Saturday, March 26, 2011

Where I spend most of my time

I decided after I posted the last blog that I should elaborate on what I
was doing. In the picture I posted last time of me sampling from the CTD I
was collecting samples for CDOM or chromophoric dissolved organic matter.
According to the literature, it is an 'optically active component of DOM
that plays a critical role in carbon cycling' (Du et al 2010; Coble,
2007). This material can influence how light travels through the water
column and, therefore, can affect the growth of aquatic organisms, such as
phytoplankton. Because CDOM is a component of the global carbon budget, it
is important to monitor the abundance and composition in the water column.
I collect 18 samples/day for CDOM (60 ml/sample) and filter each sample
through the glass filter set up I have pictured here. This usually takes
about 2-3 hours to complete, including collection from the rosette.

I spend almost 12 hours a day in a room that is called the wet lab. It is
called this for a reason. During stormy seas, if the watertight doors are
not sealed completely, water enters the room with every wave. One of these
days I might be washed away! During most of this time I am working on the
wooden filter rig, seen in the second picture. At least once a day I
collect almost 20 L of surface water from the underway seawater system and
filter almost all of it, particularly when we are in low biomass waters
(like we are today). When water is available from the rosette, I try to
take water column profile samples, at least for phytoplankton pigments. I
require a lot of water for the various parameters I collect and the Niskin
bottles only hold 10 liters. I keep the room somewhat cool to protect the
samples and so that the heaters do not blow dust or other unwanted
materials into my samples.

Today the sun finally decided to show its face! Although we are no longer
in the ice, the sun and calmer seas make for a wonderful day. We are still
in the process of working our way back north towards the 67S line. After
we finish this transect on the 170W line, we will steam for 2 days (approx
10 knots/hour) to get to the aforementioned line. We will continue our
travel west towards Chile.

Ship fever has set in a bit. However, the morale team has come through and
at least 2 activities are being planned for the future. One activity that
was announced today is a murder mystery game. I have never heard of this
game but apparently everyone draws a card (regular playing card) and
whoever draws the Queen of Spades is the 'murderer.' That person, with
some reasonable restrictions, can go around (discretely) and 'murder'
people by showing their card. Those who are not the murderer can try to
guess who it is and confront that person. If they are correct, then he/she
becomes the murderer. If the accusation is false, the accuser dies
automatically. Sounds amusing, right? Also, we still have a second round
of Cribbage. Not sure if I have advanced to the second round yet but, to
be honest, I am somewhat over the whole thing.

Chow for now!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Weather days and moorings

I know it has been a while since I posted anything. I do have an excuse,
though. We were without email connectivity for about 4 days and prior to
that we had been limited to small email sizes. The ship had sailed into a
virtual dead zone between satellites. Yet, I was confused as to why we
could not receive or send email, but still had satellite phone
connectivity. I learned that the email and phone connect to 2 different
satellites, inmarsat and iridium, respectively. The iridium satellite
follows a different, more frequent orbital pattern so that it covers more
area than the inmarsat. So, mystery solved!

In other news we have spent the last 4 days recovering moorings. These 2
moorings had been deployed at least one year ago. They were anchored to
the sea floor, their buoyancy system allowing them to be suspended at a
chosen depth in the water column. The moorings consist of instruments that
measure water current, as well as conductivity, temperature and pressure
(i.e., depth; CTD). The moorings are remotely released from the anchor
and, once they reach the surface, have to be located the old-fashioned
way-with binoculars and keen eyes. The floats attached to the mooring are
typically a bright color; these were bright orange and one even had a light
beacon. The prize was a bottle of Chilean wine, to be purchased in Punta
Arenas, for whoever saw the mooring first. We had some weather delays so
the recovery took longer than anticipated. Both moorings were located and
instruments accounted for. Success! I would highly recommend going to the
following blog website:
Juan Botella has provided a nice video and other information about the
mooring recovery.

On a side note I have never been on a cruise that has experienced so many
weather delays. Of course I have never sailed in the Southern Ocean this
late in the season. If I ever write a proposal to support fieldwork in the
Southern Ocean, I will make sure it doesn't occur so close to winter!

We started a new transect yesterday, but more weather delays have been a
problem. We are pretty far south, 74 degrees south latitude. We are
making a diagonal transect in a northeasterly direction away from the
continent and towards the continuation of our 67 south latitude line.

I have kept myself busy during the down time by knitting and working on
other work-related projects that I brought with me. I have also watched
some movies and TV shows, such as 'Castle' and 'Flight of the
Conchords.' Actually, in the picture I have attached, I am wearing the
hat that I completed on this cruise. Turned out pretty well, I think!

I believe that is all for now. I don't usually like to have pictures of
me, but thought I would at least provide 1 in this blog. Hopefully, now
that we are doing our science again, something a little more interesting
will happen.