Category Archives: September 2015

Measuring the Ocean, One Drop at a Time

USGS Ocean Acidification researchers on the R/V Atlantis are using an underway flowthrough system aboard the R/V Atlantis to measure the chemical composition of the surface ocean. The underway flowthrough system collects seawater from a port in the ship’s hull, which then flows through a faucet in the lab into instruments such as the water isotope analyzer. These instruments measure chemical properties at a sampling frequency of as much as one data point per second. Since the flow rate through the instrument is about one drop per second, the ship is measuring the ocean about one drop at a time!

The water isotope analyzer is shown in the photo background and a drip of water from the outlet is in the foreground.
The water isotope analyzer is shown in the photo background and a drip of water from the outlet is in the foreground.

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First Rosette Sampler Deployment

September 8th – Today the Rosette sampler was deployed in Disko Bay to collect the first water samples at depth of the cruise. The sampler is equipped with CTD sensors that collect data for conductivity, temperature and depth although other parameters are also measured. The Rosette sampler also has a series of Niskin sampling bottles that are attached to a round frame and left open for collecting water for laboratory analysis on the boat. The sampler is lowered into the water via a cable and Niskin bottles are closed at various depths by scientists on board the ship creating a vertical profile for a suite of water quality variables (e.g., depth, conductivity, temperature, pH, chlorophyll, dissolved oxygen) from the seafloor to the surface. Once back on board, the data from the CTD and other sensors are downloaded to a computer system and the water sample in each Niskin bottle is collected and transported to the laboratory for on board analyses. Some water from each sample is saved for further analysis back on land at a later time.

The CTD Rosette is prepared on the deck of the R/V Atlantis for deployment in Disko Bay, Greenland.
The CTD Rosette is prepared on the deck of the R/V Atlantis for deployment in Disko Bay, Greenland.

While the Rosette sampler was deployed, Lisa Robbins watched the Arctic sunset from the ship.

Beautiful View from R/V Atlantis in Disko Bay, Greenland.
Beautiful View from R/V Atlantis in Disko Bay, Greenland.
Lisa Robbins enjoys the Arctic sunset as she awaits the return CTD Rosette from the briny deep.
Lisa Robbins enjoys the Arctic sunset as she awaits the return CTD Rosette from the briny deep.

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Leaving Port in Nuuk for the Davis Strait

On September 6th, the R/V Atlantis left port in Nuuk, Greenland for the Davis Strait.  Dr. Lisa Robbins and the rest of the scientific team spent the morning going through the on board safety procedures as well as the proper use of life vests and survival  suits.  The water in the Davis Strait is very cold making survival suits essential while working on deck.

Lisa Robbins waves as she boards the R/V Atlantis in Nuuk.
Lisa Robbins waves goodbye to Nuuk as she boards the R/V Atlantis.
Crew members and scientists wear life vests during an early morning safety drill before departing Nuuk.
Crew members and scientists wear life vests during an early morning safety drill before departing Nuuk.
Tina, one of the Shipboard Scientific Support Group (SSSG), shows how to put on a survival suit.
Tina, one of the members of the Shipboard Scientific Support Group (SSSG), shows how to put on a survival suit.
Diego, our First Mate, explains the importance of the suit to survival in the cold Arctic water.
Diego, our First Mate, explains the importance of the suit to survival in the cold Arctic water.

Some of the scientists continued to set-up and calibrate equipment in the lab just before leaving port.

Marc Ringuette used the morning to finish set-up in the laboratory.
Marc Ringuette used the morning to finish set-up in the laboratory.

The ship departed Nuuk just after 9:00 AM to stunning views of Greenland including the famous Sermitsiag or saddle mountain as well as icebergs floating by from not-so-distant glaciers.  All that remained was to take some time to settle into cabins and get ready for the important research in the days ahead.

View from the R/V Atlantis leaving port in Nuuk, Greenland.
View from the R/V Atlantis leaving port in Nuuk, Greenland.
View of icebergs from the R/V Atlantis leaving port in Nuuk, Greenland.
View of icebergs from the R/V Atlantis leaving port in Nuuk, Greenland.
View of Sermitsiag or saddle mountain in the Nuup Kangerla fjord northeast of Nuuk, Greenland.
View of Sermitsiag or saddle mountain in the Nuup Kangerla fjord northeast of Nuuk, Greenland.

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Boarding R/V Atlantis and Laboratory Set-Up

September 3rd-5th, the scientific team boarded the R/V Atlantis for set-up. Equipment for the ocean acidification team was moved from storage to the main lab where technicians and scientists worked to get it organized and operative before leaving port.

R/V Atlantis docked in Nuuk, Greenland.
R/V Atlantis docked in Nuuk, Greenland.
The deck of the R/V Atlantis in Nuuk, Greenland.
The deck of the R/V Atlantis in Nuuk, Greenland.
Stephen Punchon, Craig Lee, Lorenza Raimondi, Marc Ringuette (left to right) on the R/V Atlanti
Stephen Punshon, Craig Lee, Lorenza Raimondi, Marc Ringuette (left to right) on the R/V Atlantis.
Equipment in main lab of R/V Atlantis ready for set up.
Equipment in main lab of R/V Atlantis ready for set up.

The weather on Friday was cool, rainy and windy with a high of 48 degrees and wind sustained at 23 mph making for a good indoor set up day.  The lab equipment was sorted and distributed among scientific teams, space assigned, and set-up began.  Dr. Jonathan Wynn from USF Geology and USGS scientist Dr. Lisa Robbins worked through out the two days to set up the lab for departure on Sunday, September 6th.

“It’s windy and rainy today – a good day to stay in and set up the lab.”

-Lisa Robbins, Friday, September 4th.

Rain drops on the window of the R/V Atlantis in port on Friday, September 4th.
Rain drops on the window of the R/V Atlantis in port on Friday, September 4th.
Research teams meet on Friday, September 4th for the morning briefing.
Research teams meet on Friday, September 4th for the morning briefing.
USF Geology Professor Jonathan Wynn unpacking sample bottles in the lab.
USF Geology Professor Jonathan Wynn unpacking sample bottles in the lab.
USF Geology Professor Jonathan Wynn moving a cooler in the lab.
USF Geology Professor Jonathan Wynn moving a cooler in the lab.

Specialized equipment used in ocean acidification research was carefully set up and calibrated for use in seawater sampling.  The SeaFET measures pH with an ion selection field effect transistor (ISFET) and will be taking nearly continuous readings of sea surface pH during the cruise.  Other equipment that will be employed by the scientific team includes an Ocean Optics pH spectrometer that will use mCP (meta cresol purple) as the pH indicator dye (pH range of 7.2-8.1) as well as a Picarro to analyze oxygen and hydrogen isotopes in the seawater.  A carbon dioxide monitor was also place on the outside of the ship to monitor atmospheric carbon dioxide levels while the ship is underway.

Setting up the SeaFET in the lab.
Setting up the SeaFET in the lab.
Lisa Robbins unpacks and sets up the pH Spec in the laboratory on board the R/V Atlantis.
Lisa Robbins unpacks and sets up the pH Spectrometer in the laboratory on board the R/V Atlantis.
Set up for pH Spectrometer is complete and ready for water samples.
Set up for pH Spectrometer is complete and ready for water samples.
Jonathan Wynn finishes setting up the Picarro in the lab on the R/V Atlantis.
Jonathan Wynn finishes setting up the Picarro in the lab on the R/V Atlantis.
Jonathan Wynn stands by the Picarro unit holding a cup of coffee.
Jonathan Wynn standing around drinking coffee with the Picarro does all the work!

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Nuuk By Way of Reykjavik

The Arctic is not a straight forward research destination and our USGS scientists could not fly directly from the United States to Nuuk, Greenland.  Instead, they flew past Greenland to Reykjavik, Iceland, and then, to Nuuk.  On September 1st, Dr. Lisa Robbins boarded a fight from Boston, Massachusetts to Reykjavik for the first part of her journey to Greenland.

Flight schedule from Boston to Reykjavik.
Flight schedule from Boston to Reykjavik.
Flying into Reykjavik, Iceland.
Flying into Reykjavik, Iceland.

Dr. Robbins could not leave for Nuuk until the next morning on September 2nd so, before her flight to Greenland, she had a local a taxi driver take her around Iceland’s famous Golden Circle to visit interesting geological sites.  The Blue Lagoon is a popular tourist destination particularly for swimming.  A visit to these hot springs revealed a geothermal energy plant in action.  In fact, Orkustofnun, the national energy authority of Iceland, states that 25% of the total electricity in Iceland is from geothermal energy sources.  In addition, she visited the Bridge Between Continents.  Iceland is one of only a few places on Earth where a plate boundary is easily accessible and this bridge is over the boundary between the North American and the Eurasian lithospheric plates.

Geothermal power plant next to the Blue Lagoon in Iceland.
Geothermal power plant next to the Blue Lagoon in Iceland.
Heat from geothermal springs at Blue Lagoon is harvested to produce energy in Iceland.
Heat from geothermal springs at Blue Lagoon is harvested to produce energy in Iceland.
Blue Lagoon hot springs in Iceland.
Blue Lagoon hot springs in Iceland.
Sign for the Bridge Between Continents in Iceland.
Sign for the Bridge Between Continents in Iceland.
Dr. Lisa Robbins of USGS on the Bridge Between Continents in Iceland.
Dr. Lisa Robbins of USGS on the Bridge Between Continents in Iceland.
Taxi driver Egill in  Reykjavik, Iceland stands by his car.
Taxi driver Egill in Reykjavik, Iceland stands by his car.

Later in the day, Dr. Robbins and a few of her shipmates for the research cruise boarded an Air Greenland plane to Nuuk, Greenland.  The flight had a strong headwind making a refueling stop in Kangaatsiaq, Greenland before arriving in Nuuk three hours late.

Ocean Acidification team members Lorenza Raimondi and Marc Ringuette pose beside an Air Greenland airplane boarding for Nuuk.
Ocean Acidification team members Lorenza Raimondi and Marc Ringuette pose beside an Air Greenland airplane boarding for Nuuk.
A glacier in Greenland from the window of the airplane en route to Nuuk.
A glacier in Greenland from the window of the airplane en route to Nuuk.
Lorenza Raimondi stands in front of the airport terminal in Nuuk, Greenland.
Lorenza Raimondi stands in front of the airport terminal in Nuuk, Greenland.

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