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!
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.
While the Rosette sampler was deployed, Lisa Robbins watched the Arctic sunset from the ship.
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.
Some of the scientists continued to set-up and calibrate equipment in the lab just before leaving port.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
While the R/V Atlantis was docked in St. Petersburg, Lisa Robbins toured the vessel to become familiar with the facilities. The Atlantis has been in service since 1997 for the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute and is named for the first WHOI research vessel Atlantis (1931-1966). The now retired space shuttle Atlantis is also named after the early WHOI Atlantis. In fact, five out of six of the space shuttles were named after oceanographic research vessels.
The Atlantis has a crew of thirty-six and can carry a scientific party of twenty-four for each cruise. The ship is outfitted with six labs, three winches, three cranes, and a wide variety of the latest scientific equipment.
In addition to the standard ocean research capabilities of Atlantis, it has a hangar that was especially made to house the most famous and widely used submersible in all of oceanography, Alvin. In service since the 1960’s, Alvin has explored parts of all of the Earth’s oceans revealing new discoveries with every dive. The submersible was also the first to explore the final resting place of the RMS Titanic.
The USGS Ocean Acidification Team began packing in June for the arrival of the R/V Atlantis to St. Petersburg, Florida. The team packed all supplies, laboratory equipment, and computers to be loaded and stored on the R/V Atlantis for the September Davis Strait/Arctic Circle Cruise.
After being in the Gulf of Mexico for scientific research, the R/V Atlantis arrived in St. Petersburg, Florida the weekend of June 27th, 2015, for a stop-over before it headed back to home port in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. After that, the next stop is Greenland to pick up the scientists.
Below is a video made by the Florida Institute of Oceanography when the R/V Atlantis was in port at St. Petersburg, Florida in June 2015.
On September 1, 2015, the USGS Ocean Acidification Team of Dr. Lisa Robbins (USGS) and Dr. Jonathan Wynn (University of South Florida) will leave the United States for Nuuk, Greenland to board the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute R/V Atlantis. They will travel to Reykjavik, Iceland, and then on to Nuuk to meet the R/V Atlantis for boarding. In collaboration with Canadian scientists from Bedford Institute of Oceanography, the team will be collecting seawater samples at various depths across the Davis Strait and Baffin Bay to collect ocean acidification data for this region in the Arctic Circle.