Jennifer Richards, September 11, 2001

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Jennifer Richards
Onboard NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown
September 5 – October 6, 2001

Mission: Eastern Pacific Investigation of Climate Processes
Geographical Area: Eastern Pacific
Date: September 11, 2001

Latitude: 12º 06.3 N
Longitude: 95º 49.7 W
Temperature: 26.5 º C
Seas: Sea wave height: 2-3 feet
Swell wave height: 4-5 feet
Visibility: 10 miles
Cloud cover: 6/8
Water Temp: 29.7 ºC

Special note: The storm we hit yesterday is now classified and named “Hurricane Ivo”

Research Objective for the day: Install sensors on the buoy at 10N, 95W. Download data from the buoy into the ship’s system for analysis.

Science Log

Today is the first day that official operations take place. We reached the first buoy at 10N, 95W around 4pm, and the zodiac sent several people out to it for maintenance. Divers installed sensors on the under-water portion. They also downloaded the data from the buoy for analysis.

There are lots of buoys in the ocean. Mr. John Stanley (who I will introduce you to later in the week) is in charge of the buoy work on this cruise. He’s installing some, repairing some, and doing general maintenance.

One neat thing about the buoys is that the anchors that keep them in place develop their own ecosystem. All sorts of stuff grows on the anchor line, and stuff that eats the stuff on the line hangs out in the area. And the stuff that eats the stuff that grows on the line is also there. You get the picture. This means that whenever we reach buoys, people on the ship start reaching for their fishing gear. Although we didn’t see any today, I’ve been told that there are often white-tip sharks in the area, and things can get pretty exciting (especially with a diver in the area). Today Pat, one of the crew, caught a pretty good-sized yellow-tail tuna. It was cool, until it started bleeding all over the deck. That’s when I decided I should go look at something else.

Travel Log

This has been a quiet day. Most people on the ship are in some kind of shock after hearing of the terrorist activities on the east coast. I know I speak for everyone on board when I say that all of our thoughts are with the thousands and millions of people who have been affected by the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. I tried for hours to reach my family in the Washington, D.C. area, but I was never able to get a connection. Inmarsat-M phone calls must first connect with a satellite operator (challenge #1), and then connect with land (challenge #2). To those of you reading this who have family or friends on the ship, please remember that in an event like this, e-mail is a reliable way to communicate. Our computer guy, Larry, connects with the satellite twice a day – 10:00 am and 6:00 pm. We are now in Mountain Standard Time, one hour later than when we started, 6 hours off of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT).

Today marks the one-week anniversary of when I arrived on the ship. In some ways, it feels like it went quickly, but at the same time, I feel like I’ve been here forever. One of my students, Melissa, asked if it was hard to be away from home. To be honest, I try not to think about it. I miss my husband, Rob, and we email regularly, but I try not to remind myself that I won’t be home for another month. Certainly on a tragic day like this, all I can think about is how far away from home I am.

Question of the day: Why is cloud cover measured in 8ths (example 1/8, 7/8, etc)?

Photo Descriptions: Today’s pictures include the following: the zodiac at the buoy, fishing off the stern of the boat, Pat’s fish, a close-up of a buoy on the ship (will be installed later on the trip), and Captain Dreves keeping a close eye on the buoy operations.

Until tomorrow,

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