NOAA Teacher at Sea
Vince Rosato & Kim Pratt
Onboard NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown
March 9 – 28, 2006
Mission: Collect oceanographic and climate modeling data
Geographical Area: Eastern Florida
Date: March 26, 2006
Science and Technology Log
Besides deploying (launching) buoys, and doing CTD casts, the RON BROWN also has a group of scientists from the United Kingdom (which consists of the countries England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland) and a scientist from Germany who are putting moorings in the ocean. Moorings are instruments that are sent to the bottom of the ocean and are held there with weights. They can weight up to 3000 pounds!
Also attached to the moorings are floats so that when the scientists decide to get the instruments, they send a signal to the mooring to detach from the weight and then it can float to the surface. After that, the scientists can easily locate the floats in the ocean and then pick the instrument up. The moorings send information to the scientists about the velocity (or speed) of the deep-water currents. They also measure temperature, salinity, pressure and tidal heights. Each mooring costs about $200,000 each!
On the RON BROWN, three large moorings were recovered (picked up) and four more were deployed (put into the ocean). This team has deployed moorings all across the Atlantic Ocean— from west of Morocco, near the Sahara desert region, to east of the coast of Florida (where we are now.)
Interview with LT Liz Jones, Field Operations Officer
LT Liz Jones defined herself as Field Operations Officer, or FOO, as “a coordinator of scientific operations between the science party and the ship’s crew to ensure the mission is carried out and the scientific objectives are met.” While all NOAA Corps Officers have either science or engineering backgrounds, she also had prior seagoing experience before joining the NOAA Corps in 1999. Liz graduated from the Massachusetts Maritime Academy in 1996, majoring in Marine Safety and Environmental Protection. Maritime academies provide classrooms at sea aboard their training ships.
An interactive program called the “Voyage of the MIMI” sparked her interest in the 5th grade. It sounded similar to the current “Jason Project,” where a scientific team videotapes and teleconferences their work from interesting places in the ocean. Liz explained to a high school guidance counselor, “I love the ocean; I want to do some kind of work with the ocean.” Fifteen years later, she is doing just that!
NOAA Corps officers attend three months of Basic Officer Training at the US Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, New York. From there, they are sent to sea aboard one of NOAA’s research vessels. A typical career has one rotating two years at sea and three years on land. “I really like the idea of reinventing myself every few years,” Liz explained. The RONALD H BROWN is her second sea assignment. Liz worked at NOAA’s headquarters for her first land assignment She spent one year there as an aide to Rear Admiral Evelyn J. Fields, who was the first African American female to head the NOAA Corps.
As the FOO, Liz is always planning ahead. She stays very busy working on the plan of the day for tomorrow or the logistics for the next four cruises. The most challenging projects to coordinate are the ones where new technologies will be used for the first time. She is thankful to the crew that can make just about anything happen. In her spare time, Liz works out, reads a good book or just relaxes. For interested students, The California Maritime Academy in Vallejo has the Training Ship GOLDEN BEAR, which one day could be your very own classroom at sea.
Assignment: Using a world map, locate Morocco, the Sahara Desert and the east coast of Florida. Draw moorings straight across the ocean to connect these areas.
Personal Log – Kimberly Pratt
We finally finished our CTD casts! The last job I learned was how to be “Sample Cop”, which means I wrote down information about each water sample that was taken. When scientists take samples, they need to clean each bottle three times before they fill it with the sample. This is so the sample is pure and not contaminated (dirty) from the previous sample. We use a lot of seawater for this purpose. Thanks for all the e-mails!
Personal Log – Vince Rosato
I checked out the drifting buoy-tracking site and found our buoy! I have been busy responding to your emails and writing logs. The scientists and crew have been very helpful in helping me be accurate and sensitive in the presentation of the work being done out here. I salute my nephew, in the Navy now. We are getting excited about coming into port in a couple more days.