Friday, May 30, 2014

Aloha Friday

This photo was taken by Andrew Kalmbach (RTC-SFSU) from San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge.
Andrew snapped this photo as we sailed under the bridge on May 13th. 

Heather Richard (RTC-SFSU)
and Dr. Mark Wells (Univ. of 

Maine) are looking at her plastic
pollution experiment.
It is now 21:46, and I have finally sat down to write my entry for today.  Today is Aloha Friday, a celebrated by wearing Hawaiian shirts.  I started the day wearing my old long sleeve University of Hawaii shirt. Chris Ikeda offered up a shirt for me to join in on the aloha.  I am still wearing a green Hawaiian shirt with pride. 

Today marked a change in our normal schedule. The day started off with our routine CTD profile cast at 08:00, followed by a transect line starting near the mouth of the Columbia River.  

Trey Joyner and Charles Wingert
(RTC-SFSU) talk about ocean
As the day progressed, we moved away from shore into deeper water. By the end of the day (around 20:00), we conducted six CTD casts at five different stations.  For each cast, Trey and I collected and filtered water samples.  In between casts, I slipped into the dark room to read chlorophylls from the previous day; Trey remained on deck for most of the day.  In addition to the day's CTD casts, Dr. Mark Wells (Univ. of Maine) collected water (from a depth of seven meters) for trace metal analysis.  Dr. Charles Trick (Western Univ.) also assisted Dr. Wells in collecting samples from the Terminator's continuous growth experiment.

L to R: Andrew Shellenbach (Western 
Univ.), Maribel Albarran (RTC-SFSU), 
Brian Bill (NOAA-NWFSC) and 
Kathryn Ferguson (NOAA-NWFSC/FSU) 
discuss what they found in the seawater 
near the Columbia River.
After today, we will conduct four more transect lines before reaching Seattle on June 6th.  The purpose for conducting the transect lines is to monitor areas for hypoxia, which occurs when low oxygen concentrations are present in seawater.  Hypoxia leads to massive crab and fish kills.  This condition occurs when organic matter , such as phytoplankton, sinks in the water column and is decomposed by bacteria. When decomposition occurs, oxygen is consumed, leaving very little of it left dissolved in the water.  While hypoxia can be a natural, seasonal event--it seems to be happening more often, and closer to shore.  Our transect lines are designed to gather data to help better understand why this is happening.  Could there be a link to ocean acidification?  

The deck crew is set
to deploy the CTD.
Another reason for conducting transects is to collect carbon samples for NOAA.  They are interested in amount of carbon available in seawater.  Ocean acidification presents a specific problem to marine organisms that rely on carbon, especially in carbonate ions.   "Calcifiers" are organisms that make shells or skeletons from calcium carbonate. With increased ocean acidification, there will be a reduction in the availability of carbonate ions, creating calcification problems. The effects of ocean acidification on calcifiers has not been studied in detail, which is why we are out here conducting this research. Calcifiers include clams, crabs, snails, larval organisms, and coccolithophores -- organisms that leave fossilized scales of chalk, such as those found on the "White Cliffs of Dover." A reduction in available carbonate ions will result in weakened shell (and structural) development.  How do you think this might affect marine food webs.

Your teachers at sea.
Our last CTD cast was a deep one: 1,250 meters.  Prior to leaving Houston, my wife and I, had our students sign their names on sixteen ounce styrofoam cups. Julian had his son, Kai, do the same thing on a Styrofoam head.  We packed our styrofoam objects into small nets and secured them to the Rosette's metal frame.  The Rosette was dropped just above the seafloor and was brought back up to the surface after Rachel Vander Geissen (UW-APL) fired the bottles.   We gathered around the Rosette after it was secured on the deck to check out the effects of pressure on our styrofoam.  Pressure increases by one atmosphere (14.7 pounds per square inch) for every 10 meters (33 feet) of water.  Including an atmospheric pressure of about one atmosphere, the styrofoam was subjected to almost 39 atmospheres of pressure. That's almost 573 pounds per square inch!  What do you think would happen if we sent you down on the Rosette?  It's amazing to think that there are creatures that live at those depths!

Hannah Glover (NOAA-PMEL)
is taking samples from a
Niskin bottle.
It is now about 23:00. Dr. Wells, Julian Herndon, Andrew Shellenbach, and Charles Wingert have been working with Rob Ball of the R/V Melville to try to fix a broken chiller.  A chiller is used to regulate water temperature in our radioactive experiments.  At the moment, it does not look like it can be fixed.  It remains to be seen what this means for the rest of the cruise.

Brian Bill (NOAA-NWFSC) and
Dr. William Cochlan (RTC-SFSU)
are inspecting the algal growth in
the domoic acid experiment.
Tomorrow's plan will include a CTD cast at 08:00, followed by an acidification experiment sampling. With all of the CTD casts perfomed today, I will have a busy day reading chlorophylls.  With six days remaining, we are all working as a team to make sure that all work is completed before we enter Seattle's Ballard Locks, next Friday at 05:00.
Here are some pictures from our deep cast...

Styrofoam cups from Cypress Lakes
High School students (Katy, TX)
before they were sent down to a
depth of 1,250 meters.
The same Styrofoam cups after they were
sent down to a depth of 1,250 meters.

Julian Herndon (RTC-SFSU) and I after our styrofoam souvenirs were retrieved from the 
deep cast.  Julian and  I attended USC as undergraduate students.  

Be sure to check back again tomorrow as we start sampling from our last acidification experiment.  Also check out Trey Joyner's blog: Science Shorts II.   Keep visiting our blogs -- all on board the R/V Melville  appreciate it!

Aloha Friday with my mentor and former USC professor, Dr. William Cochlan.

No comments:

Post a Comment