Posts Tagged ‘oceanography’

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.

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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.

WinklerAnalysis

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.

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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.

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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!

Playing Balloon Technician in the Tropical Pacific

October 4, 2010

Filling the weather balloon for the first launch was a team effort, including the help of the Captain. (photo: S. Buckley)

Shandy Buckley

by Shandy Buckley, Physical Oceanography Lab

In April of this year I flew off to sunny, warm Hawaii to participate in a research cruise for my former school, the University of Hawaii, Manoa. As the plane took off from San Jose in a cold morning rain I had little idea of what to expect, science wise. On my arrival in sunny Hawaii I quickly learned that the cruise was funded by the US Air Force, (and specifically an agency called DARPA) to observe a glider do something where no one else could see it. The details were vague, to the point that until the evening after we’d left port none of the ships crew, nor myself knew where we were exactly going or what DARPA stood for. We took to referring to it as the ‘Department of Defense Against the Dark Arts’, and the giant satellite tracking antennae on our deck as the ‘death star’.

My home for 16 days: the RV Kaimikai o Kanaloa, docked before the cruise at the University of Hawaii marine center. (photo: S. Buckley)

Silly names aside, my job aboard the ship was to collect atmospheric data using weather balloons. Before leaving land I was trained by the UHM meteorology department to launch weather balloons and convince the attached instrument to listen to me. The instrument, all going well, would profile the atmospheric density (pressure, temperature, humidity) to over 30,000 meters. Once on station, 1,000 nautical miles west of Hawaii, I would launch a balloon every 6 hours and take meteorology readings at the surface. On land I was referred to as the balloon technician.

Releasing the weather balloon from the ship. Making pushing motions and yelling “Fly, fly!” was found to help. (photo: S. Buckley)

The title of “Chief Scientist” was bestowed on me jokingly one night at dinner and stuck through the entire cruise. The reasons for such a prestigious title were two-fold. First of all, I was the only person on board associated with a research institute who was there to collect research data. The rest of the science party consisted of 4 very intelligent technicians contracted or hired by the Air Force whose job on board was to collect satellite data transmitted from the glider.  Second of all, as the only woman on board, I was given the Chief Scientist cabin. And that is how a first year graduate student becomes Chief Scientist.

Birds would fly onto the back deck of the ship at night and hang out for a day. (photo: S. Buckley)

Being at sea for 16 days, literally 1,000 nautical miles from “civilization,” on a 200-ft ship with 20 men is an interesting and very educational experience. The other people on board had a lot to teach me. The lead technician led me through the basics of communicating between the scientists and the bridge in the middle of the night, and how to launch a large unwieldy object without following it over the side of the ship. Every morning I would go up to the bridge and the Captain would patiently guide me through a sun sight with the sextant. By the end of the trip the GPS and I were mostly in agreement. Being out at sea was an incredible experience and one I would recommend to anyone with an interest in packing as much learning and action into as little time and space possible. The stars were gorgeous, the people were interesting, and the food was great.

The chief steward and the dinner. (photo: S. Buckley)

The chief steward and the dinner. (photo: S. Buckley)

We saw lots of beautiful sunsets like this one. Best movie on the ship.. (photo: S. Buckley)

An Eighth-Grade Elkhorn Slough Expedition

July 31, 2010

8th grade students explore Elkhorn Slough with Moss Landing grad students and staff. (photo: T. Novak)

by Erin Loury

There’s no better classroom than out in the field.  This June, Mr. Lane’s 8th grade science class from the International School of Monterey got up close with oceanography, with the help of some MLML Physical Oceanography grad students and staff.  Having studied basic marine science and discussed human impacts on the ocean, including global warming and ocean acidification, the 8th graders had the chance to explore Moss Landing’s marine environment first hand.

The MLML crew steered the class on a boat tour of Elkhorn Slough that turned into a salty safari, with appearances by sea otters, jellies, rays, sea lions, and a variety of algae, invertebrates and birds.  The MLML team highlighted the potential impacts of agriculture on the local watershed.  They  also introduced the class to the LOBO network, which stands for Land Ocean Biogeochemical Observatory, and is designed to track chemical fluxes throughout the slough environment.

Ready to turn over the LOBO mooring (photo: M. Nakagawa)

The class tipped over LOBO mooring L01 in the main channel of the slough to get a good look at the sensor array (which monitors many properties of the water, including temperature, salinity, nitrate, oxygen, pH, and current velocity), as well as a whole bunch of organisms that decided to make the mooring their home!

The MLML team talked to the class about the work it takes to maintain this observatory network, such as periodically removing these fouling organisms from the sensors, as well as managing the continuous flow of real-time data from sensors.  Tanya Novak, a graduate student in the Physical Oceanography Lab, summed up the experience this way: “They were a very enthusiastic and intelligent group of 8th graders, excited to learn and get their hands dirty.  We had a blast!”

Check out these photos of their adventure and findings!

A group of intrepid explorers ready to hit the slough! (photo: T. Novak)

MLML grad student Melinda Nakagawa steers a whaler through Elkhorn sough. (photo: T. Novak)

More photos…

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