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Dispatch 14: Working on the Weekend

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Joey Wenig

October 4, 2014

Another TUMSAT mooring went down this morning here at station TU-2, westernmost of the cruise. This was one of the colder deployments so far. Good preparation for the on-ice stations coming up on the horizon. Once it was over, ships’ engines fired up for the 200-nautical mile trip back north and east across the Chukchi Plateau to the northern tip of the Northwinds Ridge and station CB-10, with an ETA of sometime on the afternoon of the following day (our speed varies depending on the thickness of the ice we are passing through, so it’s difficult to precisely predict when we will arrive somewhere).  Travel time is nice for everyone; it lets people catch up on the backlog of samples needing processing, prepare instruments for deployment, or just kick back and play a game of crib. For me, it meant a chance to spend some time talking to Pat Kelly about the research that’s brought him and Brice Loose all the way to the Arctic from the University of Rhode Island.

Brice and Pat are broadly studying gas exchange between the atmosphere and ocean; currently a hot topic in the earth sciences because of the push to understand how increasing levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will translate into acidification of Earth’s oceans. In the context of the diminishing Arctic icepack, the subject takes on another dimension: Brice and Pat are trying to figure out how atmosphere-ocean gas exchange is affected by the presence of sea ice, and, by extension, what the effect on oceanic uptake of carbon dioxide will be of an icepack that is both thinning and shrinking. Towards this end, Brice and Pat have been lowering a weighted pump over the side of the ship at select stations to draw water from the depths. They are looking for ‘tracers’—isotopes that occur in small quantities in seawater and require large volumes of sample water to find. Vials from the Niskin bottles on the rosette just wouldn’t cut it for these guys. Stay tuned for more on their work in coming dispatches. 

Chief Scientist Bill Williams gave a talk this evening outlining the science program onboard. Seeing the breadth and scope of onboard research—from analyses of microbial DNA in seawater to radiosonde balloons measuring atmospheric pressure 20 km above the sea surface—was impressive.

Last updated: October 7, 2019

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