Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Research in the Atlantic

NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association) is the government agency who controls information regarding to the current or future weather conditions. For the last three weeks, we used the NOAA Ship Pisces for the recovery and deployment of several oceanographic moorings in the Tropical North Atlantic.

(Link for our CRUISE TRACK; select ship PC, last 30 days.)

“We” in this case includes researchers from SIO and WHOI, the two leading oceanographic facilities in the world. WHOI did the majority of the work, and therefore sent more researchers. SIO had only two goals related to our MOVE project, and sent only me. NOAA provided the ship personnel, including NOAA officers (drive the boat), engineers (keep the boat running), cooks, and deckworkers.

Some background: The Meridional Overturning Circulation (MOC) consists of the Gulf Stream (transporting warm water north along the Eastern Seaboard of the USA) and the deep water return flow (transporting cold water south along the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean). Some researchers say that Climate Change predicts the MOC to slow down with dire consequences; The Day After Tomorrow is based on this idea. It is important, therefore, to monitor the MOC, which is the purpose of my lab's MOVE project.
Sunny recovery

Basically, I was on a boat to save (or at least warn) Jake Gyllenhaal in The Day After Tomorrow.
--Primary goal: Recover a single bottom-mounted instrument.
--Secondary goal: Establish acoustic communication with 4 other instruments.

Recovery was successful; I sent an acoustic signal to the instrument, releasing it from the seafloor. It floated to the surface and we spent a long time looking for it (beachball in an ocean). Once we brought it on board, I downloaded it's four years of data and made triple-backups.

Acoustic download is an interesting process, related to the old dialup connections. Those connections would use sound over the phone line to transmit information; AOL's “ooooo-uuuu-eeeeee-aa-oooo-aa-ooooo-uuuu-eeee-oooo” described the phoneline's 56K modem (i.e. 56,000 bits/sec). With the acoustic communication, I used a similar method (and it even sounded similar), though only at 140 to 800 bits/sec. This snail pace was enough at one location, and I downloaded a near-complete set of data. At other locations, I was only able to “ping” the instrument, making sure it still existed.

Sunrise after a night of Acoustic Comms

WHOI was on the vessel to recover their old full-depth mooring, and deploy a new one. I have taken part in several such deployment/recovery efforts (see POST), so I helped them as well. The float for their mooring actually broke free, so we needed to chase it down near South America.

Day 1-6: Full ahead steam.
Day 7: Deploy WHOI Buoy
Day 8: Partial WHOI Recovery. Acoustic Communications.
Day 9-10: Catch up to WHOI Float
Day 11: Recover WHOI Float
Day 12-13: Steam to Acoustic Sites
Day 14: Partial acoustic download. Acoustic Communications.
Day 15: St. Croix!
Day 16-20: Fuller ahead steam (you always travel faster BACK to port)

Somethings interesting:
--There was one day where the ocean was bone-glassy. There were 3-4 days where the ocean was a punishing 10-12 foot, with 40 knot winds.

--St. Croix was really neat, though I was only able to taxi to a beach and hang out. To get back to the boat, I had to trade my straw hat for a ride; we had spent our money on food, etc.

--If I wait until the end of a cruise like this, it gets too long (e.g. description, background, anecdotes). I'll try to post during the cruise in the future.

There is not much to do in Norfolk, VA




Movie room

We remove the side of the boat in order to deploy the mooring

My job was to hold this line as we put the surface float in the water.

Float is in the water, a lot of wire and rope to follow.

Recovery of some floats and bottom release.

The Bottom floats were a huge, heavy puzzle.

Pilot Whales on the glassy day

Engineers cleaning their catch.

Surface float recovery.

St. Croix!!

Beach party time.


My instrument

Home again.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Bruin Football

This year, I was fortunate enough to witness UCLA at both its worst loss and greatest victory.

The worst loss was of course versus the Berkeley back in early October. I used the opportunity to visit my sisters, both San Francisco locals who attended Berkeley. My older sister picked me up to the airport on Thursday, and I met her boyfriend at their apartment. Bed and breakfast ensued, and I took off by bus for the Berkeley Campus, where I met my little sister at her Co-operative.

Berkeley's Campanile

With three Cal Bears in the family, I've been to the Cal Campus a dozen or so times, but it was still neat to see “her” campus. We threw disc on the green in front of the Main Library, climbed to the top of the Campanile, and had lunch at Bancroft and Telegraph. The Blue Angels were scheduled to fly over SF Bay in the early afternoon, so we made it to the top of her Co-op to watch; the little acrobatic specks danced over the SF Skyline as UCLA's football team arrived to check out Memorial Stadium (about 5 doors from her Co-op). A mixture of happy hour, dinner with the family, and someone's birthday celebration brought the day to a close

Memorial Stadium

The next day was Game Day in Memorial Stadium. That is an intimidating stadium, especially for a night game. This helped Cal with one of only two Pac12 wins, against one of only two Pac12 losses for UCLA.

The greatest victory (v. Arizona) was my return to the Rose Bowl after three years, and my girlfriend's first live football game. After a plenary grocery run and car ride, we arrived with some friends to tailgate in Pasadena.

It was neat to be back with so many college memories, and then create some new ones. We were more organized now, with the BBQ smelling great as the sunset turned pink. A couple of 8-claps later and we walked to the stadium; it was the same grassy stumble it was throughout college.

Rose Bowl Tailgate

It was a night game, Franklin beat the UCLA rushing record on his first touchdown, and the True Blue was overwhelming; UCLA won the game in the first quarter. It was awesome, still, to watch the win continue and continue.

Last weekend, I watched on television as UCLA beat USC. It felt great to watch the Los Angeles football dynasty switch back to UCLA.

Anyways, we will face Stanford today. With a victory, we would (probably) face Oregon in the Pac12 Championship, a loss and we would (probably) face Stanford again.

Pauley Pavillion

Somethings Interesting:
--The rest of the Cal weekend was spent at my Girlfriend's in Marin County; she was similarly up for the weekend. A wonderful hike, a couple of family meals, and a commitment to a trip to Central America finished out an incredible (albeit slightly soured) weekend.

--The rest of the Arizona weekend was spent at a Rugby 7s tourney at UCLA. We also got to walk through the new Pauley Pavilion, and generally experience the iconic UCLA Campus on a gorgeous day.

--My roommate went to Notre Dame; his team became the best in the nation last weekend with Oregon's loss to Stanford.

Older Sister's Apartment

Younger Sister's Co-op

The Blue Angeles are there somewhere

On Campus
Campanile Musician

Another Co-op

Bruins in Memorial Stadium, Blue Angels over SF


Beat the Clock

SF Sunset on Game Day

Hike the next Day

Deer with Dinner

Crossing SF Bay

Rose Bowl Tailgate

Some BBQ

Rose Bowl!!

I think that's a Tank


Bruin Rugby

$300K seats

Go Bruins!


Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving

Loaded up for the trip home

Traffic in LA

Still made it for the sunset

Turkey Run

Whale carcass

Peaks down the beach

Cayucos Elementary


Mouse Rock is breaking

It's also called Rodent's Rock

Cayucos Pier

Free Engine

Little Sister

Super neat



Practice Family Pic

Figuring out lighting


More walking

Cute dog


Thanksgiving Sunset