Nancy Lewis, September 20, 2003

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Nancy Lewis
Onboard NOAA Ship Ka’imimoana
September 15 – 27, 2003

Mission: Tropical Atmosphere Ocean (TAO)/TRITON
Geographical Area: Western Pacific
Date: September 20, 2003

9/19/03:

2015  Deep CTD

9/20/03:

0100:  pH Profiler

0800:  Deploy CO2 Buoy

1600:  .5 N CTD

2000:  1 N CTD and SOLO

Weather  Observation Log:  0100

Latitude: 0 degrees, 1.9′ S
Longitude:  139 degrees,  49.7 W
Visibility:  12 nautical miles (nm)
Wind direction:  120 degrees
Wind speed:  15 knots
Sea wave height:  3-5 feet
Swell wave height:  4-6 feet
Sea water temperature:  26.1 degrees C
Sea level pressure:  1-12.0 mb
Dry bulb pressure:  26.3 degrees C
Wet bulb pressure:  24.0 degrees C
Cloud cover:  48 Cumulus, altocumulus, cirrus

 

Science and Technology Log

Last evening  there was a deep cast of the CTD to a depth of 4000 meters.  Tom Nolan and I packed lots of styrofoam cups  that had been decorated by students in mesh bags, as well as several foam wig heads that had been artistically painted by Kamaka.  These bags we attached to the CTD.   The idea was to see what would happen to these cups when subjected to the pressures of the ocean at that extreme depth.  The effect was quite interesting. The cups were scrunched, the heads shrunken, but all in perfect  proportion.   As you can see from the Plan of the Day, 2 other CTD casts were done today, both at the regular 1000 foot depth.

The pH Profiler is a prototype instrument designed and being tested here by scientists from the University of South Florida, Renate Bernstein and Xuewu (Sherwood) Liu.  The purpose of their work is the development of precise, accurate, simple, robust and inexpensive CO2-system measurement procedures for use in global CO2 investigations on NOAA vessels.    What they are trying to do is to assess the accuracy, precision and overall performance of the University of South Florida systems compared to the systems used by NOAA over the past 15 years.  From what I have gathered so far in talking to these scientists,  they are not happy about the performance of their instrument.

Let me address the question of AOML drifters.  AOML stands for Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory, and these are surface drifting buoys which are deployed by simply tossing them off the fantail of the ship.  They are tracked by the Argos satellite and provide SST (Sea Surface Temperature) and mixed layer current information.  There is a global array of these drifters and they provide ground truth for NOAA’s polar orbiting satellite AVHRR SST maps.  Please email Craig Engler@noaa.gov or check out http://www.aoml.noaa.gov/ for more information concerning the AOML drifters.

Lewis 9-20-03 drifter buoy

AOML drifters buoys are deployed by simply tossing them off the fantail of the ship.

Personal Log

Before leaving Hawaii, I told all my students that it was going to be extremely hot and humid here at the equator.  Surprisingly enough for me, that has not been the case at all.  It  has been actually quite pleasant outside, and of course, there is always a sea breeze blowing.  Inside the ship is sometimes like an icebox, especially in the computer lab which is kept at 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

The ship’s doctor, Michelle Pelkey, affectionately known as “Doc” runs the ship’s store every evening from 0730 to 0800.  Already I have bought a T-shirt and Aloha shirt emblazoned with the NOAA insignia and KA’IMIMOANA.   They also sell soft drinks, popcorn, hats and other sundry items.

Doc is also the ship’s recreation director, and has pressed everyone to sign up for tournaments in cribbage, darts, Scrabble, and a card game called Sequence.

My evening tonight was spent doing a CTD cast from start to finish with Tom, my colleague from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.  Tom has written down every step of the procedure, and we were editing  his instructions during the entire procedure. Randy must have had a lot of faith in us, because we did the whole CTD cast without his help.  The last thing to do on the CTD cast is to hose off the rosette, and I got soaked in the process.  Looks like it is a good time to call it a day!
Question of the Day:

What event occurs this year on September 23rd and what is its significance?

Until tomorrow,

Nancy Lewis

Nancy Lewis, September 19, 2003

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Nancy Lewis
Onboard NOAA Ship Ka’imimoana
September 15 – 27, 2003

Mission: Tropical Atmosphere Ocean (TAO)/TRITON
Geographical Area: Western Pacific
Date: September 19, 2003

Plan of the Day:

0700:    Recover /Deploy Equatorial ADCP
Recover CO2 Buoy (if there)  OR
Deploy CO2 Buoy ( if Buoy is missing)

Weather Observation Log:  0100

Latitude:  0 degrees,  0.7′ N
Longitude:  140 degrees., 2.3′ W
Visibility:  12 nautical miles (nm)
Wind direction:  120 degrees
Wind speed:  21 knots
Sea wave height:  3-5 feet
Swell wave height:  5-7 feet
Sea water temperature:  26.0 degrees C
Sea level pressure:  1011.2 mb
Dry bulb pressure:  26.0 degrees C
Wet bulb pressure:  23.8 degrees C
Cloud cover:  3/8 Cumulus, altocumulus

Science and Technology Log

The equator!  For me as for most people, it has always just been “that line around the globe,”  but now that I am out here on this project,  I realize that the equator defines more than just the northern and southern hemispheres of the earth.  It is here that the ocean currents are being intensively studied in order for us to understand the relationship between the oceans and climate.  The 1982-83 El Nino was not predicted by scientists, and it had far-reaching, damaging effects on such diverse places as South America and Australia.  It was then that NOAA funded the Tropical Ocean Global Atmosphere project that is the TAO/Triton array.  Approximately 50 of the buoys are maintained by the U.S. and the other 20 are maintained by Japan.  It took 10 years to complete and in essence, it is a 6,000 mile antennae for scientists to monitor conditions in the equatorial Pacific.

Normally,  the trade winds blow from east to west, but in an El Nino event,  the situation is reversed.

The phenomenon has long been observed by South American fisherman,  and usually occurs around the time of Christmas, hence its name which means “Christ child.”  The great ocean currents are moved by the wind, but around the equator, there are counter, below-sea currents.  Instruments in the TAO/Triton array are involved in collecting important data on these below surface currents.

Each TAO buoy is moored to the bottom of the ocean using steel cable surrounded in plastic and railroad wheels are the anchor.  At various depths on the Nilspin, temperature sensors called thermistors are strapped to the cable.  The cable conducts a signal to the surface of the buoy.  These cables can become damaged (by sharks biting them!) or otherwise degraded, and then the signal will be corrupted. Thus, there is the need for the periodic maintenance which is the main mission of the KA’IMIMOANA.

In addition, some of the buoys are equipped with CO2 sensors, which measure the amount of dissolved CO2 in the water, and which can then be used in studies of global warming.  The buoy which we retrieved today stopped working shortly after it was deployed, and it was not known if it had broken free or what had happened.  As it turned out, the buoy was there, and has been replaced with a fully functioning buoy. Right now, I am looking at innards of that CO2 sensor, which is in the computer lab and is being analyzed by the Chief Scientist.

Personal Log

Early this morning, we recovered the ADCP, which is a subsurface buoy.  Shortly thereafter, we deployed a new ADCP.  ADCP stands for Acoustic Dopplar Current Profiler, and this instrument is used to record data on the below surface currents. I will spend time later discussing this buoy, which looks like a giant orange ball.

I spent much of the day catching up on my daily logs, downloading photos and making several video clips to send to the website.  It appears that the hurricane did a number on the East Coast, and we probably will not have email communication until at least tomorrow.  I have been very happy to get some good questions from the students at Na’alehu School on the Big Island, and I am looking forward to hearing from many more of you next week.

I also spent time today chatting with the Chief Boatswain, Kamaka, a very hard working Hawaiian young man who spreads a lot of aloha wherever he goes.  I have invited Kamaka to come to my school when we get back to Hawaii since he is planning to visit the Big Island.  His girlfriend is Marquesan and lives on Nuku Hiva.

The sunset this evening at the equator was stunningly beautiful,  and there was a rainbow under some misty clouds in the east.  I am hoping my photo was able to capture it for you all.  We shall remain here at the equator overnight, and I am looking forward to the gentle rocking of the ship once I tumble into my berth later this evening.

Question of the Day:   What is the Coriolis effect and how does it relate to winds and ocean currents?

Aloha from the KA’IMIMOANA!

Nancy Lewis

Jane Temoshok, October 2, 2001

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Jane Temoshok
Onboard NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown
October 2 – 24, 2001

Mission: Eastern Pacific Investigation of Climate Processes
Geographical Area: Eastern Pacific
Date: October 2, 2001

Just got back from a fabulous C-130 flight! It was a long day but well worth it. The video and digital pictures will be amazing. They let me fly the plane!!!!! for real!!!! Then I dropped several air expendable bathythermographs (EXBT) – in other words big plastic tubes out of a hole in the floor of the plane.

The chief scientist, Nick Bond, also gave me a job to do which required using the onboard computers to note the exact time and longitude of each drop. The plane “porpoised” for 6 hours to just south of the equator. Porpoising means we flew at an altitude of 5000 feet for 7 min. and then descended to 100 feet! for 7 minutes and then back up to 5000 ft. Of course Dr. Kermond filmed everything so there will be lots to see. Everybody on board was very accommodating.

Please share my historic flight with my students tomorrow. I’m sure they will be impressed. We did fly over the RON BROWN – just barely because we were only at 100 ft! Then on our way back I was able to speak with Jennifer via the cockpit radio. Very exciting.

Keep in touch,
Jane