Monday, September 20, 2010

Something New

I shaved my Moustache. It was time.

While this doesn't sound like that big of a deal, it is. I loved my moustache, and shaving it was hard. Maybe my post Moustache-iversarry could give an idea of the importance facial hair has for me.

I grew a beard once out of University, because I felt I needed a new face. With each metaphorical step over the past year, I sculpted the facial hair in some way; goatee when starting South America trip and 'stache when I got into Scripps Institution of Oceanography. And now, with studies beginning, I shaved it off.

I had orientation last week, both with UCSD and Scripps Oceanography. While at times a little boring, overall the orientations were comforting and exciting; comforting because both were expecting me, and exciting because a lot of time speakers were just lauding how great these two institutions are.

There was a party to follow the Scripps orientation, with plenty of beer and food provided. After that final baptism, I am now officially a part of Scripps and UCSD. I continue to be excited.

Goals during Grad School:
-Be finished in 5 years.
-Have one summer off to either carry out a summer fellowship abroad somewhere, hold an internship in the private sector, or get my dive master in the tropics.
-Teach at least one quarter, preferably more.
-Earn a prestigious fellowship (i.e. NSF, NDSEG)
-Go deeper than 2000 meters into the ocean
-Purchase a Westfalia Vanagon; '83 or older, Diesel so I can convert it to Bio-diesel, full camper.
-Cross the equator and international dateline by boat, set foot on each continent, check out the Giant's Causeway, Easter Island, Panama Canal, the Galapagos, San Juan Islands, New Zealand's Bay of Islands, Island of Ascencion, and both the Arctic and Antarctic Circles.
-Witness the Aurora Borealis, Aurora Australis, a water spout, a tornado, a blue whale from the water, a great white shark breach, a rogue wave,
-Kayak the Channel Islands, backpack 200+ miles, bike the full Coast road, finish a marathon, shoot the SIO pier, and sky-dive.
-Punch a baleen whale

I'll think of more, and might just throw them up here.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Gulf Spill Analysis

Link to Article Gulf Spill Analysis

The cynical pessimist in me has been resistant to many scientific articles released describing the "minimal impact" the oil spill had on the Gulf's Ecosystem; I am simply cautious to believe scientific data provided by anyone associated with BP.

While this article does call on such people's research, it includes analysis from among other sources, NOAA, Louisiana State University, UC Berkeley, and the Audobon's Louisiana Coastal Initiative.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported...that the oil was breaking down and dispersing rapidly, probably limiting future damage from the spill.
It also makes favorable comparisons to the Exxon Valdez catastrophe, especially in total amount of coastline impacted.

Ironically, it helps too that this is an area already impacted by pollution from the Mississippi.
Every summer, agricultural runoff from the Mississippi stimulates the bacteria population, producing a “dead zone” the size of New Jersey...But so far, there is little evidence of severe oxygen depletion outside the predicted zone.
That zone was predicted using pre-spill data, showing the influence we already have on this area. Regardless, though, we truly won't know the influence this spill has had until the long term.
“The government and BP continue to say it is very much improved out there, but there is still a lot of oil. Any fisherman could tell you that.” --Chemist Wilma Subra

Thursday, September 9, 2010

How To Deploy a Scientific Buoy

Last week was my first cruise with the new lab. As they specialize in moorings (longterm deployments of instruments for scientific use), we put two in the water and got one out.

First, we have to choose a specific spot to drop the anchor, in our case a set of 500 pound railroad wheels on a large metal post. Because of the weight of these objects, they will drop straight downward, pulling anything attached with them. After making a giant 'X' where we measure bottom topography, the spot is chosen by Uwe Send our Principle Investigator and Chief Scientist.

We allow the boat an hour long drift test which will go into calculations for where to start the deployment; we have over 3500 meters of cable, rope, instruments, and chain which we want to be pulled into that special location by the anchor when it drops. During this drift test, the float is being prepared, the instruments are being lined up, and we are all psyching ourselves up for the intense deployment about to take place.

Two Buoys to be Deployed on the New Horizon

The float is the first to go in, with multiple people holding multiple guidelines attached to multiple points on the buoy; while it floats, the buoy still weighs ~4200 pounds and swings where the waves take it if we aren't careful. Once in the water, the float is towed behind us as the boat chugs along at a comfortable 1-1.5 knots in order to avoid tangles. We slowly feed the wire out, placing sensors at preordained locations.

After 1000 meters of cable/rope/chain/instruments (or 4000 with the second buoy), we prepare to release the 5000 pound anchor. Dangerous pitching and rolling ensues, but with enough guidelines, the anchor makes it into the water, pulling the buoy as it falls.

Surveying the Goose-neck Clam Coverage

Somethings Interesting:
-Recovery is not as exciting and a lot smellier; as the instruments near the water are pulled onboard, theyare covered with goose-neck clams, algae, and crabs attempting to defend their home.

-The longest "day" for me this cruise was the recovery and deployment at the second station. Each process takes about 8 hours, plus prep and a few CTD casts were thrown in for good measure; in 39 hours, I managed to escape for 5 hours of sleep.

-Following the cruise, I trained it north to Long Beach for an Irish Catholic Family Reunion (on my mother's side). This was my first age 20+ reunion with this family; a good time was had.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Asteroid Flyby

Link to Article
Two Asteroids to Pass by Earth

"A 10-meter-sized near-Earth asteroid...would be expected to pass almost daily within a lunar distance, and one might strike Earth's atmosphere about every 10 years on average."

I had no idea that asteroids passed so frequently.