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Dispatch 16: One-year-old Water Samples like Diamonds

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Peter Lourie

October 6, 2016

Today we collected valuable data during WHOI’s second mooring recovery when Michiyo’s water sampling instrument came on deck.  Very exciting to see an instrument being brought onboard that had been submerged for a whole year.

Yale graduate student, Mengnan Zhao in her 2015 Dispatches wrote about Michiyo’s device being hooked onto the mooring a year ago: “The new mooring had a couple of instruments going down with it that I hadn’t seen before, including the TUMSAT device … an RAS-500 (RAS stands for Remote Access Sampler). The RAS-500 is battery-powered and autonomously samples the water at the depth where it is tethered along the mooring array, about 35 meters below the ocean surface. It will collect a total of 48 samples over the course of the next year, which works out to one sample every 8 days. The instrument belongs to Michiyo Yamamoto-Kawai, an oceanographer at TUMSAT. She’ll run a suite of tests on the samples similar to those done on water from rosette casts, giving her a window into water properties during winter months when the rosette casts aren’t possible.”

It was so exciting to see those same 48 sample jars come up following the big yellow sphere at the top of the mooring.  All the bottles were accounted for and full of water.  After the instrument was lowered into the hold, Michiyo and her two grad students Zhang and Mika began to process the samples for later analysis.  As I was filming them, I said to Michiyo, “So exciting, it’s like finding gold!” Beaming she shot back, “Diamonds!!”  This is the excitement of science. 

We have occasional science lectures before lunch, and Celine Gueguen explained her work measuring Colored Dissolved Organic Matter (CDOM) in the Beaufort. She said she was really excited about the collaboration of the scientists onboard this year, chemistry people and ice people and others all sharing their findings.  She’s been on a number of these JOIS cruises and says we’re just in the initial stages (at the tip of the iceberg, is how she put it) in what we’re learning about how fresh water and what it carries circulates in the Arctic.  In addition to ice melt, huge amounts of fresh water flow out of the great rivers onto the coastal shelf and into the deeper parts of the Beaufort, rivers like the Mackenzie in Canada and the major Russian rivers along that wide stretch of Siberia.  We’re just now learning a few things about how that water circulates like rivers and lakes in the ocean in certain patterns that might well describe the planet’s changing climate.

To learn more about Peter Lourie click here.

Last updated: October 7, 2019

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