Saturday, February 23, 2019

ANDREXII - Natalie at sea

March 30, 2019

Congratulations, Central Elementary! Your SOCCOM float is now sampling the Southern Ocean!

"The Roughrider" (UW ID #12880) was deployed on Saturday evening, March 29th. You can find it on the map here!

I was inspired by Central's adoptive name and drew a cowboy hat on a chinstrap penguin!

With "The Roughrider" being the last SOCCOM float on ANDREXII, it received a lot of extra love for its send-off, getting drawn on by a lot of us on the JCR! Creative artwork, personal names and stick figures, fundamental oceanography equations, and a fitting poem:

"Up and down I go

Away with flow


Ming (Plymouth Marine Laboratory) adorning "The Roughrider" in equations! (PC: Ian Brown)

The JCR crew ready to launch "The Roughrider." (PC: William Clark)

To deploy the float, the crew pull on the rope to release the pin. (PC: William Clark)

Thanks to the JCR crew for safely deploying all 6 of our SOCCOM floats! (PC: William Clark)

After filtering the seawater collected from the float station, I found a little krill on the filter!

Krill found on filter after filtering seawater from the surface ocean 🍀
Now that our easternmost station is complete, we have turned around and are heading back (west) to the Falkland Islands! Along the way, we'll do ~8 more CTDs (weather permitting); 5 of these stations are the ones we failed to complete the first time around when we were having so many technical issues and 3 of these are targeted deep (>6000 m) stations near the South Sandwich Trench in order to fill in existing gaps in the data.

Last night, we all shared a fantastic meal together to celebrate the (near) end of science (it was curry night too!). We are so excited to have a few much-needed days to do our own things (catch up on sleep, process data, complete the cruise report, etc.) until the next CTD...


March 28, 2019

While waiting for the CTD to reach the bottom and in between stations, some of us have kept busy making model JCRs! If you're up for it, print off the image below:

Feel free to print it out and make your own (mini) JCR!

Here's our current fleet! Happy building :)


March 24, 2019

Congratulations, Seaside Middle School, your SOCCOM float is now sampling the Southern Ocean!

(PC: William Clark)
(PC: William Clark)

"Pepperoni and Pizza" ("UWID #12879") was deployed on Saturday afternoon, March 23rd at 57.54S and 15.37E. You can find it on the map here.

To prepare P&P for the big day, I did my best to recreate your design - I hope you like it!! And I hope your class pets/mice, Pepperoni and Pizza, like it too!! 🐁🐁 πŸ•

"Pepperoni and Pizza" was named for the two pet mice in Ms. Gravem's class at Seaside Middle School.

Ms. Gravem's class was featured in the local newspaper here!


March 22, 2019

"Scientists map 'deepest' parts of the Southern Ocean" - our science in the news! Check it out here

This shows preliminary data from the multibeam (swath) sonar system that maps the seabed beneath and up to 10 km to the side of RRS James Clark Ross. Colour is depth in m (scale at the bottom), and the yellow line is the ship’s track. (Source here)


March 19, 2019

We're only a couple of days behind our 'science' schedule after some persistent hiccups with the CTD. Every other cast, we were losing communication with the instrument either on its way down or on its way back up, forcing us to stay and repeat the station. And since our stations are relatively deeper these days (~4000-6000 m), it takes hours to send it all the way down and all the way back up each time. With no consistent pattern to the failed casts (never failing at the same depth/pressure, etc.), the onboard tech, William, was running on empty trying to discover the root issue. When the failures started occurring on every cast, Andrew (Chief Scientist) decided that for the sake of time, we should steam forward along the ANDREX line and only stop when we thought the CTD might be fixed. In total, we missed sampling 6 stations before the issue was fully resolved so we'll return to sample those 6 on our way back to the Falklands! HUGE thanks to Will and the rest of the JCR crew involved in getting us back on track!! πŸ‘

Spirits were lifted even more on πŸ€St. Patrick's Day πŸ€, when some of the Irish men onboard organized an evening filled with Irish songs and Ceili dancing! Alan sang and played the harmonica (Bob Dylan-style!) and ukulele for about 30 minutes and then lead a large group of us in some dancing. Ceili dancing is a lot like American-style square dancing, at least from my personal experience going square dancing when I lived in Colorado. It was a blast!! So many smiles and laughs. Since we didn't have a station until later that evening, those on my shift were able to stay and enjoy each other's company at the party longer. 🎢🎡 πŸ’š

Alan (right) and Ming (left) singing Irish tunes!

It has snowed every day since February 26th, from light flurries to big, sparkly flakes!  ⛄While we've had plenty of fun, the persistent cloud cover has had us all craving some Vitamin D. Thankfully, the sun finally came out to play today! 🌞

Christine and Rachael making snow angels! (PC: Rachael Sanders)
Christine building a snow penguin! (PC: Rachael Sanders)

The women of the physics team enjoying the sunshine! ☀
Everyone squeeze in!!

Coming up: the last two floats of ANDREXII will be deployed in the next week!


March 11, 2019 

Congratulations, Pawnee City Schools and William Fremd High School! Your SOCCOM floats are now sampling the Southern Ocean!

The "S.S. Pawnee City" (UWID #12786; Pawnee City Schools) was deployed on Saturday afternoon, March 9th at 60.32S and 30.96W and "Optimus Brine" (UWID #12884; William Fremd HS) set off on Sunday afternoon, March 10th at 60.83S and 27.23W. You can find them on the map here

The JCR crew, ready to deploy the "S.S. Pawnee City." (PC: Hugh Venables)
Deployment of the "S.S. Pawnee City" in action. (PC: Hugh Venables)

(PC: Hugh Venables)

An albatross came to see what all the fuss was about! (PC: Hugh Venables)
The "S.S. Pawnee City" and its new albatross friend! (PC: William Clark)

"Optimus Brine" is lowered into the Southern Ocean! (PC: William Clark)

Optimus Brine's first dip! (PC: William Clark)

Another albatross investigates!! (PC: William Clark)


March 8, 2019

Happy International Women's Day, from the JCR/ANDREXII women!

IWD 2019

On one particular station, some humpback whales played close to the ship, providing ample opportunity to take photos and listen to their dinosaur-like noises!

A humpback whale waving hello to the JCR!

Two humpbacks spray close to the JCR!

Hello, humpbacks!! (PC: Hugh Venables)

WOW!! (PC: Hugh Venables)

On the science side of things, we've been so busy! Our ANDREXII stations are located close together and where the water is quite shallow (~500 meters), making for non-stop sampling and analyzing for the science teams. In an 8-hour time frame, we can sample nearly 4 stations! There are ~100 ANDREXII stations in total, of which 6 are SOCCOM deployment stations. 

The acronym, ANDREX, stands for "Antarctic Deep Water Rates of Export." This cruise, ANDREXII, is the 2nd occupation of the original ANDREX in 2009-2010. "The ANDREX project seeks to assess the role of the Weddell gyre in driving the southern closure of the meridional overturning circulation, in ventilating the deep global ocean, and in sequestering carbon and nutrients in the global ocean abyss." In other words, we want to know how much and the rate at which heat, salt/freshwater, carbon, oxygen, and nutrients are entering and exiting the Weddell Gyre to better understand its role in regulating global climate. And by sampling the same region multiple times (in 2009-2010 and again in 2019), we can also estimate how the water has changed over this decade and likely begin to piece together what caused the changes. ANDREX has been a UK community-wide effort with SOCCOM as a partner. 

What else do I do on the ship when a SOCCOM float isn't going into the water? I'm part of the 6-person physics team onboard. We're in charge of making sure water samples are collected from certain depths of the ocean beneath us so that the various science teams onboard can collectively learn more about this part of the Southern Ocean. Before a station, we prep the CTD rosette which holds 24 12-liter niskin bottles (see previous post for a picture of me taking water from a niskin bottle). A conductivity-temperature-depth (CTD) sensor is attached to the rosette which provides high-resolution profiles of temperature, salinity (via conductivity), and pressure (thus, depth) throughout the water column. Also on the rosette is a LADCP (Lowered Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler) that measures velocities from which to assess currents. A FLBB (fluorescence and backscatter) sensor is affixed to the rosette for SOCCOM business, to cross-check the one located at the base of each float. At a station, we stop the ship and put the rosette into the water and send it down to 10 meters from the ocean bottom. So far, we've had stations with ocean bottoms ranging from 300 m to 4000 m. On its way up, we electronically close each bottle at desired depths (3000 m, 2500 m, 2250 m, etc.). Once the rosette is back on deck, the science teams crowd around the rosette to draw water from the niskin bottles destined to be analyzed for their favorite properties back in their labs onboard or back home on land. 

Science teams onboard for ANDREXII!


March 6, 2019

Congratulations, Bayside Academy, your SOCCOM float is now sampling the Southern Ocean!

Midnight Sun being lowered into the Southern Ocean by crane; note, the little iceberg in the distance! (PC: Hugh Venables)

"Midnight Sun" (UWID #12752) was deployed on a gorgeous Monday afternoon, March 4th at 60.61S and 42.29W. You can find it on the map here. For the design, I used the 'B' from your school logo and replaced 'Admirals' with the float name, while making the holes of the 'B' a moon and a sun. I hope you like it!

Midnight Sun's first dip! (PC: William Clark)

So happy for Bayside! (PC: Ian Brown)

Unique to this location, "Midnight Sun" was deployed just before two ARVOR deep floats (owned by French scientists) that are designed to measure water properties along the ocean bottom. 

Securing "Midnight Sun" on deck prior to deployment along with the two ARVOR deep floats. (PC: Andrew Meijers)

Charlie (Plymouth Marine Laboratory) enjoyed an afternoon cup of tea with Midnight Sun!

In addition to making sure the float goes in the water, another significant part of the SOCCOM program, and therefore my duties on the JCR, is taking independent water samples at the location the floats enter the water in order to validate the data the floats then collect. This process of collecting water and preparing it for shipment back to Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego, California (my workplace!) for later analysis can take between 4-8 hours post-deployment. 

Drawing water from a niskin bottle holding water from the near-surface. It will later be analyzed for its pH (how basic or acidic it is). (PC: Hugh Venables)

Rougher seas began last night, forcing many to double-check the securement of their belongings and equipment. This is also when the kitchen staff adorns all tables with grippy covers to avoid dishes crashing to the floor. The little table in my shared cabin/room overturned in the night and we haven't turned it upright since (no point!). My crocheting roommate's ball of wool yarn made a significant journey  across the floor throughout the night, like a ball in a pinball machine. I also have a drawer that keeps opening with the ship's roll, so I've been taping it shut!


March 4, 2019

After catching up on some sleep after Sinkin' Lincoln set off on its journey, I woke up to the most scenic day of the cruise through the South Orkney Islands (and the last time we'll see land for 5+ weeks!): the James Clark Ross navigating Lewthwaite Strait, between Coronation and Powell Islands. Absolutely breathtaking! Notable wildlife sightings: humpback and fin whales, chinstrap penguins, seals, and, uniquely, an all-white giant petrel (also called a 'white nelly'). 

With the beautiful weather, the tech on board flew the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) drone and captured some stunning video footage (much too large to share here, unfortunately). 

View of the James Clark Ross going through Lewthwaite Strait from the BAS drone (PC: William Clark)

My favorite birds out here: the cape petrel. In rougher weather, they always look like they're about to be blown off balance (they're a bit wobbly in flight)!

The drone setting off...


March 3, 2019

Lincoln Junior High School, your SOCCOM float is now sampling the Southern Ocean!

Me with Sinkin' Lincoln just before deployment! πŸ‘ For reference, I'm 5 foot 4 inches tall...

The James Clark Ross crew making sure Sinkin' dips in smoothly!  (PC: Andrew Meijers)

Sinkin' Lincoln (UWID #12707) was deployed on Saturday night, March 2nd at 60.12S and 48.17W and is already sending us information about the Southern Ocean in real time (find it on the map here). To prepare Sinkin' for the big day, I did my best to recreate your design (I hope I did it justice!) and used your school colors.

Recreating Lincoln Junior High Schools' design for Sinkin' Lincoln.

Finished! I hope you like it!

SOCCOM floats are Biogeochemical-Argo (BGC-Argo) floats. Argo floats are freely drifting instruments that measure the temperature and salinity of the upper 2000 m of the ocean every 10 days. The SOCCOM program has integrated additional biogeochemical sensors into the Argo platform, resulting in BGC-Argo floats that measure the pH, nitrate and oxygen concentration, and fluorescence and backscatter (basically, chlorophyll) in addition to the traditional temperature and salinity, of the upper 2000 m of the Southern Ocean. This suite of data is important for understanding how heat and carbon is stored and transported within the Southern Ocean, which has a significant impact on the climate across the world (yes, even in Illinois!!). The Southern Ocean is one of the most poorly sampled oceans due to its remote and extreme environment. Simply put, it's vast and quite difficult to access, particularly in the winter, which means less data for scientists to gain a sufficient understanding of its processes. But thanks to the SOCCOM program, the number of Southern Ocean observations has drastically increased since the program's inception, especially the number of wintertime observations when ships like the JCR aren't making the journey south. 

Congratulations, Lincoln Junior High School, you're officially part of an effort to improve our understanding of the Southern Ocean, float by float; Sinkin' Lincoln will continue to send us data every 10 days, long after our work on the James Clark Ross is done. 


February 28, 2019

Just a quick post to share some photos so far!

Massive iceberg in front of Bridgeman Island (PC: Hugh Venables). On this day, we could also see King George Island and Elephant Island in the distance but difficult to get a photo.
Hugh (British Antarctic Survey) for scale.

Charlie (Plymouth Marine Laboratory) looking studious with a map of the Antarctic Peninsula.

Commerson's dolphin (PC: Hugh Venables)

After a hard day's work, having fun playing Carcassonne.

Fancy a game of darts? Imagine throwing a sharp object on a moving ship (there are a lot of holes in the wall around the board!).

Brrr! Everything covered in ice! 

Not unlike your morning routine, we also have to scrape ice off the windshield before work!

Magical ice and light

Giant petrel (PC: Hugh Venables)


February 26, 2019

We were given a couple hours of shore leave in Stanley, Falkland Islands (the James Clark Ross's home port). One small group made the trek to Gypsy Cove to see wildlife (sightings included magellanic penguins, peale's dolphins, endemic ducks, and upland geese) and another group walked into town to see some of the history and to have some tea and cake (a big deal in the UK)! 🐧 ☕ 🍰

Magellanic penguins at Gypsy Cove on the Falkland Islands! (PC: Rachael Sanders) 

The beautiful James Clark Ross in Port Stanley.

That evening, scientists and crew gathered in the lounge area to hear a science presentation given by Chief Scientist, Andrew Meijers. He reminded us of the reasons we're on this ship, highlighting the importance of the science we'll be doing in this particular region of the Southern Ocean, including a refresher on the results from the previous occupation nearly a decade ago (ANDREXI). In a future post, I'll introduce you to some of the scientists onboard!

'Why are we here, what are we doing, and where are we going?' presentation given by Chief Scientist, Andrew Meijers.

ANDREXII station plan; ship tracks (red line), sampling stations (yellow 'x' along red line), SOCCOM float deployment locations (green 'x').

Immediately following Andrew's talk, we had a proper quiz night; we split into small teams, spread ourselves out across the lounge to minimize cheating, and took the quiz very seriously, cycling through moments of pride in our knowledge and others of frustration when the answers were just at 'the tip of our tongues.' πŸ˜‚ The doctor onboard, Amber, wrote the quiz and did a nice job of making it largely international to give the non-UK folk, like me, a fighting chance. Did my team win? Let's just say we didn't come in last... Once science begins in a couple of days, we'll all be on different working hours/shifts so we won't get to have another full quiz until science is complete and we're on our way back to the Falklands in April. 

We had our first ship snow tonight!! ⛄ I love snow and back home I always write down the first snow of the season in my planner (well, before I moved to San Diego where it doesn't snow πŸ˜ž). 


February 23, 2019

Hi, my name is Natalie. Over the next 2 months I’ll be aboard the Royal Research Ship (RRS) James Clark Ross (JCR) as part of the 6-person physics team and to deploy 6 SOCCOM floats in the Atlantic sector of the Southern Ocean! This is my 2nd research cruise and 2nd trip to the Southern Ocean. My first time out at sea was in the Indian sector south of Australia; my friend and fellow SOCCOM float-deployer, Earle Wilson, blogged about our trip here. I enjoyed my first time at sea so much and couldn't wait for another opportunity so here I am!

Back in September 2018, the floats were loaded onto the RRS James Clark Ross before it departed the United Kingdom (UK) and headed to the Southern Ocean for the season. So before we left port, Andrew Meyer (University of Washington) flew out to make sure that all 6 floats are ready to be deployed during our cruise and that I know how to properly clean their sensors before each one goes in the water:

Andrew demonstrates how to clean the float's sensors. 

We spent days running around, setting up our lab spaces and securing everything down and left the port in Punta Arenas, Chile on the afternoon of Thursday, February 21. After a safety briefing and drill, we gathered on what is called the ‘monkey island’ to enjoy the shrinking coastline and wildlife. We spotted plenty of gentoo penguins, sei whales, and Commerson's dolphins in addition to giant petrel and wandering albatross. There will be plenty more wildlife to see in the coming weeks.
Sarah (left; nutrients team) and Hugh (right; physics team) on the lookout for wildlife.

We are heading for a quick stop in the Falkland Islands (British territory) to pick up some cargo and then we’ll go further south toward the Antarctic Peninsula (I can’t wait to see the icy landscape!) and start sampling eastward (in other words, start doing science!). The past few days have been met by calm seas, with a gentle back and forth motion that is quite sleep-inducing. But I know what’s coming so I’ll enjoy it while it lasts. The Southern Ocean is known for its ferocity and most days will be rough seas as storms pass through.

Heading to the Falkland Islands.

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