Kevin McMahon, August 7, 2004

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Kevin McMahon
Onboard NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown

July 26 – August 7, 2004

Mission: New England Air Quality Study (NEAQS)
Geographical Area:
Northwest Atlantic Ocean
August 7, 2004

Weather Data from the Bridge
Lat. 42 deg 33.05 N
Lon. 68 deg 23.03 W
Heading 349 deg
Speed 0 kts
Barometer 1007.91 mb
Rel Humidity 83.96 %
Temp. 16.68 C

Daily Log

0800 hours. The past evening was spent steaming to this point where we are on station. The ship will remain here for all of the morning and part of the afternoon. We will await a fly over by the J31 as well as the NASA DC8. Many of the scientists onboard will also set their equipment with the use of a satellite due to pass overhead in the early afternoon.

My morning was spent helping Dan Wolfe, one of the NOAA meteorologists repair an electrical problem which had disabled the sensors that relay air temperature and relative humidity to computers aboard ship. As you can see from the photos, this was not something you would find in the job description for meteorologists. To solve the problem Dan had to climb up to a crows nest like platform on the masthead near the bow of the ship and then perform a diagnostic test on the electrical circuitry for the systems.

It was finally discovered that a switch box had allowed moisture to enter through leaky gasket. In all, the task it took several hours to complete.

During the time we were engaged with the repair we started to notice a small school of dolphins moving closer to the ship. At first they seemed to keep a distance of about 100 yards but after time, small pods of four or five would move in closer to the ship and investigate our presence in their world. I believe that this type of dolphin is known as the Atlantic White Sided Dolphin. As we were stationary in the water, a flock of shearwaters could be seen loitering off our stern and starboard side. They are a wonderful seabird to watch as they seem to effortlessly propel themselves through the air with a continuous glide, using a ground effect air flow created by an updraft of the sea waves. The dolphins would at times glide under the floating shearwaters and make them alight from the water. They seemed to enjoy this form of teasing as they repeated the act over and over.

During the afternoon I helped Drew Hamilton take more sun readings with his Sunphotometer. As I stated in yesterdays log, the sunphotometer measure the intensity of the suns direct radiation. Because we had a couple of aircraft fly over us today, the J31 and the DC8, and because those platforms contain the same equipment as that aboard the ship, we were able to validate our readings.


Why is it important to have standardized equipment when conducting the same types of experiments by different people in different locations?

Kirk Beckendorf, July 11, 2004

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Kirk Beckendorf
Onboard NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown

July 4 – 23, 2004

Mission: New England Air Quality Study (NEAQS)
Geographical Area:
Northwest Atlantic Ocean
July 11, 2004

Weather Data from the Bridge
Time 8:00 PM ET
Latitude- 42 37.71 N
Longitude- 70 22.9 W
Air Temperature 17 C
Air Pressure 1018 Millibars
Wind Direction at surface Southeast
Cloud cover Partly cloudy

Daily Log

What famous event happen at Boston harbor?

It was a very eventful day today. The computer program that manages the wind profiler showed that there was a problem because one entire section was being shown in red instead of green. Dan Law asked if I would help him find out what was wrong. I jumped at the opportunity knowing that he really needed my expertise. I was very good at holding the wrench for him. As I was taking pictures of him and the inside of the profiler we were sailing into Boston Harbor. As we came into town our decks looked like those of a cruise ship. Most of the scientists were out on deck taking pictures and enjoying the view. Now everyone is back inside of their lab facilities which are mostly big shipping crates.

We spent most of the day in Boston Harbor near the end of Boston Logan Airport sampling the air in Boston. It was a beautiful weekend day and there were hundreds of sail and motorboats all around us. I didn’t see any tea floating in the water though. While soaking up the sun and enjoying the view of the harbor I helped Drew Hamilton, from NOAA’s Pacific Marine Environmental Lab in Seattle, Washington take some measurements with an instrument call a sunphotometer which measures the total amount of particles in the column of air above the instrument.

In the afternoon we left Boston and specifically to follow a cruise ship. Its exhaust was visible in the air and we criss-crossed back and forth across the plume to see what chemicals were being released by the ship. After we left the cruise ship’s exhaust plume our ship stopped so that we could do the daily launch of the ozonesonde. A little while before sunset one of NOAA’s WP-3 airplanes circled us several times. It is also sampling and measuring the chemicals in the air as part of NEAQS. Comparisons can then be made of the plane’s measurements with those made here on the ship.

The weather report is for winds to be blowing from the southwest through tomorrow so the plan is for us to travel tonight to the northwest so that we will be in the pollution blowing from Boston.

Questions of the Day

What does NEAQS-ITCT stand for?

What will our bearing be tonight if we are going northwest?

How many kinds of planes are being used in NEAQS-ITCT?