Image of ACE-Asia; Ron Brown, and C130

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Last updated 16 May, 2001
Current Location of the NOAA Research Vessel Ron Brown

SUSAN'S LAST LOG: Susan reported her last "official" log from the Ron Brown on Tuesday, April 17th, 2001. Thank you for following her in her journey.

Monday, April 30, 2001 -- Day 54
I am now in Cheju Island which is about 400 miles off the coast of South Korea. Very interesting place. A bit remote and not much English spoken here. It is a bit rainy and humid. The island has resorts along one of the coasts. But were are out in the country where the natives grow onions and catch squid. Korean food is mostly seafood (raw or cooked), soup, rice and veggies. Not many deserts or goodies. We can't drink the local water, only bottled water.

One of my students, Josh, asked me a question that I'd like to address here: What techniques were used on the ship to get aerosols.  To answer his question: There were "intake" valves (tubes) that were positioned on the bow of the ship at various heights. They were positioned on the top of the portable vans that were shipped over from different parts of the world for the research. The air was then passed through tubes on its way to the filters where it was separated by particle size ( isn't that cool?) and then some instruments analyzed the particles for chemical composition. The data was displayed on computer screens in the vans. I managed to keep some samples of the filters showing dust from the Gobi Desert. (that was cool too)

The intake tubes were positioned on the bow of the ship to prevent exhaust from the smoke stacks becoming part of the experiment. The C130 and the TwinOtter also had similar sampling tubes on their outside. Different equipment was designed to focus on certain types of aerosols and the methods used to filter and analyze were very unique.

All very interesting! Looking forward to seeing everyone very soon. Really looking forward to seeing Mr. Carty once again. I really did miss him the most!!!! 

Bye for now,
Mrs. C.

Monday-Wednesday, April 23-25, 2001 -- Days 47-49
Photos of Ron Brown, ACE-Asia Researchers, and Susan Arriving in Yokosuka, Japan
Off to Iwakuni! Unbelievable experience riding on the NOZOMI - the bullet train! We traveled at 300km/hr! Wow, what a ride! We could not tell we were traveling at such high speeds. Took a taxi to the Marine Base and were then" oriented" by an MP who provided us with military badges to be worn at all times. Our accommodations were military apartments which were very comfortable with our own kitchen areas and laundry facilities. I felt as if I was in the US again. We could use US money on base and were able to purchase some much needed supplies. 

The C-130 flew each day and we were able to attend "debriefing" meetings in the evening when the plane returned from its tour. The scientists with air sampling and light measuring equipment were very tired after spending 9.5 -10 hrs/day on the plane. Quite a job for them! For the most part they seemed to be quite pleased with the results they were getting. Flying through dust plumes and layers of aerosols was the name of the game!

The Twin-Otter also flew some missions and I had the opportunity to see the inside of that plane. Unbelievable the amount of equipment crammed inside with very little room for a normal sized human to move around! 

Some scientists were always on the ground back at the airport monitoring the weather and satellite positions. Having the satellite and the plane in the same vicinity at the same time is very tricky but also very important to try accomplish. That way the two vessels can coordinate and compare data in terms of light and cloud conditions.

Bye for now,

Sunday, April 22, 2001 -- Day 46
Open House on the Ron Brown! My, the ship looked outstanding! All cleaned up with streams of flags hanging from bow to stern. The Captain and officers were decked out in their impressive black uniforms. Very handsome and formal looking! The labs were set up to demonstrate the use of the research equipment and scientists were having a great time talking to the Japanese visitors.

The JAMSTEC research vessel was tied up behind the Ron Brown and was open for visitors as well. Their officers were just as impressive looking and also very welcoming!

We ended our day in complete exhaustion and welcomed a good nights sleep.

Bye for now,

Saturday, April 21, 2001 -- Day 45
One day on land! Still moving and rolling at times though. Very strange feeling. Hard to walk down the street in a straight line. Everything seems so very quiet! No trouble sleeping though and the desire to shop is overpowering!

This afternoon the Japanese researchers from University of Tokyo came to the ship to exchange data with our researchers. Most interesting to watch. Move graphs! More charts! Lots of data! Then off to a dinner at a real Japanese restaurant. What lovely and gracious people! I learned that it is customary to pour a beverage for someone else and vice versa. Don't pour your own. Also learned a few more rules of etiquette when using chopsticks. We ended our party with some karaoke from US scientists and then Japanese scientists. Great fun!

Bye for now,

Friday, April 20, 2001 -- Day 44
Photos of Ron Brown, ACE-Asia Researchers, and Susan Arriving in Yokosuka, Japan

LAND!!! Oh my goodness, what a magnificent sight! Land - welcome Land!!! Not much sleep last night with the anticipation of finally walking on something solid.

The scientists on board could barely contain themselves with excitement! (I ,for one, had to be restrained from climbing over the railing) Even peeking through all the haze and aerosols that surrounded the harbor at Yokosuka the land reached out to us like a beacon in the night. As you will eventually see from John's photos the haze is amazing! (Photos will create an excellent example of the atmospheric situation over here.) Dr. John Kermond from the Office of Global Planning was waiting on the dock with camera in hand. Also a welcome site to see someone waiting there just for me...

After meeting with the immigration officials we were permitted to "leap" off the ship and head for town. The weather was warm and sunny. Spring had sprung! Oh, to see the lovely flowers in bloom!

First stop was to the bank exchanging US dollars for Japanese Yen. Then searching for the train station to purchase tickets for our trip to Iwakuni. That was a most interesting experience since we did not speak Japanese and no one at the station spoke English. But, drawing a map on a scrap of paper seemed to do the trick.

In the evening we were all taken by bus to the JAMSTEC site for a tour and celebration of our joint scientific endeavors. (JAMSTEC is the Japanese Marine Science research organization similar to NOAA except they focus on the oceans and not the atmosphere) They had an amazing display of underwater research vessels( manned and unmanned) that were capable of searching the deep sea floor at incredible depths. Their research ship was also magnificent! Clearly, Japan is very interested in that type of research. 

We were treated to some delicious sushi and other Japanese appetizers. Handling the chopsticks was a challenge but do-able. Just takes practice! Gifts were exchanged and we learned how to bow to show respect and honor to our hosts. Very nice custom.

Bye for now,

Tuesday, April 17th, 2001 -- Day 41
Picture of our ACE-Asia group farewell!
Picture of Susan and Tai-Hau Chou looking for land.

Well, today was a day filled with real action from the planes! Both the Twin Otter and the C-130 sampled air at different elevations around the ship. We were all out there waiting with cameras and waving. It was quite a thrill to watch the planes as they approached. First just a tiny speck of reflection near the horizon and then roaring across the bow at about 100 ft off the water.

Our group posed for our farewell picture by standing on top of two of the portable vans parked on the bow of the ship. It is time for us all to plant our feet on solid ground and be reunited with our families. We are suffering from "Channel Fever" - which is what you get when you are close to shore. Once the sampling was completed for the day the ship began its final leg on to Japan.

Thursday - April 19th we will be sending a live communication to a number of schools and answering questions that students have sent in. It will be about 11:00 pm here on the ship but 10:00 am on the East Coast. I am hoping to be able to talk directly to the class at my school that is following the trip. Many of the students there have been very good about sending e-mail and I greatly appreciated hearing from them. And thank you to all the other teachers and students that sent me email. After being at sea for 38 days I developed a much better understanding of the importance of mail.

This experience has been one I will certainly never forget. All the scientists on board have made quite an impression on me.  Such a vast array of educational backgrounds and experiences combined with all the different nationalities on board offered me a wealth of memories to take back to the classroom. The crew on the ship was also exceptional. They were always willing to answer all my questions and help in any way they could.

The experience of this trip will have a great influence on how I teach certain science concepts in the future. There is nothing like a "real" experience to help you understand the relevance of projects such as this. Research takes time, lots of time, dedication and commitment.

I hope to pass on to my students the wonder and joy of pursuing your interests and your dreams. You never know where they will take you!

See you on the web,

Monday, April 16th, 2001 -- Day 40
Picture of Scott Storms working in the lab.
Picture of Susan's on deck algae experiment.

Picture of Susan at her workstation.

Picture of seaweed filled with critters.

Picture of Sunset on the Pacific.
Picture of "Triple A" team.

We are winding down this week, preparing to arrive in Yokosuka on Friday. Needless to say we are all excited about the prospects of walking on land once again! Many of the scientists will be taking some time to tour Japan before they return to their prospective countries. Reading travel guides about Japan seems to be the form of amusement lately. I will be taking the bullet train to Iwakuni on Monday, April 23rd. Imagine, that train travels approximately 200 mph. 

We had hoped to see the C-130 today but will have to wait until tomorrow. As we wandered around the Pacific we saw many, many fishing boats all around us. It was fascinating to watch them with binoculars. Some of the boats appeared to be very old. From the number of boats out there I would guess that the waters here must be very productive.

Over the weekend I had the opportunity to help out with a Secchi disk measurement which is a very old method of calculating the depth at which light penetrates the water. This is just another one of the measurements taken every day, sometimes multiple times each day. The ship has to be stationary for this process so we must display the sign that indicates we are immobile.

Today took us into some warmer waters and we found large masses of seaweed floating by the ship. We hooked a piece of this material and put it into my bin of sea water on the fantail. Then as we watched, all kinds of "sea insects" swam out into the bin. They were of varying sizes and coloration. Some appeared to be very aggressive toward the others. Others appeared to be swimming around at a very high speed. One kind reminded me of large fleas and another type looked like some kind of crustacean. Very interesting! I can't wait to get my hands on a reference book to attempt to identify our find.

Our position this morning was: 31N,126E

The Nautical Term of the Day: Spin the Yarn

Question of the day: Who designed the Secchi Disc and how long ago was it first used?

Bye for now,

Saturday & Sunday, April 14th & 15th, 2001 -- Day 38 & 39
Happy Easter! I was a bit under the weather this weekend with much time spent in bed. Not seasick but some kind of "bug" we passed around. Not much to write
about so we just wish everyone a Happy Easter for the weekend report.

I will pick up on Monday.

This is the last week!

Thursday & Friday, April 12th & 13th, 2001 -- Days 36 & 37
Picture of Stephan at laptop.

Today is a "two for one day".. We were so busy yesterday that I didn't take the time to record our adventures.. The day was chilly and damp with choppy seas.  It was also a good "dust" collecting day.

At our evening meeting on Thursday, one of the scientist brought along one of his filters from the day. It was filled with light brown particles that were claimed to be desert dust. I will be bringing home some samples of these filters to show my classes next year. Different filters are used to collect different size particles. The dust particles are larger than industrial aerosols.

The other excitement for Thursday was that we conducted a series of tests on my algae to measure their fluorescence, chlorophyll concentration, absorption, irradiance and physiology. Now I will have to collect all the data and prepare charts and graphs that will help visualize the results. And, of course there will be mathematical formulas and calculations to be applied. Those processes are weak areas for me and I intend to improve upon them before this trip ends.

The final excitement for Thursday evening was to see the very long line-up of fishing boats out on the horizon after dark. They were fishermen looking for squid by shining very bright lights onto the water. Apparently the squid come up to the light and then are caught. There must have been a tremendous amount of squid out there by the number of boats I saw. Just an amazing sight.

Then, this morning was just as eventful. The sun was very bright, winds were blowing, ocean was choppy and there were literally hundreds of birds flying all around the ship. Hundreds more were floating in the water. They stayed there all day! Most of the birds were Shearwaters. There are many different species found in various oceans.

We climbed up to the bridge today to wait outside for the C-130 overpass. We waited and waited. Eventually someone came out to let us know that indeed the C-130 had passed by at 100ft, but two miles away. Another photo op missed!  

I had a tour of our German scientists van this afternoon. It is just very interesting to learn about their equipment and their aerosol measurements.  There are three scientists who spend most of their days inside this van monitoring and recording data on particles. Some of the equipment is designed to measure larger particles - such as sea salt. And other equipment designed to measure very small particles such as industrial emissions. Some particles can "grow" when water molecules become attached. Other particles resist the water molecules.

The final events of the afternoon were more drills. (Fire, Abandon Ship and Damage Control) Much scurrying around the ship! 

Tonight will be another Science Night with more scientists discussing their research. I will update you on that this weekend. 

The Nautical terms for these two days are: Payload and Skyscraper

Question of the day: If water molecules attach to an aerosol how might they influence the behavior of light hitting that aerosol ? What is a Damage Control drill? 

Bye for now,

Wednesday, April 11, 2001 -- Day 35
Picture of David Sodeman making a minor repair.
Great news, the storm front headed north last night and bypassed the ship. The seas remained calm for the entire evening. Another night of sound sleep, free of creepy noises!

We were looking at an atlas today, locating the Mariana Trench in the Pacific off the coast of Japan. That trench I believe is supposed to be the deepest one, deeper than Mt. Everest is high. We did not sail directly over it but we did cross over the Izu Trench just north of the Mariana Trench. It would be fascinating to do some research on these trenches since they are found along just about all the coast lines around the world. At one time we did not believe anything could live at such extreme depths with the pressure and cold and dark. But, now we know that is not true. The life forms found in the extreme depths have amazing adaptations to survive in those conditions.

Then we were looking at the desert areas in the far eastern part of the world.  Our sensors have been detecting dust that we believe is coming from the Gobi Desert. These dust particles are being analyzed by our chemists on board.

The atmospheric chemists were the featured speakers at our Science Night last night. They really do some amazing work. The instruments they use can measure particle size and can identify the elements or compounds that make up the particles. As they monitor the atmosphere each day they attempt to create a model of the movement of these various particles through the different atmospheric layers. In addition, they study the effect the particles have on cloud formation, light scattering and light absorption. Their studies combined with the light analysis ( photometers and radiometers) and the data collected by planes, satellites and weather balloons (radiosondes) eventually should provide scientists with a more comprehensive global model of the aerosol's impact on our climate.

Each group of scientists brought along their own instruments that are mounted on various parts of the bow and stern. In addition to these instruments there are large portable vans that are bolted to the decks.

Yesterday, I had fun climbing to the top of a bow tower that is approximately 30 feet above the main deck.There is approximately another 20 feet from their down to the water. One of the scientists from China, Dr. Wenying Su took me up to the top to show me how the equipment needs to be cleaned every day because sea salt builds up on the lenses. Attached to that tower are very sensitive light monitoring instruments called radiometers. As they measure the various wavelengths of light the signals are passed through cables that run into the vans where additional equipment is kept. When you work on the top of the tower it is a good idea to harness yourself to the railing in case the ship should lean suddenly.

Of course this can be great fun in the good weather. But, imagine having to do that when the seas are rough and it is cold.

I discovered that my algae experiment actually is progressing as it should. We took additional measurements today and discovered that at least one of the bottles is showing a much higher chlorophyll concentration than when I started.  So, they must be "happy" algae after all..

Question of the day: Are all aerosols necessarily a bad thing? What benefit might we gain from certain types of aerosols?

Bye for now,

Tuesday, April 10, 2001 -- Day 34
Another peaceful day, testing and sampling, testing and sampling. But, this could end very soon. As I write this evening we are sitting stationary waiting for a storm to approach. Such a comforting thought. But I guess that is the best strategy for now. It reminds me of the Kenny Rogers song about the poker game where "sometimes you hold em, and sometimes you fold em." I guess we're holding.

We had very hazy skies again today with very high aerosol levels. At times, the sea appeared to be a very dark green, almost black. I wonder what that is a function of.... light, nutrients, other materials? A week ago we were in waters that were such a brilliant blue it reminded me of paint.

We headed further south, southwest today and came into warmer waters again. The algae in my experiment must be much happier. However, they may be getting an interesting ride later this evening. When I performed tests on the algae samples today we saw more evidence of growth but a varying rates I guess dependent upon the light levels. I discovered that time of day when testing has an impact on my results. In the middle of the day the levels actually appeared to level off or decline. Then early evening indicated even more growth. We filtered samples from the bottles tonight and are preparing them for additional tests tomorrow afternoon. These new tests will help me measure the actual primary production levels and absorption readings. 

It is great fun to learn to use new equipment and then to understand what that equipment actually reveals. It is also very interesting to think about the people who design the various testing equipment . Their minds must work in a very different way than the average person. But, thank goodness for their minds!

We are having another Science Night tonight. There will be a large group of chemists this time who will be explaining their testing methods and equipment. They have some very complicated equipment in vans on the decks. Sometimes they don't come out of those vans all day! We really do have very dedicated people on this project.

At this moment we are in the process of launching our last weather balloon for the day. I will write to you tomorrow about the storm. No photos in the dark though. 

Question of the day: Why might the algae growth appear to slow down in the middle of the day?

Bye for now,

Monday, April 9, 2001 -- Day 33
Picture of Hazy setting sun.

Picture of Dr. Wenying Su cleaning the radiometer.
Picture of Susan working on her algae measurements.

What a luxury to be able to just turn around and move to another location when the weather is not suitable.

Early this morning we found ourselves in a location where the air temperature had dropped and the water temperature was as low as 7C. ( Brrrr....) The algae were not happy in their bottles you can be sure. After much speculation at our morning meeting we decided it would be prudent to turn around and head off toward a warmer location. About two hours later we found ourselves sailing in 14C water which made all of us so all much happier.

There is a definite haze to the atmosphere here and I am told it is not clouds or moisture. Therefore, it must be layers of aerosols hovering around us, possibly dust from the deserts or volcanic aerosols. I managed to take a photograph of the most amazing view of the sun. As it was setting early this evening there was so much haze in the atmosphere that we could look right at it. It didn't look real. At first I thought it was the moon, then I realized it was sinking into the horizon not rising. Actually, the reality of that vision is not a good thing. These aerosols definitely create very unnatural conditions in our atmosphere which is why we are out here studying them.

The scientists continued their light and aerosol experiments most of the afternoon. I also measured the chlorophyll in my series of bottles. The algae samples taken early this morning indicated no growth compared to yesterdays measurements. They seem to have responded poorly to some external factor, possibly the lower water temperature over night. Measurements taken later in the day under warmer water conditions revealed increased growth again.. Could they have been happier with the warmer water? Tomorrow's measurements may give us a better indication of what is going on with the production levels. In addition to measuring chlorophyll a levels we will measure fluorescence.

There were 5 radiosonde tests performed today (that is the weather balloon) and they indicated that the moisture level in the upper atmosphere was almost non-existent, which tells us that the haze we saw all day was not clouds.

I am curious to see what the rising sun looks like. Let's see if I can hop out of bed early tomorrow.

The Nautical expression of the day is: Bye and large.

Question of the Day: How would the aerosol particles react if there was a high level of humidity in the upper atmosphere?

Our position early this morning was: 39N,135E - cold water location!

Bye for now, 10 more days to go!

Saturday & Sunday, April 7 & 8, 2001 -- Day 31 & 32
Another two beautiful days at sea! Sleeping has been terrific so much so that I slept through our morning meeting this morning! But, after all, Sunday should be a day to rest.

We had much activity this afternoon with the Twin Otter and the C-130 passing over us a number of times. They had a great day sampling air at various elevations, actually spiraling through different altitudes and them passing very close to the ship. The Twin Otter actually passed by us at 100 ft.! We have been in a great location for aerosols! As the day progressed, the skies took on a very hazy appearance. I am wondering what the actual ozone levels are out here.

My algae continues to grow. But surprisingly it is the algae in the clear bottle that has grown the most so far. Tomorrow we will conduct a different type of chlorophyll test. That may give us a more specific measurement of growth and chlorophyll production.. Also, since we have been traveling north in the Sea of Japan, the water temperature has dropped from 20C to 13C. I am wondering what impact that temperature change will have on the algae growth, if any.

The plankton collection flag was flying today. As the net was hauled in, there was a gathering of seagulls floating and squawking behind us probably in anticipation of a few dropped morsels from the net. I was really tempted to feed them a few crackers, but my better judgment took over when I pictured seagull droppings all over the new paint job on the fantail. The crew I am sure would not have been happy.

The net sampling came from about 400m deep and it had some very interesting specimens! I wish I had a manual here to help me identify these organisms.  They were still mostly transparent, but more of a variety and some much larger in size than before. The sides of the net were actually coated with a reddish-orange material.

The sun photometers and radiometers were really put to work today. There should be much data to analyze!

Our position Sunday is: 38N,133.5E

The Nautical expressions for the weekend are: Take the Wind Out of Ones Sails 
and Show Your Colors

Question for the weekend: Why do the airplanes sample air from different

Bye for now, two weeks to go!

Friday, April 6, 2001 -- Day 30
Picture of Red tide.

Such excitement, I don't think I can stand it! Last night around 10:00pm we were standing on the fantail watching the most fascinating site. Floating by us on both sides of the wake were bioluminescent algae. Really bright! It was as if there were brilliant flashing green lights rolling around just beneath the surface of the water. You could even see some off in the distance, flashing their signals off and on. Just amazing! It made think about sailing in the past and wondering what observers thought when they sighted these glowing spectacles in the late evening hours. It may have been the source of some old seafaring myths. Also could have been very eerie not knowing what was happening.  I will be sure to go out again tonight!

We were observed again this morning by a Japanese plane of some kind. Four times it passed over. We had our special signal/flag hanging again because we were sampling water off the stern. Hopefully they were satisfied with that. Then later on the Twin Otter flew over to sample air at different elevations. 

This evening we are having a "cook out" on the fantail. The weather is just terrific again today, so we are going to take advantage of it. I wonder what food will be prepared? Before this tour is over I will be sure to meet with the chef and give you an idea about how he planned the menus for all of us for almost 40 days. That is certainly a monumental task! But, from the food we have been eating you can tell this man likes what he is doing!

My algae have begun to grow! How exciting! I will conduct more tests today to measure the increase in chlorophyll a. Eventually I will have enough data to plot a graph to demonstrate what actually happened inside the bottles. Maybe there is some bioluminescent algae growing as well. That would be really interesting. I wonder how different the physiology is between "glowing" and "non-glowing' algae. Are they found all over the world or just in certain locations? Are they only glowing green? Do they glow all the time or just under certain conditions? What is the purpose of the glowing? Is it some kind of adaptation? So many questions.....Sometimes I think I am a walking question.

Our position today is 33N,127E. Later in the afternoon we are headed for: 36N, 133E

The Nautical expression for the day is: Miss the boat

Are you noticing how many of these terms and expressions we use fairly regularly?

Question for the day: What is the actual substance that causes algae to glow? Is it just one thing, or are there a number of causes? 

Bye for now,

Thursday, April 5, 2001 -- Day 29
Picture of balloon release.
Picture of machine that receives the balloon signals.
Picture of Japanese Airplane
Picture of taking in the rays.
Hello out there in the real world. We are experiencing a particularly excellent weather day. Bright sun, warmer air and calm seas. Serious attempts have been made to sit up on the deck and catch some sun. We have sorely missed having the chance to work on our tans.

Today was the day for our weekly fire drill and abandon ship drill. I'm proud to say that my ability to run up and down stairs with the life jacket and sea bag has improved dramatically. Though , every once in a while I still put my foot through the fire hose hole at the bottom of some of the doors. But the required hat and jacket are with me for all drills. Obviously I never want to experience anything but a practice drill.

Our mascot pigeon is still with us and happily eating the crackers we put out. This pigeon has some kind of leg band so he belongs to someone out there. He is even drinking water from a makeshift pigeon drinking cup. Cute!

When we are stopped for testing we must raise certain flags that signal what we are doing. There is an international flag that looks like two circles with a diamond shape in the middle that indicates we are immobile and performing underwater maneuvers. There is also a special "plankton collecting" flag. As I mentioned before, a permit is required to do that. As you can imagine, these flags are very important for communicating with other ships as are lights. There is a United States Coast Guard Manual that explains all of these signs and symbols.

Our other excitement today was the second visit by a Japanese surveillance plane. They were wondering what we were doing and we were wondering what they were doing. It is quite impressive to see an airplane that close up and low over your head. The red circle symbol near the tail was also impressive. But, I guess they were just doing their job. 

Yesterday the C-130 flew over our heads too. That plane was also impressive with its bright blue tail and bright white body. We will most certainly be seeing that plane more often as we get closer to another island. The aerosol sampling equipment on board is amazing! We will be coordinating our sampling results with theirs and the satellites.

This afternoon I will begin testing my algae growing experiment. I will be putting samples from the various bottles into a machine that "reads" the chlorophyll a levels. It will be fun to see if it actually grows. We'll see now if I really have a green thumb.

The nautical expression for the day: Making headway

Question of the day: What color light is displayed on the port side of the ship?

Bye for now,

Wednesday, April 4, 2001 -- Day 28
Picture of crew waiting for the C-130 to pass over.

Another picture of crew waiting for the C-130.

Picture of pigeon taking a rest.

Picture of Oleg preparing for the Secchi reading.
Well, the ride we are having today would certainly be a unique one for an amusement park! We are trying to hold our position about 20 miles off shore in very high winds and rolling seas. The wind is coming from one direction and the current is flowing in the opposite direction. Somehow I must duplicate this motion in a tank back in my classroom. Very hard to describe this with just words.

We are holding at 30.5N, 131.5E in anticipation of a rendezvous with the C-130 this afternoon. I will be waiting on deck with my trusty camera. It should provide us with some much needed excitement. But, until then, most of us are holding on to our seats. 

The good news is that the sun is shining. Maybe by noon it will be warmer out on the deck. The eternal optimist.

Last night's Science Meeting was very helpful. It gave me an even better understanding of the "why" and "how" of the various testing/sampling/measuring equipment on board. The scientists are studying the dynamics of aerosols, the sources of aerosols, the mode of transport of aerosols and possible "sinks" for aerosols. Some instruments are focusing on the properties of the aerosols. (concentration, size, composition, solubility, morphology, refractive index, etc.) In addition they are trying to understand the significance of the ground/satellite data with the goal being to provide input for Global Models. We need to develop these models to be able to accurately predict the future.

I discovered that these meetings not only help me but also help the researchers understand each other. Much of the data collected here will not be analyzed until after the cruise has ended and the researchers have returned to their various institutions. Some data is being analyzed on board as it is collected.  Eventually, all of the data( from sea, land, air and space) will be coordinated Quite a monumental task! 

Another day or two and I will begin to take chlorophyll readings from my own experiment. This experiment could be duplicated using fresh water as well, with a few adjustments.

Question of the day: Why do you think some of the aerosol particles can "grow" while others do not?

Nautical term of the day: Longshot

Aren't you noticing how these nautical terms are used commonly in our everyday conversations?

Think - calm seas and clear skies.
Bye for now,

Tuesday, April 3, 2001 -- Day 27
Another day of "in transit" mode. That is a nautical expression that means "on the road again". We are headed for another island called Amami. The problem is that we are struggling against a current on our way so it may take us a while to get there. We also have to evaluate the weather situation ahead and make adjustments accordingly.

All the routine tests are being performed today. As you have already learned in science classes, repetition of tests is vital for any significant results. It takes a certain personality to be able to follow up and steadfastly work your way through the repetitions and the mounds of data that are produced.

Much time, effort and expense is involved in these projects as well. And what happens when equipment fails, or at least falters temporarily? Remember, this is the third ACE project. Samplings and data have been collected over a period of years. Each time the excursion focused on a different part of the world. 

It has been fascinating meeting the scientists from different countries.  Hearing different accents at meal time and learning about their research. It is even more interesting hearing about their families and their lives.

I am looking forward to our plankton net sampling today. Hopefully the current will allow us to drop the net even deeper than yesterday. My goal is to be able to preserve some samples to bring back to my classroom. This morning I was given a sample of an air filter to bring home. It certainly was not very clean! But, that is why we are here isn't it?

Our nautical term for the day is: FIGUREHEAD

Be sure to check out the history of that word. Very interesting. It might be fun to try to make models of figureheads in art class. Maybe even design your own.

Question of the day: My souvenir filter had 100 cubic meters of air passing through it before it was changed. How big is 100 cubic meters? What could you compare that to?

That should keep you busy for a while.

Keep writing! I'm getting lonely.
Bye for now,

Monday, April 2, 2001 -- Day 26
Another day of adventure and excitement! I woke up this morning with a strong feeling that something was different? The berth was not rocking and the room was quiet. No anchor chain scraping , no anti-roll tanks sloshing. Could I be caught in a dream? Was I really awake? 

Good Grief! The seas were calm! I raced up the two levels to the mess deck ...but... no one was there. Could I possibly have missed another time change? Where was everybody? Don't we have a morning meeting?

Would you believe?. Sleeping...... Enjoying the peaceful ride....It was like being rocked in a cradle.

But, never fear. It didn't last very long. Before we knew it the winds had picked up and so had the surf. By evening we were back to the usual motion. And all the familiar but scary noises had returned.

Today was very full though. A real science day. When the sun appeared we conducted the Microtops measurements. Three weather balloons were released and we managed to conduct water and light studies as well as all the ongoing aerosol samplings. The current would not permit a full plankton net sample though. But, the little that we did pull in was very productive. We seem to have come across the largest sampling of sea life yet. Lots of invertebrates, transparent
ones galore. I actually returned many to the sea. Just couldn't interfere with their little life cycles.

My own personal experiment is now up and running. I am attempting to grow algae in bottles that permit varying levels of light. The bottles are filled with a mixture of water from the surface and also from 300m deep. They are floating in a large bin on the fantail, with fresh sea water flowing through the bin. Once they have adjusted to the change in environments, we will begin a series of daily tests to measure growth and chlorophyll levels. I will be learning how to use a number of instruments totally unfamiliar to me. Something new every day!

While the seas were calm we managed to pick up the speed to 13kts. as least for
a while. 

Today we were heading for: 32.5N, 134E. We understand that the C-130 may be flying along with NASA's plane over the sea of Japan. As soon as we come in
contact with them I will attempt to get a photo for the website.  

Question of the day: Why have I mixed surface water and deep water in my

Bye for now,

Saturday & Sunday, March 31 & April 1, 2001 -- Day 24 & 25
Picture of Susan and Sergio near Hacijo
Picture of Susan working on experiment.

Picture of crew returning with plankton permit.

Such a fun filled weekend we have had! Saturday was wild with high seas, high winds, heavy rain squalls and lots of staggering around the ship! At times the rainfall was measured at 70mm/hour. Wow! Even had some equipment damage that will require calmer seas to repair. You can get an idea of the experience from
the picture we will post on the website.

Saturday evening you could hear people yelling "land ho"! What a welcome sight! Just a very small Japanese Island with a small volcano sitting in the Pacific, south east of Japan. We could look but not touch. No matter, after 17 days of nothing " water, water everywhere", it was a thrill to see green vegetation on the hills.

Sunday has been sunny and cool. The morning was spent photographing and just looking. Seas were much calmer and scientists once again able to perform tests.

I have been continuing the preparations for my own experiment. My goal is to measure primary production - algae growth - under varying light conditions. More
on that tomorrow.

Did you know that there actually is a "plankton" flag that is raised when plankton sampling is going on? We were unable to sample plankton today because we had to be 12 miles off shore of this island in order to do that. So the flag had to come down.

Our more recent air samplings indicated that the levels of sulfur vapor had increased dramatically. We believe we passed through a plume of volcanic dust during the night.It will become even more interesting when we compare our readings with those from the Twin Otter is another few days. 

The nautical terms for the weekend are:
"Out of the Blue" and "Son of a gun" - these are both very interesting expressions! Let me know if you discover their original meanings.

Question of the day:
1. What does the expression, "He's worth his salt" mean? What is its origin?

2. What does a "bow-thruster " do? When would it be used ?

Bye for now,

Friday, March 30, 2001 -- Day 23
Picture of rough seas
Picture 2 of rough seas

Well did we have a great day yesterday! The winds died down, the swells disappeared and the sun broke through in all its glory! You would have thought we were experiencing some new kind of phenomenon. Scientists were scurrying around the bow ,staring up at the sun and aiming their sun photometers and radiometers. Such excitement! It was very important to seize the moment since sun sightings have been so rare! Someone actually found some deck chairs to sit in. They must be hiding them from me.

I even had the opportunity to work with a very interesting piece of science equipment. It is called a Microtops. This amazing expensive little gadget works somewhat like a gameboy but it captures the suns radiation and measures the brightness of each color (frequency) of visible light. We know how bright each frequency should be if there were no atmosphere. But, since we do have levels and thickness of atmospheres, this equipment helps the scientists determine/measure the thickness of the atmosphere by the way the colors of light pass through.

We discovered we had a new creature on board yesterday. A lone seagull appeared and followed us all afternoon. Then it must have decided it was time for a rest and landed on top of a blue tarp on the fantail. This bird just made itself very comfortable and enjoyed the ride. Now we know we are getting closer to the land. 

I even had more fun yesterday afternoon when we took our daily plankton net sample. Not only do we bring up plankton, but we also manage to collect some very interesting invertebrates. We sorted them out with tweezers and tried to identify them. All the invertebrates were transparent except for the coloration of their internal organs. There were worm-like creatures, flat worms, and something called a salp. Also many interesting jellyfish type creatures of varying size and shape. Very cool looking! I plan to collect some more samples and preserve them to bring back to my classroom How very exciting!

Our plans for my own personal experiment are progressing. I will keep you informed when we finalize them. 

During the wee hours of the morning we passed through another low pressure system. The winds picked up to 35kt and we had a brief downpour. But, now this morning the sun is trying to come out and the seas are still fairly choppy. The good news is that I managed to sleep through all that! That must mean I am seasoned! Or could it be exhausted?

Tonight will be another "Science Night" and if all goes well we will be off the coast of Hacijo by tomorrow afternoon. If we are really lucky, we may actually see one of the research planes tomorrow. That will add another dimension of air sampling to our project.

Our position today is: 33N,145E

The term for today is: "Salary", or the expression: "worth his salt"

Question of the day: Do they turn their clocks ahead for day light savings time in Japan?

Bye for now,

Thursday, March 29, 2001 -- Day 22
Picture of changing a filter
Picture of Derek Coffman working at computer

Picture of Dr. Greg Mitchell working

Another day floating around the beautiful, blue Pacific.. We are very excited to see some sun today! The weather man tells us that there is yet another low pressure system ahead of us. But, the good news is that we should be traveling in the lower edge of the system. I have found that I am much more conscious of the weather systems and cloud formations while at sea compared to when I am on land. There is definitely no escaping the weather out here. One thing is for sure, when the weather is clear and sunny it is fantastic!

Another two days and we should be off the coast of Hacijo. We will be sending a small boat ashore to exchange the proper paperwork and to pick up our permit to collect plankton. 

Yesterday I had the opportunity to look at our daily sample of plankton and decided that it would be great fun for me to develop some kind of experiment of my own. What an exciting idea! With the help of one of our scientists that actually may happen. I am hoping to develop an experiment involving the growth of chlorophyll over time.

As you know, we have an interest in the plankton out here because there is a connection between concentration of plankton and light absorption in the water.  In addition, the plankton give off gases during their life processes and those gases eventually escape into the atmosphere.

Our atmospheric sampling continues to indicate the presence of more particles in the atmosphere. We should see a significant change the closer to get to Hacijo.

One of our schools asked me to find out about some of the ocean monitoring instruments on board, particularly, one that monitors ocean currents. We have an instrument called: Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler, otherwise known as an ADCP. This instrument records the movement, depth and direction of currents that flow North/South and East/West. This information appears on a computer screen in the lab and is also transmitted to the University of Hawaii. It would be interesting to learn about what is done with the information and why it is collected. What do you think? 

Our bearings today are: 33N and 150E. Another time zone has been crossed with
one to go!

The nautical term for the day: FATHOM

Question of the day: What is the difference between "position and bearing" ?

I also wanted to extend a warm welcome to my friends in England who are now following our journey. Hello to the Hereford School in Broadstairs! Remember, this is not "virtual reality" but "reality".

Bye for now,

Wednesday, March 28, 2001 -- Day 21
This morning I heard someone comparing our constant rocking and rolling motions to the sensation of the land motions during an earthquake. The only difference is that our motions at sea never stop! Interesting comparison. It definitely seems true that sounds and movements are exaggerated in your mind during the night. When it is dark and there are no other distractions for your senses it is easy for your mind to run away with itself. Sometimes at night I imagine the pounding waves tearing right through the wall of my bunk! Or I imagine the heavy, clanking anchor crashing through my ceiling on my head! And all the while that pesky bird keeps chirping. Does it never sleep? I wonder how quiet it will seem when we leave the ship for comfort of our own beds? Will the ground feel like it is moving when we walk down the street?

Last night we had another "Science Night" session. The research team for Scripps Institution for Oceanography, headed by Dr. Greg Mitchell, presented their focus points for this cruise. They are sampling water for phytoplankton levels, measuring absorption/back scattering of light using a variety of instruments, monitoring color of water with respect to behaviors of light and coordinating all of this with satellite measurements and images. The satellites are able to send us pictures that reflect ocean color and concentration of phytoplanton . There is a variety of instrumentation used for these samplings and the instruments are "cast" off the back of the ship each day. We stop the ship for the testing. You can imagine some days are trickier than others depending upon the state of the ocean.

You see, all of these measurements and calculations are related in some way. One
thing influences the other and vice versa. Also, there are so many variables involved in the measurements. Nothing is simple is it?

Did you know there are fluorescent plankton? That means the "little critters" actually produce and give off their own light. What role could they play in our studies? How might they impact the behavior of light? Remember, they are considered to be particles... So many questions. It seems that the more we learn, the more questions we have.

Our bearing for today is: 32.7N, 155.5 E We are still about 300 miles from land.

Question of the day: What are phytoplankton? What is their role in the scheme of life at sea? What determines/influences their concentration in the water?

Think calm seas!
Bye for now,

Tuesday, March 27, 2001 -- Day 20
Picture of Tim Bates with CO2 machine

A good nights sleep surely makes a difference! Yesterday afternoon we altered our course once again and headed south to avoid another low pressure system. At least for a while we experienced peaceful waters and managed to sleep well!  But, never fear, we're heading back north today. The swells are actually washing the portholes up on the main deck ( otherwise known as the #1 deck). Skies are gray, it is raining, and the bizarre sound effects are back with a vengeance. What is that "bird chirp" sound anyway? It seems to be everywhere! 

I have a reward for those of you who are really paying close attention. Reread yesterdays log and find the scientific error. The first person/school to give me the correct response will have their school mentioned on our website (Sometimes being at sea too long can cause a person to mix his particles with his atoms and molecules. Or is that participles with adjectives?)

Further update on the earthquake in Japan tells us that the quake was within 30 miles of Iwakuni, my final destination. But since the quake originated 30 miles deep there was less damage than might have been expected with a 6.4 quake. 

We hope to be near Hacijo Island by 3/30 where we will be sampling at the north
end of the island near the lighthouse. I am looking forward to some interesting photo opportunities there.

I had a request to investigate the type of equipment on board that would be monitoring ocean floor and currents. When I gather that information I will post it and possibly include some photos. 

Tonight will be our second "Science Night". We will hear from the team of scientists that are focusing on biological testing and light measurements. I will update you on their instrumentation and sampling techniques tomorrow.

Our position today is: 33N, 158.5E.

The nautical term is BEARING

Bye for now,

Monday, March 26, 2001 -- Day 19
Good news for you after our relaxing Sunday. Overnight, our aerosol monitors began to indicate a change in measurable particles. There was a sharp increase in the number of radon, ozone and carbon monoxide particles. The increase in radon particles is an indication that air which originated over land has now reached the ship at sea. ( Radon measurements are used as "markers" to indicate land based air particles in our intake equipment.) We have also seen more of a dust cloud on our satellite pictures. Hopefully by tomorrow we will see even more recognizable traces of dust. 

The bad news is that we are still caught up in the low pressure air mass that has caused us to have one heck of an amusement ride! The best thing yesterday was to grab a seat and stay in it! Maybe by tomorrow we will see the sun and calmer seas. The wind speed at the moment is ranging from 24 -27kts. The more wind, the more ____________s.

Other interesting information was that there was an earthquake in Japan yesterday (approx. 6.4 on the Richter scale). It occurred near Hiroshima which is close to where I will be going in a few more weeks. No news from our monitoring stations over there yet.

In another few days, we should be approaching Hachijo Island, south east of Japan. The collecting tower on that island was hit by lightning yesterday and all the special equipment was knocked out of commission. Hopefully that will be repaired by the time we arrive.  

The first thing to do upon arrival at the island is to procure a permit to collect plankton. Isn't that a surprise? (You can't just go into any water and collect what you want.) The collection and measurement of plankton is directly related to light studies that are conducted in conjunction with the particle studies. Remember, plankton are considered to be particles in the water. Then we will spend about 24 hours sampling off the island. No, we cannot get off the ship and hug the ground yet! 

Our bearings today are: 34N, 163E. As before, we had to turn off course slightly to give us a little more comfortable ride. Of course, everyone's definition of comfortable ride could be slightly different. I, for one, was frantically searching for the seat belt in my berth last night. So you can imagine how comfortable that ride was .

It occurred to me that you might enjoy getting a "nautical " term of the day, Studying the origin of the term and its use can be very interesting. 

Today's nautical term: KNOT

Question of the day: Where do radon particles come from? What would they indicate to us in terms of aerosols that we collect at sea?

Bye for now,

Sunday, March 25, 2001 -- Day 18
Picture of Monica Rivera and Susan with Weather Balloon
Picture of Sea Swell

A day of rest for the weary.. Saturday for you, but Sunday for me. Seas are still pretty high along with the wind speed. Sleeping was fairly nonexistent for a number of the scientists and also the teacher. The way the berths swing and sway with the rolling oceans is somewhat like trying to sleep on a trampoline when someone else is jumping on it!

We seem to be caught in a weather pattern that shows no sign of breaking for at least another 24 hrs. So, it might be a good day to read a good book and watch a few videos. We do have to rest sometime, you know.:)

We had a new member to the albatross following. But, this bird was all white and still unidentified at the moment. We will check out bird books and let you know. I wonder how he found us? Could be that we are a floating restaurant and the word gets around. 

Our time has changed again. Another hour was gained so we are way ahead of you! How many more time zone changes to go? 

We had an enjoyable evening last night, looking at the map of Japan and China. As we get closer, we will be spending some time closer to a few of the islands off of Japan, sampling and testing air. Some dust clouds have been spotted over China by satellite. They are composed of dust particles from the desert areas of China. These clouds work their way over towards Japan and the surrounding seas. Those air samplings will surely provide us with different data than we are collecting at the moment.

Our position for today is: 32N,165E.

Bye for now,

Saturday, March 24, 2001 -- Day 17
Today offered me an excellent science lesson! I worked my way up to the 02 level and slipped inside one of the portable vans filled with equipment. Computers, wires, duct tape, more wires, monitors, air intake tubes, more tape, gadgets to sort/separate particles, etc.. Certainly not much standing room in there. This van housed the equipment called "Single Particle Mass Spectrometer". This equipment even has a name - "Elwood" and its partner "Jake" is back in the labs at University of California-Riverside. And who said scientists had no sense of humor? Their equipment is even color coordinated.  Elwood has yellow "pin stripes" and Jake and "black".

The two scientists monitoring this aerosol testing equipment are Dr. Sergio Guazzotti from Argentina and David Sodeman from the USA. They spend many hours inside this tiny van and in another lab on the ship that is called the hydrolab. Their testing is an ongoing, daily occurrence By the time the trip is completed, these scientists estimate they will have approx. 1 million particles sampled and tested. That's impressive!

The equipment weighs approximately one ton and is just loaded with really interesting bells and whistles. As the air is pulled into the instrument, it is actually separated/sorted by particle size. The speed at which the air is pulled in is influenced by particle size as well. It then analyzes the chemical composition and particle structure. Isotopes of the various elements in the particles are also identified.. This data is then stored on discs which will be transported back to UCR for further evaluation.  

The data that is collected by all the instruments on board will be evaluated collaboratively. This process will evolve over a very long period of time.

You can begin to see why so much of our scientific investigations and studies take a considerable amount of time.

Our bearings today are: 32N, 172E.

Question of the day: What is an isotope? Can you guess what element(s) and its
isotopes would be most commonly collected out here?

I am off to the exercise room now. The good food on board is going to create a weight problem for me if I don't start moving around!

Bye for now

Friday, March 23, 2001 -- Day 16
Another day out here in the blue Pacific, testing , sampling, computing and filtering. The life of a sea-going scientist if never dull. The air out here really is pretty clean, so we are filtering lots of sea salt. As we travel closer to Japan the goal is to collect more "interesting" particles of varying sizes and shapes.

Here is something to consider: Our samples up to now have particle diameters that range from 5 nms - 5 microns. That is quite a large difference in sizes. But they are still very, very small. Try to develop a model that demonstrates this same range distribution but use objects that are found in your every day life (i.e.: sand grains, pin heads, golf balls, planets, etc.).  Extreme sizes and distances are very difficult to visualize aren't they? But that is what our universe is all about.

I am happy to announce that I am now a member of The Realm of the Golden Dragon Society. Aren't you jealous? Who would have known all the added benefits of being a Teacher at Sea?  I will carry my certificate with pride!

QUESTION OF THE DAY: What do you think it means to be a member of The Realm of the Golden Dragon Society and how could you join? 

Something else to ponder today. See if you can fill in the blanks.

A rope is to a Cowboy, as a ____________ is to a sailor. How about this one? A map is to the road, as a ___________ is to the sea. 

Let me know what you think!

Our position today is: 31N and 174 E. Yesterday afternoon turned out to be beautiful after all. Brilliant sun and warmer temperatures. Let's stick to that channel for a while.

Keep those answers coming! It is great fun hearing from you.

Thursday, March 22, 2001 -- Day 15
Well, well, well.. And I thought last night was something. Rather like an amusement ride on Coney Island! When I went to bed the swells were 14-15 ft., but during the night they increased to 20ft. And the winds increased from 30kts. to 40kts. No wonder I almost fell out of bed! The trick is to use your life jacket as a brace to wedge yourself into your bunk. Tends to give you a false sense of security.

This morning we had a "damage assessment" meeting, taking note of any equipment that became mobile during the night. It seems that some of the portable vans changed location on the deck during the night. There will not be much testing
going on today. We are battening down the hatches until the storm passes. This morning, one humorous( or possibly disturbed) scientist was actually reading a book titled Shipwrecks of the Pacific While I on the other hand, was looking for the book titled The One Minute Mariner. It occurred to me that this experience should be a mandatory freshman course for anyone interested in oceanography.  That would certainly separate the men from the boys.( or girls as it were). And probably save some tuition strapped parent a few dollars as well.

Last nights "science night" meeting was very helpful to me It clarified a number of issues regarding the project as a whole. ACE-ASIA is a part of the International Aerosol Experiment that has been ongoing since 1995. One of the goals is to bring to the public a broader understanding of the impact of aerosols on society in general. Not only is the issue of climate change a concern, but also the issue of human health, crop production (particularly of wheat and rice in China) and other economic impact.

Specific goals of this trip are to quantify the interactions between aerosols in the atmosphere and to quantify the physical and chemical processes/characteristics of the various aerosols. The interactions of these particles in the air and at the air-water interface are believed to be of significant impact on multiple earth process systems Not only can the aerosols create a cooling effect by reflecting light energy, but they also can create a warming effect by absorbing light energy . Another interesting point is that the aerosols can have a cloud nucleating effect. They can actually cause the clouds to become larger for longer periods of time.. Or, possibly the opposite effect. The question is : What is the impact of all of these processes as they occur simultaneously? Interesting, isn't it? 

What I find particularly fascinating is the process in which Saharan dust clouds travel all the way to Europe and the Atlantic. What other interesting types of particles could be traveling along with that dust? Something to think about....

Since one of the pieces of testing equipment on board is an OCEC Analyzer (organic carbon/elemental carbon) lets have a question that relates to that instrument. 

Questions of the Day: What is the difference between organic carbon and elemental carbon? What might be the sources of each type of carbon? 

Oh, by the way. It is actually Thursday out here for me. It's only Wednesday for you. When will I catch up with that lost day?

I am enjoying your email. Keep them coming!
Bye for now,

Wednesday, March 21, 2001 -- Day 14
Tonight we are experiencing a bit of a storm. Earlier today the Navy notified the ship that it was to change course and head south. It seems that we were headed for a very nasty storm. At the moment we are experiencing some of the effects of it. 14-15 foot swells and 30-35kt. winds. My goodness, are we rocking and rolling! Anything not tied down is flying around. I think one of the experiment stations on the stern has come loose. A few more green faces running to the bathroom. Thank the Lord I am feeling fine. My husband tells me that if I am fine with this, I need not worry.

I will write another journal update tomorrow. It will be sure to include the details of tonight. 

Take care
Bye for now,

Tuesday, March 20, 2001 -- Day 13 
This morning was another exciting morning up on the bridge, watching the swells and the albatross. We finally identified these birds as an adult and a young Black-footed Albatross. The swells appear to be smaller when viewing from the bridge. Lower down a few decks the swells appear to be a bit more intimidating. We are rocking and rolling today. It is interesting to see how we adapt to these motions. They don't seem to be bothering anyone any more. 

Today we cross the International Date Line and at midnight we turn our clocks back to 23:00 hrs. Then after an hour it will become Thursday instead of Wednesday.  How bizarre! Does that mean we will be "older" or "younger" or just confused? 

Yesterday afternoon we turned the ship around and sailed backwards at 5 kt/hr.  Why, you ask? Because the wind was blowing the smoke stake fumes toward the aerosol testing equipment which would not be a good thing. So, we traveled at a leisurely pace for a number of hours and then decided "enough of that". We turned around again and picked up speed (13 kt/hr) so that the ship would reach the correct position this morning to be directly under the Terra satellite for exchange of information.

Needless to say, the turning around and increasing of speed was like a very loud alarm clock in the middle of the night! 

This evening will be the beginning of "science night" meetings. The teams of researchers will take turns explaining how and why they are conducting their experiments. This will be very helpful for me! Then I will be able to pass that information on to you. 

QUESTION OF THE DAY: How many more time zones will we pass through by the time we reach Japan?

Bye for now, I am headed back to the bridge! That is the place to be..

Monday, March 19, 2001 -- Day 12
My goodness, I am beginning to need the calendar to see what day it really is! The days are beginning to blend together.

There are some "green faces" today.. After fairly gentle seas yesterday, the swells have increased in size and the gray clouds are threatening us with rain.  I am ever so grateful for my calm stomach, so far. The ships physician offers a guide with the following helpful hints to ease the discomfort of sea sickness.

1. Drink lots of water
2. Avoid fried foods
3. Take naps ( this is a particularly good suggestion !)
4. Keep some food in your stomach
5. Don't work at a computer terminal too long
6. Don't read too long
7. Get topside and breath in fresh air
8. Focus on the horizon or some object that is stationary

Apparently no one is immune to sea sickness. If the seas become rough enough for long enough we may all become green (like Kermit).

Testing continues daily. I am now becoming more familiar with the testing terminology. At times it is necessary for the ship to stop and hold position for a few hours for tests and other times, like today, the ship continues on course but tries to maintain a steadier position. Today is more difficult to do that.

What makes the Ron Brown such an excellent vessel for scientific experimentation
is the vast array of equipment on board. Here is a sample of that equipment.

a. Multibeam Echo Sounding System
b. Hydrographic/Sub-Bottom Profiler
c. Depth Recorder/Indicator System
d. Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler
e. Doppler Speed Log
f. Acoustic Positioning System
g. Conductivity, Temperature, Depth System (CTD)
h. Global Positioning System (GPS)
i. Scientific Computer System (SCS)

Sounds really impressive, doesn't it? One of my goals is to understand how each piece of equipment actually works.

The albatross are gone now. Where could they go way out here anyway?

QUESTION OF THE DAY: What actually causes motion sickness? Why are some people more susceptible than others?

Bye for now,

Sunday, March 18, 2001 -- Day 11
Picture of Equipment

Picture of Weather Balloon

Today I thought it would be helpful to discuss why a ship is being used for the aerosol experiments. As you know, our planet is approx. 70% water which logically indicates that particles would be moving over water even more than land. The atmosphere over water, particularly remote waters, provides ideal conditions for sampling. The slower speed at which the ship moves permits the scientists to conduct testing at a manageable pace as compared to samplings taken from airplanes. 

The ship can take the scientists to locations on the planet only accessible by water. It becomes a floating platform for data collection and experimentation.  The ship can also follow the wind patterns across the seas (ie:  tradewinds/westerlies). These winds carry particles from one continent to another.

The testing of air samples on board focuses on many aspects of aerosols. For example, some equipment may focus on how light energy and particles interact in the air as well as in the water, while another type of equipment focuses on size distribution of particles in the atmosphere. Understanding what types of organic and inorganic particles are collected is significant in terms of determining origin and interactive behaviors. 

This is just a small sampling of the types of experiments taking place on the ship. The testing and collection of aerosols is a daily activity. At times the scientists must work under difficult and awkward conditions that are directly influenced by weather , seas and swells. They also conduct their testing at all hours of the day. It may look like a "cruise" but it is definitely a "working cruise". It calls for committed scientists with a sense of adventure and endurance.

QUESTION OF THE DAY: What is the difference between a "sea" and a "swell"? 

Talk to you tomorrow. The albatross are still with us!

Saturday, March 17, 2001 -- Day 10
Today is officially day 3 at sea. We just finished our 8:00 am organization meeting. Each day we post the actual location of the ship. Yesterday we were 26N,161W. Today we will be 34N nd 164 W. Time zone change will occur at around 23:00 hrs. Then we will be 6 hours earlier than the east coast time. We change from zone #10 to zone #11 at 160 W. You can see how just this information alone would be good for an interdisciplinary study with social studies or geography.

We have left the Tradewinds and are now in the Westerlies. Ocean is rougher and
air temp. is much cooler. They expect a period of sun this afternoon and then we could be heading into a rainy front. Last night the rocking of the ship was much more pronounced. I could feel myself rolling around in the bunk. I will try to tape record the sounds at night. They would be perfect for a horror movie. Lots of clanking, groaning, crashing of metal on metal and then water sloshing around. Cool!!! 

Today, I had a tour of the bridge. WOW what an awesome sight that is! The technology involved with running this ship is amazing. That will be a place to visit when seas become higher.

The albatross are still following (remember the Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner?)
We had better treat them well.

Today's testing off the stern was similar to yesterdays. Only today the measurements were not just practice. I learned that the phytoplankton are considered to be "particles" in the sea since they too have influence on the behavior of light in the waters and above the waters. They would definitely be considered to be some of the larger particles. Non the less, they have an impact. 

Questions for today: What is a fetch? Why are they different in the Pacific compared to the Atlantic? When sailing, which sea would you prefer to experience and why? 

Talk to you tomorrow,

Friday, March 16, 2001 -- Day 9
First day at sea was terrific! Blue waters like I have never seen. Almost a Royal Blue. We had company off the stern today. Two young albatross having a great time soaring on the air wake behind us. 

Questions of the Day: What is so unusual about the albatross? How long can these birds keep flying? Where do they sleep?

A number of practice runs on scientific equipment were performed today. Weather balloon was released (photo to follow) to measure the temperature, pressure, wind speed, humidity, etc.. Later a CTD was lowered into the waters to measure water temperature and conductivity at various depths.( photo to follow) 

Two different satellites pass over the ship twice/day. The SeaWifs and the N16. It would be an interesting assignment for students to investigate these satellites in terms of: How they actually work, Who owns and operates them, and What types of images do they produce? 

Other scientific was tested as well today. Tomorrow should be the "real thing" with a number of these devices. I will report on them later.

One final exciting happening! A beautiful Mahi Mahi was reeled in off the stern. Actually - no reel was involved, just a thick rope with a lure on the end. Now that's "Fishin"! 


Thursday, March 15, 2001 -- Day 8
We are off into the Pacific! Today and tomorrow we are in the trade winds, so the weather is beautiful! Seas are definitely rolling but it is really like an amusement park ride. Manageable! But, shortly we will be in the Westerlies where they say "batten down the hatches!"  Hope I have my sea legs by then.

Lots of activity on board.  Scientists getting their equipment in order. We had safety drills last night - "Man overboard" and "Abandon ship". I received my protective gear for the abandon ship drill. Looks like an orange "Gumby "suit.  Lots of safety procedures to learn and respond to.  Ships are very dangerous places!

Sleeping was an interesting exercise. The ships anchor is not attached as securely as it might be. Therefore, we hear loud clinks and clanks during the night. The anti-roll tanks slosh water around particularly when the ship is rocking and rolling. Ear plugs were definitely a necessary piece of gear! 

I will let you know what today's experiments involve if there are any.

Talk to you soon

Wednesday, March 14, 2001 -- Day 7
I'm in the hotel in Honolulu getting ready to go to the ship (Ron Brown) for my trip.  We went to the ship yesterday and checked it all out, and I saw my room.  It was fun.  The people seem very nice.  Lots of activity.  People loading food, equipment, and other items.  We spent the whole day with the NOAA camera crew, and we did an interview for the local news last night KHNL (News 8/NBC).

I met my roommate.  We talked a couple times on the phone and via e-mail.  She seems just great.  I also spent some time with Dr. Tim Bates and met some other scientists.  Dr. Bates is very nice.  We also had lunch on the ship yesterday, and the food was good.

Well, I guess this is it; I can't back out now. It looks like it will be great fun.  It's beautiful in Honolulu.  I look forward to sending you all e-mail and pictures too.


Saturday, March 10, 2001 -- Day 3 
Today, we went to the airport where the C-130 is housed.  The airplane is so awesome and so impressive; it's overwhelming.  It barely fits in a hanger because it is so big.  We had a great session with Professor Barry Huebert, and he went through the airplane with me and explained all of the different forms of equipment and who designed the equipment, and what it all does. What was really good for me was that everything that Professor Huebert explained to me matched up with what my professor from West Chester gave me about aerosols and the experiments.

It was really exciting to see all of the technicians working on the equipment and getting it connected and hooked up and working on the airplane.  It was a wonderful and awesome experience.  I was also privileged to be able to meet the Department of Commerce Secretary Donald Evans.

Tomorrow we leave for Los Angeles to meet with another scientist; I'll get a chance to talk to him and interview him and then I'm off to Honolulu.  

I'll write again soon,

Thursday, March 8, 2001 -- Day 1
You know how sometimes in our lives we have opportunities presented to us and 
we hesitate? Then other times we dive right in without a second thought. No fear, no doubt. Who knows for sure what makes us behave differently at different times? 

When I was offered the opportunity to go to the famous Marine Biological Laboratories to take a week long teacher workshop paid for by Pfizer, Inc. in August of 1999, there was no doubt or fear, I dove head on! The atmosphere there was awe inspiring to say the least. Fabulous laboratories, serious scientists, inspiring lectures, great lab activities, delicious food and of course great scenery. 

Part of the scenery was a research ship, The Albatross, sitting in the harbor. Each morning we would stand on the bank drinking our coffee looking at that ship. My mind began to run away with itself, and it occurred to me that I really wanted to go on that ship, or one like it. When I returned home I began to research the ship on the Internet. The email for the ship's captain was listed on the website. With a push of a button my request flew into cyberspace. All he could do was say "no." Months later I received a packet in the mail about the Teacher at Sea Program. 

I began researching all the ships in the NOAA fleet and studied their schedules, searching for just the right project. In the meantime, my students were aware of my developing dream. Fairly regularly they would ask if I had heard anything or decided on any particular project. Once in a while I would draw a ship on the board with a stick figure of myself waving good-bye. They were amused... But I was dead serious. 

The Ron Brown was one of the ships I had decided upon. New, modern and high tech made sense to me. A note with the ships name was posted on my bulletin board almost a year ago. "Never lose sight of your goal" and "keep it alive every day in some small way" was something I had read that stayed with me and that note was a constant reminder. I have since learned the serious reality of that quote. It really is true. It really works. Learning that is a signal to me that I have just begun. The journey begins in two days! 

Think "calm seas and clear skies"! 

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