Susan Carty, March 18, 2001

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Susan Carty
Onboard NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown
March 14 – April 20, 2001

Mission: Asian-Pacific Regional Aerosol Characterization Experiment (ACE-ASIA)
Geographical Area: Western Pacific
Date: March 18, 2001

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!

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