Archive for the 'Uncategorized' Category
As if storms weren’t cool enough anyway, here is Ming explaining how they can affect atmospheric chemistry.
“Too thick to breath; too thin to swim in”, such is a description of the amorphous, third layer that forms between the atmosphere and the surface ocean under extremely windy conditions. (Sadly the person whom the quote is credited to has escaped my mind.) It fitting describes the deviation away from the simplified ‘two-layer’ picture of the air-sea interface. One may even ask, does the air-sea interface still exist then?
We have just endured a sizable storm in the South Atlantic, east of Brazil. Fifty knot winds and significant wave height of several meters. Conditions not yet extreme enough to form the aforementioned third layer, but nevertheless stirred up a boiling pot. Not just whitecaps, but streaks of bubbles plumes and spray blown across the sea surface. Waves stepping up and breaking. The sound of winds whizzing by, the creaking noise of the ship, the thunderous explosion of water as the ship’s bow slams down, after a moment of near zero-gravity. (many of us are familiar with the image of breaking waves, but only from the beach, where the shallowness of water forces waves to tumble and break; in comparison, in the deep waters of the open ocean, it takes a lot of energy for large waves to break). The albatrosses and shearwaters seem enthralled by the stormy sea though, gliding and weaving around the peaks and troughs. I am as well.
If you have caught my previous entry to the blog earlier during the cruise, you might have remembered that I hoped for higher winds and rougher seas. This is my wish becoming true. Looking at the seas yesterday, it seemed a different world than only two days before, when the water surface resembles a slowly undulating piece of silk. One of my primary research interests entails physical processes governing air-sea gas exchange, which you can imagine differ dramatically between a flat surface and rough seas.
Understandably making measurements of the rates of air-sea gas exchange is extremely difficult and risky under these stormy conditions, as evident by my motion sensor blacking out a couple of times yesterday because the acceleration exceeded the maximum range of 3 g. Actual observations of gas exchange are very rare, and with large uncertainties under these conditions. Yet gas exchange in strong winds is likely very important for climate and elemental cycling (e.g. the oceanic uptake of CO2) because of the expected high rates. Thus encountering such a storm is the fantasy of many researchers in this area. So I say, let it blow!
Posted by: Liam on Thursday, 15th Nov, 2012
Beautiful, isn’t it? I am very lucky that I get to see these wonderful things first thing in the morning. It is a contender for this weeks beast of the week (post tomorrow).
The storm in the title refers to the ‘bad’ weather we have had the past 24 hours. High winds and high waves (up to 7 metres this morning) have meant that there hasn’t been much science on board today, there was no predawn CTD and no noon CTD either, the sea was just too rough. This is unfortunate, however, there have been upsides, mainly that this type of weather is exciting. Or at least I think so. It was exhilarating to stand on deck and watch the ocean and feel the movement of the ship. Plus, the weather has brought with it a lot of bird life, there were three albatross today (photos tomorrow when I get them off the camera that took them). It was a joy to watch them fly over the waves.
So, despite there being no CTDs, today was a good day for recharging the batteries and getting excited about being at sea and doing science out here. Several people, me included, remarked at just how lucky we are that we are able to do this.
Posted by: Liam on Tuesday, 13th Nov, 2012
What do you get if you put 27 scientists on a ship for six weeks? If you answered anything other than ‘loads of fun’ then you are wrong.
First and foremost, we have the scientific fun. For example, as I was writing this blog another scientist (Sara) came in and explained an exciting result she just got. But what about the other, non-scientific, fun?
Well, tonight was movie night and we watched one of the most anti scientific films around, Prometheus. The movie itself is rubbish (except for Michael Fassbender) but the fun comes from the reactions of the scientists watching the anti-science unfold. There is definite jealousy of the outrageous instruments they have in these types of films (handheld carbon dating probe, anyone?), which would be cool to have in real life.
It was better than ‘The Invention of Lying’ which we watched the other week. There was nothing to redeem that film. Next movie night could be an Indiana Jones fest, but this is unconfirmed.
The weather has become noticeably cooler in the past few days, I personally welcome this (I am not built for hot climates) but most people on board would prefer the hot, sunny conditions of the last couple of weeks.
Posted by: Liam on Thursday, 8th Nov, 2012
The latitude: 0. The longitude: 25 00. This meant only one thing for some on board the James Cook, a transformation from lowly Pollywog scum into a hardy Shellback, an honoured subject of Neptune, with freedom granted to travel on the seas to wherever our hearts desire.
This metamorphosis was not as majestic as that may make it sound, however. The ceremony took the form of a court, with King Neptune himself (not as tall as you would expect) deciding the fate of the pollywogs, who had been gathered to face several charges raised against them. For example, one of the charges I faced was ‘not quite being a geordie’. (I am a Northumbrian, not a Geordie, and I was pleased and surprised to see King Neptune acknowledge the trivial tribalism of landlubbers). I pleaded guilty and was escorted by the police to face my punishment:
I will let the photo speak for itself, except to say that it was meatier than I had expected. Once we had all faced our charges, found ‘guilty’ (‘not guilty’ is not an option in the court of King Neptune, apparently) our metamorphosis was complete and we were Shellbacks. As proof, we were given an excellent certificate:
We can now take this on other voyages we may go on in the future and we will never have to undergo judgement by King Neptune again. Crossing the Line Part Two will show how we pollywogs fought with great honour against our accusers and some special mentions.
Posted by: Liam on Wednesday, 7th Nov, 2012
Every couple of days I have to calibrate my aerosol collectors, to make sure they are filtering the correct volume of air (usually 1 cubic metre per second). Sometimes, my other duties fill the day and I don’t get to go up to calibrate the collectors until later on. However, it isn’t all bad:
Sometimes you get the best view in the house.
Posted by: Liam on Thursday, 25th Oct, 2012
There are several marine biologists on AMT22, I am lucky enough to share a lab with two of them (Katja Peijnenburg and Erica Goetze) so in the morning I get to see all the amazing creatures they have caught in their nets overnight. It is best for them to work overnight as the organisms they want to find migrate to the surface from deeper waters during the night (vertical migration) and while at surface they are easier to sample. This does mean that marine biologists work terrible hours, unfortunately.
As I mentioned before, it is great to be in their lab as I get to see some of their haul and it seems such a shame to have this blog and not share some of these, don’t you think? Of course you do. So, with this in mind, each week Katja and Erica will pick three of the best ‘beasts’ and there will be a vote on which one is the favourite. Excitingly, thanks to the magic of the internet, you can vote! The winning organism will then be identified and a have a post all to itself.
You will be amazed at some of the creatures in they catch. They are truly amazing, and if they were any bigger they would be terrifying.
Hopefully, I/we will think of a better name for this competition. Beast of the Week can’t last.
Posted by: Liam on Monday, 22nd Oct, 2012
A really quick entry for today- The labs are full, water is going everywhere, and the science is in full flow. I’m just trying to get my head around it all so I will leave you with Raf’s highlight of the day (sometime around 5am!):
Seeing squid, floating in a colourful abyss of the ocean beneath the ships lights whilst singing:
Lovely squid, lovely squid, la la la,
lovely squid, lovely squid, I’ll give you a quid,
Lovely squid, lovely squid, on ebay I will bid,
Lovely squid, lovely squid, is that a fart that you just did?
Posted by: Ella Darlington on Friday, 15th Oct, 2010