Laura Grimm: Chizzywinks and Hawsepipers, July 21, 2022

NOAA Teacher at Sea

Laura Grimm

Aboard NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson

July 4 – July 22, 2022

Mission: Hydrographic Survey of Lake Erie

Geographic Area of Cruise: Lake Erie

Date: July 21, 2022

Weather Data from the Bridge

Weather Data from the Bridge

Latitude: 41 36.7’ N

Longitude: 080 40.3’ W

Sky Conditions: Few clouds

Visibility: 10+ miles

Wind Speed: 15.3 knots

Wind Direction: 254 W

Lake Temperature: 23.6 C

Wave Height:  3 feet

Dry Bulb: 26.2 ᵒC

Wet Bulb: 22.8 ᵒC

Calculated Relative Humidity: 75%

a section of bathymetric data (color-coded to reflect depth) within  polygons overlaid on a political map of Lake Erie off of Cleveland
We are back to surveying off the north coast of Cleveland

Science and Technology Log

Humidity: In each blog post, I report the dry bulb and wet bulb temperatures plus the calculated relative humidity. 

What is humidity?  It is the amount of water vapor in the air. If there is a lot of water vapor in the air, the humidity will be high. The higher the humidity, the “stickier” the air feels outside.  Think about a hot August day in Ohio.  The air feels sticky and uncomfortable.  Chances are that the humidity is high.

What is relative humidity?  Relative humidity is the amount of water vapor in the air, expressed as a percentage of the maximum amount of water vapor the air can hold at the same temperature.  Warm air can hold more water vapor than cool air.  Once you know the wet-bulb and dry-bulb temperatures, you can use a conversion table to calculate the relative humidity. (I discussed this topic in my July 7: Echoes and Flares blog post.

This video might help you understand the concept further.

What is humidity?
dry and wet bulb thermometers mounted on a wall, inside a box. The wet bulb thermometer has a tiny sock on the end that is sitting in a container of water. 
Dry and wet bulb thermometers are used to calculate relative humidity

These thermometers are used to measure the dry bulb (left) and wet bulb (right) temperature measurements.  The dry bulb measures air temperature.  The wet bulb thermometer has a tiny sock on the end that is sitting in a container of water.  The physics of water evaporating causes the temperature to decrease. So, this thermometer will register a lower temperature.  A person then uses a comparison cart to calculate the relative humidity.  The dryer the air, the more quickly the water from the sock will evaporate.  A larger difference between the dry and wet bulb thermometers will result in a lower relative humidity reading. 

the white box with holes in the cover that contains the thermometers
The dry and wet bulb thermometers are contained in a white box with holes in the cover.  This is to minimize the effect of direct sun.

Students: We have a “wet wall” also known as a “swamp cooler” in the greenhouse to cool the greenhouse when it gets too warm.  How is this related to humidity?  How does this work to cool the greenhouse?  (Hint: Look up the concept of evaporative cooling.)

Latitude and Longitude: Each time I write a blog post I have told you where I am.  I do this by telling you my “address” on the globe by listing the ship’s latitude and longitudinal lines.  But just what are latitude and longitude lines and how do they tell you where you are on the globe?

Latitude and longitude are a system of lines used to describe the location of any place on Earth.  Think of latitude and longitude as an imaginary grid placed over the world to help you find places. Each place on the Earth has an address.  The address is where the lines of latitude and longitude cross.  Although these are only imaginary lines, they appear on maps and globes as if they actually existed.

illustration of a sphere covered in parallel latitude lines and vertical longitude lines
Latitude – Flatitude!          Longitude lines are Long!
a chart about Latitude (horizontal lines on a globe) v Longitude (vertical lines on a globe); illustration of a globe; equator and prime meridian highlighted
This chart summarizes a lot of information about latitude and longitude.
  • Latitude are the points north and south of the equator. The equator is halfway between the North and South Poles. It’s an imaginary horizontal line that cuts the planet completely in half. Latitude lines are imaginary lines that are a specific degree away from the equator going to the North and South Pole.  Between each line of latitude there are 60 minutes which are then again subdivided into 60 seconds.
    • They are also known as “parallels” and run east-west.
    • Equator = 0ᵒ; North Pole = 90ᵒN; South Pole = 90ᵒS
    • Northern Hemisphere = 0ᵒ through 90ᵒNorth
    • Southern Hemisphere = 0ᵒ through 90ᵒSouth
    • 1 degree of latitude = 60 nautical miles
    • 1 minute of latitude = 1 nautical mile
    • 1 nautical mile = 1.15 statute miles (Statute miles are used on land.)
  • Longitude are the points east and west of the prime meridian.  Like the equator, the prime meridian is an imaginary vertical line that splits the world in half from the North to the South Pole. Longitude are vertical lines going from one pole to the other starting at the prime meridian.  I like to think of the lines of longitude like the distance between the edges of sections of an orange.  They are further apart near the middle (equator) and get closer together as they near the ends.
    • 0ᵒ = the Prime Meridian that passes through Greenwich, England
    • 180ᵒ = halfway around the Earth; it is roughly the international dateline
    • Western Hemisphere = 0ᵒ through 180ᵒWest of Greenwich
    • Eastern Hemisphere = 0ᵒ through 180ᵒEast of Greenwich
    • Longitudinal lines vary with distance from the equator

This video may help you understand these concepts more clearly. 

Want to understand latitude and longitude?

What is the latitude and longitudinal address of your town? Use this interactive map to find the latitude and longitudinal address of your house!  I found using the “satellite” view handy. 

Another way to find out is to go to  Google Maps and type in your address.  Once the App has found your house, right click on the red pin.  At the top of the list will be your latitude / longitude coordinates.

Chizzywinks: This message was recently written on a white board outside of the crew lounge.  What are these invaders?  They do not seem to bite; however, they are very annoying.  They are everywhere!

message on whiteboard reads: Please keep ALL doors closed! Flies are attacking the ship inside and out. Everyone report to your battle stations LOL
Report to your battle stations!
close-up view of midges
In mid-July we had a period with little wind. This insect covered many of the surfaces of the ship. While it somewhat resembles a mosquito, this is in insect called a midge . . . or a chizzywink.

No one on board seemed to know what they were (other than annoying), so I contacted two friends back home.  Drs. Rowe and Nault have expertise in plant pathology and entomology – but, more importantly, they are fly fishermen and really know about the insects that call Lake Erie “Home”.

These lovely, pesky insects are midges.  They have many other names, including lake flies, Canadian soldiers, or chizzywinks, just to name a few. They live on the lake bottom as worm-like larvae, many of which are blood red.  In this life stage they eat decaying plant matter.  Eventually, they enter the pupal stage.  This is a nonfeeding stage between the larva and adult, during which it undergoes a complete change within a hardened case.  The pupae (more than one pupa) slowly rise to the surface through the water column.  They are a major source of food for fish and other aquatic animals.  Fishermen consider them good bugs!  Those aboard NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson might beg to differ.

Once at the surface, the adults emerge and get rid of their pupal cases in the surface film of the water.  They often emerge by the thousands. In fact, in certain places around the world there can be so many midges that once they die, they are considered fertilizer.

The adults look like “mosquito-like” flies, but don’t bite. Many are eaten by birds. 

Once the larvae emerge as flying adults, they stop eating and have only one thing on their minds – mating. According to Water Blogged, a blog published by the Science and Stories of the Center for Limnology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the adults “gather in huge clouds and, well, get to know one another. After mating, the male eventually expires, with the female not far behind – but first she’ll return to the water to lay her eggs.”  The eggs laid on the surface sink to the bottom, and the cycle begins again.

(Students – Compare and contrast the life cycle of a midge and the monarch butterfly or darkling beetles.)

illustrated diagram of the life cycle of a midge: egg, larva, pupa, adult
Life cycle of the non-biting midge, a.k.a chizzywinks.

Learn more about the midge in this video.

Midges are invertebrates.

Meet the Crew

Chief Electronics Technician Justin Witmer points a screwdriver at a screw on a wall of technology
Justin Witmer, Chief Electronics Technician on NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson

Justin Witmer has worked on NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson as the Chief Electronics Technician for the past 3 years.  Prior to this position he worked for the Norfolk Naval Shipyards.  He is a sailor at heart having spent 20 years in the U.S. Navy.

What does your job entail?  He is responsible for most of the things on TJ that plug into a wall.  This includes the maintaining and repairing the sonars (which are essential to the hydrographic work), other ship sensors, computers, etc.  From the sonar on the keel to the wind bird at the top, he is responsible for the electronics in between. 

Where do you do most of your work?  I work mostly from my office which is right off the Survey Control Room where I do computer and user account maintenance as well as electronics troubleshooting duties.

What do you like most about your job?  I like to troubleshoot electronics issues.

What do you like the least about your job?  Administrative paperwork.

What do you like about working on a ship?  I’ve always enjoyed the general atmosphere of living on a ship.  With a good crew it is much like a large group home.  You can choose to get along with everyone, and if you can’t, the ship is large enough that you can generally get away from those you don’t see eye-to-eye with.

If budget was not an issue, what tool would you like me to invent that would make your job easier?  A cable stretcher.

Can you share with us one or two things about yourself that don’t have to do with work?  He lives in Norfolk, VA, speaks fluent Turkish, and like to play music (bass and tuba).  He also likes amateur radio.  His job lines up nicely with his hobbies – all except, perhaps, playing tuba.

So much of what TJ does to complete its mission relies on computers, sensors, and electronics.  Thank you, Justin, for all you do to keep the electronics aboard TJ ship shape!  Thank you for your service.

Personal Log

Safety is paramount.  Since discussing safety drills in my July 8, 2022 blog, I have done my homework.  I know what the signals mean, what to take, and where to go.  Today, we had three drills: fire, man overboard, and abandoned ship.  During abandoned ship drills, we need to take our personal flotation devices (PFDs), also known as life vests, and our Survival Immersion Suit which is lovingly called our “Gumby” suit.  We are expected to put on our suit in less than 2 minutes.  It is made from Neoprene to maximize flotation and hypothermia protection.  Being red, it can easily be seen in the water.  It also has a light and a place where we can blow up a head pillow.

A friend helped me practice putting on my Gumby suit.  I succeeded in putting it on I just over a minute!

  • Laura stands on deck and holds up the survival suit
  • Laura, wearing the survival suit, stands at the railing and waves at the camera. a life preserver is mounted on the rail next to her.
  • Laura poses in the survival suit

For the Little Dawgs . . .

Q: Where is Dewey?  Hint: He is sitting on a very important piece of equipment that we need when we want to lower or raise the anchor.

  • Dewey the beanie monkey sits on a large metal object with a chain
  • wider view shows Dewey the beanie monkey sitting on the anchor windlass
  • a view over the bow of the ship, with the anchor windlass in the center

A: Dewey is sitting on the anchor windlass.   According to Wikipedia, “An anchor windlass is a machine that restrains and manipulates the anchor chain on a boat, allowing the anchor to be raised and lowered by means of chain cable. A notched wheel engages the links of the chain or the rope.”  In other words, it is the machine that lowers and raises the anchor. 

a line diagram of an anchor windlass on a ship. the anchor windlass rolls and unrolls the chain that threads through the hawsepipe and connects to the anchor
This diagram shows the location of the hawsepipe.

I learned a lot new information today!  The steel pipe on each side of the windlass where the anchor chains pass through is called a hawsepipe.  I think because the chain goes up and down in the hawsepipe, a hawsepiper (*) refers to a ship’s officer who began his/her career in a non-traditional way.  They did not attend a maritime academy to earn an officer’s license.  They worked their way into their career like a chain travels through a hawsepipe.

(*) Remember this word. I will be using it in a future blog post.

illustration of a stockless anchor
Thomas Jefferson has a stockless anchor.

The anchor is usually very heavy and made of metal.  It is used to help keep the ship from drifting away from a fixed place due to wind or current.

TJ has a stockless anchor.  Watch the following video to see how a windlass and a stockless anchor work together to secure a ship. The chain really does a lot of work!

Lake Erie Fact:

Lake Erie’s primary inlet is the Detroit River which comes from Lake Huron.  Its natural outflow is via the Niagara River, which provides hydroelectric power to Canada and the U.S. as it spins huge turbines near Niagara Falls.

Soon we will start sampling the bottom to see if we are traveling over mud, clay, sand, gravel, or shells (most likely to be zebra mussels).  This is important information for ships to know who want to anchor in the area. 

I have mixed feelings about this experience coming to an end.  I really miss my husband, friends, cats, home, garden, etc.  Just this morning, I made the comment to Chief Hydrographer in Charge, Erin, how this has been an incredible experience . . . especially for a nerd who is super excited about STEM content and promoting STEM careers.  With minimal preparation, I was plopped into this information-rich environment with local experts who were willing and excited to answer all my questions AND I had the time to ask more questions, follow research leads, process my learning through writing, and get a taste of living at sea.

We pull into the Port of Cleveland on July 22.  It will be hard to say, “Good-bye” to TJ, this extraordinary learning experience, and all my new friends.  It will be easy to greet my husband after 19 days being away.  It will also be time to move forward and plan on how I will share what I have learned with the students at Dalton Local Schools.

It’s been a full day.  Ta-Ta for now!

Rebecca Kimport, JULY 10, 2010

NOAA Teacher at Sea Rebecca Kimport
NOAA Ship Oscar Dyson
June 30, 2010 – July 19, 2010

Mission: Summer Pollock survey
Geograpical Area:Bering Sea, Alaska
Date: July 10,  2010

Weather Weather Everywhere!

Weather Data from the Bridge
Time: 1400
Latitude: 59.12 N
Longitude: 174.02 W
Cloud Cover: 5/8
Wind: 17 knots
Air Temperature: 8° C/ 46° F
Water Temperature: 7° C/ 45° F
Barometric Pressure: 1006.9 mb

Aside from weather helping you decide what to wear for the day, weather is critical on board a research vessel. Each hour the bridge collects the same data that is then input into the AMVER Sea system and sent to NOAA Weather. Some of the information included is: time, latitude, longitude, cloud cover, air and water temperatures, wind, barometric pressure, visibility, and swell height. This helps determine our exact location (check out NOAA Shiptracker for more information) as well as the weather at sea and also weather inland. It is not uncommon for marine weather systems to move inland. This information also helps us understand long term climate changes, precipitation, and ocean currents.

Exactly where are we?
The latitude and longitude help determine the position of the ship and the time is recorded to understand how the ship is moving and in what direction. This allows the scientists to follow the transects to conduct their research. If I told you at 1500 hours (3pm) our mark was 58.00N and 171.48W, you would be able to pinpoint our location on a map. Our latitude so far on this trip (July 7th) has been in the range of 56.12N-58.69N depending on the transect that we are following and the longitudes’ range is between 170.01W-171.48W.

Map of ship route
Map of ship route

It’s cloudy again?

Clouds from the deck
Clouds from the deck

It tends to be quite cloudy and foggy here in the Bering Sea and cloud cover is measured in eighths of the sky. For example, on July 6th the cloud cover at 1500 hours was 7/8 which means that 87.5% of the sky was filled with clouds. Cloud type and location can help predict the type of weather. The majority of our days have been 8/8 or 100% cloud cover with stratus clouds and lots of moisture in the air.

This is definitely not the heat wave they are getting back home!
This brings us to air temperature and wind. The temperature is always taken on the windward side of the ship because this is the side of the ship in the stream of air fresh from the sea that has not been in contact with or passed over the ship. There are two types of thermometers in each case on the deck in front of the bridge. The dry bulb measures the air temperature and the wet bulb has a muslin wick which absorbs heat from the thermometer. The temperature difference between the two, called the depression of the wet bulb, can help determine what the percent humidity is by referring to the humidity chart. Wind can affect these readings which is why there are thermometers on either side of the bridge. The wind direction is logged as the same direction from which the sea waves are coming. Average temperature through July 7th for Leg II has been 5.680C/420F with winds averaging 10.29 knots. The weather mentioned has been the trend for Leg II; however, this could be changing by the end of the week…stay tuned!

Wet Bulb-Dry Bulb
Wet Bulb-Dry Bulb

Hold on tight!
It’s July 10 and we are still waiting for the big seas to hit us. (not that I am complaining about calm weather!) The swells have gotten larger and the wind definitely picked up yesterday. The strongest wind recorded yesterday was 26 knots while on my shift. There is still a chance for NW sustained winds up to 25 knots and 10 foot seas before the weekend is up. Part of the reason for calmer seas yesterday was that we were so far north and the low pressure system was to the south of us. It was actually the farthest north I have ever been, and we will go even farther north before it is time to head back to Dutch Harbor.

Word of the day
guile: deceit

New Vocabulary
barometric pressure: the downward force that the atmosphere exerts per unit of a certain area.
swell height: measure of wind waves generated locally; vertical distance between trough and crest
muslin wick: plain woven cotton fabric
humidity: the amount of moisture in the air
gale force winds: strong winds between 28-47 knots

Mary Cook, December 18, 2004

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

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

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

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

Question of the Day

What does a psychrometer measure?

Positive Quote of the Day

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

Science and Technology Log

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Personal Log

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

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

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

Yeah! Another adventure awaits!

Until tomorrow,

Mary