Monday, September 24, 2012

Ocean in a CO2 World, pre-Conference Report

I'm in Monterey, at a conference. Specifically, I'm at the 3rd annual Ocean in a High CO2 World.

I am reaching an important point in my thesis. My lab measures light at the surface and at depth; the amount of light absorption between the two sensors can give chlorophyll concentrations. It seems like the method works, but I don't know what to do with it; I am having trouble coming up with that next step. I hope this conference will help me develop a question to ask.

There's also a Blue Ocean Film Festival this week. It's attracting a crowd devoted to giving Ocean Science information to the public. I'm excited to crash some of the workshops, they sound super neat.

Anyways, I grew up between San Diego and Monterey, so I decided to drive here.

I made it home Friday, and had my parents and a warm meal waiting for me. It was a leisurely day on Saturday; some good news came in early, which created levity. After that, my dad and I washed my car and we all watched UCLA lose. Dolphins were going crazy when the sun went down.

Today, I drove the coast road and listened to a Bill Bryson book on tape. I got booklets to both conferences, and am creating my schedule now.

Something Interesting:
--My hotel internet doesn't work. It seems I'll be using the conference internet all week.

--I get free admission to the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

--It felt great in the RAV4, cruising the 500+ miles with ease.

Driving on Friday; this was my drive to and from High School

Sunset on Saturday

The parents, with the incorrect Sweatshirt

Dolphins going CRAZY

Sweet rocks

Sweet Birds

Coast road on Sunday.

It was foggy, but this added it's own Beauty. I know what this
drive looks like, it was neat to know what's there, and not be able to see it;
an interesting kind of power

Trying some macro

Variable results

A kite

Waves looked fun

Friday, September 21, 2012

How to Deploy a Scientific Mooring

My lab does moorings. Engineers design and build huge floats that sit on the surface, or just beneath it. The wire that holds these floats in place will extend to the heavy anchor on the ocean floor, with a set of instruments often spanning the entire depth. We deploy these at sea, and recover them months/years later. The return is a time series of selected oceanographic quantities, for the entire water column, in one location.
Prepping the floats

A couple of weeks back, we deployed and recovered a series of moorings for our CORC Project (more at In 90 hours, we deployed a glider, two bottom and two subsurface moorings, recovered one subsurface and two bottom-mounted instrument, and had zero relaxing transit. I'll describe the deployments here, and touch on the recovery process in a future post.

Surface and subsurface moorings have different designs, but similar deployment processes. The trick is to get the entire 1-4 km of cable, instruments, chain, floats, and anchor off of moving/bouncing boat without getting anything tangled.

Sometimes you have to stand on stuff

To start, we angle the boat so it is roughly steaming towards the desired location. The large float is the first thing in the water. For surface moorings, this is a huge surface buoy, while subsurface floats are smaller. Instruments start on the main float itself, and continue along the cable in carefully determined intervals.

At the end of the wire, a couple lengths of chain, more flotation, and finally the anchor (normally railroad wheels) are lifted over the ship's edge. We continue to steam to the desired location, with sometimes trailing 4km of wire, floats, and instruments. Once the Chief Scientist gives the signal, the anchor is dropped and pulls all to rest vertically in the water column.

Anyways, watch a couple timelapses and check out a bunch of photos.

This is the beginning of the first deployment. It lasted over 6 hours, was in ~3800 meters of water, and had a subsurface float that rested at about 50 meters below the surface.

This is the end of the first deployment, the anchor is about to drop when the camera card fills.

This is the (almost) entirety of the Second Deployment. It lasted only about 2.5 hours, was in 800 meters of water, and again the SD Card filled up right before the anchor drop.

Somethings Interesting:
--Our instruments use magnets to induce tiny electric pulses in the wire that holds them in place. Similar to Morse Code, this process transmits all the data from each instrument to a single modem. The surface modem will transfer the data via satellite; the subsurface modem is acoustic, and will transmit the data to a passing glider, which will bring the data to the surface within reach of the satellite.

--Our deck leader is a salty German who has the uncanny ability to tell you exactly which box (of over 20) holds each wrench, bolt, and wire length. Rumor has it his toes are made of steel, and has no need for steel toed boots.  

--Our lab is playing a large role in the OOI Project, where 4 moorings systems will be put in 4 of the roughest waters, essentially on the corners North and South America. The deployments and recoveries will be nothing short of exciting.

Port Hueneme, in Oxnard

A ship, bigger than ours

Fully loaded, ready to depart

Some first years earned their sea legs

Full moon!!

Paul caught a fish; lab BBQ a week later

Pre-Deployment meeting; Chief Scientist in sneakers, Deck Leader in Shorts and Boots

First Instrument; it's covered in Copper to keep off Bio-Fouling

Location of GoPro Camera

Last set of floats with release.

Deck Leader

Deployment 2, surface floats.

Deck Leader, rolling a Cig

That's me

Our Bottom Releases are acoustic and let go only to a particular set of frequencies.

Anchor!! For Deployment 2

Unloading back at Port