Saturday, April 14, 2012

The Big Thaw and Under Pressure

Finally a little bit of Spring popped up in our front garden! Hard to believe as there are still mounds of snow and at least 3’ still needs to melt in our yard! This little bit of color after our record setting winter not only cheered me but inspired me.

Kristen is home safe from her month-long Great Belt Research Cruise in the Southern Ocean. The 2012 Great Belt Research Cruise: Exploring Phytoplankton in the Southern Ocean. An international team of researchers left Durban, South Africa on February 18, 2012 aboard the Research Vessel Roger Revelle and arrived 35 days later in Freemantle, Australia, after collecting data and samples as they crossed the Southern Ocean. Kristen worked primarily with the CTD equipment, and processed the samples from the various stations in the on-board laboratory. The CTD rosette is the primary water collection tool used on the cruise; CTD stands for Conductivity, Temperature, and Depth, referring to the set of sensors mounted on the bottom of the rosette.

One of the benefits of having a big sister as a scientist is having her be able to shrink things in the deep blue sea and being able to share it with your science class! On each of Kristen’s research cruises, Kristen has shrunk, Styrofoam cups and even Styrofoam beautician heads for Gus using the CTD. On this cruise the educational outreach coordinator included a large mesh bag of cups from elementary school students on the East Coast that were sent down to illustrate the effects of the pressure at 2 miles below the surface.  Fortunately for Gus his cup made it but not so lucky for the other students…
On March 9 from Kristen while on the  2012 Great Belt Research Cruise : “All of this happened during our last deep cast, 4700 m, (4700 meters = 2.9204446 miles) so it was a five hour cast. I sent down a bunch of styrofoam cups to be shrunk, including the one I made for Gus. That one, plus the one I made for me and the one I made for Jess, I put into a pair of panty hose that Cecila (a fellow researcher) donated for the cause. I tied them together, put a zip-tie in the middle of them, and threw them into a larger mesh bag. We also attached another pair of panty hose with cups with a ton of zip ties to the outside of the CTD, as well as another blue mesh bag on the other side.

When the CTD came up (underneath an incredible display of Aurora Australis southern lights), only the second blue bag, and the pair of panty hose that I strapped to the cage were visible at first. The first blue bag, the one with the majority of the student cups, was shredded to bits. Then, I saw Mike's tie line in the distance, and I noticed something swinging from the bottom of the CTD- it was the other pair of hose that had been INSIDE the blue bag that ripped!!! Somehow, it wrapped itself round the frame,
without zip ties, and it still might have fallen into the water as we were taking it out, but Mike had managed to hook it by accident! Incredible! We are all really in shock about it- it really defies physics! So, my cup, the cup I made for Gus, and the one I made for Jess all came out! crazy, huh?”
Lucky for Gus!

The Aurora Australis (the Southern Lights) aboard the R/V Revelle.

And just so you don’t think this expedition was all fun and games, here is a shot of the Revell as the stern descended into the trough of a wave…


cookingwithgas said...

interesting! I get sea sick rolling over in bed! WoW!

cindy shake said...

They encountered some crazy rough weather and witnessed the true power of Mother Nature -out in the middle of the sea with no land in sight -that would have been a bit much for me! After being on a boat for an extended time -once I'm back on land it takes me days to adjust, walking all wobbly legged! :)

Tracey Broome said...

All I can say is that I'm glad my daughter is in film school, she just sits in a theater and watches movies all week :) We were just recently talking about what your daughter does, I will have to send her a link to your post! I know you are proud and terrified all at the same time!