Monday, March 9, 2009

Drifting


Hi there my friends! We are sorry we did not make any contact earlier at the end of last week, but the awful weather has been putting us down for quite a while. We finished all the work at station AA and we are close to being done with station B as well, with only a few Otter trawls left.
However, a 2 to 3-day break in our science work operations took place due to extremely rough weather conditions. The winds have been blowing at an unpleasant 45-55 Knots for quite a while and the huge waves outside insist on keeping us from sleeping or being motivated to do anything. It seems like we are inside a washing machine that’s spinning at maximum speed. A few of our science crowd members have taken shelter in their bunk beds for quite a while just waiting for the calming of the waters outside so they can come out again.


This morning we had a small weather window during which the winds dropped to 15-20 knots, allowing us to recover a drifter particle trap that Andrew McDonnell deployed a few days earlier when we arrived at Station B. Andrew hitched a ride with us on this cruise in the FOODBANCS2 project series to conduct a few experiments in conjunction with Dr. DeMaster and to deploy a set of oceanographic instruments to study some water column processes in the Antarctic ocean. He is a PhD student at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts supervised by Ken Buesseler, an expert in carbon flux in the oceans. Among his experiments, he deploys an in-situ water pump to filter massive amounts of seawater at pre-determined depths and also a video-plankton recorder (VPR), which identifies particles and zooplankton in the water column from the euphotic zone (upper well light surface waters) to the twilight zone at deeper ocean depths.

We have simply been “hanging out” for last two days to remain near Andrew’s trap because the rough weather made all the operations on the back deck unsafe. Meanwhile on the bridge the captain, first and second mates have been steering the ship what they call ‘weather patterns’ which consists transiting back and forth, upwind and then downwind, along a five mile line to remain near the drifter.


We are almost done with our science work and are hoping for better weather to come. The forecast is not so great for tomorrow, so we might have to cope with the bouncing for a little while more. These are the days that I miss Hawaii the most. All the sun, surfing and the experience of a solid and firm ground. But better stop dreaming for now; Craig is calling me on the radio: “…station B, here we are again”. So let’s try to do some work.
See you later! Aloha!

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