Mary Cook, December 7, 2004

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Mary Cook
Onboard NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown
December 5, 2004 – January 7, 2005

Mission: Climate Prediction for the Americas
Geographical Area: Chilean Coast
Date: December 7, 2004

Location: Latitude 19°41.54 S, Longitude 74°55.66 W
Time: 10:00 am

Weather Data from the Bridge
Wind Direction 156.10
Relative Humidity (percent) 70.98
Temperature (Celsius) 19.07
Barometric Pressure (Millibars) 1014.09
Wind Speed (Knots) 12.46
Wind Speed (Meters/sec) 6.51
Cloud type: Stratus at 2950 feet

Question of Day

What is a muster station?

Personal Log

It’s another great start for this seafaring teacher! A pod of about 12 pilot whales are hovering around the ship. They’re black with a crescent-shaped dorsal fin that breaks the water surface like a shark’s fin. It looks like they are about 10 feet long and I can hear a swoosh as a spray of water shoots up into the air when they exhale. As I was standing on the deck scanning the ocean for the whales, the cool breeze in my face, I was thinking how blessed I am to be here and my heart swells with gratitude for the grandness of it all. I just love to look out over the horizon where the sky meets the water and I wonder what other magnificent creatures are lurking below!

Today, I will be working a small part of the CTD deployment in conjunction with the Chilean Armada (Navy) team. CTD stands for conductivity, temperature, and depth. The CTD array contains a series of canisters that are opened at various depths to collect water for gas and nutrient sampling. As the data are collected and displayed, they will locate the ocean’s thermocline in this area. The depth of the thermocline can be used as a component to better understand El Nino which can affect worldwide climate changes. My job as part of the CTD deployment is to be the English speaking person on the radio to relay information to the winch operator as the CTD rosette is being lowered into the water and then brought back on the ship. We had an extensive meeting with all people involved and ran a practice deployment to make sure responsibilities and communications were clearly understood. Everything must run smoothly like clockwork or expensive equipment could get damaged or even worse someone could get injured. A lot of prior research time, effort, and money have gone into these projects and it would be a shame to botch a deployment.

Frank Bradley and I just successfully launched another radiosonde (weather balloon). After we launched it, we went back into the computer room to check the data being transmitted. Dan Wolfe explained that according to the data the thick, overcast stratus cloud layer was thinning. Shortly thereafter, the sun popped out and it was a gorgeous, bright sunshiny day!

Jeff Lord helped me get our drifter buoy out of storage and I placed the stickers of the Southerner man and all the 8th graders’ signatures on it. Southside School is the first school to ever adopt a drifting buoy. We are excited to be one of the first schools involved in the “Adopt a Drifter” program.

At 6:30 this evening, Diane and I will conduct “Science on the Fantail” with Alvaro Vera, leader of the Chilean Armada group that deployed the tsunami warning buoy. I will report on his interview tomorrow. I have watch duty from 20:00-24:00. During nighttime watches, I may have to go outside in the DARK. It’s really, really dark out here, too! All the ship’s outside lights are turned off. Anyway, if they deploy buoys at night I have to go out and help do whatever they need. While working on the deck at night everyone must attach a strobe beacon to themselves so if they fall overboard someone will be able to see them in the dark ocean waters. “Hey, who’s afraid of the dark?”

Until tomorrow, I’m signing off.


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