Mary Cook, December 12, 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 12, 2004

Location: Latitude 19°46.24’S, Longitude 85°30.89’W
7:00 am

Weather Data from the Bridge
Wind Direction (degrees) 145.06
Relative Humidity (percent) 80.68
Air Temperature (Celsius) 19.22
Water Temperature (Celsius) 19.32
Air Pressure (Millibars) 1014.64
Wind (knots) 13.76
Wind Speed (meters/sec) 6.53

Question of the Day

Why are the water and the air temperatures nearly the same?

Positive Quote for the Day

Physical concepts are free creations of the human mind, and are not, however it may seem, uniquely determined by the external world. Albert Einstein, Evolution of Physics

Science and Technology Log

Today’s the big day! The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution scientists will begin bringing the old Stratus 4 buoy onboard the RONALD H. BROWN. They’ve enlisted the help of just about everyone on the ship. At 6:00 this morning, the sky was dark blue and overcast. As daylight began to creep in, we all gathered in the main lab to prepare for the day’s work. First of all, the scientists triggered the acoustic release at the bottom of the ocean which is about 4400 meters deep. This released the buoy and array of instruments underneath it from the anchor. The 9000 pound anchor was left on the ocean floor. Then we waited.

And waited. And waited some more. It was about 45 minutes in all. We were waiting for the floats to come to the surface. The floats are big glass balls covered in yellow plastic hulls. They’re about the size of a medicine ball. And they are heavy, too. Wouldn’t you think a float would be lightweight? After the floats popped up out of the water, David, Phil, Jason and I went out on the RHIB to hook onto them and tow them to the ship. Once again the RHIB ride was awesome!

Pulling the floats onto the ship began the whole process of reeling in the old Stratus 4 mooring. This took all day. First they reeled in all the cable connecting the surface buoy to the anchor. At the beginning the buoy was a little speck near the horizon but as the cable got shorter, the buoy got closer and bigger until it was just behind the ship. That alone took several hours. When the instruments began coming in, we had to log and photograph each one. Then another RHIB ride was in order!

This was the RHIB ride of my life! Jeff, Diane, Jason, Phil and I went barreling across the swells and hit a wave that bounced Jason into midair for a second or two! I was hanging on with all my might and waves came over the edge right into my face. When we arrived at the buoy the guys hooked onto it and we towed it back to the ship. Then the crew on the ship hauled it aboard with a crane. While they were hauling it in we stayed out in the RHIB and pitched and rolled. That’s when I started to feel a little bit green. Fortunately, we were soon retrieved but on the starboard side of the ship…home, sweet home. We then watched the final removal of subsurface instrumentation. Wow! The Stratus 4 buoy was covered in amazing barnacles! Big ones and little ones. Long-necked barnacles are bizarre looking creatures. They attach themselves to anything in the water, just like suction cups. It’s like they’re stuck on with Super Glue. Once everything and everyone was safely onboard we had a barnacle scraping party. All available hands scraped those little rascals off and threw them back into the ocean. It was a mess but with everyone pitching in things got nicely cleaned. Tomorrow, we get everything ready for the deployment of the new and improved Stratus 5 buoy!

Personal Log

I am so tired.

Until tomorrow,


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