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Dispatch 15: The CTD Crew

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Fred Marin

September 26, 2019

Our Arctic expedition is two-thirds the way through and we are descending south from the high latitudes we had been sailing.  Switch backing our way along the western side of the Beaufort Gyre we sample stations at each pivot in our journey.  If you couldn’t tell, I was a part of the Ice-Tethered Profiler (ITP) group.  Now that our work is successfully accomplished, we spend our time preparing more potential ITP recoveries should time and proximity allow.  We organize our many empty boxes and totes of equipment for shipment back home.  Jeff O’Brien from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) is busy reviewing data from the instruments we, and others on different ships, deployed to see how they are doing.  Feeling a little decoupled from the various other science activities of the ship, I tagged along with the group responsible for the CTD-rosette and plankton net operations.

The principal crew in charge of the CTD-rosette and plankton nets are Stephen Page, Christopher Clarke, and Peter Van Buren from the Institute of Ocean Science (IOS).  They are an energetic group of guys who work tirelessly to setup, maintain, and deploy these systems.  They are not entirely alone, as scientist Celine Gueguen, Nicolas Sylvestre (Universite de Sherbrooke), and PhD student Bingkun Leo (University of Miami) who rely on the data and samples collected by these instruments aid in the deployment and recovery processes.

Each CTD-rosette cast requires optical surfaces to be wiped, temperature and salinity values to be verified to match the CTD data collected.  When there is a mismatched sample, or a situation where a Niskin bottle doesn’t seal collecting slightly different water than expected, these guys sniff out the problem (we’re talking differences in salinity and temperature that are indiscernible to the untrained professional).  Sarah Zimmerman, our chief scientist from the Institute of Ocean Sciences (IOS) carefully reviews all the data coming in from the various science groups and makes the determination as to what gets adjusted.  Maintaining a CTD-rosette to make the precision measurements these scientists need to monitor the Beaufort Gyre is tedious, technical, and very scientific!

Last updated: October 7, 2019

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