Posts Tagged ‘oceanography’

El Niño: the event of the season

September 17, 2015

Jackie LindseyBy Jackie Lindsey, Vertebrate Ecology Lab

In the past few months, I have been asked more questions about oceanography than in the entirety of my career at Moss Landing. Inquiring minds want to know: what is this “El Niño storm” that will save us from the drought in California?

What is an El Niño?

We can look at El Niño events in the context of the ENSO, or El Niño Southern Oscillation.  ENSO is a term for a “climate event” that is so large that it can affect global atmospheric circulation.  ENSO fluctuates between three phases, which we refer to as El Niño, La Niña, and Neutral.  How are they different? Let’s talk about the Pacific Ocean. (more…)

Fog Blog: the June Edition

June 20, 2014

By Alex Olson & Holly Chiswell, Chemical Oceanography


Fog Tower deployed, the crew of the R/V Point Sur spotlights night waters to avoid crab pots during fog collection operations off the California Coast (Photo by Alex Olson)

On June 5th, members of the Marine Pollutions Studies and Chemical Oceanography Labs under the direction of Dr. Kenneth Coale, began a week-long journey on the R/V Point Sur to investigate the recent findings of mercury in coastal marine fog. Dubbed “The Fog Cruise”, the crew and science party aboard sampled near and offshore waters using oceanographic tools for signs of methylmercury (MeHg), from deep sea sediments to fog above the sea surface. (more…)

Kenji: Cruising with an ROV

December 16, 2013

h_WDcnUcNpuPhD9aRqYp4ku0vyNY4uVsyAib-P0FILw by Jackie Lindsey, Vertebrate Ecology Lab

First year students at Moss Landing Marine Labs are encouraged to seize every opportunity to get involved in research.  That is just what Kenji Soto is doing (December 7th-23rd) as a volunteer on the Research Vessel Atlantis.  He is helping Sam Hulme (MLML) and Geoff Wheat (MBARI adjunct researcher) with a project titled: Collaborative Research: Discovery, sampling, and quantification of flows from cool yet massive ridge-flank hydrothermal springs on Dorado Outcrop, eastern Pacific Ocean.  And the really cool part? Kenji is blogging as he goes!  Follow (HERE!) his progress, his discoveries, his photos and videos, and the delicious food he is enjoying while a member of the research team on RV Atlantis.


Sampling on the High Seas

March 7, 2013

By Diane Wyse, Physical Oceanography Lab

Last week, students from the Chemical Oceanography class took advantage of many of the resources at Moss Landing Marine Labs to perform an analysis of dissolved oxygen throughout the seawater intake system.  The system supplies seawater from offshore to the MLML aquarium (up on “the hill,” at the main campus of the lab), the live tanks at Phil’s Fish Market, MBARI’s Test Tank, and to SLEWTHS.

Moss Landing

For the first stop of the day, students Kristin Walovich and Ashley Wheeler joined professor Kenneth Coale and teaching assistant Diane Wyse in loading up a whaler with supplies for sampling.  The team set out to collect water offshore at 17 m, around the depth that water is brought into the system.  The whaler, one of three available to students through the MLML Small Boats, was equipped with an aluminum pulley system to collect water at depth.

Professor Kenneth Coale and students Kristin Walovich and Ashley Wheeler prepare to sample water at depth.  Photo: D. Wyse

Professor Kenneth Coale and students Kristin Walovich and Ashley Wheeler prepare to sample water at depth. Photo: D. Wyse

Professor Kenneth Coale samples water from ~17 m using a Niskin bottle.  Photo: D. Wyse

Professor Kenneth Coale samples water from ~17 m using a Niskin bottle. Photo: D. Wyse

The second stop on the seawater sampling adventure was at the MLML Pumphouse, where unfiltered seawater passes through the instruments of the data acquisition system.  A variety of oceanographic parameters, including temperature, salinity, turbidity, and dissolved oxygen concentration, are measured and shared with the public through the MLML Public Data Portal.

Finally, the sampling team headed up the hill to the MLML aquarium, and collected and pickled water that is pumped in for the marine flora and fauna kept for thesis research and class projects.  The “pickling” step involves addition of reagents to the glass collection bottles before they are sealed to prevent further biological processes from altering the concentration of dissolved oxygen in the sample.  The pickling process was applied in the same fashion, immediately after collecting, to all of the samples taken that day.

Kristin Walovich samples water from the MLML Aquarium

Kristin Walovich samples water from the MLML Aquarium

Back at the MLML Environmental Biotechnology Lab students performed a Winkler titration to determine the concentration of dissolved oxygen in the samples.   The data from this class experiment can be used to help calibrate the oxygen optodes on the Public Data Portal system.


A Day on the Bay, Biological Oceanography Style

October 9, 2012

By Heather Fulton-Bennett, Biological Oceanography Lab

The term cruise generally brings to mind tropical weather and luxurious surroundings, but scientific research cruises are much more about long hours of work and only a few brief moments to enjoy the view. As a new student in the Biological Oceanography Laboratory, I was simply excited to get out on the water.

View of San Francisco Bay

Our view of the San Francisco Bay and Golden Gate Bridge as we approached our anchorage for the afternoon

The Biological Oceanography Lab is part of a testing program for ballast water sterilization systems and utilizes the training vessel TS Golden Bear as a semi-mobile research station. With increasing concerns about the spread of invasive species through boating traffic, researchers are trying to minimize the potential for the viable organism to be transported in the ballast water of ships. State regulations focus on minimizing the number of live organisms present following treatment, and our lab is responsible for determining if treatment systems are effective by providing organism counts. Live organism counts are done by microscope on both the untreated and treated ballast water to compare the number of live organisms before and after the treatment. Current regulations require very low numbers of live organisms to be present in the water, so it is crucial to make sure the systems are effective.


Buoy Riding in the Name of Science

August 27, 2012

By Diane Wyse, Physical Oceanography Lab

Among the coolest aspects of interning at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) are all of the opportunities for new and exciting experiences in marine science and engineering.  On a beautiful Moss Landing summer day, fellow intern Samantha Peterson and I enjoyed one of those opportunities on a day cruise aboard MBARI’s R/V Zephyr.  We steamed out of Moss Landing Harbor early in the morning, and after two hours of getting our sea legs and munching on snacks (to avoid sea sickness, for sure), we arrived at our first of two stops for the day.  The cruise plan included a visit to the M2 mooring, a buoy deployed and maintained by MBARI scientists and engineers in partnership with the National Data Buoy Center (ID 46044), to download acoustic Doppler current profiler (ADCP) data and perform routine maintenance.

R/V Zephry from the M2 moored buoy. Photo: D. Wyse

The whole process of visiting and maintaining a mooring was really exciting to experience, especially as a student of physical oceanography.  I got a kick out of the adventure inherent in maintaining oceanographic and meteorological instruments bobbing at the surface, moored 1000+ meters below on the seafloor.  As I stood at the back of the Zephyr taking in the experience- the albatrosses gracefully landing to investigate our activities, the sea lion curiously poking it’s head up around the buoy, the scientists and technicians climbing onto the buoy from the side of the ship- I wondered what sort of training or security clearance one has the endure to work on the buoy.  After pondering this aloud to my fellow intern, I inquired with the ship operator.  His job was to carefully back the boat up to the buoy to transfer people and equipment, then to maintain a safe distance from the buoy while the technicians were working on it.  As it turns out, it was surprisingly simple; I had to confirm with just about everyone on that day cruise that I am not sensitive to seasickness before getting the go-ahead to disembark the trusty Zephry and climb (well, pounce, really) aboard M2.  I could see immediately what everyone was driving at once I was aboard the mooring.  Because the platform is only about 10 ft in diameter, it is much easier to get tossed about with the swell.  You feel much more in touch with the ocean on a smaller vessel.  While ocean observers Mike Kelley and Jared Figurski downloaded the ADCP data, I climbed to the upper level to investigate the meteorological instruments.  With my finely tuned CSI skills, I observed the evidence of seabird visitors on the solar panels and offered to clean off the droppings, you know, in the name of science.  Surprisingly, they were more than happy to oblige that request, and I grabbed a cloth with seawater and scrubbed those panels squeaky clean.


It’s a Wonderful Lab

February 16, 2012

By Diane Wyse, Physical Oceanography Lab

In a day that some might describe as “the ideal lab experience,” four Moss Landing students set out to perform water sampling techniques for their chemical oceanography class, and enjoyed a day filled with surprises and adventure on the Monterey Bay.  Those students, from the phycology, physical, and biological oceanography labs, took MLML’s “Hurricane” Zodiac boat out to nine sites around the bay to collect seawater.  Along with two other groups that explored sections of Elkhorn Slough, the sampling effort was a snapshot of the concentration of silica in the surface waters of the bay and slough.

The day began with a lesson on instrumentation for determining temperature and salinity at each collection site.

Biological oceanography lab student Nicole Bobco checks the temperature and salinity measurements on the YSI field sampling sensor. (photo: D. Wyse)

Chemical oceanography professor Dr Kenneth Coale waves to the bay crew as he and students head off the explore and sample from the upper Elkhorn Slough. (photo: D. Wyse)

A handful of pinnipeds seen enjoying the beautiful weather on the bay crew's ride to the first sampling site. (photo: D. Wyse)

Biological oceeanography lab student April Woods reaches over the side of the Rigid Hull Inflatable Boat (RHIB) to collect a sample of seawater. (photo: D. Wyse)

En route to one of the sampling sites, phycology lab student, experienced boat driver, and keen marine mammal spotter Mike Fox caught sight of a pod of over 50 dolphins!  As the boat slowly approached, a handful of the common dolphins gracefully whizzed along by the boat and gave the delighted marine science students quite a show. (more…)

Let’s Get Physical!

September 28, 2011

photo: E Donham

by Emily Donham, Ichthyology Lab

During Physical Oceanography class (MS 142) Professor Dr. Erika McPhee-Shaw invited interested students to participate in a day cruise aboard the Moss Landing Marine Laboratories 135’ research vessel (R/V) Point Sur.  The cruise was part of a collaborative research project between scientists at the Naval Post Graduate School (NPS), the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) and the physical oceanography lab at Moss Landing Marine Laboratories (MLML) (Dr. McPhee-Shaw is the lead PI).  The mission included the deployment of oceanographic instrument moorings and the collection of conductivity, temperature, and depth (CTD) measurements at stations along an isobath, or line of constant depth, in Monterey Bay.

Moss Landing Harbor

photo: E Donham

I arrived at the ship at 0700 in order to make it aboard for the safety briefing before setting sail.  The morning was foggy which delayed our departure by a half hour.  At our first stop NPS researchers deployed an instrument mooring fitted with an acoustic doppler current profiler (ADCP) which will take continuous water velocity measurements throughout the water column.  These water velocity measurements will help the scientists understand how water is flowing in the bay.

The NPS team readying their mooring before deployment (photo: E Donham)

Next we moved further offshore to deploy Erika’s instruments.  (more…)

Drop-In to MLML Open House: The Bottle Drop – See Niskins in Action

April 19, 2011

photo: E. Loury

Biological Oceanography student Shana Carmichael readies a Niskin bottle to show Open House visitors how scientists use it to collect water at different depths in the ocean.  The bottles are arranged in a carousel on a CTD instrument like the one shown below (and modeled here).   Scientists lower the instrument to the depth of interest in the ocean, then send down a “messenger” weight that triggers the bottle to close at both ends.   Each bottle can be filled with water from a different layer of the ocean, allowing scientists to sample oxygen, nutrients, plankton and other water components across a range of depths.  Come to Open House to see a nifty Niskin for yourself!

MLML Open House is Saturday, April 30 & Sunday, May 1.

photo: E. Loury

You Must be This Tall to Ride This Ride

February 27, 2011

(photo: H. Hawk)

Recent MLML graduate and Drop-In contributor Amanda Kahn poses next to an instrument called a CTD on the deck of the Research Vessel Point Sur.  “CTD”  stands for Conductivity (or salinity), Temperature and Depth – all properties that the nifty gizmo can record as it’s lowered and raised through the water.  The black cylinders are called niskin bottles, and they can be opened and closed to collect a sample of seawater at specific depths.  Niskin bottles and other oceanographic equipment snag the spotlight in the mother of all marine science music parodies, “Cruise Cruise Baby” – check it out!


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