So glad to receive your note! Always good to know that someone is watching out there in the real world. We are having difficulty getting the laptop connected to the ship network. The technician has been working on it,but so far no luck. We won't give up though! It has something to do with the fact that the laptop is a MAC.Not a brand that is commonly used for this type research.Most people on board are more familiar with PCs. I will keep you updated on that little project.
I had a tour of the bridge. WOW what an awesome sight that is! The technology involved with running this ship is amazing. That will be a place to visit when seas become higher..
The albatross are still following (remember the Rhymn fo the Ancient Mariner?) We had better treat them well...
Today's testing off the stern was similar to yesterdays. Only today the measurements were not just practice. I learned that the phytoplankton are considered to be "particles" in the sea since they too have influence on the behavior of light in the waters and above the waters.They would definitely be considered to be some of the larger particles. Non the less, they have an impact.
Questions for today: What is a fetch? Why are they different in
the Pacific compared to the Atlantic?
When sailing, which sea would you prefer to experience and why?
Talk to you tomorrow,
Author: Susan Carty
Date: 3/17/01 6:35 PM
Today is officially day 3 at sea. We just finished our 8:00 am organization meeting. Each day we post the actual location of the ship. Yesterday we were 26N,161W. Today we will be 34N nd 164 W. Time zone change will occur at around 23:00 hrs. Then we will be 6 hours earlier than the east coast time. We change from zone #10 to zone #11 at 160 W. You can see how just this information alone would be good for an interdisciplinary study with social studies or geography.
We have left the Tradewinds and are now in the Westerlies. Ocean is rougher and air temp. is much cooler. They expect a period of sun this afternoon and then we could be heaidng into a rainy front. Last night the rocking of the ship was much mor pronounced. I could feel myself rolling around in the bunk. I will try to tape record the sounds at night. They would be perfect for a horror movie. Lots of clanking, groaning, crashing of metal on metal and then water sloshing around. Cool!!!
My goal today will be to hopefully succeed in getting the laptop working. It is getting a bit discouraging but we do have other computers to work with. Besides that I plan to get some video footage of the seas and some views from the bridge. I have taken a number of photos with my own camera but have found the computer not so willing to download the program. Isn't technology wonderful???
The albatross are still with us. What fascinating birds. I will write more later today after observing some testing and asking more questions. It would be good for me to focus on a write up about the ship and its specifications in a day or two. We need to help the students understand why this ship is so special.
Subject: Sunday's message
Author: Susan Carty
Date: 3/18/01 11:25 PM
I have done some more "mental organization" and decided that I would work on a different approach to our logs. Besides telling you what we are doing, I will send some more specific info for the kids to ponder.
Today I thought it would be helpful to discuss why a ship is being used for the aerosol experiments. As you know, our planet is approx. 70% water which logically indicates that particles would be moving over water even more than land. The atmosphere over water, particularly remote waters, provides ideal conditions for sampling. The slower speed at which the ship moves permits the scientists to conduct testing at a manageable pace as compared to samplings taken from airplanes.
The ship can take the scientists to locations on the planet only accessible by water. It becomes a floating platform for data collection and experimentation. The ship can also follow the wind patterns across the seas.(ie: tradewinds/westerlies) These winds carry particles from one continent to another.
The testing of air samples on board focuses on many aspects of aerosols.For example, some equipment may focus on how light energy and particles interact in the air as well as in the water, while another type of equipment focuses on size distribution of particles in the atmosphere. Understanding what types of organic and inorganic particles are collected is significant in terms of determining origin and interactive behaviors.
This is just a small sampling of the types of experiments taking place
on the ship. The testing and collection of aerosols is a daily activity.
At times the scientists must work under difficult and awkward conditions
that are directly influenced by weather , seas and swells. They also
conduct their testing at all hours of the day. It may look like a
"cruise" but it is definitely a "working cruise". It calls for committed
scientists with a sense of adventure and endurance.
QUESTION OF THE DAY: What is the difference between a "sea" and a "swell"?
Talk to you tomorrow. The albatross are still with us!
Subject: Monday March 19
Author: Susan Carty
Date: 3/19/01 10:11 PM
My goodness, I am beginning to need the calendar to see what day it really is! The days are beginning to blend together.
There are some "green faces" today.. After fairly gentle seas yesterday, the swells have increased in size and the grey clouds are threatening us with rain. I am ever so grateful for my calm stomach,so far. The ships physician offers a guide with the following helpful hints to ease the discomfort of sea sickness.
1. Drink lots of water
2. Avoid fried foods
3. Take naps ( this is a particularly good suggestion !)
4. Keep some food in your stomach
5. Don't work at a computer terminal too long
6. Don't read too long
7. Get topside and breath in fresh air
8. Focus on the horizon or some object that is stationary
Apparently no one is immune to sea sickness. If the seas become rough enough for long enough we may all become green. (like kermit)
Testing continues daily. I am now becoming more familiar with the testing terminology.At times it is necessary for the ship to stop and hold position for a few hours for tests and other times, like today, the ship continues on couse but tries to maintain a steadier position. Today is more difficult to do that.
What makes the Ron Brown such an excellent vessel for scientific experimentation is the vast array of equipment on board. Here is a sample of that equipment.
a. Multibeam Echo Sounding System
b. Hydrographic/Sub-Bottom Profiler
c. Depth Recorder/Indicator System
d. Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler
e. Doppler Speed Log
f. Acoustic Positioning System
g. Conductivity, Temperature, Depth System (CTD)
h. Global Positioning System (GPS)
i. Scientific Computer System (SCS)
Sounds really impressive, doesn't it? One of my goals is to understand how each piece of equipment actually works..
The albatross are gone now. Where could they go way out here anyway?
QUESTION OF THE DAY: What actually causes motion sickness? Why are some people more susceptable than others?
Bye for now,
Subject: Where did Wednesday go?
This morning was another exciting morning up on the bridge, watching the swells and the albatross. We finally identified these birds as an adult and a young Black-footed Albatross. The swells appear to be smaller when viewing from the bridge. Lower down a few decks the swells appear to be a bit more intimidating. We are rocking and rolling today. It is interesting to see how we adapt to these motions. They don't seem to be bothering anyone any more.
Today we cross the International Date Line and at midnight we turn our clocks back to 23:00 hrs. Then after an hour it will become Thursday instead of Wednesday..How bizarre! Does that mean we will be "older" or "younger" or just confused?
Yesterday afternoon we turned the ship around and sailed backwards at 5 kt/hr. Why, you ask? Because the wind was blowing the smoke stake fumes toward the aerosol testing equipment which would not be a good thing. So, we traveled at a leisurely pace for a number of hours and then decided "enough of that". We turned around again and picked up speed (13 kt/hr) so that the ship would reach the correct position this morning to be directly under the Terra satellite for exchange of information.
Needless to say, the turning around and increasing of speed was like a very loud alarm clock in the middle of the night!
This evening will be the beginning of "science night" meetings. The teams of researchers will take turns explaining how and why they are conducting their experiments. This will be very helpful for me! Then I will be able to pass that information on to you.
Bye for now, I am headed back to the bridge! That is the place
Subject: So you think you want to be an oceanographer
Well, well, well.. And I thought last night was something. Rather like an amusement ride on Coney Island! When I went to bed the swells were 14-15 ft., but during the night they increased to 20ft. And the winds increased from 30kts. to 40kts. No wonder I almost fell out of bed! The trick is to use your life jacket as a brace to wedge yourself into your bunk. Tends to give you a false sense of security.
This morning we had a "damage assessment"meeting, taking note of any equipment that became mobile during the night. It seems that some of the portable vans changed location on the deck during the night. There will not be much testing going on today. We are battening down the hatches until the storm passes.This morning, one humorous( or possibly disturbed) scientist was actually reading a book titled Shipwrecks of the Pacific While I on the otherhand, was looking for the book titled The One Minute Mariner. It occurred to me that this experience should be a mandatory freshman course for anyone interested in oceanography. That would certainly seperate the men from the boys.( or girls as it were).And probably save some tuition strapped parent a few dollars as well.
Last nights "science night" meeting was very helpful to me It clarified a number of issues regarding the project as a whole. ACE-ASIA is a part of the International Aerosol Experiement that has been ongoing since 1995. One of the goals is to bring to the public a broader understanding of the impact of aerosols on society in general. Not only is the issue of climate change a concern, but also the issue of human health, crop production (particularly of wheat and rice in China) and other economic impact.
Specific goals of this trip are to quantify the interactions between aerosols in the atmosphere and to quantify the physical and chemical processes/ characteristics of the various aerosols. The interactions of these particles in the air and at the air-water interface are believed to be of significant impact on multiple earth process systems Not only can the aerosols create a cooling effect by reflecting light energy, but they also can create a warming effect by absorbing light energy . Another interesting point is that the aerosols can have a cloud nucleating effect. They can actually cause the clouds to become larger for longer periods of time.. Or, possibly the opposite effect. The question is : What is the impact of all of these processes as they occur simultaneously? Interesting, isn't it?
What I find particularly fascinating is the process in which Saharan dust clouds travel all the way to Europe and the Atlantic. What other interesting types of particles could be traveling along with that dust? Something to think about....
Since one of the pieces of testing equipment on board is an OCEC Analyzer (organic carbon/elemental carbon) lets have a question that relates to that instrument.
Questions of the Day: What is the difference between organic carbon and elemental carbon? What might be the sources of each type of carbon?
Oh,by the way.. It is actually Thursday out here for me. It's only Wednesday for you. When will I catch up with that lost day?
I am enjoying your email. Keep them coming!
Bye for now,
Subject: March 23,2001
Author: Susan Carty
Date: 3/22/01 9:56 PM
Another day out here in the blue Pacific, testing , sampling, computing and filtering. The life of a sea-going scientist if never dull. The air out here really is pretty clean, so we are filtering lots of sea salt. As we travel closer to Japan the goal is to collect more "interesting" particles of varying sizes and shapes.
Here is something to consider: Our samples up to now have particle
diameters that range from
5 nms - 5 microns. That is quite a large difference in sizes.But they are still very, very small. Try to develop a model that demonstrates this same range distribution but use objects that are found in your every day life.(i.e.: sand grains, pin heads, golf balls, planets, etc.) Exteme sizes and distances are very difficult to visualize aren't they? But that is what our universe is all about.
I am happy to announce that I am now a member of The Realm of the Golden Dragon Society. Aren't you jealous? What do you think that means and how could you join? Who would have known all the added benefits of being a Teacher at Sea? I will carry my certificate with pride!
Something else to ponder today. See if you can fill in the blanks.
A rope is to a Cowboy, as a ____________ is to a sailor. How about this one? A map is to the road, as a ___________ is to the sea.
Let me know what you think!
Our position today is: 31N and 174 E. Yesterday afternoon turned out to be beautiful after all. Brilliant sun and warmer temperatures. Let's stick to that channel for a while.
Keep those answers coming! It is great fun hearing from you.
Subject: Science at it's best!
Author: Susan Carty
Today offered me an excellent science lesson! I worked my
way up to the 02 level and slipped inside one of the portable vans filled
with equipment. Computers, wires, duct tape, more wires, monitors,air
intake tubes, more tape,gadgets to sort/seperate particles, etc.. Certainly
not much standing room in there. This van housed the equipment called
"Single Particle Mass Spectrometer". This equipment even has a name
- "Elwood" and its partner "Jake" is back in the labs at University of
California-Riverside. And who said scientists had no sense of humor?
Their equipment is even color coordinated. Elwood has yellow "pin
stripes" and Jake and "black".
The two scientists monitoring this aerosol testing equipment are Dr. Sergio Guazzotti from Argentina and David Sodeman from the USA. They spend many hours inside this tiny van and in another lab on the ship that is called the hydrolab. Their testing is an ongoing, daily occurrance By the time the trip is completed, these scientists estimate they will have approx. 1 million particles sampled and tested. That's impressive!
The equipment weighs approximately one ton and is just loaded with really interesting bells and whistles. As the air is pulled into the instrument, it is actually seperated/sorted by particle size. The speed at which the air is pulled in is influenced by particle size as well. It then analyzes the chemical composition and particle structure. Isotopes of the various elements in the particles are also identified.. This data is then stored on discs which will be transported back to UCR for further evaluation.
The data that is collected by all the instruments on board will be evaluated collaboratively.This process will evolve over a very long period of time.
You can begin to see why so much of our scientific investigations and studies take a considerable amount of time.
Our bearings today are: 32N, 172E.
Question of the day: What is an isotope? Can you guess what element(s) and its isotopes would be most commonly collected out here?
I am off to the exercise room now. The good food on board is going to create a weight problem for me if I don't start moving around!
Bye for now
Subject: Sunday March 25
Author: Susan Carty
Date: 3/24/01 10:29 PM
A day of rest for the weary.. Saturday for you, but Sunday for me. Seas are still pretty high along with the wind speed. Sleeping was fairly nonexistant for a number of the scientists and also the teacher. The way the berths swing and sway with the rolling oceans is somewhat like trying to sleep on a trampoline when someone else is jumping on it!
We seem to be caught in a weather pattern that shows no sign of breaking
for at least another 24 hrs.
So, it might be a good day to read a good book and watch a few videos. We do have to rest sometime, you know.:)
We had a new member to the albatross following. But,this bird was all white and still unidentified at the moment. We will check out bird books and let you know. I wonder how he found us? Could be that we are a floating restaurant and the word gets around.
Our time has changed again. Another hour was gained so we are way ahead of you! How many more time zone changes to go?
We had an enjoyable evening last night, looking at the map of Japan and China. As we get closer, we will be spending some time closer to a few of the islands off of Japan, sampling and testing air. Some dust clouds have been spotted over China by satellite. They are composed of dust particles from the desert areas of China.These clouds work their way over towards Japan and the surrounding seas. Those air samplings will surely provide us with different data than we are collecting at the moment.
Our position for today is: 32N,165E.
Bye for now,
Monday March 26
Good news for you after our relaxing Sunday.
Overnight, our aerosol monitors began to indicate a change in measurable particles. There was a sharp increase in the number of radon,ozone and carbon monoxide particles. The increase in radon particles is an indication that air which originated over land has now reached the ship at sea. ( Radon measurements are used as "markers" to indicate land based air particles in our intake equipment.)
We have also seen more of a dust cloud on our satellite pictures. Hopefully by tomorrow we will see even more recognizable traces of dust.
The bad news is that we are still caught up in the low pressure air mass that has caused us to have one heck of an amusement ride! The best thing yesterday was to grab a seat and stay in it! Maybe by tomorrow we will see the sun and calmer seas. The wind speed at the moment is ranging from 24 -27kts. The more wind, the more ____________s.
Other interesting information was that there was an earthquake in Japan yesterday. (approx. 6.4 on the richter scale) It occurred near HIroshimo which is close to where I will be going in a few more weeks. No news from our monitoring stations over there yet..
In another few days we should be approaching Hachijo Island, south east of Japan. The collecting tower on that island was hit by lightning yesterday and all the special equipment was knocked out of commission. Hopefully that will be repaired by the time we arrive.
The first thing to do upon arrival at the island is to procure a permit to collect plankton. Isn't that a surprise? (You can't just go into any water and collect what you want.) The collection and measurement of plankton is directly related to light studies that are conducted in conjunction with the particle studies. Remember, plankton are considered to be particles in the water. Then we will spend about 24 hours sampling off the island. No, we cannot get off the ship and hug the ground yet!
Our bearings today are: 34N, 163E. As before, we had to turn off course slightly to give us a little more comfortable ride. Of course, everyone's definition of comfortable ride could be slightly different. I, for one, was frantically searching for the seat belt in my berth last night.So you can imagine how comfortable that ride was .
It occurred to me that you might enjoy getting a "nautical " term of the day, Studying the origin of the term and its use can be very interesting.
Today's term: KNOT
Question of the day: Where do radon particles come from? What would they indicate to us in terms of aerosols that we collect at sea?
Bye for now,
March 27, 2001
A good nights sleep surely makes a difference! Yesterday afternoon we altered our course once again and headed south to avoid another low pressure system. At least for a while we experienced peaceful waters and managed to sleep well! But, never fear, we're heading back north today. The swells are actually washing the portholes up on the main deck ( otherwise known as the #1 deck). Skies are gray, it is raining, and the bizarre sound effects are back with a vengeance. What is that "bird chirp" sound anyway?It seems to be everywhere!
I have a reward for those of you who are really paying close attention. Reread yesterdays log and find the scientific error. The first person/school to give me the correct response will have their school mentioned on our website.(Sometimes being at sea too long can cause a person to mix his particles with his atoms and molecules..Or is that participles with adjectives?)
Further update on the earthquake in Japan tells us that the quake was within 30 miles of Iwakuni, my final destination. But since the quake originated 30 miles deep there was less damage than might have been expected with a 6.4 quake.
We hope to be near Hacijo Island by 3/30 where we will be sampling at the north end of the island near the lighthouse. I am looking forward to some interesting photo opportunities there.
I had a request to investigate the type of equipment on board that would be monitoring ocean floor and currents. When I gather that information I will post it and possibly include some photos.
Tonight will be our second "Science Night". We will hear from the team of scientists that are focusing on biological testing and light measurements. I will update you on their instrumentation and sampling techniques tomorrow.
Our position today is: 33N, 158.5E.
The nautical term is BEARING
Bye for now,
This morning I heard someone comparing our constant rocking and rolling motions to the sensation of the land motions during an earthquake. The only difference is that our motions at sea never stop! Interesting comparison. It definitely seems true that sounds and movements are exaggerated in your mind during the night. When it is dark and there are no other distractions for your senses it is easy for your mind to run away with itself. Sometimes at night I imagine the pounding waves tearing right through the wall of my bunk! Or I imagine the heavy, clanking anchor crashing through my ceiling on my head! And all the while that pesky bird keeps chirping. Does it never sleep? I wonder how quiet it will seem when we leave the ship for comfort of our own beds? Will the ground feel like it is moving when we walk down the street?
Last night we had another "Science Night" session. The research team for Scripps Institution for Oceanography, headed by Dr. Greg Mitchell, presented their focus points for this cruise. They are sampling water for phytoplankton levels, measuring absorption/back scattering of light using a variety of instruments, monitoring color of water with respect to behaviors of light and coordinating all of this with satellite measurements and images. The satellites are able to send us pictures that reflect ocean color and concentration of phytoplanton . There is a variety of instrumentation used for these samplings and the instruments are "cast" off the back of the ship each day. We stop the ship for the testing.You can imagine some days are trickier than others depending upon the state of the ocean.
You see,all of these measurements and calculations are related in some way. One thing influences the other and vice versa. Also, there are so many variables involved in the measurements. Nothing is simple is it?
Did you know there are fluorescent plankton? That means the "little critters" actually produce and give off their own light. What role could they play in our studies? How might they impact the behavior of light? Remember, they are considered to be particles... So many questions. It seems that the more we learn, the more questions we have.
Our bearing for today is: 32.7N, 155.5 E We are still about 300 miles from land.
Question of the day: What are phytoplankton? What is their role in the scheme of life at sea? What determines/influences their concentration in the water?
Think calm seas!
Bye for now,
Subject: March 30,2001 Friday
Author: Susan Carty
Date: 3/29/01 11:21 PM
Well did we have a great day yesterday! The winds died down, the swells disappeared and the sun broke through in all its glory! You would have thought we were experiencing some new kind of phenomenon. Scientists were scurrying around the bow ,staring up at the sun and aiming their sun photometers and radiometers. Such excitement! It was very important to seize the moment since sun sightings havebeen so rare! Someone actually found some deck chairs to sit in. They must be hiding them from me.
I even had the opportunity to work with a very interesting piece of science equipment. It is called a Microtops This amazing expensive little gadget works somewhat like a gameboy but it captures the suns radiation and measures the brightness of each color (frequency) of visible light. We know how bright each frequency should be if there were no atmosphere. But, since we do have levels and thicknesses of atmospheres, this equipment helps the scientists determine/measure the thickness of the atmosphere by the way the colors of light pass through.
We discovered we had a new creature on board yesterday. A lone seagull appeared and followed us all afternoon. Then it must have decided it was time for a rest and landed on top of a blue tarp on the fantail. This bird just made itself very comfortable and enjoyed the ride. Now we know we are getting closer to the land.
I even had more fun yesterday afternoon when we took our daily plankton net sample. Not only do we bring up plankton, but we also manage to collect some very interesting invertebrates. We sorted them out with tweezers and tried to identify them. All the invertebrates were transparent except for the coloration of their internal organs. There were worm-like creatures, flat worms, and something called a salp. Also many interesting jellyfish type creatures of varying size and shape. Very cool looking! I plan to collect some more samples and preserve them to bring back to my classroom How very exciting!
Our plans for my own personal experiment are progressing. I will keep you informed when we finalize them.
During the wee hours of the morning we passed through another low pressure system. The winds picked up to 35kt and we had a brief downpour. But, now this morning the sun is trying to come out and the seas are still fairly choppy. The good news is that I managed to sleep through all that! That must mean I am seasoned! Or could it be exhausted?
Tonight will be another "Science Night" and if all goes well we will be off the coast of Hacijo by tomorrow afternoon. If we are really lucky, we may actually see one of the research planes tomorrow. That will add another dimension of air sampling to our project.
Our position today is: 33N,145E
The term for today is: "Salary", or the expression: "worth his salt"
Question of the day: Do they turn their clocks ahead for day light savings time in Japan?
Bye for now,
Subject: Weekend Report - 4/1/01
Author: Susan Carty
Date: 4/1/01 6:15 AM
Such a fun filled weekend we have had! Saturday was wild with high seas, high winds, heavy rain squalls and lots of staggering around the ship! At times the rainfall was measured at 70mm/hour. Wow! Even had some equipment damage that will require calmer seas to repair. You can get an idea of the experience from the picture we will post on the website.
Saturday evening you could hear people yelling "land ho"! What
a welcome sight! Just a very small Japanese Island with a small volcano
sitting in the Pacific, south east of Japan. We could look but not touch.
No matter, after 17 days of nothing " water, water everywhere", it was a thrill to see green vegetation on the hills.
Sunday has been sunny and cool.The morning was spent photographing and just looking. Seas were much calmer and scientists once again able to perform tests.
I have been continuing the preparations for my own experiment. My goal is to measure primary production - algae growth - under varying light conditions. More on that tomorrow.
Did you know that there actually is a "plankton" flag that is raised when plankton sampling is going on? We were unable to sample plankton today because we had to be 12 miles off shore of this island in order to do that. So the flag had to come down.
Our more recent air samplings indicated that the levels of sulfur vapor had increased dramatically. We believe we passed through a plume of volcanic dust during the night.It will become even more interesting when we compare our readings with those from the Twin Otter is another few days.
The nautical terms for the weekend are:
"Out of the Blue" and "Son of a gun" - these are both very interesting expressions ! Let me know if you discover their original meanings.
Questions of the weekend:
1. What does the expression, "He's worth his salt" mean? What is it's origin?
2. What does a "bow-thruster " do? When would it be
April 3, 2001
Another day of "in transit" mode. That is a nautical expression that means "on the road again". We are headed for another island called Amami.The problem is that we are struggling against a current on our way so it may take us a while to get there.We also have to evaluate the weather situation ahead and make adjustments accordingly.
All the routine tests are being performed today. As you have already learned in science classes, repetition of tests is vital for any significant results. It takes a certain personality to be able to follow up and steadfastly work your way through the repetitions and the mounds of data that are produced.
Much time, effort and expense is involved in these projects as well. And what happens when equipment fails, or at least falters temporarily? Remember, this is the third ACE project. Samplings and data have been collected over a period of years.Each time the excursion focused on a different part of the world.
It has been fascinating meeting the scientists from different countries. Hearing different accents at meal time and learning about their research. It is even more interesting hearing about their families and their lives.
I am looking forward to our plankton net sampling today. Hopefully the current will allow us to drop the net even deeper than yesterday. My goal is to be able to preserve some samples to bring back to my classroom. This morning I was given a sample of an air filter to bring home. It certainly was not very clean! But, that is why we are here isn't it?
Our nautical term for the day is: FIGUREHEAD
Be sure to check out the history of that word. Very interesting. It might be fun to try to make models of figureheads in art class. Maybe even design your own.
Question of the day: My sourvenir filter had 100 cubic meters of air passing through it before it was changed. How big is 100 cubic meters? What could you compare that to?
That should keep you busy for a while.
Keep writing! I'm getting lonely.
Bye for now,
Author: Susan Carty
Date: 4/4/2001 1:06 AM
Well, the ride we are having today would certainly be a unique one for an amusement park! We are trying to hold our position about 20 miles off shore in very high winds and rolling seas. The wind is coming from one direction and the current is flowing in the opposite direction. Somehow I must duplicate this motion in a tank back in my classroom. Very hard to describe this with just words.
We are holding at 30.5N, 131.5E in anticipation of a rendevue with the
C-130 this afternoon. I will be waiting on deck with my trusty camera.
It should provide us with some much needed excitement.
But, until then, most of us are holding on to our seats.
The good news is that the sun is shining. Maybe by noon it will be warmer out on the deck. The eternal optimist.
Last night's Science Meeting was very helpful. It gave me an even better understanding of the "why" and "how" of the various testing/sampling/measuring equipment on board. The scientists are studying the dynamics of aerosols, the sources of aerosols, the mode of transport of aerosols and possible "sinks" for aerosols. Some instruments are focusing on the properties of the aerosols. (concentration, size,composition, solubility, morphology, refractive index, etc..) In addition they are trying to understand the significance of the ground/satellite data with the goal being to provide input for Global Models . We need to develop these models to be able to accurately predict the future.
I discovered that these meetings not only help me but also help the researchers understand each other. Much of the data collected here will not be analyzed until after the cruise has ended and the researchers have returned to their various institutions. Some data is being analyzed on board as it is collected. Eventually, all of the data( from sea, land, air and space) will be coordinated Quite a monumental task!
Another day or two and I will begin to take chlorophyll readings from my own experiment.This experiment could be duplicated using fresh water as well, with a few adjustments.
Question of the day: Why do you think some of the aerosol particles can "grow" while others do not?
Nautical term of the day: Longshot
Aren't you noticing how these nautical terms are used commonly in our everyday conversations?
Think - calm seas and clear skies.
Bye to now,
Subject: April 5, 2001 Thursday
Author: Susan Carty
Date: 4/5/2001 5:59 AM
Hello out there in the real world. We are experiencing a particularly excellent weather day. Bright sun, warmer air and calm seas. Serious attempts have been made to sit up on the deck and catch some sun. We have sorely missed having the chance to work on our tans.
Today was the day for our weekly fire drill and abandon ship drill. I'm proud to say that my ability to run up and down stairs with the life jacket and sea bag has improved dramatically. Though , every once in a while I still put my foot through the fire hose hole at the bottom of some of the doors. But the required hat and jacket are with me for all drills. Obviously I never want to experience anything but a practice drill.
Our mascot pigeon is still with us and happily eating the crackers we put out. This pigeon has some kind of leg band so he belongs to someone out there. He is even drinking water from a makeshift pigeon drinking cup. Cute!
When we are stopped for testing we must raise certain flags that signal what we are doing. There is an international flag that looks like two circles with a diamond shape in the middle that indicates we are immobile and performing underwater maneuvers. There is also a special "plankton collecting" flag. As I mentioned before, a permit is required to do that. As you can imagine, these flags are very important for communicating with other ships as are lights. There is a United States Coast Guard Manual that explains all of these signs and symbols.
Our other excitement today was the second visit by a Japanese surveillance plane. They were wondering what we were doing and we were wondering what they were doing..It is quite impressive to see an airplane that close up and low over your head. The red circle symbol near the tail was also impressive. But, I guess they were just doing their job.
Yesterday the C-130 flew over our heads too. That plane was also impressive with its bright blue tail and bright white body. We will most certainly be seeing that plane more often as we get closer to another island. The aerosol sampling equipment on board is amazing! We will be coordinating our sampling results with theirs and the satellites.
This afternoon I will begin testing my algae growing experiment. I will be putting samples from the various bottles into a machine that "reads" the chlorophyll a levels. It will be fun to see if it actually grows. We'll see now if I really have a green thumb.
The nautical expression for the day: Making headway
Question of the day: What color light is displayed on the port side of the ship?
Bye for now,
Subject: April 6, 2001 Friday
Author: Susan Carty
Date: 4/6/2001 2:20 AM
Such excitement, I don't think I can stand it! Last night around 10:00pm we were standing on the fantail watching the most fascinating site. Floating by us on both sides of the wake were bioluminescent algae. Really bright! It was as if there were brilliant flashing green lights rolling around just beneath the surface of the water. You could even see some off in the distance, flashing their signals off and on. Just amazing! It made think about sailing in the past and wondering what observers thought when they sighted these glowing spectacles in the late evening hours. It may have been the source of some old seafaring myths. Also could have been very eery not knowing what was happening.I will be sure to go out again tonight!
We were observed again this morning by a Japanese plane of some kind. Four times it passed over. We had our special signal/flag hanging again because we were sampling water off the stern.Hopefully they were satisfied with that. Then later on the Twin Otter flew over to sample air at different elevations.
This evening we are having a "cook out" on the fantail. The weather is just terrific again today, so we are going to take advantage of it. I wonder what food will be prepared? Before this tour is over I will be sure to meet with the chef and give you an idea about how he planned the menus for all of us for almost 40 days. That is certainly a monumental task! But, from the food we have been eating you can tell this man likes what he is doing!
My algae have begun to grow! How exciting! I will conduct more tests today to measure the increase in chlorophyll a. Eventually I will have enough data to plot a graph to demonstrate what actually happened inside the bottles. Maybe there is some bioluminescent algae growing as well..That would be really interesting. I wonder how different the physiology is between "glowing" and "non-glowing' algae. Are they found all over the world or just in certain locations? Are they only glowing green? Do they glow all the time or just under certain conditions? What is the purpose of the glowing? Is it some kind of adaptation? So many questions.....Sometimes I think I am a walking question..
Our position today is 33N,127E. Later in the afternoon we are headed for: 36N, 133E
The Nautical expression for the day is: Miss the boat
Are you noticing how many of these terms and expressions we use fairly regularly?
The Questions for the day is: What is the actual substance that causes algae to glow? Is it just one thing, or are there a number of causes?
Bye for now,
Weekend April 6 - 7, 2001
Another two beautiful days at sea! Sleeping has been terrific so much so that I slept through our morning meeting this morning! But, after all, Sunday should be a day to rest.
We had much activity this afternoon with the Twin Otter and the C-130 passing over us a number of times. They had a great day sampling air at various elevations, actually spiraling through different altitudes and them passing very close to the ship.The Twin Otter actually passed by us at 100 ft.! We have been in a great location for aerosols! As the day progressed, the skies took on a very hazy appearance. I am wondering what the actual ozone levels are out here.
My algae continues to grow. But surprisingly it is the algae in the clear bottle that has grown the most so far. Tomorrow we will conduct a different type of chlorophyll test. That may give us a more specific measurement of growth and chlorophyll production.. Also, since we have been traveling north in the Sea of Japan, the water temperature has dropped from 20C to 13C. I am wondering what impact that temperature change will have on the algae growth, if any.
The plankton collection flag was flying today. As the net was hauled in, there was a gathering of seagulls floating and squawking behind us probably in anticipation of a few dropped morsels from the net. I was really tempted to feed them a few crackers, but my better judgement took over when I pictured seagull droppings all over the new paint job on the fantail. The crew I am sure would not have been happy.
The net sampling came from about 400m deep and it had some very interesting specimens! I wish I had a manual here to help me identify these organisms. They were still mostly transparent, but more of a variety and some much larger in size than before. The sides of the net were actually coated with a reddish-orange material.
The sun photometers and radiometers were really put to work today. There should be much data to analyze!
Our position Sunday is: 38N,133.5E
The Nautical expressions for the weekend are: Take the Wind Out of Ones Sails and Show Your Colors
The Question for the weekend is: Why do the airplanes sample air from different altitudes?
Bye for now, two weeks to go!
April 9 2001, Monday
What a luxury to be able to just turn around and move to another location when the weather is not suitable...
Early this morning we found ourselves in a location where the air temperature had dropped and the water temperature was as low as 7C. ( Brrrr....) The algae were not happy in their bottles you can be sure. After much speculation at our morning meeting we decided it would be prudent to turn around and head off toward a warmer location. About two hours later we found ourselves sailing in 14C water which made all of us so all much happier.
There is a definite haze to the atmosphere here and I am told it is not clouds or moisture. Therefore, it must be layers of aerosols hovering around us,possibly dust from the deserts or volcanic aerosols. I managed to take a photograph of the most amazing view of the sun. As it was setting early this evening there was so much haze in the atmosphere that we could look right at it. It didn't look real. At first I thought it was the moon, then I realized it was sinking into the horizon not rising. Actually, the reality of that vision is not a good thing. These aerosols definitely create very unnatural conditions in our atmosphere which is why we are out here studying them..
The scientists continued their light and aerosol experiments most of the afternoon. I also measured the chlorophyll in my series of bottles. The algae samples taken early this morning indicated no growth compared to yesterdays measurements. They seem to have responded poorly to some external factor, possibly the lower water temperature over night. Measurements taken later in the day under warmer water conditions revealed increased growth again.. Could they have been happier with the warmer water? Tomorrow's measurements may give us a better indication of what is going on with the production levels.In addition to measuring chlorophyll a levels we will measure fluorescence.
There were 5 radiosonde tests performed today ( that is the weather balloon) and they indicated that the moisture level in the upper atmosphere was almost non-existent, which tells us that the haze we saw all day was not clouds.
I am curious to see what the rising sun looks like.Let's see if I can hop out of bed early tomorrow.
The Nautical expression of the day is; Bye and large...
The Question of the Day is: How would the aerosol particles react if there was a high level of humidity in the upper atmosphere?
Our position early this morning was: 39N,135E - cold water location!
Bye for now, 10 more days to go!
April 10, 2001
Another peaceful day, testing and sampling, testing and sampling. But, this could end very soon. As I write this evening we are sitting stationary waiting for a storm to approach. Such a comforting thought. But I guess that is the best strategy for now. It reminds me of the Kenny Rogers song about the poker game where "sometimes you hold em, and sometimes you fold em." I guess we're holding ...
We had very hazy skies again today with very high aerosol levels. At
times the sea appeared to be a very dark green, almost black. I wonder
what that is a function of.... light, nutrients, other materials ?
A week ago we were in waters that were such a brilliant blue it reminded me of paint.
We headed further south, southwest today and came into warmer waters
again. The algae in my experiment must be much happier. However,
they may be getting an interesting ride later this evening.
When I performed tests on the algae samples today we saw more evidence of growth but a varying rates I guess dependent upon the light levels. I discovered that time of day when testing has an impact on my results. In the middle of the day the levels actually appeared to level off or decline. Then early evening indicated even more growth. We filtered samples from the bottles tonight and are preparing them for additional tests tomorrow afternoon. These new tests will help me measure the actual primary production levels and absorption readings.
It is great fun to learn to use new equipment and then to understand what that equipment actually reveals. It is also very interesting to think about the people who design the various testing equipment . Their minds must work in a very different way than the average person. But, thank goodness for their minds!
We are having another Science Night tonight. There will be a large group of chemists this time who will be explaining their testing methods and equipment. They have some very complicated equipment in vans on the decks. Sometimes they don't come out of those vans all day! We really do have very dedicated people on this project.
At this moment we are in the process of launching our last weather balloon
for the day.
I will write to you tomorrow about the storm. No photos in the dark though.
Question of the day: Why might the algae growth appear to slow down in the middle of the day?
Bye for now,
April 11, 2001
Great news, the storm front headed north last night and bypassed the ship. The seas remained calm for the entire evening. Another night of sound sleep, free of creepy noises!
We were looking at an atlas today, locating the Mariana Trench in the Pacific off the coast of Japan. That trench I believe is supposed to be the deepest one, deeper than Mt. Everest is high. We did not sail directly over it but we did cross over the Izu Trench just north of the Mariana Trench. It would be fascinating to do some research on these trenches since they are found along just about all the coast lines around the world. At one time we did not believe anything could live at such extreme depths with the pressure and cold and dark. But, now we know that is not true. The life forms found in the extreme depths have amazing adaptations to survive in those conditions.
Then we were looking at the desert areas in the far eastern part of the world. Our sensors have been detecting dust that we believe is coming from the Gobi Desert. These dust particles are being analyzed by our chemists on board.
The atmospheric chemists were the featured speakers at our Science Night last night. They really do some amazing work. The instruments they use can measure particle size and can identify the elements or compounds that make up the particles. As they monitor the atmosphere each day they attempt to create a model of the movement of these various particles through the different atmospheric layers.In addtion, they study the effect the particles have on cloud formation, light scattering and light absorption. Their studies combined with the light analysis ( photometers and radiometers) and the data collected by planes,satellites and weather balloons (radiosondes) eventually should provide scientists with a more comprehensive global model of the aerosol's impact on our climate.
Each group of scientists brought along their own instruments that are mounted on various parts of the bow and stern. In addition to these instruments there are large portable vans that are bolted to the decks.
Yesterday I had fun climbing to the top of a bow tower that is approximately 30 feet above the main deck.There is approximately another 20 feet from their down to the water. One of the scientists from China, Dr. Wenying Su took me up to the top to show me how the equipment needs to be cleaned every day because sea salt builds up on the lenses. Attached to that tower are very sensitive light monitoring instruments called radiometers. As they measure the various wavelengths of light the signals are passed through cables that run into the vans where additional equipment is kept. When you work on the top of the tower it is a good idea to harness yourself to the railing in case the ship should lean suddenly.
Of course this can be great fun in the good weather. But, imagine having to do that when the seas are rough and it is cold.
I discovered that my algae experiment actually is progressing as it should. We took additional measurements today and discovered that at least one of the bottles is showing a much higher chlorophyll concentration than when I started. So, they must be "happy" algae afterall..
The Question of the day: Are all aerosols necessarily a bad thing? What benefit might we gain from certain types of aerosols?
Bye for now,
Monday, April 16, 2001
We are winding down this week, preparing to arrive in Yokasuka on Friday. Needless to say we are all excited about the prospects of walking on land once again! Many of the scientists will be taking some time to tour Japan before they return to their prospective countries.Reading travel guides about Japan seems to be the form of amusement lately. I will be taking the bullet train to Iwakuni on Monday, April 23rd. Imagine, that train travels approximately 200 mph.
We had hoped to see the C-130 today but will have to wait until tomorrow. As we wandered around the Pacific we saw many, many fishing boats all around us.It was fascinating to watch them with binoculars. Some of the boats appeared to be very old. From the number of boats out there I would guess that the waters here must be very productive.
Over the weekend I had the opportunity to help out with a Secchi disk measurement which is a very old method of calculating the depth at which light penetrates the water. This is just another one of the measurements taken every day, sometimes multiple times each day. The ship has to be stationary for this process so we must display the sign that indicates we are immobile.
Today took us into some warmer waters and we found large masses of seaweed floating by the ship. We hooked a piece of this material and put it into my bin of sea water on the fantail. Then as we watched, all kinds of "sea insects" swam out into the bin. They were of varying sizes and coloration. Some appeared to be very aggressive toward the others. Others appeared to be swimming around at a very high speed. One kind reminded me of large fleas and another type looked like some kind of crustacean. Very interesting! I can't wait to get my hands on a reference book to attempt to identify our find.
Our position this morning was: 31N,126E
The Nautical Term of the Day: Spin the Yarn
The Question of the Day: Who designed the Secci Disc and how long ago was it first used?
Bye for now,
Well, today was a day filled with real action from the planes! Both the Twin Otter and the C-130 sampled air at different elevations around the ship. We were all out there waiting with cameras and waving. It was quite a thrill to watch the planes as they approached. First just a tiny speck of reflection near the horizon and then roaring across the bow at about 100 ft off the water.
Our group posed for our farewell picture by standing on top of two of
the portable vans parked on the bow of the ship. It is time for us all
to plant our feet on solid ground and be reunited with our families.We
are suffering from "Channel Fever" - which is what you get when you are
close to shore.
Once the sampling was completed for the day the ship began its final leg on to Japan.
Thursday - April 19th we will be sending a live communication to a number
of schools and answering questions that students have sent in. It
will be about 11:00 pm here on the ship but 10:00 am on the East Coast.
I am hoping to be able to talk directly to the class at my school that
is following the trip.
Many of the students there have been very good about sending email and I greatly appreciated hearing from them. And thank you to all the other teachers and students that sent me email. After being at sea for 38 days I developed a much better understanding of the importance of mail.
This experience has been one I will certainly never forget. All the scientists on board have made quite an impression on me.. Such a vast array of educational backgrounds and experiences combined with all the different nationalities on board offered me a wealth of memories to take back to the classroom. The crew on the ship was also exceptional. They were always willing to answer all my questions and help in any way they could.
The experience of this trip will have a great influence on how I teach
certain science concepts in the future. There is nothing like a "real"
experience to help you understand the relevance of projects such as this.
Research takes time, lots of time, dedication and committment.
I hope to pass on to my students the wonder and joy of pursuing your interests and your dreams.You never know where they will take you!
See you on the web,