At long last, the Global Ocean website has been updated!!! It is now iPad and iPhone friendly and there is new work up. Check out the gallery for “Global Catch: Portraits of a Precious Resource” which recently closed as a solo exhibition at the Liman Gallery in Palm Beach. Have a look at all of the other improvements…Come Aboard and Explore!
The key to getting research accomplished both in the field and in the lab is a good team. Dr. Jeremy Mathis has put together a stellar group of young scientists in his Ocean Acidification Research Center (OARC) at University of Alaska-Fairbanks. I am having the pleasure of working with and learning from two of his current students while on board, Jessica Cross, a PhD student, and Stacy Reisdorph, a Masters student. Jessica and I sat down for a little chemistry lesson last night before she went on watch and I learned all about her research and her path to studying ocean chemistry…
Jessica takes a water sample after a deep cast
The USCGC Healy has become like a second home to Jessica as she has spent, in the past two years, more than 200 days aboard sailing mostly in the Bering Sea in order to collect data for her PhD research. A few years ago, when Jessica was a freshman at Rhodes College in Tennessee, she would never have imagined herself studying chemistry, let alone oceanography, as her first passions were books and writing. Now entering her fourth year of her PhD, she can’t imagine doing anything else and shows giddy excitement for ocean chemistry and endless enthusiasm for her work. Spending all of those days at sea after her initial coursework gave her a thorough understanding of basic oceanographic concepts and she explains how there is no better way to learn than to be at sea with other scientists who are willing to share their knowledge and experience. In the short time I have been at sea with Jessica, it is clear that she knows how to get work done efficiently and enjoys collecting samples for not just her own research but for the lab as a whole.
Jessica’s work focuses on ocean acidification in the Bering Sea as part of the Bering Ecosystem Study project (BEST). (Note: GOE participated in a BEST cruise in April/May 2008 in the Bering Sea…see Bering Sea Ice Expedition for more details) Jessica has been collecting and analyzing water samples from the Bering Sea for Dissolved Organic Carbon (DIC) and Alkalinity in order to determine the pH (measurement of acidity) of the water. Armed with this knowledge, she then can figure out the carbonate saturation state that is vital to the shell-building animals of the ocean, and in the Bering Sea in particular, the King Crab. The Bering Sea is a particularly interesting system, as is the Arctic Ocean, because of the variety of water mixing from river outflows, deepwater upwelling, surface water and ice melt creating an acidic environment in its natural state of equilibrium due to these various natural inflows of carbon dioxide. The question for the present and the future, is whether the increased anthropogenic carbon dioxide, and in turn the decreased pH in the Bering Sea, will affect the animals’ ability to adapt to their changing environment? Jessica seeks to quantify these changes and her excitement for the work is contagious.
The seas calmed down a bit or rather the wind subsided and we are in huge glassy swells, all in all a nice day on the Bering Sea. We are transiting so not much is happening. I spent a good deal of time on the bridge watching passing birds and whales. Transit days are good days to catch up on work and to get organized because once the sampling starts, it gets very busy very quickly. The day ended with a beautiful sunset and the continued big swells.
At 1600, it was time to cast off the lines and head out into the Bering Sea, and apparently some rough weather. In the safety of Dutch Harbor, the weather seemed fine although a bit rainy, but beyond this safety, the Bering Sea was living up to her reputation. There is always a strange feeling when the ship leaves the dock and you know that there is no turning back. It is hard to describe, something between nervous and excitement, anticipation of the unknown…perhaps that is what is best about going to sea.
Heading out to Sea
So with that, we were off, leaving port to begin our journey north to the Bering Strait and into the Arctic Ocean. It will be around a three-day steam to our first stop where we will pick up a mooring before heading through the Bering Strait. Hopefully the weather will not be terrible. We are trying to skirt in between two low pressure systems that would bring some rough weather. But right out of Dutch, the Healy started rocking and rolling and we started feeling the fury of the Bering Sea with 40 knot winds and some big swells. Hopefully it will calm down a bit…
The Bering Sea with Dutch Harbor in the distance
Exciting things are happening here at Global Ocean Exploration! Sorry for the lack of posts but we are working on a new blog that will be ready to go soon. Right now, I would like to announce the posting of the entire “Bering Sea Ice Expedition” webisode series on our website. Episode 6, The Journey, is the latest and it takes you from St Paul through the expedition to disembarking in Dutch Harbor. I hope you enjoy it.
We are busy planning expeditions for the summer so stay tuned for updates.
We have added more photo galleries to the site. Follow the link to view photos from our latest projects and expeditions:
You can also find us on Facebook! Click here to visit the GOE Inc Page.
Two additional webisodes have been added to the site, Multicore Sampling and Sampling the Water. I hope you enjoy them!
To watch them in HD, follow this link:
We will be adding a lot more material in the coming weeks so make sure to check globaloceanexploration.com often to learn more about our expeditions!
Announcing a new section of the website devoted to video! Follow this link: VIDEO or click on the video link on the left.
Please note that a Press page has also been added. You can view a clip of Gaelin’s appearance on “Sustainable Planet” which aired June 19th.
It is always bittersweet when an expedition comes to an end. From start to finish, this expedition was filled with the excitement of the unknown and the magical, from flying into the fog of St. Paul to frolicking on the Bering Sea ice. I am very excited about all of the work I accomplished and look forward to editing and putting everything together to share, but at the same time, I was not ready to come back to the bustling city.
A tremendous amount of amazing cutting edge science was accomplished and I look forward to seeing how all of the scientists collaborate to make the project come alive and gain a more complete understanding of the Bering Sea ecosystem.
I want to thank all of the scientists who allowed me to follow and learn about their work, and the crew of the USCGC Healy. In particular, I would like to thank Dr. Carin Ashjian, the chief scientist of the expedition, and Captain Lindstrom. It was a fantastic expedition and I look forward to many more in the future.
Stay tuned for video, photos and links to publications!