Mary Cook, December 10, 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 10, 2004

Location: Latitude 19°39.97’ S, Longitude 83°40.08’ W
Time: 9:30 a.m.

Weather Data from the Bridge
Wind Direction (degrees) 118.48
Relative Humidity (percent) 70.62
Temperature (Celsius) 18.99
Air Pressure (Millibars) 1015.61
Wind Speed (knots) 12.97
Wind Speed (meters/sec) 7.21
Cloud Type Stratus

Questions of the Day

What does CTD stand for? (answer is found in the previous logs)

What season is it right now in the southern hemisphere?

Positive Thought for the Day

“Life leaps like a geyser for those willing to drill the rock of inertia” Alexis Carrel

Science and Technology Log

Today Bob Weller and Jeff Lord of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) helped me deploy two more adopted drifting buoys for Viviana Zamorano’s class at the Escuela America in Arica, Chile and Debra Brice’s class at San Marcos Middle School in San Diego, California! Their classes will be able to electronically access the drifter’s location along with the sea surface temperature and pressure. They can then use this information to study the ocean currents.

Late tonight and early tomorrow we will arrive at 19º45.91’S 85º30.41W , the location very near the Stratus 4 moored buoy that has been in the water for over a year. We will hover here for a day and conduct inter-comparison tests of the old buoy’s instruments with the instruments onboard the ship. This is a very important part of the research and data collection because they must prove that the information gathered is accurate. Accuracy of the data is of the utmost importance. After the testing is complete, they will begin the process of reeling in the old Stratus 4. This will take quite a while because there’s about 3 miles of cable to bring onto the ship. Then the old Stratus 4 will be hoisted onboard. I’ll give more details about the new Stratus 5 deployment as the time draws near.

This evening we interviewed Jeff Lord for “6:00 Science on the Fantail”. Jeff is a senior engineering tech for WHOI. He’s intricately involved in the new design of the Stratus 5. Jeff said that two really big changes in this new design are the construction materials and the modular-style architecture. The buoy is made of Surlyn foam, a tough but soft and buoyant substance. It can withstand wear and tear of whatever the ocean environment throws at it. Also, when taking it in and out of the water, if it bangs into the side of the ship, no problem! The other new design aspect is that the Stratus 5 can be taken apart and shipped in closed containers. The old Stratus design has a big aluminum hull that is one solid piece. It is too big to fit in a closed container, therefore the end of it sticks out about two feet. Jeff said that nowadays, transporting in open containers is very difficult because it limits the stackability and transportation companies find it difficult to deal with. Jeff also told us about the cables and ropes attaching the buoy to the 9000 pound anchor. The upper section is made of strong cable wire that can support the instrument packages and resist being bitten in two by fierce sea creatures. Then there’s lighter nylon rope that goes down nearly to the bottom and the last portion is made of a buoyant material so it doesn’t drag on the seafloor and get tangled. Jeff said to just wait until the old buoy is reeled in and new one deployed because it’s an impressive operation!

Personal Log

Today has been a good day. I like throwing the drifter buoys overboard. It only takes a few seconds but it makes me feel part of something important, something important on a global scale. This evening the sky is overcast but beautiful nonetheless. It’s cool and fresh out on the deck. I smiled to see that Phil has donned his reindeer antlers to set the holiday mood. Diane has been taking pictures of everyone and posting them on the doors. Bruce completed another great illustration for our book. It’s been approved for me to tour the engine room! The WHOI guys are getting excited because time is drawing near for the big buoy.

This afternoon I worked on developing lesson plans based upon the science work being done on the ship. I’m very excited about coming up with some practical and interesting lessons. Tonight during my watch, I am operating the radio as the Chilean university students perform a 3000 meter CTD cast. It takes about 3 hours to complete. Several of us have decorated Styrofoam cups and sent them down with the CTD rosette. Many people put Christmas greetings on them. Some of the Chileans put an American flag and a Chilean flag on their cups. I drew the Ron Brown ship with a “Christmas star” overhead. We are anxiously awaiting their return from the depths of the deep blue sea. I just found out that watch duty is suspended for the next five or six days! My watch times are good because they’re during waking hours but some people have the night shift plus an afternoon shift. So they’ll get a much needed break and get to sleep the night through instead of catching a nap here and there. Like I said, today has been a good day.

Until tomorrow….


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