Saturday, August 28, 2010

Cruising with the New Lab

This summer, I have been working in Uwe Send's research group, known at Scripps for it's Moorings. In our case, a mooring is a buoy which has wide-ranging capabilities for oceanic measurements, and our lab is at the forefront of this powerful research technique. Before the end of 2010, we will be deploying moorings in three very different, very specific research projects, two of which will go out in the next week.

Besides lots of surfing, my summer involves a single instrument pair on only one of these moorings, giving an example of the extensiveness of the data collected. I have been commissioned to analyze irradiance differences collected by two radiometers; one at the surface and one at depth (30 m for the near-shore mooring, 80 m for the deep water mooring). Using this information, we hope to find the bio-mass of phytoplankton in the upper ocean.

As light propagates in water, it gets decayed by various phenomenon; particles, dissolved organic matter, phytoplankton, and water itself all contribute to the absorption or scattering of various wavelengths we analyze. One of the major contributors, after water itself, is the chlorophyll in phytoplankton, which converts the light into energy. Through the research of others, we hope to quantify each of these values, finding the chlorophyll content as a function of total decay.

Preparations are being made now for my lab to go on a 5 day, 2 mooring deployment next week off of the Channel Islands. The first will be deploying a large buoy in the GEOCE project, where our lab coupled with other researchers use high precision GPS and pressure sensors to monitor minor fluctuations in the sea floor. The second deployment is actually a switch of a buoy in the CCE project, where we monitor the California Current Ecosystem from both a physical and biological sense. The cruise leaves Monday morning at 7am after a fast-paced pair of deployments and a single recovery, we will get in either Friday night or early Saturday.

My current project is to find a way to get to the boat Monday morning. I have been able to make the most of San Diego despite being car-less. I ride my 60s-era Centurian everywhere, store my boards in the lab, and make ample use of public transport, including Amtrak for long distance travel. Last weekend, for example, I made it north to go camping just above Santa Barbara with some high school buddies. The surf was great, the sun was warm, and food was delicious.

For a much better description of the research done in this lab, visit the web site

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Sea Level Rise

"Rising sea levels caused by global warming are likely to affect around 150 million people living in low-lying coastal areas"

This is an interesting article which gives rather frightening examples of geo-engineering. The theme, however, remarks on the growing snowball we have already let loose; Climate Change is upon us and regardless of what we do, change will occur. The hope, however, is that the change will be manageable, and with growing technology, even reversible
"Substituting geo-engineering for greenhouse emission control would be to burden future generations with enormous risk "

It touches close to home for me, literally because my house is located at about 15 ft above sea level.

Ways to save energy:
--4 minute showers
--Turn off computer at night
--Sleep when it is dark

Thursday, August 19, 2010


Sunday was my one year anniversary of having a moustache. The last year has seen various forms of the moustache as I worked my way from Undergraduate life to beginning my Graduate Studies.

I started growing a beard while interning at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. It was an incredible summer on Cape Cod, where I was a part of the Institution's Summer Student Fellows Program. My weekdays were spent with my advisor, Ken Brink, as we analyzed model data; my paper from the experience was entitled "Topographic Rectification in a Forced, Dissipative, Stratified Coastal Ocean."

My weekends were spent enjoying a region of the country which was new to me. Boston, NYC, Connecticut, Montreal, the Cape itself, and Nantucket all offered exciting weekend trips, but my favorite weekend was during Hurricane Bill; without making landfall, Bill threw some incredible waves at the coast, and I was there to catch them on Martha's Vineyard. After renting a board and hitchhiking around the island, I landed some beautiful waves at Squibnocket Beach, suggested by one of my rides as the beach to get this swell.

The beard began to truly flourish as I returned to the West Coast, due in part to a 100 mile backpacking trip I completed with my father; it is a proven fact that the manlier one's activities, the quicker facial hair grows. With each incredible vista, dehydrated meal, and night on the dirt, my beard sprouted and thickened.

Come January, I was lucky enough to take part in a research cruise in the South Pacific. CLIVAR P6, Leg 2 took me from Papeete, Tahiti, to Valparaiso Chile. With 36 days at sea, this was the longest cruise in my minimal experience. For my reaction to this adventure, please read a post from my travel blog.

Following the cruise, I shaved the beard into a Goatee; I felt the need to clean myself up after becoming a bit scraggly with my time on the R/V Melville. A four month adventure began that took me throughout southern South America, through six countries, over 250 hours on buses, countless hostels, beautiful waterfalls, foreign friends, stomach viruses, too many clubs, and too few empanadas. The same travel blog above gives this experience.

My moustache reached it's current state during this South American Adventure, in the capitol city of Asuncion, Paraguay. Here, I received my acceptance from Scripps Institution of Oceanography, where I will spend my next 5-7 years.

Once returned, I began the transition to San Diego, moving into my apartment, setting myself up on campus, and beginning work with Uwe Send, one of the professors on my first year Advisory Committee. We are analyzing the optics of the first 80 meters, with special attention to chlorophyll concentration.

I have met everyone down here in San Diego with this moustache, and I honestly don't know when I will cut it off. To celebrate, on Sunday I had friends over and we ate a delicious 3-course meal featuring the manliest foods possible; a starter of green salad and hot-wings, followed by pork ribs, corn on the cob, and potatoes with gravy, and for dessert, baked apples over vanilla ice cream.