Archive for October, 2011
Whilst for a few of the scientists on board this is our first cruise, or certainly our first cruise this year, for one lucky fellow this is just another day at the office! Therefore to explain a little about what he does, and explain why he’s always at sea, I introduce to you Ross Holland from the National Oceanography Centre in Southampton.
Posted by: Rob Ellis on Monday, 31st Oct, 2011
In life there are a number of things that are there to make our lives easier or more pleasurable. Two of these, well at least in my opinion, are technology and British farming. Each in their own right add a little something to day to day life. However this morning these two usual allies conspired against me in spectacular fashion, throwing routine out the window and making Sunday the 30th of October the most stressful morning in the past 31!
Posted by: Rob Ellis on Sunday, 30th Oct, 2011
Now there are a few things in life that really don’t mix very well, orange juice & milk, socks & sandals and early mornings & me. However one I would like to add to this list is boats and fire. It’s not really something I thought about all too much before, I mean a fire on a boat? Surely not, seeing as boats tend to be surrounded by so much water! But in truth fire is probably the one of the greatest dangers to the safety of anyone onboard a boat. You can’t just make a 999 call, or step outside; the very thing that is keeping you afloat when on fire is the very same thing putting you in danger.
Posted by: Rob Ellis on Saturday, 29th Oct, 2011
The routine on Discovery has been mixed up a little over the past 2 days. Firstly, as we are heading south the sunrise is getting earlier. Therefore to make sure we can sample pre-dawn (before the sun is up), this has meant the morning sampling has moved forward as well, to 4am instead of 4.30am! Thankfully however, this isn’t the end of the good news as it would be a shame to get it all at once. But because we start to head east towards Chile soon, 4am will likely become 3am as the sunrise gets earlier still, it’s these small rewards that make it all worthwhile!
Posted by: Rob Ellis on Friday, 28th Oct, 2011
Being on a research ship in the middle of the Atlantic, it would be fair to assume that all the scientists on board are here to study the ocean. With so much sea water around what else could you possibly want to look at? Well are next guest blogger breaks the mould, either that or he got on the wrong ship in Avonmouth! Chan Yodle is a PhD student based at the University of East Anglia (UEA) and he is going to explain a little about why he feels like the “black sheep” of AMT21.
Posted by: Rob Ellis on Thursday, 27th Oct, 2011
So we’re now sat in the southern hemisphere, south of the equator and east of Brazil. The weather is very hot (because we’re still in the tropics), but it’s also very windy and there is a really noticeable swell that has materialised since crossing the line. Just getting around the ship feels like cross country training! Yet, nothing has really changed on board apart from the psychological advantage of being on the return leg, oh and we have completely lost the internet!
Posted by: Rob Ellis on Wednesday, 26th Oct, 2011
Ok, so we are on a ship in the middle of nowhere, literally! If we wanted to get to anywhere other than our next sampling point, such as a port for example, it would most likely take a good 3 days steaming to even get close. This is the reason that to take part on the cruise it was vital that you passed a medical. But what if you still get ill at sea, or injure yourself, who would you go to? It’s safe to say you could do worse than speaking to the ships navigation officer, at least he would know where we are, and just how far away help might be!
Posted by: Rob Ellis on Tuesday, 25th Oct, 2011
One of the key parts of AMT is that scientists from many institutions, from all over the world, have contributed to this important programme to help us understand a little more about the health of the Atlantic Ocean. With so many different researchers taking part it ensures that the science carried out on board Discovery is as diverse as possible. This gives us the best possible insight into the health of this vast ocean, and it ensures AMT is a vital resource for many different scientific fields. Our next guest blogger is Joe Snow, he is a PhD student at the National Oceanographic Centre (Southampton) and he is going to explain a little about what he does whilst on board.
Posted by: Rob Ellis on Monday, 24th Oct, 2011
As we are travelling through the tropics, understandably it’s hot, very hot. Thankfully most of the ship is air-conditioned, and whilst this doesn’t completely negate the heat, it does mean I don’t permanently feel like I’ve accidentally walked into a sauna fully clothed and then decided to undertake a Rosemary Connelly exercise DVD on repeat!
One of the areas on the ship that isn’t air-conditioned is the water bottle room, this just so happens to also be my lab! And whilst sampling each day I have to spend around 3 hours in here, transferring sea water between different containers for filtering. This really does feel like I’ve just done the advanced class on that DVD, and when I’m finished its safe to say I look a little dishevelled, having lost half my body weight in sweat. At this point each day, at around 3.30pm, there is only one thing on my mind that I really want to do and that is to have a nice cold shower. I never thought I would say that as I usually hate cold showers!
Unfortunately, although this is one of the few luxuries that I would usually take for granted at home, on board Discovery it is an impossibility. We get fresh water on board from one of two sources. The first is we have large freshwater tanks on the ship that were filled up in Avonmouth. This supply, whilst not enough to supply everyone on board for the entire journey, provides a back up should our primary source fail. These water tanks are stored in the base of the ship near the hull and the engine room. Because chilling this water would then cost a lot of money in fuel, the coolest it can ever be is the temperature of the surrounding seawater. At around 29 degrees at the moment, this just doesn’t cut it when it comes to cooling you down.
Our second source of fresh water on board, and the ships primary source, is through a water maker. Using evaporation, this converts seawater to freshwater by evaporating off the water and collecting it, leaving the salt behind. The one problem with this, although it hasn’t been stored in the water tanks being warmed up by the sea for three weeks, is that this process requires heat. Therefore the water it produces is again quite warm already! You just can’t win.
The only real option to properly cool down after a hard day’s work is therefore to have your warm shower (crucial if you don’t want to be left on your own at dinner with everyone avoiding you whilst holding their noses). Then when you’re dry and dressed, you head to the labs walk in fridge to chill for a few minutes. Which when followed by a nice cool Sunkist and a 15 minute relax on deck in the evening sun just before dinner makes this hardship seem that little bit less of an issue. However, I’ll never grumble about a cold shower again!
Posted by: Rob Ellis on Sunday, 23rd Oct, 2011
As a child I was rather fond of hide and seek, this seemed one of the only situations as a small child where being smaller than average, but decidedly quicker, played right into my hands.
Posted by: Rob Ellis on Saturday, 22nd Oct, 2011