Monday, March 23, 2009
1. Post to the blog at least five days per week. I did it! Yay!
2. Finish at least 80% of the changes that I need to make to the paper that I’m writing. This one is a little harder to measure, but I think I did it. I’ve made most of the big changes and gave my adviser a revised copy. When I get it back from him, I’ll have a better sense of how I did.
3. Work well with all of you at DLMS! This one is up to you to tell me. Did you learn from the blog? Did you enjoy it? Did you see how awesome it is to be a scientist?
And here I am, controlling the winch! I’ll see you all back in school. But before I finish this post, I need to say thank you to the people who made this blog possible:
Thanks to the captain and crew of the R/V Melville for running a great ship and letting me photograph everything.
Thanks to the chief scientist for an awesome cruise and for being so supportive of this blog.
Thanks to everyone on both watches for helping out.
Thanks to Drew, the chief, Kyla, Zach, Suzanne, Alette, Pach, and everyone else who specifically helped with the blog.
Thanks to my mother for reading the blog every day and sending me comments.
Thanks to your teachers, Ms. Blomberg, Ms. Brooks, and Ms. Caldwell for working with me on this project and to your principal for supporting them.
Thanks to Rob Quatrone and Sara Scovronick at CERC for making this happen.
Thanks to Bob Newton and Nancy Degnan for running the LEEFS program that brought me to DLMS.
And last but not least, thanks so much to all of you, who made this a really fun and special cruise for me. You guys rock and I can’t wait to see everyone in school again!
Friday, March 20, 2009
Wow! What’s going on here? A few different things
- The arrows represent the movement of water on the surface. Longer arrows mean the water was moving faster
- The color of the arrow shows the surface water temperature. Red is warmer, blue is cooler.
- The locations of the arrows follow the cruise track, so you can see where we’ve been
This is called a vector plot (the arrows are called vectors) and they’re a great way to show a lot of data in a small space.
Thursday, March 19, 2009
So what did we do? We dragged for the mooring. That means that we put hooks on a wire and had the winch let the wire out into the ocean. Then we drove the ship in a big circle around the spot on the ocean floor where the mooring was. Then we started pulling the wire back in.
The wire is very heavy, so the plan is that it tightens like a noose around the mooring, snags it, and brings it to the surface. But lots of things can go wrong. We can snag a rock, or an old fishing net, or nothing at all. We can scratch and damage the instruments with the wire. Worst of all, once the wire does snag something, there is a lot of tension on the wire.
How much tension? At some points, there were 10,000 pounds of tension on the wire. If that wire had snapped, it would have been very dangerous. Ten thousand pounds of tension is the same as the weight of two and half SUVs.
Dragging for a mooring is a big risk. It takes a lot of time (time that would have been spent gathering more data) and could hurt someone, and might not even work. On the other hand, if we don’t drag, we’ll never get the instrument or the data it has been collecting for months.
So what would you do? Would you drag for the mooring or move on?
When I get home, I'll tell you whether or not we recovered the mooring. Right now, I still don't know.
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
When I’m at home and thinking about the ocean, I sometimes like to read what other people have written about it. Here is one my favorite poems in the whole world, by e.e. cummings:
went down to the beach (to play one day)
and maggie discovered a shell that sang
so sweetly she couldn't remember her troubles,and
milly befriended a stranded star
whose rays five languid fingers were;
and molly was chased by a horrible thing
which raced sideways while blowing bubbles:and
may came home with a smooth round stone
as small as a world and as large as alone.
For whatever we lose (like a you or a me)
it's always ourselves we find in the sea
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Thanks Chief! Also thanks to Zach & Kyla for taking pictures.
And in case you’re wondering, nearly everyone on the ship calls everyone else by their first names. The exceptions are the chief and the captain, who get called by their titles.
Monday, March 16, 2009
The biggest thrill of all is that the chief scientist wants to write a paper about the solitons with me and my friend Zach. He’s been really happy with my work on the LADCPs and on the solitons, and told me so. Being a graduate student can be very hard because everyone expects your best work all the time. Sometimes you do your best work and it that still isn’t good enough. But this time my work is being noticed and appreciated, so I’m very proud of myself.
The biggest chill is missing home. I have friends out here, but I miss my friends at home and my family. I email with my mother every day, but it’s not the same as talking to her.
When you’re at sea, you sometimes forget about the outside world completely and only the ship seems real. Keeping this blog has made this cruise different than other ones because I feel connected to all of you.
Here are a few more thrills
- The solitons! Solitons are awesome.
- Seeing sunsets! I love sunsets.
- Having time to read books. I read a lot at sea.
- Getting to fix things. I’m good at fixing things, and even though I get frustrated when they break, fixing them makes me feel satisfied.
And some more chills, too
- Never having a day off. We work 12 hours a day, seven days a week. I’d like at least an evening off, but that doesn’t happen here
- Not being able to decide what to eat. The food has been great out here, but I’m not always in the mood for what the cooks are making.
Here’s a photo of one more thrill:
And now a science question: what makes rainbows?
Saturday, March 14, 2009
Situation #1: Imagine jumping in to the water. Waves would spread out in all directions around you, making bigger and bigger circles.
Situation #2: Now imagine that the when you jump in the water, waves only spread in one direction. There’s no circle getting bigger, just a line of waves traveling in one direction at a constant speed.
I’ve jumped in water lots of times, and the waves have always acted like situation #1. Situation #1 is also how waves have acted when I’ve thrown things in the water or seen fish jump out of the water. It’s just how waves act.
Solitons are a special kind of wave that acts like situation #2. Really. This is one of those times when science gets weird. It doesn’t happen often, but if the tides are just right, the time of year is just right, and the location is just right, solitons will form.
One of the really wonderful things about being a scientist is that I’m allowed to forget everything else for a while to study just one thing. Imagine the most interesting thing you’ve done in school all year and getting to do that for as long as you like. That’s what I’ve been doing for the last few days with solitons. I’ve been looking at figures, equations, and maps, trying to understand everything that has happened.
An important thing to know about solitons is that they’re internal waves. That means that they’re not on the surface of the water, but they’re inside the water where colder and warmer water meet (7th & 8th grade science club: remember the tank experiment?). Most of our measurements have to be below the water. However, there is a sign on the surface of the water that a soliton is going by: a band of breaking waves in an otherwise calm sea. It looks so unusual that sailors back in 1922 wrote about it but had no idea why it happened. Here’s what it looks like:
The whitecaps (those breaking waves) might not look big, but they were stretched out in a huge line across the horizon. It didn’t look like anything I’d ever seen before.
Don’t worry if you don’t really understand what a soliton is, or why they're important. Most college students don’t even know what an internal wave is, and certainly don’t know what solitons are. So you’re already ahead of the game.
Friday, March 13, 2009
Really cool thing #1 that I learned on the bridge: ships use flags to communicate.
We fly the United States flag, and when we’re in port we also fly the flag of the country we’re visiting, as a sign of respect. If we need a pilot we have a flag to request it, and if there’s already a pilot on board we have a flag to indicate that. If two ships pass each other at sea, they each lower and then raise their flags as a way of saying hello. We also fly the flag of the Scripps Institute of Oceanography, which operates the R/V Melville. Here’s Ian, the second mate, holding the Scripps flag:
And here are some more flags, rolled up neatly:
Really cool thing #2 that I learned on the bridge: ships have secret codes for weather.
All over the world, ships record the weather that they see. In many places, those are the only records of weather, so they’re pretty important. But it would be confusing if everyone wrote about the weather in their own words, and it would take too long to read! So there’s a secret code for writing down the weather:
And here is a log sheet with the some of the codes written in:
Do you think you’d be able to keep track of all of those numbers? Ian says he’s been doing this so long that he knows most of them by heart.
Really cool thing #3 that I learned on the bridge: it’s fun to be on the bridge.
The bridge is located at the top of the ship. From there, you can see everyone out on deck and anything else happening in the water. The captain and the chief scientist were both came up too, and we watched for the solitons together and talked about our work. Here’s a view of the first way that I saw them: a line of dots on the radar:
The dot in the middle is the ship and the blue circle marks a distance of about 1 nautical mile (1.2 miles) away from us. That line of yellowish dots represents the first soliton that we saw. So what is a soliton? I’ll tell you all about it tomorrow.
Thursday, March 12, 2009
- Birds in flight. They tend to be too far away to photograph clearly.
- Fish under water. Have you ever tried photographing fish under water? It works quite well if you, the camera, and the fish are all under water. When only one of you is, it tends to fail.
- An insect on deck. I’ve seen one, when we were near land. It flew away.
- As I mentioned earlier, I did see some whales but wasn’t fast enough to get any pictures.
But I finally have a wildlife photo for you! Here it is:
Yes, that’s a squid. Very soon, it will be bait, but right now it’s still a squid. I touched it and it was slightly slimy.
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
See those long grey things? They’re bottles for collecting seawater. Here’s Jake, our winch operator, getting ready to start the cast:
His job is to make sure that the CTD goes in and out of the water without any problems. He also needs to make sure that the CTD doesn’t hit the sea floor! If it did, the instruments could be damaged. Jake is watching Drew’s hand signals so he knows when to raise and lower the CTD:
Now we’re going to fast-forward about three hours to when the cast is coming out of the water. People are waiting with poles to attach hooks to the CTD. The hooks are tied to the tag lines, which let us control the CTD as it comes on deck:
And here it is with your cups still tied on:
After the casts, scientists take bottles of seawater collected at different depths back to their labs on the ship and on land:
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
-What happened to your friend Jake's bracelet? Did it shrink? Did it break? Did it remain unchanged?
Jake’s bracelet came up looking exactly the same as it did when it went down. But now he can tell all of his friends that his bracelet has been down to the bottom of the ocean.
-How do the drawings look? Have they changed size too? Can you still read our names?
The drawings are very clear and very tiny! Yes, I can still read your names
-Can we get more data from the big yellow thing (Shaliyah)... AKA the CTD?
I’ll do some more posts with CTD data. I’m also going to try and find someone to explain to you how all of the instruments on the CTD work.
-Will you be going underwater at all too? Can you send cameras underwater?
We’re all staying on the boat. People do send cameras underwater, but we won’t be. Sorry about that. Most of the things we study can’t be seen even with a camera – they have to be understood from the data.
-Try to get pictures of wildlife too!
I’m trying! I saw whales yesterday but by the time I ran inside and got my camera, they were gone.
-What's the next experiment you're going to do?
Check out the post about the mooring! That’s a big experiment. The next one will be our study of solitons. Solitons are a very special kind of wave. I’ll do a post on them once I collect data.
And now for the sunsets:
Abby – we don’t have daylight savings time in the Philippines. But I agree that it could have effected the sunsets if I thought I was taking my photos at the same time every day and forgot to account for the changing of the clocks!
Bryan – they may have been at slightly different times of day, you’re right. I think that the bottom photo was taken earlier in the evening than the middle photo was.
Ms. Brooks – I agree. There’s lots of pollution in Philippine cities, and when the wind blows it towards us we can even smell it. Lots of pollution can mean a prettier sunset.
Alvin – yes, they were taken at different locations. But the locations were similar, and not too far apart.
Shaliyah – excellent observation. The size of water droplets can change the type of cloud we see. Also, as with Ms. Brooks’ answer, whatever is in the atmosphere, whether it’s pollution or water vapor, can change the way we see the colors of sunset.
Class 8A, you are living up to your name! I can’t wait to see you all when I get back.
And class 71 – it is cool that you were checking the blog while I was posting! It must have been around 1 or 2 in the afternoon your time. I work from noon to midnight Philippine time, but last night I was working late and decided to post before I went to sleep.
Monday, March 9, 2009
Restech, is going to tell you what's going on. First, here are some
definitions that will help you understand him:
- a mooring is a scientific instrument that gets attached to an anchor
and left in the ocean to collect data
- a buoy is something that floats in the water - in this case, it's
part of the mooring
- lifelines are cables that act as railings around the ship
Let me know if there's anything else that's unclear. Also, I'd like to thank Drew for doing the voiceover and Suzanne and Pach for doing the video recording.
Saturday, March 7, 2009
A few highlights:
- The guy making the funny hand signals is Drew. He’s our Resident Marine Technician, or restech. The hand signals tell the winch operator what to do.
- That’s me in the lower right corner! I’m running a tag line, one of the ropes that keeps the CTD from swinging too wildly. There’s not much risk when the seas are calm like they are in this video, but you can imagine what happens in rough seas. The other tag line is run by Gerald, who is a member of the Philippine Coast Guard.
- Look at the CTD going down in the water. Can any of the 7th graders tell me what is happening to the light underwater to make it look like that?
- I left the soundtrack as it was so that you could hear what we hear. Ships are loud places.
Finally, thanks to Alette for filming!
This is a boat loaded up with boats! I’ve never seen anything like it before:
This is last night’s sunset. It was spectacular:
And here is tonight’s sunset – just a day apart but very different:
Friday, March 6, 2009
So how did they turn out? Well, here they are in the lab…
And here they are in the bag (the green tape keeps them from getting stuck together)…
And here’s my friend Drew securing them to the CTD frame…
And here they are with my friend Jake’s good-luck bracelet that he wanted sent down too…
And here’s the CTD going into the water…
And here they are, safe on the ship…
And here I am, cutting them off the CTD to bring home to you!
Look how empty the bag seems to be! It’s the same number of cups that I started with; they’re just very small. You know that their size has decreased, what do you think has happened to their density?
Thursday, March 5, 2009
Irving – I was seasick, and it was terrible! We had rough seas for a few hours and I felt awful. But now I’m better.
Daniella – I’m eating fish every day, but it’s not local fish. We’re only allowed to go fishing when we’re far away from land or fishing boats, and that’s not too much of the time. We should have some good fishing later on in the cruise though.
Bryan, Nachary, & Andrea – Your cups are safe in my room. I’m going to sink them once we’re out in the Sulu Sea, which is deeper than where we are now. And I promise to take plenty of pictures.
Shaina – I have not seen any sharks, but my friend Drew saw one. I’m sorry that I missed it. But I have seen squid and flying fish.
I do have a sunburn even though I’ve been wearing sunscreen. But it’s not too bad. I’d like to see your barometers when I get back. We have a barometer on the ship too, and right now we’re at 1006.8 millibars.
Life at sea has been very busy because my ADCP cables keep breaking! It’s very frustrating. But at sea, when something breaks, you learn how to fix it. Here’s the rewiring we did:
It was a little like science club, since we didn’t know if it would work until we tried it. I know it looks weird, but it’s holding up so far!
So why is seawater so dense? And what changes the density of seawater?
1) Temperature. This is the big one. Cold water is denser than hot water. Remember drawing the molecules in solids, liquids, and gases? In liquids, the molecules aren’t as tightly packed as in solids, but they’re tighter than in a gas. High temperatures make molecules move faster, so they can’t stay close together. A hot liquid looks a little more like a gas, and cold liquid looks a little more like solid:2) Salinity. Salinity is a measure of how much salt is in the water. Salt makes water denser, but a change in temperature will have a bigger effect on density than a change in salinity will. The salt molecules keep the water molecules closer together by holding on to them through chemical bonds.
3) Pressure. Picture what each of those boxes I drew above would look like if you sat on them. All of the molecules would be pushed together! That’s what happens to the molecules in the seawater that’s down at the bottom of the ocean. The weight of all that water on top of them packs them tightly.
Here are plots of temperature, salinity, and density from our last station:
- The units for pressure are “db” which stands for decibars. The cool thing is that in the ocean, a decibar of pressure is equal to a meter of water. So when you see 100 db, you know it’s 100 m down.
- The units for salinity are “psu.” That stands for practical salinity units, which doesn’t really mean anything at all. So don’t worry about it! Just remember that higher numbers mean saltier water.
- The units for density are kg/m3. That tells you how much one cubic meter of water would weigh. So when you see a density of 1030 kg/m3, that means that one cubic meter of water (about 260 gallons) weighs 1030 kg (about 2,270 pounds). For comparison, tap water at room temperature has a density of about 1000 kg/m3.
So if you were holding a gallon of tap water, it would weigh 8.3 pounds. But if you were holding a gallon of seawater, it would weigh 8.6 pounds.
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
It’s the odd-looking thing in the middle of the pictures with all of the wires attached to it. You can see one of the LADCPs on the left.
Later, I’ll try to get a video of the deployment (when we put the package in the water) and recovery (when we take it out of the water). For now, I’m going to show you the data from a recent CTD station, number 22.
Normally we can’t distribute data from a cruise until two years after collection. Since we did the work, we get to publish our interpretations of the data first! However, the chief scientist of the cruise, Dr. Arnold Gordon, is letting you have the data early as long as you promise not to publish before he does.
Here’s a graph of the temperature data:
There’s a lot we can learn from this graph! First, look at the axes. What are the units? How big is the range? Look carefully at the y-axis and the direction in which numbers increase. Is this how we usually make graphs?
Once you know how the graph is structured, you can start working with the data. What happens to the temperature as you go deeper in the water? Does it increase? Decrease? How quickly does the temperature change with depth? Why does the temperature change in this pattern?
Remember, this is the temperature during one cast. Would we get different results if we tried it again? What about a cast nearby – would the results look the same? There are a lot of questions you can ask about these data. Let me know what questions you want to answer, and I’ll try to supply the data that you need.
Sunday, March 1, 2009
In order to leave Manila Bay, we needed a pilot to guide us out. Normally the word “pilot” refers to the person flying an airplane, but it’s sometimes used for boats, too. Because Manila Bay is such a busy place, the government requires pilots who know the bay very well to help the captains steer the ships. Here is the pilot boat on our starboard side:
Our what? At sea, you don’t use right and left to describe locations within the ship. It would be too easy to get confused – if you’re facing the back of the ship, then left becomes right! So we have four directions: forward, aft, starboard, and port. If you’re facing forward (the front of the ship), port is on your left, starboard in on your right, and aft (or after) is behind you. The front of the ship is called the bow, and the back is called the stern:
If your classroom were a ship, where would the bow be? The stern? What direction (forward, aft, port, or starboard) would you have to go to reach the door?