Monday, June 2, 2014

Rolling Seas

Our transect line for the day.

Hannah Glover 

is seen here sampling from 

a Niskin bottle.

The R/V Melville was on station before 06:00.  The ship was rocking in the water, the sun was out, and the wind started to pick up.  I turned on my laptop, opened up my programs, and put on some music.  Concerto in B Minor for Cello and Orchestra, Op. 104 played softly as scientists slowly started to emerge from their cabins. By 06:30, the CTD was over the side and on its way down into the cold, dark North Pacific Ocean. This was the first of six stations that we would be sampling today.

Kit Angeloff  
(NOAA-PMEL volunteer) 
is preparingamples on deck for 
analysis back on land.  

Today's transect line included stations near Capt Flattery, Washington.  At every stop, we dropped the CTD over the side, collected our abiotic data and processed our biotic samples.  The transit to each station was accompanied by constant rolling waves, causing the R/V Melville to toss about like a toy boat in a bathtub. Without any warning, small pieces of equipment shifted, desk drawers flew open, and some of us found ourselves leaning over our work stations.  For the first time during this cruise, I was feeling uneasy.  I've never really experienced seasickness...but I think that today, I was getting to that point.  Around 10:15, I took a Dramamine, went below deck to my room and slept for about three hours.  Trey came in to wake me up when it was time for me to take care of extracted chlorophyll readings.  I felt groggy, but I was much better than earlier in the mornings, and the samples weren't going to read themselves.  We've had several people on board with lingering seasickness, but they continue with their science activities.  We continued on with our transect stations until we completed them all just after supper around 18:00.  Just like yesterday, it was a steady day.  At this point, we are allowing the final experiments to run their course, and will start breaking them down on Thursday.  

Just before I went below deck, Dr. Cochlan (RTC-SFSU) and Rachel Vander Giessen (UW-APL) spent some time with Captain Wes Hill to discuss the plan for the rest of cruise.  After today, we will begin working inside the Strait of Juan de Fuca, where we will have to contend with active shipping traffic.  They also talked about where we should situate ourselves for the rest of the evening.  We are expecting some changes in the weather, which will bring some rough sea.  We will most likely rest somewhere inside the Strait, hugging the Washington coast.

Chief Scientist, Dr. William Cochlan (RTC-SFSU), Rachel
Vander Giessen (UW-APL) and Captain Wes Hill discuss plans
for the remaining days of the cruise

Dr. Mark Wells (Univ. of Maine) and 
Heather Richard (RTC-SFSU) are 
seen here having a conversation

 on the accuracy and precision 
of measurements.

One interesting conversation  I overheard today took place between Dr. Mark Wells (Univ. of Maine) and Heather Richard (RTC-SFSU).   They were discussing the statistical analysis of data (and correlations) when the topic shifted toward the accuracy and precision of measurements.  I enjoyed hearing them talk about this because this is a topic that I cover in my chemistry classes, over and over again.  Heather was intently watching Dr. Wells as he used his hands to point out data "here" and data "there." Measurements made with precision are those that are made with the same repeated results.  If you think of it this way, it would be like hitting a dartboard in the same spot, each time.   If my goal was to hit the 20, but I instead hit the 18 each time in the same spot, I would be inaccurate, but precise.  I would be "precisely inaccurate." To be accurate is to hit the intended target (or in the case of measurement, measure correctly). If my intent was to hit the 20, and did so each time, I would be accurate.  If I did so but in three different spots, I would be accurate and not precise.  When making measurements, we want (and need to be) both accurate and precise.  We need to make our  measurements the same way each time.  If not, we will likely end up with relatively large error estimates in our measurements, making it more difficult to discern trends and show statistically significant differences between experimental treatments.

This video screen shows the Rosette swinging back over the R/V
Melville's deck.  The rough sea caused the ship to rock back and
forth during the cast.  Oceanographic research is dangerous work.

Tomorrow we will sample from our batch experiments with the plan to be done with them by Wednesday. After the experiments are complete, we will start to load up our instruments for our Friday arrival in Seattle. We will spend the remaining days or the cruise in calmer waters, making it easier to pack up.  The overall feeling is that this has been a successful cruise with the principal investigators seem pleased with the way things have gone so far.    

As the evening is winding down, Dr. Wells is sharing his photos from his Antarctic expedition -- researching nitrification on a frozen lake.  I am in awe of what I am seeing.  Some of his pictures include a visit to what remains of Robert Falcon Scott's cabin. In one picture, a dead penguin lay intact, frozen on a table.  Robert Falcon Scott never returned to his cabin, dying while exploring Antarctica in 1912. I can't even fathom the sacrifices made by early explorers just to perform science...  I feel so fortunate to be able to take part in oceanographic research.  

Four more days... Keep checking back for more updates as we begin to wind down our research cruise.

Hitchhiking seagulls, interested in our research.

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