mooring was also designed to last one year in the water before needing to be recovered for maintenance.  In August of 1996, the KA’IMIMOANA was commissioned and dedicated to servicing the TAO array east of 165E.

braun_log23aThe TAO surface buoy is a 2.3 m diameter fiberglass-over-foam toroid, with an aluminum tower and a stainless steel bridle.  When completely rigged, the system has an air weight of approximately 660 kg, a net buoyancy of nearly 2300 kg, and an overall height of 4.9 m.  The electronics tube is approximately 1.5 m long, 0.18 m diameter, and weighs 27 kg.  The buoy can be seen on radar from 4-8 miles depending on sea conditions.

Moorings are deployed in water depths between 1500 and 6000m.  To ensure that the upper section of the mooring is nearly vertical a nominal scope of 0.985 (ratio of mooring length to water depth) is employed on the moorings in water depths of 1800 meters or more.

Karolyn Braun, October 26, 2006

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Karolyn Braun
Onboard NOAA Ship Ka’imimoana
October 4 – 28, 2006

Mission: TAO Buoy Array Maintenance
Geographical Area: Hawaii
Date: October 26, 2006

TAS Braun shows off her eggs benedict
TAS Braun shows off her eggs Benedict

Plan of the Day 

Woke up and was in the kitchen at 5:30 a.m. The Breakfast menu: Pancakes Omelets Sausage Bacon Eggs Benedict Breakfast potatoes Fritata Breakfast Sandwiches.

It was the first time I made Eggs Benedict and I tell you the sauce is a killer. You have to continually whisk the melted butter while adding the egg yolks. If you don’t, the mixture separates and you lose your sauce.  I thought all was lost, but I was able to bring it back and ended up making one mean Eggs Benedict! Everyone seemed happy with his or her breakfast to order.  As soon as breakfast was over we cleaned up and started preparing for lunch.  I thought working with the deck crew was hot and sweaty work but the kitchen blew that out of the water.

Mexican Fiesta Lunch menu: Pork Green Chili Veggie Fajita Refried beans Super Nachos Beef Fajitas  And all the fixings Lunch went well and things slowed up after everyone left. We cleaned the kitchen and started preparing for dinner but it was at a more leisurely pace. For dinner I made garlic chicken with spinach noodles, Steak with Spanish rice and some leftovers from lunch.  I finished my day around 5:30 when I took a much-needed shower and a 20-minute power nap. Woke up to watch them drop the anchor to the TAO buoy at 8N.170W. Is it bedtime yet?

I have to give the stewards of all the NOAA ships lots of credit. They work long hard days, and from my experience, always with a smile.

Some crewmembers of the KA’IMIMOANA enjoy some of TAS Braun’s cooking.
Some crewmembers of the KA’IMIMOANA enjoy some of TAS Braun’s cooking.

Karolyn Braun, October 24, 2006

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Karolyn Braun
Onboard NOAA Ship Ka’imimoana
October 4 – 28, 2006

Mission: TAO Buoy Array Maintenance
Geographical Area: Hawaii
Date: October 24, 2006

A pilot whale breeches the surface of the water.
A pilot whale breaches the surface of the water.

Plan of the Day 

Well it was a long early morning. I was awoken at 2 a.m. to prepare for the 300 CTD profile. By the time I was finished and all was said and done, it was time for the next one. We sailed by the TAO buoy and all looked well so we went ahead and conducted the CTD and deployed the AOML. My last CTD for the day was the 1230 profile at 2.5N/170W.  Eric from MBARI will be doing the evening one.  I walked on the treadmill for an hour then made a nice salad for lunch.  I honestly don’t eat this much on my own.  It’s easy to eat when every meal is made for you.  One can easily gain weight out here. I did some knot tying and rested a bit but did not want to nap, as I would not sleep tonight.  We saw another pod of Pilot whales off the port bow playing in the water. Snapped a few good photos.

Lets talk about whales shall we?  Whales are mammals, and there are five distinct groups of marine mammals: Pinnepeds, which include seals, sea lions, fur seals and walruses;  Sea Otters; Cetaceans containing whales, dolphins and porpoises; Sirenians which consist of dugongs and manatees; and Polar Bears.  So what does it mean to be a marine mammal?  Well like all mammals, they are warm-blooded, they have at least a few hairs on their bodies, and they nourish their young with milk.  These mammals are protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act that was enacted in 1979, which made it illegal to “take” any marine mammal.  The term “take” includes harass, hunt, capture, collect, or kill, or attempt to do the same.  “Harass” denotes the act of pursuit, torment, or annoyance that has potential to disturb marine mammals.  In1994 it was amended to strengthen the definition of harass and included feeding.

Pilot whales have been hunted for many centuries, particularly by Japanese whalers.  In the mid-1980s the annual Japanese kill was about 2,300 animals.  This had decreased to about 400 per year by the 1990s. Killing by harpoon is still relatively common in the Lesser Antilles, Indonesia and Sri Lanka. Hundreds or perhaps thousands are killed each year in longline and gillnets.  However, due to poor record-keeping it is not known how many kills are made each year, and what the effect this has on the local population. Female pilot whales mature at 6 years of age and a length of about 3.5 m.  Males mature much later when 12 years old and 5 m in length.  Mature adult males, which are generally larger than females, can weigh as much as 3 tons.  At birth, calves weigh slightly over 200 lbs. They are born after a pregnancy of 16 months, and are weaned at around 20 months of age.

Pilot whales have strong social cohesiveness; it is rare to see a single individual.  Even when being driven ashore by whalers, they would stay together as a group.  Groups typically contain animals of both sexes and many different ages.  The males may compete for breeding privileges, forming a hierarchy that excludes smaller males.  Large assemblages may also be composed of smaller, close-knit groups, which are stable over time.  Pilot whales are some of the noisiest whales in the ocean. Their group structure requires social communication, and they orient to prey objects by echolocation.  Vocalizations include a wide variety of whistles and clicks.

Karolyn Braun, October 23, 2006

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Karolyn Braun
Onboard NOAA Ship Ka’imimoana
October 4 – 28, 2006

Mission: TAO Buoy Array Maintenance
Geographical Area: Hawaii
Date: October 23, 2006

The drifter buoy sets sail for its long journey on the sea.
The drifter buoy sets sail for its long journey on the sea.

Plan of the Day 

Very busy day. Was up bright and early to conduct the 600 CTD profile.  Had some breakfast and did some cleaning around the stateroom.  Around 9 a.m.  I updated my KA’IMIMOANA intranet webpage. I am glad I learned how to use the Frontpage program as it may come in handy. I went and sat in the ‘pool’ for a bit before lunch, but overall had a lazy morning.

After a light lunch we conducted a 4000m CTD cast, which took about 4 hours then deployed the AOML drifter buoy, the third of three that ASCC has adopted. The modern drifter is a high-tech version of the “message in a bottle”.  It consists of a surface buoy and a subsurface drogue (sea anchor), attached by a long, thin tether.  The buoy measures temperature and other properties, and has a transmitter to send the data to passing satellites.  The drogue dominates the total area of the instrument and is centered at a depth of 15 meters beneath the sea surface.  The drifter sensors measure data such as sea surface temperature, average the data over a window (typically 90 seconds), and transmit the sensor data at 401.65 MHz.  Each drifter transmitter is assigned a Platform Terminal Transmitter (PTT) code, often referred to as the drifter ID. These Bouys are deployed by NOAA’s Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory or AOML.

While Tonya completed the CTD cast, I got to help the ship’s deck crew with a little Bosun Locker Clean-up. There was a pod of about 100 or so Pilot whales that crossed our path. Very cool to see! I got in a workout, then at 6 p.m. it was time to do another CTD profile.

Karolyn Braun, October 22, 2006

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Karolyn Braun
Onboard NOAA Ship Ka’imimoana
October 4 – 28, 2006

Mission: TAO Buoy Array Maintenance
Geographical Area: Hawaii
Date: October 22, 2006

The crew of the KA’IMIMOANA conduct an abandon-ship drill.
The crew conduct an abandon-ship drill.

Science and Technology Log 

We are still a little behind schedule this morning.  We’re preparing the next TAO buoy for deployment later on in the week, and I’m getting ready for my busy schedule of CTD profiles. After our 930 CTD was up and secure on deck, we had an abandon-ship drill.  Those are always fun. Mike and Joe, the ET guys instructed us on the use of the emergency VHF radio, the EPIRB, Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons the PEPIRB, Personal Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons and the SARTS, Search and Rescue Transponder System.  Our drill was over in time to enjoy a nice lunch, after which we were back outside getting ready to clean one of the lockers when we had a scenario fire drill.  The scenario was that a fire broke out in the paint locker.  We all had to report to muster to be accounted for.  Once we did that, I assisted by bringing out the hose to the grated deck and made sure certain vents were closed.  The drill was definitely adrenaline pumping, but I am glad we haven’t had a real one onboard.

After the drill was said and done, I had to conduct a CTD profile.  It was supposed to be short and sweet but turned out to be a little longer than expected due to something wrong with the winch speed and another fuse blowing.  I don’t think the computer likes me.   The CTD was finally finished and we steamed off towards the next buoy to conduct a dive operation to repair some fittings on the TAO buoy.  I got in a work out and a nap before my late CTD at 2300.  What a day.

Karolyn Braun, October 20, 2006

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Karolyn Braun
Onboard NOAA Ship Ka’imimoana
October 4 – 28, 2006

Mission: TAO Buoy Array Maintenance
Geographical Area: Hawaii
Date: October 20, 2006

TAS Braun contacts the winch to bring up the CTD carousel.
TAS Braun contacts the winch to bring up the CTD carousel.

Plan of the Day 

Well after a long and fun-filled three-day transit we arrived safely at our new longitude line, 170W, to follow.  The ship was buzzing early with preparations to retrieve the TAO buoy. Mother ocean is VERY calm with a small swell but smooth as velvet.  Why is that you ask? Well, the winds cause waves on the surface of the ocean (and on lakes).  The wind transfers some of its energy to the water, through friction between the air molecules and the water molecules. Stronger winds (like storm surges) cause larger waves.  You can make your own miniature waves by blowing across the surface of a pan of water.

Waves of water do not move horizontally, they only move up and down (a wave does not represent a flow of water).  You can see a demonstration of this by watching a floating buoy or a bird bob up and down with a wave; it does not, however, move horizontally with the wave. So the lack of waves makes things easier on the boat but tough on the fantail spooling, as there is little breeze to keep cool. By 800 the buoy was secured and the spooling fun begun. We finished spooling the line and prepped for the deployment just as lunch was beginning. Perfect timing.  After a full belly and some much needed rest indoors we deployed the “Samoan Legend” buoy and spent the next three and half hours releasing the line before dropping anchor.  We finished conducting a 3000m CTD and released an ARGO when Mr. Moon greeted us.  Another wonderful day in paradise…Good night!

Karolyn Braun, October 19, 2006

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Karolyn Braun
Onboard NOAA Ship Ka’imimoana
October 4 – 28, 2006

Mission: TAO Buoy Array Maintenance
Geographical Area: Hawaii
Date: October 19, 2006

TAS Braun displays her creative buoy artwork.
TAS Braun displays her creative buoy artwork.

Plan of the Day 

Paint designs on TAO buoys; Go for a swim in the “pool”

Today was our last day of transit before we arrived at our destination of 8S/170W. After breakfast I got my paints out and spent literally all day painting the three buoys we will be deploying in the next few weeks. I enjoyed myself.  I created an Aloha Buoy with plumeria flowers; a Samoan Buoy with a Samoan designed fish, turtle, shark, ray and an island scene; and my third one is of a fisherman trying to lure an octopus with a lure made of a large cowry shell that resembles a rat (isumu). The Samoan legend about the octopus (fe’e) and the rat comes into the picture.

TAS Braun relaxes in the KA’IMIMOANA’s “pool.”
TAS Braun relaxes in the KA’IMIMOANA’s “pool.”

Gather round, story time: It all started with a sightseeing canoe trip on the ocean by an owl, a snail and a rat.  Their canoe started to sink, so the owl escaped by flying away, the snail sank with the canoe to the bottom of the ocean (goto uga), and the rat tried to swim to shore but he had a long way to go. He saw an octopus and called for help.  The octopus agreed and swam to shore with the rat on his head. When they got to shore, the rat jumped off and thanked the octopus for saving his life and said that he left a little present on the octopus’s head.  When the octopus realized that there was a rat dropping on his head, he became extremely angry and told the rat, “If I ever see you again, I’ll kill you.”  To this day, the octopus is mad about this and is still looking for the rat.  Whenever a fisherman uses this rat shape lure he is sure to bring an octopus home.

After my lunch break I went to relax in our ‘pool’ on the bow before returning to finish up the painting. It was fun and everyone seemed to get a laugh at my paintings.  I was exhausted by the end of the day but it was worth it.  Tomorrow starts another busy week with buoy ops, CTD’s, late nights and early mornings so I am enjoying the slow pace. OK this is enough for the day.  Till tomorrow.

Karolyn Braun, October 18, 2006

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Karolyn Braun
Onboard NOAA Ship Ka’imimoana
October 4 – 28, 2006

Mission: TAO Buoy Array Maintenance
Geographical Area: Hawaii
Date: October 18, 2006

TAS Braun using the Fluorometer to test CTD water samples.
TAS Braun using the Fluorometer to test CTD water samples.

Plan of the Day 

Transit; TAO buoy painting; Testing CTD samples using the Fluorometer

Woke up at 5am to get a head start on the painting. I’d rather work in the morning before the sun comes up.  I finished painting the white strips before breakfast so the crew could flip the buoys over to paint the red on the bottoms before the end of the day. I spent most of my day in front of the Fluorometer testing the CTD water samples.

Ok Learning time: To calculate chlorophyll you need to use the following equation: Chl (ug 1 ) = F*Ve((Fo-Fa)/S)Vf Where F = fluorometer calibration factor

Fo = total fluorescence

Fa = Fluorescence after acid

Ve = extract volume (acetone extract; 10ml)

Vf = filtration volume (volume of filtered seawater in liters; 0.528L

S = sensitivity To obtain Fo we need to fill the cuvette, a test tube-like glass beaker, and place into the Fluorometer.  Record data. Then add 3 drops of 10% HCL to cuvette while still in the fluorometer.  Re-read the fluorescence at the same sensitivity setting.  Record data. Making sure in between samples the cuvette is cleaned with acetone. In completing the equation, we discovered that out here most of the chlorophyll is deeper than in most places.  Let’s get to the basics. The ocean can be divided into five broad zones according to how far down sunlight penetrates:

  • The epipelagic, or sunlit, zone: the top layer of the ocean where enough sunlight penetrates for plants to carry on photosynthesis.
  • The mesopelagic, or twilight, zone: a dim zone where some light penetrates, but not enough for plants to grow.
  • The bathypelagic, or midnight, zone: the deep ocean layer where no light penetrates.
  • The abyssal zone: the pitch-black bottom layer of the ocean; the water here is almost freezing and its pressure is immense.
  • The hadal zone: the waters found in the ocean’s deepest trenches.

Plants are found where there is enough light for photosynthesis; however, animals are found at all depths of the oceans though their numbers are greater near the surface where food is plentiful.  So why is more chlorophyll found deeper the further you travel away from the equator?  Well my hypothesis is because all the nutrients are found in the deep cold layers of the midnight zone.  Near the equator and near coastlines upwelling occurs so the nutrients are brought up to the sunlit zone. As you go further away from the equator less and less upwelling occurs so the phytoplankton is unable to thrive in this sunlit zone. The phytoplankton will grow deep enough in the twilight zone to obtain the nutrients, yet shallow enough where photosynthesis can occur.  I also think that like land plants, too much sun can reduce the growth of the phytoplankton.

Chlorophyll fluorescence is often reduced in algae experiencing adverse conditions such as stressful temperature, nutrient deficiency, and polluting agents.  Phytoplankton photosynthetic efficiency is one of the biological signals that rapidly reacts to changes in nutrient availability as well as naturally occurring or anthropogenically introduced toxins (contaminants).  The results can be used as an indicator of system wide change or health.  I finally finished the samples around 3 p.m. Got in a work out, watched a movie and was off to bed but not before we retarded our clocks 1 hour.  We are now entering my normal time zone.  So close to American Samoa yet so far away•

Karolyn Braun, October 17, 2006

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Karolyn Braun
Onboard NOAA Ship Ka’imimoana
October 4 – 28, 2006

Mission: TAO Buoy Array Maintenance
Geographical Area: Hawaii
Date: October 17, 2006

TAS Braun paints one of the TAO buoys to ready it for deployment.
TAS Braun paints one of the TAO buoys to ready it for deployment.

Science and Technology Log 

Plan of the Day: Transit TAO buoy painting

Today started our first of a three-day transit to latitude 170W.  In the morning I did some knot tying and research on the theory of active fluorescence.  I will be assisting Eric from the Monterey Bay Aquarium on testing the water samples we have been collecting from the past CTDs using an Active Fluorometer.  Active fluorescence methods utilize the relationship between chlorophyll fluorescence and photosynthesis.  I will go into more detail tomorrow.

I painted the TAO buoys in the afternoon to get them ready for deployment on our next line. I was able to paint all the orange before the rain came but will have to paint the white tomorrow.  The weather couldn’t figure out what it wanted to do.  One minute the sun was blazing hot the next it was overcast the next raining then back to the sun again.  I drank a lot of water but felt really dehydrated, so no work out today.  I am going to drink plenty of water and go to bed early.

Karolyn Braun, October 16, 2006

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Karolyn Braun
Onboard NOAA Ship Ka’imimoana
October 4 – 28, 2006

Mission: TAO Buoy Array Maintenance
Geographical Area: Hawaii
Date: October 16, 2006

Junior Officer Phoebe Woodward and TAS Karolyn Braun show off their ARGO tattoos by the ARGO floats before deployment.
Junior Officer Phoebe Woodward and TAS Karolyn Braun show off their ARGO tattoos by the ARGO floats before deployment.

Science and Technology Log 

Well my morning started with a cloudy sunrise, which quickly turned to a nice rain shower. With very low visibility, the winds and waves picked up again, so the ship was pitching and rolling. More learning: Pitching is where the bow and stern move up and down, and rolling is where the vessel will move from one side to another.

While in transit I practiced my knot tying with Jeff and Chris, two of the deck crew, and Carrie, one of the cooks let me borrow her handbook of knots. I am learning!  We had an on-time arrival to the TAO buoy at 8S/155W. The RHIB was sent out to retrieve it; it was secured on deck and lines were spooled in. We were able to take a half dinner break and then it was back to work. The new buoy was deployed into the water and the lines were fed out. We worked until about 7:15 then conducted a CTD and deployed our ARGO float. I even got a workout in. All in a days work.  

Karolyn Braun, October 15, 2006

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Karolyn Braun
Onboard NOAA Ship Ka’imimoana
October 4 – 28, 2006

Mission: TAO Buoy Array Maintenance
Geographical Area: Hawaii
Date: October 15, 2006

TAS, Karolyn Braun enjoying the fresh air
TAS, Karolyn Braun enjoying the fresh air before deploying a drifter buoy

Plan of the Day 

Well today I woke up at 5 a.m. to watch the sunrise as we sailed past Malden Island. It was only two miles away…Beautiful.  We were so close I could see the waves breaking on its sandy beaches. From doing some research, and thanks to the Chief Scientist, I found that Malden was formerly known as Independence Island. It is a low, arid, uninhabited island in the central Pacific Ocean, about 39 km² in area.  It is one of the Line Islands belonging to Republic of Kiribati. The island is chiefly notable for its “mysterious” prehistoric ruins (of Polynesian origin), its once-extensive deposits of phosphatic guano (exploited by Australian interests from c. 1860-1927), its use as the site of the first British H-bomb tests (Operation Grapple, 1957), and its importance as a protected area for breeding seabirds.

At the time of its discovery, Malden was found to be unoccupied, but the remains of ruined temples and other structures indicated that the island had at one time been inhabited. At various times these remains have been speculatively attributed to “wrecked seamen”, “the buccaneers”, “the South American Incas”, “early Chinese navigators”, etc.  In 1924 the Malden ruins were examined by an archaeologist from the Bishop Museum in Honolulu, K.P. Emory, who concluded that they were the creation of a small Polynesian population, which had resided there for perhaps several generations some centuries earlier.

Screen shot 2013-04-05 at 11.30.41 PMMalden was reserved as a wildlife sanctuary and closed area, officially designated the Malden Island Wildlife Sanctuary, on 29 May 1975, under the 1975 Wildlife Conservation Ordinance. The principal purpose of this reservation was to protect the large breeding populations of seabirds. The Wildlife Conservation Unit of the Ministry of Line and Phoenix Islands Development, headquartered on Kiritimati, administers the sanctuary. There is no resident staff at Malden, and the occasional visits by foreign yachtsmen and fishermen cannot be monitored from Kiritimati.  A fire in 1977, possibly caused by visitors, threatened breeding seabirds, and this remains a potential threat, particularly during periods of drought.  There were 4 small buildings and some telephone poles visible but all looked very desolate.

The ship stopped, we conducted a CTD and were off for our next TAO buoy about five hours away. The winds picked up, so consequently the seas have picked up as well, so we are not traveling as fast—only about 10 knots.  We are leaving the doldrums and entering the trade winds.  Let me explain some. The Earth is a spinning globe where a point at the equator is traveling at around 1100 km/hour, but a point at the poles is not moved by the rotation.  This fact means that projectiles moving across the Earth’s surface are subject to Coriolis forces that cause apparent deflection of the motion.

Since winds are just molecules of air, they are also subject to Coriolis forces.  Winds are basically driven by Solar heating. Solar heating on the Earth has the effect of producing three major convection zones in each hemisphere.  If solar heating were the only thing influencing the weather, we would then expect the prevailing winds along the Earth’s surface to be either from the North or the South, depending on the latitude. However, the Coriolis force deflects these wind flows to the right in the Northern hemisphere and to the left in the Southern hemisphere.  This produces the prevailing surface winds (See figure).

The doldrums occur at the equator as the winds from the N.E. trade winds and the S.E. trade winds cancel each other out and everything becomes calm. Ok enough of the science for now. After we did a TAO visit, a CTD was conducted and I threw in my second Adopt-a-Drifter Buoy. I ended up taking a nap after all was said and done.  With the swell getting bigger, so was my upset stomach.  I woke up in time for dinner but didn’t eat much.  I did some schoolwork and was off to bed.  I am hoping tomorrow is better.

Karolyn Braun, October 14, 2006

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Karolyn Braun
Onboard NOAA Ship Ka’imimoana
October 4 – 28, 2006

The sun setting on the southern Pacific Ocean.
The sun setting on the southern Pacific Ocean.

Mission: TAO Buoy Array Maintenance
Geographical Area: Hawaii
Date: October 14, 2006

Plan of the Day 

Today has been a day of much needed rest. I awoke at midnight to conduct the 1 a.m. CTD profile, which went extremely well.  Once my head hit the pillow I was out, awaking around 8 a.m.  I checked my email and tried to read some but fell asleep and woke-up around 11a.m.  I went outside to see if any help was needed and they told me not to worry about it so I decided to complete some schoolwork that needed to be done. I felt like I was at the office without my students.  I miss them a lot; they definitely make my life interesting.  I have been getting several emails from them, which make my day.  I ended my evening with a CTD profile and I was off to bed.

Karolyn Braun, October 13, 2006

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Karolyn Braun
Onboard NOAA Ship Ka’imimoana
October 4 – 28, 2006

Mission: TAO Buoy Array Maintenance
Geographical Area: Hawaii
Date: October 13, 2006

KA’IMIMOANA crewmembers make repairs to a TAO buoy.
KA’IMIMOANA crewmembers make repairs to a TAO buoy.

Science and Technology Log 

Well, last night I had conducted the 9:30 p.m. CTD profile solo.  Everything was running smoothly, I remembered all the steps, and the CTD was in the water.  The winchman was waiting for directions, and then we saw ERROR, ERROR, and the computers froze…. AAHHH! But I remained calm and called the Chief Scientist out of bed who called the Chief Electronic Technician (CET). By the time the CET arrived the XO (Executive Office) Robert, was in the lab as well. Come to find out, a fuse had blown. But the CET changed the fuse, and I completed the CTD profile.  Before I knew it, it was 11 p.m.

I awoke to the Bridge calling me for my 5 a.m. wake-up call to conduct the 1.5N/155W CTD profile. This cast went like clockwork.  I was even ahead of schedule.  I know it’s silly, but I am really excited to sail over the equator.  It’s something I have always wanted to do. I have done it by plane many times, but it’s a lot different sailing over it.

I was asked if I wanted to go on the TAO buoy repair.  So of course I said YES! A chance to get off the ship and cruise in the RHIB boat to climb on a TAO buoy in the middle of know where—who would pass that up? It was a beautiful day and while waiting for my time to assist with the repair, I saw sharks and tons of fish.  Absolutely beautiful! Also while waiting, Jeff, a GVA, or general vessel assistant, taught me how to tie a bowling knot and a Tug bowling knot. Not as easy as it looks, but Jeff made it easy to learn. After the repair, I had some lunch and got in a work out in time for the .5S/155W CTD cast. Everyday is such a blessing out here.

Karolyn Braun, October 12, 2006

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Karolyn Braun
Onboard NOAA Ship Ka’imimoana
October 4 – 28, 2006

Mission: TAO Buoy Array Maintenance
Geographical Area: Hawaii
Date: October 12, 2006

TAS Braun assists in recovering spools of line for a buoy.
TAS Braun assists in recovering spools of line for a buoy.

Science and Technology Log 

What a fabulous night sky! More stars than expected and the ocean is flat and smooth, a small swell of 2ft. Well I didn’t attend the 1 a.m. CTD, but I did do the 5 a.m. CTD profile. I was half asleep; I completed the preparation, the cast and the recovery with no worries, but forgot some steps, so I am thankful that the Chief Scientist was awake to remind me.  A BIG Fa’afetai Lava (“Thank you” in Samoan) to you Patrick.  After the CTD we ate breakfast; I have never had such an assortment of food for breakfast since college, only here the food is better! Hats off to our two cooks, Carrie and Don.  They are in the kitchen all day to provide the crew with balanced and healthy meals.

We arrived at the TAO buoy around 9 a.m. and sent a team out on the RHIB to connect to the buoy and drag it to the stern (back of the ship).  The sun was out, there was very little cloud cover and the ocean was still very calm.  It was beautiful enough just watching over the side of the ship, but while they were bringing it in we saw whales off in the distance. The buoy was recovered, and all hands were back onboard so the spooling began (see photo). Before anything else could happen, we had a man-overboard drill.  I definitely feel safe on the ship as the crew is prepared for anything in a moment’s notice!

After 8 spools of line were recovered, the new buoy could then be set up and released.  If a line needed repairing, it got spliced together; if not, the 8 spools got reconnected and fed into the ocean. At the end of the last line, a huge anchor was attached, and it sank into the ocean to finish the job (around 5 p.m.).  A CTD was completed and everyone was pretty exhausted and ready for a shower and good meal and sleep—not necessarily in that order.

Karolyn Braun, October 11, 2006

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Karolyn Braun
Onboard NOAA Ship Ka’imimoana
October 4 – 28, 2006

Mission: TAO Buoy Array Maintenance
Geographical Area: Hawaii
Date: October 11, 2006

TAS Braun holds up the catch of the day, a mahi mahi!
TAS Braun holds up the catch of the day, a mahi mahi!

Science and Technology Log 

Today has been a busy and exciting one. Last night’s CTD I did on my own but with Tonya, the Chief Survey Tech looking over my shoulder to see if I made any mistakes.  This morning I was on my own—an excellent cast and recovery (if I do say so myself) with no problems occurring. Once the CTD was secure, we prepared the ARGO buoy, which was deployed by slowly lowering it into the water. After the bottom filled with water, we disconnected it from the line and away it went., By the time the AOML buoy was deployed, the CTD cast was finished and the water samples for the chlorophyll project were complete, it was breakfast time.  After having some oatmeal, I tried to nap but it was such a glorious morning I couldn’t bear to be inside.  I stood staring out into what seems like a never-ending ocean thinking how fortunate I am to have been chosen for this program—not only for the experiences I have had already or for the knowledge I am going to go home with, but also for the amazing people I have been able to get to know who work on this vessel day in and day out to ensure all projects run smoothly.

At 11:00 we were preparing for a visit to the TAO buoy at 5N/155W. This buoy did not need to be recovered as it was still in excellent working order.  The Chief Scientist, Patrick, viewed the buoy and no repairs were needed either.  While the boat was sailing around the buoy at a slow pace, some of us tried our hands at fishing off the back for some dinner.  We caught a nice Mahi Mahi…YUM!  The CTD was just about to begin so all lines had to come in and it was down to business.  The CTD went effortlessly, and after that, I deployed my first AOML buoy.  The Marine Science Program at the American Samoa Community College has adopted three Adopt-a-Drifter buoys with this program.  Very exciting!

After all the excitement I got in a nice workout and a much needed shower.  After dinner tonight we have another CTD and the fun will be over until tomorrow morning.

Karolyn Braun, October 10, 2006

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Karolyn Braun
Onboard NOAA Ship Ka’imimoana
October 4 – 28, 2006

Mission: TAO Buoy Array Maintenance
Geographical Area: Hawaii
Date: October 10, 2006

TAS Braun displays what the pressure of water will do to Styrofoam cups!
TAS Braun displays what the pressure of water will do to Styrofoam cups!

Science and Technology Log 
Plan for the day
1:00 Deep CTD 8N/155W
7:30 Early Ops Retrieve and Deploy TAO buoy
23:00 CTD 7N/155W

It has been a rainy, cloudy morning. The swells have been the largest I have seen since the cruise started, so we have been really lucky. It wasn’t due to these waves that I couldn’t sleep, but for fear I wouldn’t wake up in time for the 1 a.m. CTD cast. When preparing the CTD frame and cylinders, I placed a mesh bag with about 25-styrofoam cups in it.  I wrote my students’ names on them and will present them when I make my presentation to my students and colleagues at the American Samoa Community College about my trip.  We were able to go down only to 3000m, as we needed to make up for lost time with the last CTD cast.  But it still made a BIG difference to the Styrofoam cups.  We finished up with the cast around 5 a.m. and took a small nap as the first buoy retrieval and deployment was at 7:30.

The deck crew and scientists work as a team to recover the TAO buoy and place it on deck. After the buoy is secure, the two-mile of line is spooled in which takes a LONG time.  The rain has finally developed into a light drizzle.  This allowed me to go on deck and take a few photos. My mission was to watch and learn from this recovery and deployment so that for the next one I can help where needed.  The new TAO buoy was deployed into the ocean and the two-mile line and anchor followed.  This whole process took up the morning and most of the afternoon.  I ended up helping out with the spooling lines preparation for the deployment.  I am not one to sit around and watch.  Next up, a CTD cast tonight. YIPEE!

Karolyn Braun, October 9, 2006

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Karolyn Braun
Onboard NOAA Ship Ka’imimoana
October 4 – 28, 2006

Mission: TAO Buoy Array Maintenance
Geographical Area: Hawaii
Date: October 9, 2006

TAS Braun helps to cast the CTD off the deck of the KA’IMIMOANA.
TAS Braun helps to cast the CTD off the deck of the KA’IMIMOANA.

Science and Technology Log 

Plan for the day:
2:00 CTD 11N/155.5W
9:30 CTD 10N/155.5W
17:30 CTD 9N/155.5W

A beautiful morning: partly cloudy, calm waters and a wonderful 83 degrees. The day started out busy: laundry, breakfast, getting ready for the 9:30 a.m. CTD cast.  After watching the CTD yesterday and going over the commands, I felt confident to cast the CTD; however, we conducted several practice runs before we actually cast the CTD. That definitely was reassuring as I was new, and so was the crane operator. The CTD was launched successfully—next stop 1000 meters. I helped set up the computers to fire the 24-containers at various depths, from 1000m to surface, and collect salinity, conductivity and temperature readings from the brain of the CTD. After the CTD reached the surface, we secured the CTD back on deck and proceeded to collect water for chlorophyll sampling.

As we were collecting the water, we had a man overboard drill.  That was very unexpected but exciting to watch the crew of the ship work so well together. My afternoon was spent filling 20 five-gallon containers with seawater for use in a chemistry lab off island. Currently I have some down time before the next CTD in a few hours.  I am going to work out in the gym for a bit and get my Styrofoam cups ready for the 4000m CTD cast.

Karolyn Braun, October 8, 2006

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Karolyn Braun
Onboard NOAA Ship Ka’imimoana
October 4 – 28, 2006

Mission: TAO Buoy Array Maintenance
Geographical Area: Hawaii
Date: October 8, 2006

During an orientation, TAS Braun and part of the crew of the KA’IMIMOANA are lowered into the ocean in a RHIB.
During an orientation, TAS Braun and part of the crew of the KA’IMIMOANA are lowered into the ocean in a RHIB.

Science and Technology Log 

Sunday is no day for rest on a ship. The day started out slow. I attended the science meeting where I learned where everyone was from and what projects I will be working on.  The CTD casts will be conducted at each mooring site between 08-degreesN and 08  degrees S. The Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) is conducting Chlorophyll and nutrient sampling.  They are using the water obtained in the canisters from the CTD.  The Global Drifter Center at NOAA requests deployment of the Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory (AOML) Surface Drifters on an ancillary basis.  I am lucky enough to be participating in the Adopt-A-Drifter Program in which my students will be able to follow several buoys to plot which current they are in and where they are positioned.  I will have an update on this when I deploy my first one.  Very excited!  In addition, The Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory (PMEL) will be deploying Argo profiling CTD Floats.  These conduct similar experiments to the CTD on board.  However, these floats are individual canisters that send the information they collect to satellites.  The ship has no further obligation to the CTD float.

I worked out for an hour and then we had a RHIB (Rigid Hull Inflatable Boat) orientation for when we go out and fix TAO buoys.  This was followed by a CTD cast orientation to get ready for the first CTD that evening.  It was a 1000m depth cast with various cylinders capturing water at various depths from 1000 to surface.  Once the CTD was safely on deck and everything secure, I was able to collect water samples for chlorophyll testing. The water needed for chlorophyll testing was at depths of 200m, 150m, 100m, 80m, 60m, 40m, 20m, 10m and at the surface.  I used small filters and a vacuum funnel to have the allotted amount of water flow over the filter.  Once this was finished the filter was placed in a separate tube with 10ml of acetone for use at a later date.  Stay tuned to find out more!

 

Diana Griffiths, June 24, 2006

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Diana Griffiths
Onboard UNOLS Ship Roger Revelle
June 22 – June 30, 2006

Mission: Hawaiian Ocean Timeseries (WHOTS)
Geographical Area: Hawaiian Pacific
Date: June 24, 2006

Weather Data from Bridge 
Visibility:  10 miles to less than 25 miles
Wind direction:  065°
Wind speed: 06 knots
Sea wave height: small
Swell wave height:  4-6 feet
Sea level pressure: 1014.5 millibars
Cloud cover:  3, type:  stratocumulus and cumulus

Buoy Technician, Sean Whelan, contacting the Acoustic Releases on WHOTS-2.
Buoy Technician, Sean Whelan, contacting the Acoustic Releases on WHOTS-2.

Science and Technology Log 

Today was very busy because it was the day that WHOTS-2 mooring, which has been sitting out in the ocean for almost a year, was recovered.  At around 6:30 a.m., Sean Whelan, the buoy technician, tried to contact the Acoustic Release.  (The Acoustic Release is the device that attaches the mooring to the anchor. When it receives the appropriate signal, it disengages from the anchor, freeing the mooring for recovery.  There are actually two releases on WHOTS2.) He does this by sending a sound wave at 12 KHz down through the ocean via a transmitter, and when the release “hears” the signal, it returns a frequency at 11 KHz. The attempt failed, so the ship moved closer to the anchor site and the test was repeated.  This time it was successful.  Based on the amount of time it takes the acoustic signal to return, the transmitter calculates a “slant range” which is the distance from the ship to the anchor. Because the ship is not directly over the anchor, this slant range creates the hypotenuse of a right triangle. Another side of the triangle is the depth of the ocean directly below the ship.  Once these two distances are known, the horizontal position of the ship from the anchor can easily be calculated using the Pythagorean theorem.

Recovery of WHOTS-2 buoy aboard the R/V REVELLE.
Recovery of WHOTS-2 buoy aboard the R/V REVELLE.

After breakfast, the buoy recovery began. A small boat was lowered from the ship and driven over to the buoy, as the ship was steamed right near the buoy. A signal was sent down to activate the Acoustic Releases. Ropes were attached from the buoy through a pulley across the A-frame, located on the stern of the ship, to a large winch.  With Jeff Lord leading the maneuvering of the 3750-pound buoy, it was disengaged from the mooring and placed safely on deck.  This was a bit of a tense moment, but Jeff did a wonderful job of remaining calm and directing each person involved to maneuver their equipment to effectively place the buoy. Once the buoy was recovered and moved to the side of the deck, each instrument on the mooring was recovered.  The first to appear was a VMCM, (Vector Measuring Current Meter) located just 10 meters below the buoy.

Jeff Lord, engineering technician, directing the recovery of a Vector Measuring Current Meter (VMCM).
Jeff Lord, engineering technician, directing the recovery of a Vector Measuring Current Meter (VMCM).

Then two microCATs were pulled up, located 15 and 25 meters below the buoy, followed by a second VMCM. This was followed by a series of eleven microCATs located five or ten meters apart, an RDI ADCP (Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler), and two more microCATs.  As each instrument was recovered, the time it was removed from the water was recorded and its serial number was checked against the mooring deployment log.  Each instrument was photographed, cleaned off and sent to Jeff Snyder, an electronic technician, for data upload. Each of these instruments has been collecting and storing data at the rate of approximately a reading per minute for a year (this value varies depending on the instrument) and this data now needs to be collected. Jeff placed the instruments in a saltwater bath to simulate the ocean environment and connected each instrument to a computer by way of a USB serial adaptor port. The data from each instrument took approximately three hours to upload. Tomorrow, these instruments will be returned to the ocean alongside a CTD in order to compare their current data collection with that of a calibrated instrument.

Once all of the instruments were recovered, over 4000 feet of wire, nylon rope, and polypropylene rope were drawn up using a winch and a capstan. Polypropylene rope is used near the end of the mooring because it floats to the surface.  The last portion of the mooring recovered was the floatation.  This consisted of eighty glass balls chained together and individually encased in plastic. The glass balls, filled with air, float the end of the mooring to the surface when the Acoustic Releases disengage from the anchor.  It takes them about 40 minutes to reach the surface. Recovering the glass balls was tricky because they are heavy and entangled in one another. Once on deck they were separated and placed in large metal bins. After dinner, a power washer was used to clean the buoy (it is a favorite resting place for seagulls and barnacles) and the cages encasing some of the instruments.  The deck was cleaned and organized to prepare for tomorrow.

Recovery of mooring floatation on WHOTS-2, consisting of 80 glass balls encased in plastic.
Recovery of mooring floatation on WHOTS-2, consisting of 80 glass balls encased in plastic.

Personal Log 

The theme that keeps going through my mind during this trip and today especially, is how much of a cooperative effort this research requires. It begins with the coordination between Dr. Weller and Dr. Lukas to simultaneously collect atmospheric data using the buoy and subsurface data with the mooring instruments. In addition, Dr. Frank Bradley, an Honorary Fellow at the CSIRO Land and Water in Australia, is on the cruise working to create a manual set of data points for relative humidity using an Assman psychrometer to further check the relative humidity data produced on the buoy. Within the science teams, coordination has to occur at all stages, from the collection of data to its analysis. This was very evident in physical form today with numerous people on deck throughout the day working to retrieve the mooring, fix machinery as it broke down (the winch stopped twice), and clean the instruments.  In the labs, others were working to upload data and configure computer programs to coordinate all of the data.  In addition to all of this is the quiet presence of the ship’s crew who are going about their duties to be sure that the ship is running smoothly.  Several of the crew did take a break today just after the instruments were collected in order to put out fishing lines!  They caught numerous tuna and beautiful Mahi Mahi that the cook deliciously prepared for dinner.

Diana Griffiths, June 22, 2006

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Diana Griffiths
Onboard UNOLS Ship Roger Revelle
June 22 – June 30, 2006

Mission: Hawaiian Ocean Timeseries (WHOTS)
Geographical Area: Hawaiian Pacific
Date: June 22, 2006

Weather Data from Bridge 
Visibility:  10 miles to < 25 miles
Wind direction:  080°
Wind speed:  12 knots
Sea wave height: small
Swell wave height: 2-4 feet
Sea level pressure:  1016 millibars
Cloud cover: 5
Cloud type: cumulus, stratocumulus

 WHOTS –3 buoy during transfer from 2nd to 1st deck.
WHOTS –3 buoy during transfer from 2nd to 1st deck

The Cruise Mission 

The overall mission of this cruise is to replace a mooring anchored north of the Hawaiian island of Oahu. It’s called the WHOTS buoy: The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) Hawaii Ocean Timeseries (HOT) Site (WHOTS). The mooring consists of a buoy that contains numerous meteorological sensors that collect data on relative humidity, barometric pressure, wind speed and direction, precipitation, short and long wave solar radiation, and sea surface temperature.  The buoy serves as a weather station at sea, one of few such stations in the world.

There are two of each type of sensor on the WHOTS-3 buoy to ensure that data collection will continue should a sensor break down.  The buoy is equipped with a GPS unit. The buoy also serves as a platform for observing the ocean. Hanging below the buoy are four different types of instruments.  These include SeaCATs, MicroCATs, an ADCP and NGVM. The SeaCATs and MicroCATs take salinity and temperature measurements.  The MicroCATs, in addition to salinity and temperature, also take depth measurements. There are several of each instrument attached to the mooring and they are located approximately 5 meters apart down to a depth of 155 meters.  (The WHOTS-2 mooring only contains MicroCATs). The ADCP or Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler is an instrument that allows the scientists to measure the velocity of the current at a set of specific depths. The NGVM is a New Generation Vector Measuring device that measures the velocity of the current at fixed points using propeller sensors located at 90° to one another. Finally, two Acoustic Release Devices are attached to the anchor that is holding the mooring in place.

 SeaCATs being prepared for mooring.
SeaCATs being prepared for mooring.

These instruments allow the scientists to determine the location of the anchor and will also mechanically release the mooring from the anchor when sent a specific acoustic signal. (More about how these work in a later log).  The WHOTS-2 mooring has been sitting in the ocean for a year collecting data.  It is powered by 4000 D-cell batteries and is capable of running off of them for about 16 months.  I asked Jason Smith, the lead instrument calibration technician, why solar panels weren’t used on the buoy and he told me that they are susceptible to being shot at or stolen.  Evidently anything that looks valuable in the middle of the ocean is vulnerable to theft!

Personal and Science Log 

R/V REVELLE’s resident technician, Cambria Colt, operating the crane used to move the WHOTS-3 buoy to the main deck of the ship.
R/V REVELLE’s resident technician, Cambria Colt, operating the crane used to move the WHOTS-3 buoy to the main deck of the ship.

After arriving in Hawaii on the afternoon of Monday, June 19th, it feels good to be at sea on a moving vessel.  I spent the remainder of Monday meeting the science crew from WHOI (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution) led by the Chief Scientist, Dr. Robert Weller, having a nice dinner and falling asleep after a long day of travel.

Tuesday brought my first view of the REVELLE, a working science vessel owned by the SCRIPPS Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, California. Go here for diagrams, pictures and statistics describing this ship. The ship has two platforms below the main deck and three decks above, not including the bridge. The main deck contains heavy equipment consisting of several winches, a crane, an electric winding cart and other machinery designed to move heavy objects. All of this equipment operation is run or overseen by Cambria Colt, the resident technician, who knows the ship like the back of her hand.  It is her primary job to act as a liaison between the ships’ crew and the scientists, making sure that the needs of the science team are met. We were at the ship by 7:30 a.m. and the team started working, preparing for the cruise.

Many of the team members had already been here for a week unloading and working with the instruments.  The team works well together – everyone keeps busy and seems to know what to do without a lot of discussion. I helped Jason to string up two GPS units on an upper deck of the stern of the ship as well as an antenna.

GPS units set up by science team on stern of R/V REVELLE.
GPS units set up by science team on stern of R/V REVELLE.

The antenna is used to transmit all of the data from the mooring and from the ship to a satellite, which then directs it to WHOI.  I also recorded measurements as Sean Whelan, the buoy technician, measured the distances from the top of the buoy to all of the instruments located on the buoy. He also wrapped bird wire repellant along the top of the tower of the buoy in an attempt to keep birds from landing on the instruments.  The bird wire is spiky wire that jets out in various directions and can be quite treacherous to work with!  Along the deck, Jeff Lord, an engineering technician, and Scott Burman, an undergraduate volunteer, worked on bolting down numerous winches to the deck that will be used to pull the buoy out of the water.  Several winches are used on all sides to maintain maximum control over whatever is being maneuvered into or out of the water.

I also met the captain of the ship, Tom Desjardins, in the afternoon.  I had no idea he was the captain when I first saw him, he was working hard on deck with the rest of the crew, clad in a T-shirt and shorts.  He is quite affable, calm, and willing to put in a hand where it is needed. In a quick discussion with him I learned that security has become much tighter on the ship since 9/11. There are always two people on watch at the entrance to the ship when it is in port making sure that everyone who enters and leaves is accounted for. We all wear badges when we are on ship when it is in port.  I also asked him about potable water use on the ship. The ship can hold 12,000 gallons of water and up to 3,000 gallons more can be distilled per day.  Heat from the ship’s engines is used to distill the water.

I had Wednesday free to do a bit of sightseeing and that leads me back to today.  We packed our clothes onto the ship early this morning and made up our berths (beds).  The staterooms (bedrooms) are larger than I had expected.  I have my own room and share a head (bathroom) with Terry Smith, another member of the team.  Terry is also an undergraduate who won the NOAA Hollings Scholarship to participate on this cruise.  Currently working towards a second career, Terry was a chef for 20 years before making the plunge to study science. She is working towards a degree in geo-oceanography.  During the day I was able to get a computer set up and mostly watched and asked a few questions as more work was being done. The ship left port at 4:00 p.m.  After taking a few pictures and watching the beauty of the coast slip away, I went back inside to attend a meeting led by Cambria and Dr. Weller.

Life Aboard Ship 

Cambria talked about safety and reviewed some basics about living on the ship.  We wear closed toed shoes at all times (except in our rooms), preferably steel-toed.  When we are working on deck during the scientific operations we will wear hard hats and safety vests.  Tomorrow there will be a safety drill at some point to be sure we all know where to “muster” and how to proceed should a fire or other problem occur on the ship.  We separate our trash here – anything plastic and non-biodegradable has a separate bin.  All of the paper and food waste, etc, has its own bin and is eventually tossed into the sea.  Meals are at specific times during the day (and they are quite good!) but we are asked to “eat and run”, as the galley crew needs to get on with their work of cleaning up and preparing for the next meal or just getting some time off.  The ship is equipped with a laundry and an exercise room.  Evidently on long cruises members of the crew can be seen running laps around the main deck.

Vocabulary – Weather Data 

Wind direction: Wind direction is measured in degrees, which follow the readings on a compass.

Wind speed:   Measured in knots. A knot is 1 nm/hr.  A nautical mile is the distance required to travel 1° longitude.  It is equivalent to 1.85 km.

Sea wave height: This is the height of waves produced by the wind.  This is logged in the ships log as either small or slight.  The technical formula for sea wave height is .026 x (speed of wind)2.

Swell wave height: This is the height of the swells produced by distant weather patterns. Swells form a wave pattern as opposed to sea waves, which are more random.  Swell wave height is measured in feet.

Eric Heltzel, October 19, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Eric Heltzel
Onboard NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown
September 25 – October 22, 2005

Mission: Climate Observation and Buoy Deployment
Geographical Area: Southeast Pacific
Date: October 19, 2005

Weather Data from Bridge

Temperature: 25.5 degrees C
Clouds cover: 6/8, stratus, altocumulus
Visibility: 12 nm
Wind direction: 245 degrees
Wind speed: 13kts.
Wave height: 3 – 5’
Swell wave height: 3 – 5’
Seawater Temperature: 28.7 degrees C
Sea level Atmospheric pressure: 1005 mb
Relative Humidity: 82%

Science and Technology Log 

Sailing on the RONALD H. BROWN as a NOAA Teacher at Sea has been an opportunity to experience scientific research first hand.  I have been impressed by the commitment to excellence exhibited by all members of the scientific teams.  They have undertaken the design and logistical challenges of the Stratus 6 cruise with great attention to detail, absolute commitment to execution of the plan, and countless hours of effort.  Tasks were carried out with a high degree of professionalism and in good humor.

The officers and crew of the BROWN were not only generous and considerate, they were very competent.  People knew their jobs and did them without complaint.  There seems to be an enthusiasm for the research that the ship facilitates.  Throughout the cruise I felt confident that the ship was in good hands.

Going to sea for the first time has been a challenge for me.  As with many things that push us outside our comfort zone and away from the familiar, learning is fast paced and intense.  This will be my last log from the RONALD H. BROWN.  I wish to thank the Teacher at Sea program of NOAA for making this experience possible.  Thanks to Captain Tim Wright and the officers and crew of the BROWN for helping this previously land-locked teacher from Wyoming have a great experience.  Special thanks to Dr. Bob Weller and the team from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution for taking me under their wings and answering my numerous questions.  Thanks to Peggy Decaria for substituting for me in my classes at Evanston High School.  I never would have been able to have this experience if not for the support of Superintendent Dennis Wilson and all of Uinta County School District #1.  I’m going back to school with a rich experience to share, new resources to facilitate my teaching, and many new ideas.  Thanks to you all.

Eric Heltzel, October 18, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Eric Heltzel
Onboard NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown
September 25 – October 22, 2005

Mission: Climate Observation and Buoy Deployment
Geographical Area: Southeast Pacific
Date: October 18, 2005

Weather Data from Bridge

Temperature: 25.5 degrees C
Clouds cover: 6/8, stratus, altocumulus
Visibility: 12 nm
Wind direction: 245 degrees
Wind speed: 13kts.
Wave height: 3 – 5’
Swell wave height: 3 – 5’
Seawater Temperature: 28.7 degrees C
Sea level Atmospheric pressure: 1005 mb
Relative Humidity: 82%

Science and Technology Log 

Rodrigo Castro and Carolina Cisternas are research technicians from the University of Concepcion in Concepcion, Chile.  They joined the cruise at Panama City and have been taking ocean water samples every 60 nm.  Their samples are run through 0.7 and 0.2 micron filters.  They capture and freeze particulate organic mater by this process and take it back to the lab at the university.  The samples are analyzed for the presence of stable isotopes of carbon and nitrogen.  These samples are then used as biomarkers to help determine the circulation of ocean water.  A second analysis will be going on to locate the gene associated with nitrogen-fixing organisms.  This is new ground for the scientists at the university.

Upwellings are areas where deep ocean water comes to the surface.  According to Rodrigo and Carolina there are four significant areas of upwelling along the Chilean coast. The two most northerly are found at 20 degrees south and 24 degrees south.  These are active year round and are slow and steady with no significant seasonal fluctuation. Another at 30 degrees south is moderate in nature with some seasonal variation, being more active during the summer.  The most southerly is at 36 degrees south and is strong September to April. However it mostly disappears the rest of the year. Upwelling zones are recognizable because of their cooler water temperature.  They also have increased nutrients that are brought up from the deep and a higher amount of chlorophyll due to increased photosynthetic activity.  Some fish species are found in greater abundance in these zones due to increased nutrients extending into more food availability.

Personal Log 

The RONALD H. BROWN is under way. We are steaming in an easterly heading on the leg of the cruise that will take us to Arica, Chile.  It is a bit of a challenge for me, as we are no longer headed into the direction of the swells; instead, we are crossing them at a 30-degree angle, which makes for more oscillations in the movement of the ship.  My tummy is being challenged.

Eric Heltzel, October 14, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Eric Heltzel
Onboard NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown
September 25 – October 22, 2005

Mission: Climate Observation and Buoy Deployment
Geographical Area: Southeast Pacific
Date: October 14, 2005

Weather Data from Bridge
Temperature: 19 degrees C
Sea level Atmospheric pressure: 1016 mb
Relative Humidity: 70%
Clouds cover: 8/8, stratocumulus
Visibility: 12 nm
Wind direction: 120 degrees
Wind speed: 16kts.
Wave height: 3 – 4’
Swell wave height: 4 – 5’
Swell direction: 120 degrees
Seawater Temperature: 18.3 degrees C
Salinity: 35 parts per thousand
Ocean depth: 4364 meters

Science and Technology Log 

A big day today! We managed to deploy the Stratus 5 buoy.  It was basically the reverse of our retrieval. The buoy was tipped up 45 degrees and the top 35 meters of instruments were hooked together.  Next the mooring was attached to the buoy and it was placed in the water with a crane. This phase was done off of the portside of the fantail.  We held the wire that was attached to the buoy and let it swing out behind the ship.  Then using a large winch we would play out more of the cable, stop, secure the line, and then attach the next instrument.  Consider the fact that if we were to lose hold of the mooring we could lose the whole works into 4000 + meters of ocean water.  It’s not like working on land where if you drop something, you say whoops and pick it up again.  If that happens on the ship the thing you drop may well go over the side.  Serious Whoops!

Once all of the instruments were attached we started paying out nylon and polypropylene line. This was accomplished by using an H-bit to run the line through.  The line was in 4’ x 4’ x 4’ boxes and trailed out into the ocean as the ship moved forward at just over one knot. When we got to the end of the line it was time to attach the new acoustic releases so that this buoy can be recovered next year.  Then it was time for the big splash. The mooring was attached to the anchor which was made up of three iron disks, twelve inches thick and three feet in diameter.  The anchor’s weight is 9000 pounds. The anchor was sitting on a steel plate and the stern of the fantail.  A crane picked up the forward edge of the plate and tipped the anchor into the ocean.  The splash from the six-foot drop to the water went twenty feet in the air.  The anchor started the trip to the bottom dragging all of the mooring and the buoy.  The falling anchor pulled the buoy at about four knots towards the anchor location.  Excited cheers went up on the fantail. The Stratus 5 buoy had been successfully deployed!

Instruments Deployed (top 450 meters)

Deployed on the mooring line beneath the buoy: MICRO CAT temperature, salinity SEA CAT temperature, salinity Brancker temperature, salinity VMCM direction, velocity of water flow NORTEK acoustic Doppler current profiler T-POD   temperature logging device SONTEK acoustic Doppler current meter RDI ADCP acoustic Doppler current profiler (125 m) SDE 39 temperature logging device Acoustic release just above the anchor

On the buoy: (this information is transmitted 4 times a day) Atmospheric pressure, Air temperature, Wind speed and direction, Relative humidity, Precipitation, Long wave radiation, Short wave radiation, Sea surface temperature and salinity.

You may notice that many of the instruments on the mooring measure the same thing.  This redundancy is intentional guaranteeing verifiable data.  There are two complete meteorological systems on the buoy.

Response to Student Questions 

Does the stratus layer extend to the land?

After questioning the senior scientists about this the answer is yes.  We are at about 20 degrees south. Here there is a daily fluctuation in the cloud cover.  It often dissipates during the afternoon as a result of warming by the sun.  Apparently the coast of northern Chile often has a cloud layer that also dissipates during the day.  This can be low-lying enough to be fog. As you travel a few miles inland and up in elevation you are no longer under the stratus layer.

Does the stratus layer affect El Nino?

Ocean and atmosphere constantly influence each other.  I have to do more inquiry to give a solid answer to this question.

Note: There is some confusion about the labels being used for the buoy and the cruise.  This is the sixth Stratus Project cruise which is deploying the fifth Stratus buoy.  Hence, the Stratus 6 cruise is recovering the Straus 4 buoy and deploying the Stratus 5 buoy.

Eric Heltzel, October 13, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Eric Heltzel
Onboard NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown
September 25 – October 22, 2005

Mission: Climate Observation and Buoy Deployment
Geographical Area: Southeast Pacific
Date: October 13, 2005

A small boat is launched in order to get to the stratus buoy
A small boat is launched in order to get to the Stratus buoy

Weather Data from Bridge

Temperature: 25.5 degrees C
Clouds cover: 6/8, stratus, altocumulus
Visibility: 12 nm
Wind direction: 245 degrees
Wind speed: 13kts.
Wave height: 3 – 5’
Swell wave height: 3 – 5’
Seawater Temperature: 28.7 degrees C
Sea level Atmospheric pressure: 1005 mb
Relative Humidity: 82%

Science and Technology Log 

We are holding on station today as the data from the Stratus 4 buoy is downloaded and analyzed. I helped out on the fantail for a couple of hours today.  We were rearranging the positions of the Stratus 4 and 5 buoys. These are large, heavy devices that can only be moved by crane and winches. The buoy waiting for deployment is now on the portside of the fantail, is strapped down, activated, and awaiting deployment.  The buoy we retrieved yesterday is tucked in next to the starboard side crane. This doesn’t sound like a big thing, but each buoy is very heavy and the deck is moving up and down six feet and rocking side to side every few seconds. We go slowly and are very deliberate.

Sean Whelan attaches a line to the buoy
Sean Whelan attaches a line to the buoy

Jeff Lord is setting up for deployment of the Stratus 5 buoy and its array of instruments.  The buoy will be launched, followed by the mooring and its attached instruments, and lastly the 9000-pound anchor will be deployed over the stern of the ship.  Before this a Sea Beam survey of the ocean floor has to be accomplished to help Dr. Weller choose the site of the Straus 5 deployment.  I am continuously amazed by the thorough planning that has been done for this venture.

Personal Log 

I’m sitting on the foredeck of the BROWN as I write this entry. It’s once again a partly sunny day and I am sitting out of the wind enjoying the sunshine. I realize that I haven’t seen a jet contrail since we crossed the equator. Yesterday I did see a whale spout at about of a quarter mile out and there was a fishing boat about four miles away.  Except for a few birds the view is of ocean and sky.  We had an abandon-ship drill Tuesday and the captain announced that the nearest land is some Argentine islands over 400 miles away.  We are out there.

Glass balls attached to the buoy
Glass balls attached to the buoy
The buoy is retrieved for maintenance
The buoy is retrieved for maintenance

Eric Heltzel, October 11, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Eric Heltzel
Onboard NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown
September 25 – October 22, 2005

Mission: Climate Observation and Buoy Deployment
Geographical Area: Southeast Pacific
Date: October 11, 2005

Weather Data from Bridge

Temperature: 25.5 degrees C
Clouds cover: 6/8, stratus, altocumulus
Visibility: 12 nm
Wind direction: 245 degrees
Wind speed: 13kts.
Wave height: 3 – 5’
Swell wave height: 3 – 5’
Seawater Temperature: 28.7 degrees C
Sea level Atmospheric pressure: 1005 mb
Relative Humidity: 82%

Science and Technology Log 

The throbbing heart of the RONALD H. BROWN is the engine room and the associated systems.  Last night Assistant Engineer Wayne Smith gave me a tour.  I was impressed with the complexity and effectiveness of the systems.

The core of the power is six Caterpillar diesel engines.  These function as electric generators for the ship’s systems.  The three largest of these are dedicated to the propulsion of the ship. The ship is propelled and maneuvered by two aft thrusters and one bow thruster. The thrusters are propellers that have the ability to be rotated 360 degrees. Each thruster is driven by and independent Z-Drive that is actuated by an electric motor and shaft.  Under normal sailing only the two aft thrusters are in use.  The bow thruster is engaged when the ship is maneuvering into dock or holding a position.  As I write, we are holding position 0.25 nautical miles from the Stratus buoy.  By engaging the Dynamic Positioning System a location for the ship is established via GPS and a computer controls the direction and rpm of the thrusters.  This allows the BROWN to hold a position without having to drop anchor.  I was surprised to learn that this ship has no rudder—it is steered via the Z-Drive of the thrusters.

Since the BROWN is a research vessel it has on board many sophisticated electronic instruments.  The current running through its wires is like our household current, about 115 volts.  Because of the sensitive nature of some of the equipment there are outlets labeled “clean power”. This current runs through a secondary motor which ensures that there will be no power spikes that could damage electronic equipment.

Ventilation is very important and there are several air conditioning systems that control the temperature in most of the ship.  Different areas have independent thermostats so the ship is quite comfortable.  The science labs are generally kept quite cool.  Freshwater is supplied by using heat from the engines to evaporate seawater.  The condensed steam is run through bromine filters to ensure no bacteria in the water tanks.  The water is extremely soft, having no salts in it.  Wayne chuckled at the idea of people buying bottled water to drink on ship because the water provided is as pure as water gets.

The NOAA research vessel RONALD H. BROWN was launched in 1997.  It is the largest ship in the fleet and provides a state of the art research platform.  The versatility and capabilities of this ship and expertise of the crew allow up to 59 people to sail for extended periods of time and perform sophisticated oceanographic and atmospheric research.  I feel privileged to be along on the Stratus 6 cruise.

Personal Log

Wow! I can see my shadow.  This is cause for staying out on deck. We have been sailing under overcast skies since we crossed the equator.  I’m sitting out on the bench on the 03 deck beneath the Bridge. There’s a breeze blowing from the southeast but I’m comfortable in a light jacket and shorts.  It has been a surprise to be traveling in tropical waters with overcast skies and cool temperatures.  It makes me realize that we get a lot of sunny days in Wyoming.

At 1415 today we had a meeting outlining the program for tomorrow.  Jeff Lord from WHOI is coordinating the buoy recovery program.  He is very organized and has gone through step by step how it will be done.  It will be a very interesting, very busy day tomorrow.  It is very important to the success of this cruise that we recover all of the instruments and buoy safely.  At 0640 the acoustic release will be activated and the floats attached to the mooring will be released from the anchor.  The depth here is 4400 m and it will take the floats about 40 minutes to reach the surface.  This will be a major operation involving everyone on the ship.

Eric Heltzel, October 9, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Eric Heltzel
Onboard NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown
September 25 – October 22, 2005

Mission: Climate Observation and Buoy Deployment
Geographical Area: Southeast Pacific
Date: October 9, 2005

Weather Data from Bridge

Temperature: 25.5 degrees C
Clouds cover: 6/8, stratus, altocumulus
Visibility: 12 nm
Wind direction: 245 degrees
Wind speed: 13kts.
Wave height: 3 – 5’
Swell wave height: 3 – 5’
Seawater Temperature: 28.7 degrees C
Sea level Atmospheric pressure: 1005 mb
Relative Humidity: 82%

Science and Technology Log 

After Dr. Lundquist and I have a successful radiosonde launch we return to the computer terminal and watch the measurement data come in.  My favorite display is a color-coded graph showing temperature, dew point, and relative humidity graphed against the altitude of the radiosonde. The main area of study is taking place where we are in the eastern Pacific off the coast of northern Chile.  In this area there is a large, semi-permanent layer of stratus clouds.  The effects these clouds have on the ocean temperature, and vice versa, is one of the reasons for choosing this area to study.

As the balloon ascends from the ship the temperature cools at the dry adiabatic rate. The dew point goes down but not as rapidly.  Usually at an elevation of about  600 meters the dew point and temperature intersect.  On the same screen green line showing relative humidity hits 100% as we would expect.  This marks the base of the cloud layer.

As the radiosonde ascends another 200 to 400 meters the temperature shoots way up, as much as 8 degrees C.  This indicates the top on the cloud layer where the sun is shining brightly. As the balloon continues to ascend the temperature once again cools consistently at the dry adiabatic rate.  It’s about negative forty degrees C at an altitude of 20 kilometers.  In this part of the atmosphere the relative humidity approaches zero and the dew point stays well below the air temperature.  This suggests the upper air is descending and is stable. The bottom 800 meters is referred to as a marine boundary layer.

Despite the constant cloud cover there is very little precipitation in this area.  Temperatures at the ocean level are surprisingly cool as evidenced my most of the crew wearing long pants and jackets or sweatshirts.  Atmospheric and oceanic data in this area are very sparse. One goal of the Stratus Project is to gather more information so we can better understand the interrelationships between ocean and atmosphere.

Personal log

As I write this I am on my watch in the main science lab.  I’m preparing to launch a Drifter in about 15 minutes and I will launch a weather balloon at 13:00.  It’s really fun to throw things into the ocean and release balloons into the atmosphere and see where they go.

Our ETA at the Stratus mooring site is 17:30.  We are approaching the end of southerly leg of our cruise. There are about six days of work scheduled at the buoy site.  It should be interesting.

Eric Heltzel, October 8, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Eric Heltzel
Onboard NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown
September 25 – October 22, 2005

Mission: Climate Observation and Buoy Deployment
Geographical Area: Southeast Pacific
Date: October 8, 2005

Weather Data from Bridge

Temperature: 25.5 degrees C
Clouds cover: 6/8, stratus, altocumulus
Visibility: 12 nm
Wind direction: 245 degrees
Wind speed: 13kts.
Wave height: 3 – 5’
Swell wave height: 3 – 5’
Seawater Temperature: 28.7 degrees C
Sea level Atmospheric pressure: 1005 mb
Relative Humidity: 82%

Science and Technology Log 

I’ve been working with the meteorological team from NOAA in Boulder, Colorado. I’ve been teamed with Dr. Jessica Lundquist to manage the 13:00 weather balloon launch. Balloons are launched four times a day at intervals of six hours.  A balloon carries an instrument called a radiosonde to a height often exceeding 20 kilometers.  Eventually the balloon ruptures and the instrument and spent balloon fall to earth.

When preparing a radiosonde we take the battery pack and add water to activate it. As the battery is soaking, the sonde is attached to the computer interface/radio receiver, and it is activated and calibrated.  It is necessary to have real-time weather measurements to input into the sonde so it has a comparison to ensure accuracy.  A radio transmitting frequency is selected then the sonde is detached from the interface and attached to the battery.  While it is still in the lab, we make sure that data is being transmitted.  If all of this goes correctly the radiosonde is set to launch.

We take the activated radiosonde out to the staging bay, which looks a bit like a garage. There are two overhead doors, a workbench, and bottles of helium.  We inflate the balloon with helium to a diameter of about five feet.  When it is inflated we close the balloon with a zip-tie, then attach the radiosonde by its hook, and close it with another zip-tie. We call the Bridge and let them know we are about to launch a balloon.

Now comes the tricky part, walking out on the fantail of the rolling ship carrying a large balloon in one hand and the radiosonde in the other.  Today there 16-knot winds coming from the SE and a wind generated by the ship’s speed of an additional 10 knots from due south.  To complicate matters further, the superstructure of the ship blocks the wind and creates erratic eddies. We check the wind direction and decide on which corner of the fantail will give us the cleanest launch.  Walking aft, the balloon is buffeted by the wind. It pulls and pushes you in various directions while you try to maintain balance on the heaving deck.  When you reach the railing, you hold your hands out and release the balloon and radiosonde. If it clears the A frame and the other equipment you stand and watch your balloon ascend until it enters the cloud layer and disappears.  We call the Bridge and let them know the balloon is away.

Now we return to the Lab to check that our sonde is sending out data.  Measurements of temperature, relative humidity, and atmospheric pressure are taken and sent back every two seconds. The GPS tracking device allows us to know wind speed, wind direction, altitude, and location of the radiosonde.  The measurements of temperature and relative humidity allow the computer to calculate the dew point.  Data streams in until the balloon reaches an elevation where the atmospheric pressure of  about 30, the balloon fails and the radiosonde falls to earth. Tomorrow: More about radiosonde information.

Questions to Consider 

-What is an eddy?

-What will happen to the volume of the balloon as it rises in the atmosphere?

-Why does atmospheric pressure decrease as elevation increases?

-What is the relative humidity when dew point and air temperature are the same?

-What is the adiabatic rate?

-What is a temperature inversion?

Personal log

I am a Pollywog.  Yes, that’s right. I’m one of those slimy little creatures with a spherical body and a tail. At least that’s what the Shellbacks tell us.  A pollywog is a person who has never sailed across the equator and gone through the ceremony and initiation to move onward. Shellbacks are people who have been through these rites.  I made the mistake of admitting that I don’t know what a Shellback is.  I fear that admission will come back to haunt me.  Initiation is approaching. I don’t know what I’ll have to do. I’ll keep you posted.

Eric Heltzel, October 7, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Eric Heltzel
Onboard NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown
September 25 – October 22, 2005

Mission: Climate Observation and Buoy Deployment
Geographical Area: Southeast Pacific
Date: October 7, 2005

The adopted buoy, ready for deployment
The adopted drifter buoy, ready for deployment

Weather Data from Bridge

Temperature: 18.6 degrees C
Sea level Atmospheric pressure: 1014 mb
Relative Humidity: 78%
Clouds cover: 6/8,stratocumulus, cumulus, cirrus
Visibility: 12 nm
Wind direction: 140 degrees
Wind speed: 13kts.
Wave height: 3 – 5’
Swell wave height: 6 – 8’
Seawater Temperature: 18.6 degrees C
Salinity: 35.25 parts per thousand
Ocean depth: 4476 meters

Evanston High School, your adopted Drifter is in the water! 

Lara Hutto is a Research Associate II at Wood’s Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts. She and I deployed our Drifter Buoy off the port side stern of the fantail at 19:01 UTC (the time at the Prime Meridian) on October 6, 2005. Our Drifter serial number is 54410.

The sock of the drifter buoy is unfurled
The sock of the drifter buoy is unfurled

To: Heltzel’s Oceanography/Meteorology students:  The NOAA decals you signed were placed on the dome of our drifter.  All of your names and the name of Evanston High School are floating freely in the eastern Pacific off the west coast of Peru.  You should be able to track it on the Drifter web page. Should anyone find it they will be able to identify who adopted Drifter 54410.

Update: the EHS drifter is streaming in data from the eastern Pacific. Check it out here. I can’t access this website from the ship but Kevin O’Brien of NOAA says that data is being sent by our adopted drifter.  Check it out and let me know what you find.

Science and Technology Log 

Drifters are a wonderful tool for gathering information about earth’s oceans.  They have a spherical top which provides flotation and contains the electronics of this device.  These include a temperature probe for measuring the surface seawater temperature and a GPS tracking signal. This device is battery powered and is regularly sending out information on seawater temperature and location.

When deployed a fabric tube (sock) extends downward to a depth of between 10 and 15 meters. This is attached to the floating sphere by cable. The sock reduces the effect of winds and surface waves on the movement of the Drifters.  The data is gathered via satellite and plotted. This helps us figure out movements of the ocean waters at the surface.

An entire person can easily fit inside the sock
An entire person can easily fit inside the sock

Compared to many of the instruments that are attached to the Stratus mooring, Drifters are simple.  They are easily deployed because the unit activates itself once it hits the water.  A magnet is attached to the dome and it holds the switch in an off position. Once the magnet is removed, the switch is activated and The Drifter is on the job.  The magnet is attached with water-soluble glue so once in the water the glue dissolves, the magnet falls off, and the Drifter is activated. The sock is also rolled up and held in position with water-soluble tape.  Once in the water this also dissolves and the sock extends downward. The ingenious design of Drifters makes them very easy to deploy.  These are sent out with any type of ship so Drifters have been placed in many of the world’s oceans. Life expectancy on a Drifter is one to two years.

Questions to Consider 

How might the information gathered from Drifters be useful?

What are some ways that the oceans and the atmosphere affect one another?

Personal Log

My quarters are in the low part of the ship.  I have no natural light to tell whether it is night or day. As I lay in my bunk I can hear the sounds of the ship pushing downward through the waves. Sometimes it sounds like gurgling water, sometimes like something solid is striking the hull, other times like the sound of rapids on a river.  When I’m nearly asleep I imagine I am at home in Wyoming and the sounds I hear are of a raging blizzard outside my window. I go on deck of the RONALD H. BROWN and look at the tropical eastern Pacific waters.  Toto, this definitely isn’t Wyoming!

Eric Heltzel, October 6, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Eric Heltzel
Onboard NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown
September 25 – October 22, 2005

Mission: Climate Observation and Buoy Deployment
Geographical Area: Southeast Pacific
Date: October 6, 2005

Eric on the bridge of the RON BROWN
Eric on the bridge of the RON BROWN

Weather Data from Bridge, 07:00 

Temperature: 19.1 degrees C
Sea level Atmospheric pressure: 1012 mb
Relative Humidity: 78%
Clouds cover: 8/8, stratocumulus
Visibility: 12 nm
Wind direction: 160 degrees
Wind speed: 6kts.
Wave height: 3 – 5’
Swell wave height: 3 – 5’
Seawater Temperature: 18.3 degrees C

Science and Technology Log 

The science team from the Upper Ocean Processes Group is busy preparing instruments to be deployed on the mooring of the Stratus 5 Buoy. Each instrument must be physically examined to ensure that it is properly mounted in its rack.  Then these instruments are awakened to make sure that they are working properly. They are hooked up to a computer so that their operation and calibration can be tested.

The Stratus Buoy
The Stratus Buoy

Today I had a look at a mechanical current meter.  These were designed by Senior Scientist, Dr. Bob Weller as part of his Doctoral work at Scripps Institute. The instrument is housed in an aluminum cylinder that is 2 feet long and 7” in diameter.  The canister is water tight utilizing two interior rubber seals. Extending from one end is a 3’ long PCV mast that has two propeller mounts on it. At each mount are two sets of propellers on either side of the hub.  The two mounts are set at 90 degrees to one another. When water flows through the propellers revolutions are measure and the data is stored in a chip inside the canister.  The number of revolutions per given unit of time gives the velocity of the current.  Having two sets of propellers set at 90-degree angles allows the direction of the current to be determined.

There is also a second type of current meter that uses measurements of sound waves to determine current velocity.  Several of these will be deployed on the mooring along with the mechanical current meters.  Using two types of instruments allows the team to compare results.  The mechanical units have been used for about 20 years and they are known to be reliable and accurate.  Placing the acoustic velocity meter nearby will help determine the accuracy of these devices.

Questions to Consider 

Why are all the instrument cases cylindrical in shape?

Why is a “sacrificial zinc anode” placed on each end of the mechanical current meter?

How could the direction of a current be determined using two sets of propellers at 90- degree angles to one another?

Why build canisters out of aluminum?

Eric Heltzel, October 5, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Eric Heltzel
Onboard NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown
September 25 – October 22, 2005

Mission: Climate Observation and Buoy Deployment
Geographical Area: Southeast Pacific
Date: October 5, 2005

Weather Data from Bridge 

Temperature: 19.5 degrees C
Sea level Atmospheric pressure: 1010 mb
Relative Humidity: 90.5%
Clouds cover: 8/8, stratocumulus, altostratus
Visibility: 9 nm
Wind direction: 230 degrees
Wind speed: 6kts.
Wave height: 3 – 4’
Swell wave height: 3 – 5’
Seawater Temperature: 19.5 degrees C
Salinity: 34.7 parts per thousand

Science and Technology Log 

Notice that the seawater temperature declined from 28.7 to 18.8 degrees C between yesterday and today. We crossed the equator last night so this must have something to do with it.  I went to Doctor Weller and asked for an explanation:

At this latitude and at this season we are still under the influence of the southeast Trade Winds.  Wave motion generates and moves at 90 degrees to the wind direction.  Now the Coriolis Effect comes into play causing waves to deflect to the left in the southern hemisphere.  That means that the prevailing wave direction is from northeast to southwest south of the equator.

As the winds move into the northern hemisphere wave movement is still at 90 degrees. However, now the Coriolis Effect causes waves to deflect to the right, from southwest to northeast. So this time of year the wave motion in the two hemispheres is 180 degrees to one another.  As the surface waters move apart, deeper ocean water comes to the surface to fill the area evacuated by the surface wave motion.  This water is coming from greater depths and is colder.  This accounts for the lowering of the seawater temperature.  Dr. Weller suggests that this action brings nutrients to the surface which should enhance feeding opportunities for marine life.

Vertical and horizontal motion of ocean water causes constant exchanges of heat energy. These exchanges are between water of different temperatures and also the atmosphere.  Currents, waves, upwelling, evaporation, and winds are just some of the factors that influence heat exchanges on planet earth.  These processes are critical to maintaining global climates.  Dr. Weller’s Upper Ocean Processes Group seeks to better understand these relationships.

Ship Crew Activity 

I went to the Bridge this morning to gather weather and sea condition data.  The Officer of the Deck was LTJG Silas Ayers and the Watch Stander was Ordinary Seaman Phil Pokorski.  The Bridge Officer always has a crewmember with them whose job it is to be lookout to scan the ocean and report what can be seen.  This could be another ship, debris, or whales. The crewmember takes a sighting and determines the distance and bearing. Avoiding collision is an important job for the Officer of the Deck.

While there, the three of us engaged in a discussion of nautical measurements and their equivalencies. LTJG Ayers went to the Chart Room and extracted a reference book.  Here are the values we found:

Fathom = 6 feet, 2 yards, 1.8288 meters

Cable = 720 feet, 240 yards, 219.4560 meters

Statute Mile = 5280 feet, 1760 yards, 1609.344 meters

Nautical Mile = 6,076.11548556 feet, 1852 meters, 1.150779448 statute miles

League = 3 statute miles, 4830 meters

(As in 20,000 Leagues under the Sea)

Being a Jules Verne fan, I’ve often wondered how far 20,000 leagues really is.  Now I know that it is 60,000 statute miles.  But nowhere is the ocean nearly that deep. Phil then pointed out that Verne was referring to horizontal distance traveled while submerged in the Nautilus.  Finally the title of his tale makes sense to me.

Personal Note 

Starting last evening I was hearing a squeaking sound.  At first I thought it was my deck shoes squeaking on the tile deck floors.  Then I notice that even when I wasn’t moving the sound persisted. I was beginning to wonder if being at sea and wearing a motion sickness patch wasn’t causing me to be hallucinatory.  I looked and looked for the source of the sound. I finally asked Dr. Weller if he could hear it and fortunately he said yes. It is the sound generated by the Sea Beam, the ocean floor profiler.  I was relieved to know that if wasn’t just me hearing this sound.

Eric Heltzel, October 4, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Eric Heltzel
Onboard NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown
September 25 – October 22, 2005

Mission: Climate Observation and Buoy Deployment
Geographical Area: Southeast Pacific
Date: October 4, 2005

Acoustic releases
Acoustic releases

Weather Data from Bridge

Temperature: 25.5 degrees C
Clouds cover: 6/8, stratus, altocumulus
Visibility: 12 nm
Wind direction: 245 degrees
Wind speed: 13kts.
Wave height: 3 – 5’
Swell wave height: 3 – 5’
Seawater Temperature: 28.7 degrees C
Sea level Atmospheric pressure: 1005 mb
Relative Humidity: 82%

Science and Technology Log 

Today Senior Scientist Bob Weller and Senior Engineer Assistant Paul Bouchard showed me the acoustic releases.  These are devices that are placed on the tether that holds the Stratus Buoy to its anchor on the ocean floor. At the deployment location the ocean depth is 4425 meters (14,518 feet).  The acoustic release will be placed 30 meters from the anchor. Attached to the tether will be 35 instruments placed at a particular distance from the buoy. Their attachment distance will determine the depth at which they are located and will allow scientists to gather data about conditions at these particular depths of the water column.

The job of the acoustic release is to detach the buoy and tether from the anchor.  When we arrive at the currently deployed buoy a digitized acoustic signal will be sent through the water.  The acoustic release will “turn loose” of the anchor and allow our team to retrieve the buoy and the instruments attached to the tether. This is important because some of the instruments contain a year’s worth of data that must be downloaded and analyzed. Another reason is the cost of the buoy itself, all of the instruments, and the cable and line that have held it to the anchor. These things are worth about $500,000 dollars and would be difficult to replace. All of the instruments can be refurbished and used again.

Cornell Hill making a line splice.
Cornell Hill making a line splice.

When we arrive at the currently deployed Stratus Buoy the acoustic release that was put in place last year will be activated.  This should allow us to retrieve the system and replace it with the one we are carrying on board the ship. The acoustic releases we are carrying will be placed in the tether holding the new buoy and will not be activated until next year when that system is recovered. Acoustic releases are also used on drilling platforms and other objects tethered to the sea floor. These machines allow the objects tethered to be freed without the need to dive into the water and cut the line. These are an ingenious piece of technology that improves the safety and convenience of oceanographic research teams.

Ship Crew Activity 

I had the opportunity to watch Boatswain Group Leader Cornell Hill making a line splice.  He took the end of the line around a metal eye that is built with a groove on the outside. The line comes back on itself and Cornell braids the strands into the main part of the line. He has a knife with a spike on it to help lift the strands so he can braid it together.  What results is a closed loop with metal lining at the end of the line.  It’s very strong and is used as an attachment point. I have long wondered how this was done so it was very interesting to see the skillful way Cornell accomplished this feat.

Terms 

Acoustic signal – a particular blend of frequency and pattern of sounds that sends a message through the water to instruct a device to perform its operation. Example is the signal sent to activate the acoustic release.

Acoustic Release – a device that releases a line when given the proper sound signal. Used in the tether system of the Stratus buoy.

Bosun – crew member in charge of deck operations

Line – rope Line Splice – Braiding stands of a line back into itself.

Tether – attachment to a fixed object. This may be a combination of cable, chain, line, or wire. Example is the attachment of the Stratus Buoy so that it  doesn’t drift away.

Eric Heltzel, October 3, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Eric Heltzel
Onboard NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown
September 25 – October 22, 2005

Mission: Climate Observation and Buoy Deployment
Geographical Area: Panama Canal
Date: October 3, 2005

Weather Data from Bridge
Clouds cover: 7/8, stratus, cumulus, altocumulus
Wind direction: 250 degrees
Wind speed: 18kts.
Wave height: 3 – 4’
Swell wave height: 5 – 5’
Seawater Temperature: 29.9 degrees C
Sea level Atmospheric pressure: 10.10 mb
Relative Humidity: 82%

Science and Technology Log 

Today I worked my first watch from 08:00 to 12:00.  I was responsible for being present in the main science lab and monitoring our position and being aware of where the first deployment of instruments will occur.  Since we are not yet allowed to deploy any instruments, it was a fairly slow day.  We did receive training from Sergio Pezoa on how to calibrate and activate radiosondes.  These are the instrument packages that send back information on its position, temperature, atmospheric pressure, and relative humidity.  These instrument packages carry a water-activated battery and are attached to a helium balloon. They are released into the atmosphere at prescribed times and send back by radio the information they gather to the receiving unit.  This continues until the balloon fails and the instrument package tumbles to earth.  Radiosondes are the basis for most of the information about conditions in the upper troposphere.  I’ll be working on the team that launches the weather balloons carrying these instrument packages.

Eric Heltzel, October 2, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Eric Heltzel
Onboard NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown
September 25 – October 22, 2005

Sailing through the Canal
Sailing through the Canal

Mission: Climate Observation and Buoy Deployment
Geographical Area: Panama Canal
Date: October 2, 2005

Science and Technology Log 

We’ve been in port at Panama City.  The whole idea of sailing from the Atlantic basin across part of the continent to the Pacific basin seems rather amazing. Seeing the locks in operation was fascinating. A tug helped us get into the correct position then four cables were attached, two forward and two aft. These cables were each fed out from a winch on railroad switch engines which were on tracks on either side of the lock.

The engines moved with us and kept tension on the cables so our ship stayed in the center of the lock.  The locks are 1000 feet long so our 274’ vessel could fit in with another ship. Once we were in, the lower gate closed and water started to flow in from the base of the sidewalls of the lock. I was surprised at how rapidly the lock filled with water.  The water largely flows in by gravity so little has to be pumped.  Once we finished going through the three locks we were lifted to the level of the natural lake that acts as a critical part of the passage. This lake, which is filled by the abundant rainfall, provides water to fill the locks and has a navigable channel dredged across. On the western side is the infamous cut.  Here the canal looks like it is a river going through a canyon although it has no current and the canyon is man-made.  The ship descended through locks on the Pacific side and we docked at Panama City.

A closed lock inside the Panama Canal
A closed lock inside the Panama Canal

When I awoke on Saturday the deck crew and engineers were preparing to take on fuel.  This is a ticklish business that requires a lot of attention.  It’s the same principle as pulling into the local gas station except the hoses are 8” in diameter and get bolted together then bolted to the ship. We took on 80,000 gallons of diesel fuel which we will need for the next leg of our voyage to Arica, Chile.  The RON BROWN can hold about 120,000 gallons of fuel. I was pleased that this wasn’t billed to my account.

This morning I went out for a walk around the compound where our ship is docked. This is a military compound with nicely kept grounds but around the edges the indigenous vegetation is showing itself.  There were several pathways up into the trees where I got a sense of what the forest in Panama is like.  “Green” and “busy” are two operative descriptors. In areas along the edge there were several beautiful plants in bloom. I also got to watch leaf-cutter ants carrying there booty back to their nests. These guys travel back and forth along the same path from the tree they are carving leaves from to their residence.  It always reminds me of a safari through the jungle. I also saw an Agouti in an opening. I had only seen photos of this large rodent and I was excited to see one in the field. It was in the 80’s and very humid so I returned to the ship very damp.

Tropical flowers
Tropical flowers

We are preparing to depart on the next leg of the cruise.  We expect to pull away about 17:30 after the Pilot comes on board.  Twelve more members of the scientific team arrived yesterday so we now have our full complement.  I have assigned my first “watch” tomorrow from 08:00 to 12:00.  We will be trained on deployment of drifters and ARGOS buoys this evening.  I also will be helping the meteorological team by launching weather balloons. We’re going to begin the scientific research tomorrow.  Wow!

Things to pursue: Design of the Panama Canal, History of the Panama Canal, and Plants and animals of Panama

Joan Raybourn, August 19, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Joan Raybourn
Onboard NOAA Ship Albatross IV
August 14 – 25, 2005

Mission: Ecosystem Productivity Survey
Geographical Area: Northeast U.S.
Date: August 19, 2005

Weather Data from the Bridge

Latitude: 40’ 17” N
Longitude:  70’ 08” W
Wind direction: NNE (29 degrees)
Wind speed: 19.6 knots
Air temperature: 19° C
Sea water temperature: 22.8°C
Sea level pressure: 1018.1 millibars
Cloud cover: cloudy

Question of the Day: Yesterday a goldfinch visited us, but we are far out to sea. When I took the picture above (#6), our position was 41.39 N and 67.11 W. About how far was this little guy from Woods Hole, Massachusetts?

Yesterday’s Answer: Qualitative data is the “what” that your doctor can observe but not necessarily measure. She might look in your ears, eyes, and throat, feel your internal organs through your abdomen, observe your spine, test your reflexes, have you balance on one foot with your eyes closed, and ask general questions about how you feel. Quantitative data is the “how much”; it is something that can be measured. Your doctor will probably measure how tall you are and how much you weigh, and take your temperature and your blood pressure. If she takes blood or urine samples, they will be analyzed for both qualitative and quantitative properties. We are observing and recording similar kinds of data about the ocean, so scientists can get a good picture of the health of this ecosystem.

8

Science and Technology Log

We are very fortunate on this cruise to be able to deploy a drifter buoy. The NOAA Office of Climate Observation (OCO) established the Adopt-a-Drifter program in December 2004. The program makes buoys available to teachers who are participating on cruises as Teachers at Sea. Our drifter has been adopted by my school, Greenbrier Intermediate School of Chesapeake, Virginia, and by Julie Long’s school, Farnsworth Middle School of Guilderland, New York. We named him (It’s a buoy!) Moose in honor of the fact that he was deployed in the Georges Bank area of the Gulf of Maine, which has a number of GOMOOS (Gulf of Maine Ocean Observing Systems) buoys. Moose is the fourth drifter buoy to be deployed as part of the NOAA program, and joins over 1,000 drifter buoys collecting data worldwide.

The buoy itself is a blue and white sphere about the size of a beach ball. It is attached to a drogue, a long “tail” that hangs below the buoy and ensures that it is drifting with the surface currents and not being pushed along by the wind. The buoy is equipped with a water temperature sensor, and a transmitter so that its position and temperature data can be beamed to a satellite, which relays this information to a ground station that will place it on a website. Julie and I decorated the buoy with our school names and signatures – it even has a Greenbrier Intermediate School sticker and a picture of our panther mascot. Then we deployed the buoy on August 18 by tossing it over the side of the ship while it was moving slowly. It was a little sad to see Moose drifting off without us, so small on the huge ocean, but we can follow his adventures for the next 410 days by checking the Adopt a Drifter website. You can begin tracking it here. You can find Moose by clicking on his WMO number, which is 44902. The website will give you the location of the buoy (latitude and longitude) and the date, time, and temperature of the surface water at that location.

What can scientists do with the data about surface water currents that buoys such as Moose are collecting? Of course it can be used to track major ocean currents. Knowledge of currents is useful for understanding the ocean ecosystem and for navigation. But this data will also be used to build models of climate and weather patterns, predict the movement of pollution spills, and even to assist with forecasting the path of approaching hurricanes.

Personal Log

I finally feel like I am becoming useful as a scientist on this cruise, not just an interested observer. Although I have been busy helping from Day 1, I am gaining confidence about conducting some parts of the work on my own. I have learned to collect and preserve the plankton samples, process water samples for chlorophyll, and operate the CTD (Conductivity, Temperature, and Depth), a computer linked instrument that measures oceanographic data. This morning I was up in time to watch a beautiful sunrise and had time to do a load of laundry during a long steam between stations. We had a raft of seabirds sitting hopefully off the stern while we were stopped for some work, and the weather is cool and sunny. It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood!

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 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 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 8, 2004

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

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

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

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

TODAY’S BIG NEWS!

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

Question of the Day

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

Positive Quote for the Day

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

Science Log

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

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

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

Personal Log

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

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

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

Until tomorrow,

Mary

Mary Cook, December 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.