We arrived back home safe and sound a few days ago and now get to spend the next year thinking about all the exciting data we gathered, figuring out what it all means, and turning our new insight into a series of presentations and scientific papers. But before we go, one final fun thing to share.
Before we left we had both my son's preschool class and Julie and Jonathan's high school class decorate styrofoam cups. Many of the scientists and even some crew on board also decorated cups. Here are a few examples:
Then we put all the cups in a bag and attached them to the CTD wire (just below an exciting looking instrument that measures ocean currents) and sent them down to the bottom of the ocean.
Note how FULL the bag is with all those big decorated cups. And look how EMPTY the bag is when the come back up (below)! The incredible pressure at the ocean bottom has crushed the cups to a small fraction of their original size
This morning I had the opportunity to return the cups to my son's preschool class and tell them a bit about our adventures. It's incredibly rewarding to see them get so excited to receive their souvenirs. Their excitement also reminds me that I, and all of my ship-mates, are absurdly lucky enough to be actually living the lives of "explorers" that many people only get to read about in children's books.
Thanks for following along on our adventures! And if you're interested in other sciency blogs check out these things:
* The "Scientist at work" series at the New York Times profiles fieldwork campaigns of scientists just like us. I find them really fun to read. http://scientistatwork.blogs.nytimes.com/
* Our colleague and friend Matthew Alford at the University of Washington and his "wavechasers" group keep running blogs of their many related oceanographic trips through their website: http://wavechasers.apl.washington.edu/
Best of luck in all of your own adventures from all of the "Mixing at the Margins" team :)
Hooray! After a long day we recovered all three moorings and have everything back in one piece (except for a lone temperature logger which may indeed be here somewhere, we have just yet to find it).
Everyone worked so hard to do this, especially Josh and Paul - who worked tirelessly today (as well as all of the other days that we've been out) and we all owe a huge thanks to everyone on the Melville.
Now to the data! We are SO EXCITED and are downloading like mad now, with every capable laptop hooked up to something!!
More to come soon.
(big waves and winds are also on their way!)
It all comes down to this. With another huge storm approaching we've decided to recover our moorings while we still can. So we're up early, music cranked, coffee brewed, nervous spirits high. Something all of us learn early (and hopefully not too often) is that anytime you put anything in the ocean there's a decent chance you'll never see it again. These moorings have been sitting in the ocean beneath up, out of touch for the last few weeks. In a few minutes we'll send an acoustic signal to instruments holding the entire thing to the bottom anchor telling them to let go. Then we all stand out on deck, on the bridge, trying to be the first person to spot the happy orange float as it pops up to the surface (hopefully not underneath the ship!). With any luck we'll have two complete moorings back on board by late afternoon, and they can start telling us what they've seen.
Follow along on the web-cams! http://rtapps.ucsd.edu/hiseasnet/rtship/index.php?ship=melville
Routine, routine, routine....
So we've been sitting looking at this computer screen for almost 2 weeks now. Every 20 minutes talking to the winch operator to either go up or down. Speed up slow down. Every 40 minutes go outside to check the instruments. Trying to keep awake while watching the little lines on the screen; make sure every instrument is functioning.
Well today it looks like we've hit the jackpot. Or at the start of it.
I woke up this morning at 2:45. Checked phone for messages. No emergencies. So I go up to the hot-tub for my 15-minute soak before my 4AM shift starts. Gorgeous - almost full moon - clear skies - enough wind to make the moon's reflection a dynamic shimmering dance. After what is more like 30 minutes it is time to get to the lab or I'll miss my coffee before work. Ok. Fire up the espresso maker. That's better.
Finally I settle into my routine... and holy #$)%$@ !!! Here we are at a new station that is located at a sharp bend in the canyon and the ocean is churning in a thick layer of turbulence that extends almost 400 m off the bottom. You can see this in the orange and red regions in the lower right corner of the plot to the right.
So... after sampling at three previous stations where the mixing has been moderate but not exceptionally strong... it looks like we have found what we came for. It'll take a few days to make sense of it all, but at least initially, it looks as though this might be the place where much of the canyon's energy is dissipated.
What's so special about this place? Not exactly sure... but we're at a sharp bend on the canyon (Station 5 in the map posted by amy a few days ago...), so it is possible that the internal tides that are headed up the canyon can't negotiate the corner without breaking? Possibly it is also the cliff just north of us that is creating a swirling mess of currents that are mixing the canyon up.
Time for some herbal tea to calm the excitement. Need to keep up the methodical routine. Sample Sample Sample. Off to a new station this afternoon further offshore to see how far this mixing extends into the abyss. Stay tuned.
But bad weather is returning to our area and will cause us to change plans. Message just came in from the Captain on the Bridge.
Current weather predictions do not look favorable for mooring recovery 28th-30th recommend you recover them prior to storm arrival. I estimate we will be hove to with nothing in the water due to rough sea & swell on 29th & 30th. See http://www.stormsurfing.com/cgi/display.cgi?a=mendo and http://www.stormsurfing.com/cgi/display_alt.cgi?a=mendo_slp"
Oh... this formidable and unforgiving North Pacific Ocean....
Smooth sailing today!
Our Science moment of the day was brought to us by Alfredo who talked about dispersive waves. A great introduction to the differences between shallow water, deep water and capillary waves!
While both the morning and afternoon shifts got to enjoy the wonderful weather while they were working, the night shift (8pm to 4am watch) was back to working in the twilight. I polled them (as well as our two wonderful techs - Josh and Kris) about their personal highlights of the day.
Here are the results:
Ruth: enjoying the upper deck hot tub at 4am after her night shift and seeing many shoosting stars
Michael: waking up at 430pm and stumbling up the stair well, ending up on the back deck (with his eyes half-closed) to catch a most magnificent sunset.
Hanne: Lying on the back deck in the early evening watching the fluid motion of the fog above her head to see the turbulence as well as sitting on the bow to catch the morning sunrise. [Someone might have heard her sing: "Hey Mom, if you can see me now… arms spread wide… on the starboard bow"]
Josh: Purchasing an iPhone!
Kris: basking in the sun out on the back deck in the afternoon with Beethoven
Jonathan: enjoying his first breakfast in days of working the night shift [Note: he waited up from 4am until 730am to eat it!]
Paul: Success in completely taking apart, sanding and re-painting the previously frozen travel block and then enjoying a [well deserved] hot tub
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