Amy and Anna before the R/V Melville, New Zealand
Dec 31, 2001 Hello, dear friends and family, Some of you already know I will be at sea in the Southern Ocean from Jan 14-Feb 26. The R/V Melville will be my home for 45 days.
Jan 10, 2002 Arrived safely at 10AM. Staying at the Chateau in the Park next to world's 6th largest park. Trying trip. Caught a cold & a earache. I couldn't clear my ear on descent and it hurt! LA was yucky! Great beautiful hotel. Great bathtubs, view. Free shuttle service all around town. New Zealanders are so friendly! Took a bath, rested a couple of hours and then took a walk through the botanical gardens, visited SEATRANS and then here. I think I could live forever in the botanical gardens. The trees are especially lovely. Very tall and unusual. Gorm would love it. Onward to find steak and kidney pie! Ship comes in on Sunday (today's friday).
Jan 12, 2002 When you have a cold and jet lag, what do you take? SUDAFED! Everyone, listen up, your cup will not be shrunk in the Southern Ocean. It may not ever be shrunk!!! My cup of regret doeth runneth over! I was too ambitious and not well prepared! Today, I went to the airport and met Mike & Amy from our team of researchers. I told them about my fantastic hotel and they went for it. I was there to see the Antarctic Centre which is right next door. That was interesting, basically a museum of Antarctic research. There is a room kept at -5 C with snow and ice. They give you boots and a coat and you go in and see what a nice spring day feels like in Antarctica. The kiwis are so open, friendly and helpful, that I am starting to feel like testing them to see how far they'll go. Today I mentioned to the shuttle driver that I wanted to see Lord of the Rings because it is filmed here. Well, he looked up where & when it was playing for me. Then he offered not only to take me but to go and buy my tickets for me in advance in case they sell out! I did buy tickets for the 9PM show at the Regent. Assigned seating in a big old-fashioned theater! In a real science message from Revelle I learn that they are heading down 172W to 56S right now. The tentative location or the experiment is 52.5S, 172W. They'll pick the spot to seed the ocean with iron. Our ship will follow next week and sample the results. Tomorrow the ship comes in. Monday the work begins!
Jan 14, 2002 We are so very busy. Today, I helped unbolt about 50 double barrels to remove inner barrels that will contain our C14 waste. I loaded them into a container which was then hoisted onto the foredeck. Vans are being loaded and turned and welded all over the ship. I'll be working most of the time in the rad van. Came to town to send a message to the Revelle and I need to get back to work now.
Jan 16, 2002 Every once in a while semblance of order starts to peak around the corner. Somehow, I keep managing to chase it away. This is what we're up to: Photosynthesis (using carbon dioxide to make organic carbon or biomass) by phytoplankton (plants) can result in the drawdown of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. If conditions are right, the new biomass can be transfered to the deep ocean by sinking (after death) or excretion. The result is a transfer of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to the deep ocean where it can remain sequestered for thousands of years! (Remember that carbon dioxide helps retain heat in the atmosphere that might otherwise be lost to space.) We're trying to understand the role of iron and phytoplankton in climate change. We expect that iron fertilization will increase the growth rate of phytoplankton but that community structure is a critical factor in the iron/phytoplankton/climate link. Diatoms are large phytoplankton that play a major role in the transport of organic carbon from the surface to deep ocean. Physical conditions in the Southern Ocean favor diatom response south of the Antarctic Polar Front Zone(APFZ -near 61°S) but not north of the front. We will fertilize and sample both north and south of the APFZ. We think that in the Southern Oceans in the summer, phytoplankton growth is limited by the amount of iron in the euphotic zone (the upper ocean with enough light for photosynthesis). The phytoplankton should respond favorably to the addition of iron by blooming (rapid growth in numbers and biomass). Our primary Melville team consists of Mike, a five-cruise veteran, Amy, a technician at Scripps and me, a tech at Duke. Our extended Melville team includes Liza ("Leeza"), Eva and Jack from VIMS and Zack from MIT. Mike's focus will be on PvsE (photosynthesis vs irradiance), mine will be on primary productivity (growth rate of phytoplankton) and Amy's on spectral absorption and chlorophyll. So our job is to characterize the response of different types of phytoplankton to iron fertilization. Primary productivity measurements involve collecting water from different depths, innoculating the water with an radioisotope tracer (Carbon 14 - C14), incubating the samples in incubators for 24 hours, filtering the samples and measuring the radioisotope taken up by the phytoplankton. Liza is measuring dissolved organic carbon (DOC). She and I are able to share the same filter rig - we filter seawater through 25 mm diameter filters. Mike's experiments will be similar to mine but he incubates with artifical light in smaller incubators located in the rad van. We also share the rad van with a person from the silicate team. Amy will be working in the main lab. We have alot of preparation to do in the next two days.
Jan 20, 2002 Underway at 12:30 PM Saturday after spending an amazing night unloading our broken 300 lb. liquid scintillation counter and loading a new used one that found it's way to us with about 10 hours notice from Auckland. It arrived in tact with a technician at 12:30 AM. Spent the entire 12 hours installing, changing voltage in the van etc. While waiting for electrician to come home from the bar, Mike put the tech in his bed. Electrician arrived at 5AM but needed sobering up time before handling heavy voltage. Mike and I didn't sleep until after 4PM on Sat & then I slept ~14 hours. Didn't eat much today. Didn't feel great, getting used to the motion. Around 7PM I put on Caryn's seabands and felt good enough to drink 3 cups of coffee at our main lab-based 14CafFe2+ine Infusion Station. All wired up so I stayed up to plumb the rad van waste system. 2:30AM now. Got some data from the Revelle. Things are happening. The "in" patch (fertilized area) is doubling in chlorophyll after 3 days. Apparently, this is a surprisingly quick response. We anticipate arriving at the patch at midnight Monday. First Station planned for Tuesday AM. Still much to do before we sample. Thinking of you all!
Jan 22, 2002 54S, 173W Underway Day 4 Whoooohoooo! The sun is shining on a sea swept by gale force winds as albatross escort us to the Northern Patch. They dip a wing an inch above the water and take wide turns on the wingtip. The temperature is around 45 degrees but it's not too cold even in the wind. Seas are about 10 feet and windspeeds are 40 with gusts of 55. It's absolutely spectacular outside. The Melville takes the seas very well. Today was supposed to be a practice day but only the CTD went over. Our practice with the trace metal rosette (water sample collector like a CTD) was canceled because of the seas. We are about 9 hours away from the Northern Patch. The plan is to do an in and an out station then head south to the Southern Patch. The Revelle found the high silicate waters they were looking for south of the Antarctic Polar Front at 66S but they are surrounded by hundreds of icebergs at 66S. They started seeing icebergs 3 miles long at 59S. They are headed back north to safer waters but with lower but adequate silicate. The pace of our work has slowed some. We've got everything set up, labeling started, and we are ready to begin sampling. Our cafe is run by a couple of reckless rogues who changed it's name to the Crack Monkey Cafe and entered it into competition with the Thorium Cafe. The Thorium Cafe has a big advantage in that they have a quiet little roomy van with ambience, books and music. Our cafe is in the crowded hallway of a busy main lab but it is quickly becoming the happening spot on the ship. We padded our box benches with foam and duct tape and introduced chocolate and cinnamon sprinkles on the cappacinos. Our box seats offer an exciting ride when the boat rolls.
Jan 27, 2001 59S, 170W Hello from it's starting to get cold! We are headed south toward the Revelle and the Southern Patch at 66S. We did only two stations back to back at the northern patch. Tried to find the in station most of yesterday but didn't have any luck. Had a very nice long rest last night and woke up with a big appetite around noon. We had chicken and dumplings for lunch and steak and fried shrimp for dinner. I got tricked into trying a GIANT JELLY TIP ice cream bar for desert. Anyway you look at it, jelly tips belong in the bottom of the sea! The food has been ok. Not as great as on the Cape Hatteras, of course, but they have a lot more to cook for here. We had a fire drill and safety meeting then our team spent the day revising our record keeping and catching up. We starting counting our samples today and are thrilled that our liquid scintillation counter is working. This is our critical instrument that tells us the rate at which phytoplankton are photosynthesizing. This is the instrument that arrived at midnight the night before we sailed. Albatross are still with us. I wonder where they sleep at night and if they are the same ones everyday. They seem to keep up with us without a problem. Some folks saw small whales or porpoises from the bridge today. The Revelle has sighted a few. I'm looking forward to seeing icebergs. The loading days and the station days were long and intense. Today's been very relaxing and tomorrow should be as well. Once we start sampling the southern patch I hope we'll get into some sort of schedule that will allow us to have regular sleep. Tomorrow we plan to have a make up birthday party for the chief scientist. Everyone forgot his birthday which was about 4 days ago! The transit time will be a better time to celebrate rather than the busy station day his birthday was on. I'll be missing the Ladies Auxilary meeting in a couple of days. It's very sad but I'll be thinking of you. I'll take out the picture of all of you at the Island Grille and be wistful. Hope your meeting is a success with lots of voting! Love, Anna
January 31, 2002 We've been working hard almost every day. The casts never seem to start on time and we never seemed to be completely caught up at the end of the day. We had a nice rest this morning thanks to 50 knot winds. Stations were delayed until after lunch. Of course, the late start means a late night. Our main goal of the day has been to organize the rad van. It's incredibly hard because there really is no place to put the things you move to free up space. We crossed the Antarctic Circle last night. It's been very chilly at times but tonight I was comfortable walking on the deck with just a vest. We haven't seen as many icebergs as we did on the way down but there is usually one on the horizon if you look hard enough. I found out that albatross always follow ships. The bird book suggests they are interested in offal. I heard they feed on squid at night. I've heard rumors that folks have seen whales but I haven't had a first person report yet. Tonight, for her birthday, Eva bought the whole ship a beer. Each person is allowed to by one beer a day but they must never have in their possesion more than one beer. Some of the folks are tasting the gradient. Every night they put their beers in a sea-water cooled incubator. After a couple of hours, they are able to detect the difference in the sea surface temperature from the previous day's waters. Lately it's been about -1.5 C. Seawater freezes at -1.9C. I wonder what temperature beer freezes at?
February 2, 2002 Thanks everyone for your cards and letters. Sorry to take so long to respond but mail takes a lot longer here in the Southern Ocean. It was a real treat hearing from you. I ran around the ship looking for someone to show your questions to but realized that no one would appreciate them the way I do. Tomorrow, we are planning to do a rapid series of stations in a transect. The whole ship will be jamming. I'm off to bed now. Tomorrow I must take an incubation out at 6 and be ready for the transect at 7. Plus I have to make up for all the paperwork that your questions took me away from! Talked to Dick Barber and Veronica today on the VHF. That was fun. The Revelle is just next door. Veronica is on the countdown. I figured out our hump day is Feb 7.
February 12, 2002 Dear Website, Sorry not to have written in a while, such is the life of a very busy bee. We've been surveying, sampling, transect and such for a couple of weeks now. We have 3 more full days here in the southern patch then it's off to the northern patch. In fact, here is our schedule, straight from the Chief Scientist's email. Dear Sofexers With Polar Star arrival, Ice Berg Alley and the North Patch Calling a few refinements to the schedule have come about Tonight: Depart for OUTSIDE Station and search for anything that floats.....RECOVER THEM Tomorrow: OUTSIDE Station, Search and recover if possible, transit back to South Patch The Next Day: TRANSPATCH VERTICAL PROFILES/POLAR STAR ARRIVES, Bowtie survey possible The Day After: IN STATION, Bowtie surveys possible in evening and possibly on till morning After That: Depart in AM Today is a very unusually sunny day. In passing, I hear several folks anticipating the sunset. I don't think we've seen a real sun set in ages. We have had some very beautiful late nights though. I never seem to catch the period when the sun actually sets but I've been out sampling about 1 or 2 in the morning when the dark sky is a deep navy blue and the water is still and clear. On one such night, a jelly fish larger than my best friend's bottom floated into the light shining down from the J-frame. It was round and clear and orange and had multiple skinny short little arms poking about. I ran for the camera but the moment was fleeting. Walking around to the rad van on the port side, I saw daylight peaking through the clouds. Nights must be about 2-3 hours long right now. Conversation is starting to really deteriorate lately. Some of us ladies are getting coarser and really quite stupid. We are dragging up our never well developed bathroom humor and the lack of cleverness that we laugh at is quite telling. Today, we thought about who we might chose as our anti-Valentine. We need to have a laugh even if it is a bit forced. I did catch the sunset tonight but it set about 5 degrees above the horizon behind cloud cover. The scent of departure is in the air. We are running around trying to get out data out and posted before we leave the southern patch. I just finished a graph showing a 3-fold increase in productivity 10 days after iron fertilization. I leave you wondering who my best friend is....
February 13, 2002 The Southern Ocean is a beauty today. Today has by far been the most beautiful day of the trip. The whole ship turned out to watch the sun set. The seas are the calmest we have seen on the trip. The ocean was like old rippled window glass. We've been parked near a large tabular berg and the sun set large just beside it. The skies are clear with just a few streaks of clouds near the horizon. I must have taken 50 pictures today. I hope Kenneth puts one of today's pictures on the SOFeX website. I've seen some of the pictures that have been sent to the official website. Mike, Amy and Liza's pictures may be on the website. I saw pictures of the chefs, and a bunch of other scientists. There is a nice picture of Captain Curl as well. I heard someone refer to him as John-John today because he has that Kennedy smile. Today about 2 PM, Liza and I took an hour off and headed up to Cafe Thorium for a cup of mocha java. This is like a cappacino with melted chocolate eucharists. I told the chef I needed special chocolate for a special coffee and he gave me little flat wafer-style chocolate chips from Australia that he said were designed to melt. John, the Thorium guy, melted the chocolate in the espresso machine and poured it into the coffee. He then added steamed milk and topped the coffee with solid eucharists. We sat back, enjoyed the coffee and passed the remaining eucharists around. Bob stopped by for a espresso served in a lovely green cup. I reclined on the empty table for a few minutes and then it was back to work.
February 15, 2002 Yesterday was Valentine's Day and after I hard day's work finding out who had chocolate and asking who their secret Valentine was, I scored a Kit Kat bar, a drawing of a rose on a mango seed and a bag of assorted gummy bears and Hersey's kisses. When I went to bed, I found the maid had left a small Cadbury bar on my pillow! All in all a very good day. And this morning (Valentines Day for stateside folks) I got sweet wishes from my honey. Last night we did a survey and for the first time we sampled from the underway water. The water comes up through a hose in the main lab. We sampled four 70 ml bottles every half hour, innoculated them with 14C and put the in the incubators. They stay in the incubator for 24 hours before being filtered, so tonight we will need to work in shifts as well. Today is a very special day. This is our last in patch station and our last station of the Southern Patch. The US Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star also arrived this morning. She is the third ship involved in this project and will take over sampling for the next week. She's a long pretty bright red boat. I hear she has around 130 crew. I was putting bottles in the incubator at 6 AM when I first saw her and was so thrilled I started yelling, "Hey it's the Polar Star!" to no one but the Southern Ocean who, of course, already knew... Tomorrow morning at 8AM we shift gears and transit to the Northern Patch. It'll take between 2 and 3 days. We will sample for a couple of days then transit to Lyttelton. It's odd to think that we have ten days left but will only sample for two of those. We'll spend most of the time counting the samples using the liquid scintillation counter, the famous midnight instrument that counts disintegrations per minute of 14C and lets us know how much carbon the phytoplankton took up by photosynthesis over 24 hours. We will look at our results and get our paperwork in order and after the northern patch, we'll start packing up. In port, we'll have to spend a few days getting our supplies and equipment in our container and helping the radiation safety guru pack our radioactive waste. I am planning on watching my first movie tomorrow.
February 23, 2002 Two days ago we started our trek back to our last station, the Wunderbar. Our eta is Tuesday, Feb 26 at 8:00AM but I don't think the Wunderbar will be open so early. The Wunderbar is just that. It is a quaint back alley up the stairs and to your left open air velvet-cushioned pub and the tiniest little private disco dance room you every saw. The main color is red and the main theme is doll's heads. Put together by an eccentric German with amazing taste, it is a unique and totally charming establishment. Some folks have a pub crawl in mind while others only have thirst for the Wunderbar. I'm definately of the latter set. Before we left, Amy and I climbed the hillside of Lyttelton, which is actually the caldera of an old volcano, the crater of which includes the bay. The view is tremendous and as an added reward, there is a little cafe, musuem and gondola station at the top. We are both thinking we'd like to do that again if time permits. We have been cleaning, packing and organizing for two days and expect to be doing the same in port for 2-4 more days. You want more exciting news? Well the weather is much warmer now and the blue in the sky and in the ocean is breathtakenly new and beautiful. I can't image how spectacular the green of the land will seem. The albatross are back. They didn't hang around much in the South when we were doing station work. They seem to prefer us more in the north or during a transit. One day it was very calm, we were at station and the birds just sat and floated and cleaned their wings. They got pretty close to the boat. I wish I had a movie camera to capture the way they glide down to ride the wave and pressure gradient to gain altitude. Rarely do they flap their wings. We started out with calm weather but this afternoon the seas started building. We may end up with 45 knot winds before long. Talk to you after our next station. Cheers!
March 13, 2002. Home. As we leave our gentle reader, our heroine has returned to her hearth, hubby and home. She leaves you with a few images of her sojourn and a few notes of closure. On February 26, 2002, the Wunderbar welcomed 37 weary scientists back to Lyttelton, New Zealand. This was our last station after 37 days at sea and we made the most of it. February 26 - February 28 were spent packing and loading. Our team was the last group of scientists to leave the ship. February 28. All concerned deem the Southern Ocean Iron Experiment Expedition a Success. March 1 - March 4 were halcyon days spent roaming New Zealand's lovely fjords with my dear dad, who managed to time his business trip to coincide with my reentry. I can't imagine a more beautiful, clean, spacious country or more friendly countrymen. March 7 Our weary traveler hobbles gratefully home to the welcoming arms of her patient husband. So ends this traveler's tale. Thanks for staying tune.