Shelf Sea Biogeochemistry blog

Showing posts with label Jonathan Sharples. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Jonathan Sharples. Show all posts

Friday, 7 November 2014

Preparation continues

Things are gradually finding their place inside the ship. Everything is now aboard, and slowly being put together or stored. Jo Hopkins (from the National Oceanography Centre in Liverpool) is putting together the wirewalker mooring. This is a device that uses wave action to crawl up and down a wire between the seabed and the sea surface. As it does this, instruments on it measure the water temperature, saltiness, and the amount of the microbial plants (the phytoplankton) in the water. The wirewalker doesn’t work if the sea is flat calm, which we suspect won’t be a problem on this cruise.

jo assembling wirewalker

 Malcolm Woodward (nutrient chemist from Plymouth Marine Laboratory) has, perhaps a little early, got into the Christmas spirit. His nutrient autoanalyser and its control computer are festooned with flashing coloured lights.
We are all keeping a wary eye on the weather forecast. Looks to be fairly good still for the first day, which will at least allow us to get out to the first sampling site in the middle of the Celtic Sea. After that the wind is forecast to pick up, but it doesn’t look like it’ll be strong enough to worry us for a few days.

Original blog

Well lit autoanalyser

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Loading the ship begins….

The various groups of scientists gradually began to arrive in Falmouth today. People have travelled from Plymouth, Norwich, Oban, Aberdeen, Southampton, and of course Liverpool. Each van load of equipment was loaded onto the ship, and stacked in the ship’s laboratories. Tomorrow the hard work starts, sorting all the boxes of stuff into the correct labs, setting up all of the equipment and beginning to see if it all works OK after the journey here. The plan is to sail 0830 Sunday morning.

Disco Loading

I met the captain to chat about the plans for the next few days. This is her first cruise as captain on this ship. Before this she worked for several years with the British Antarctic Survey on their research vessel. It’s interesting to see how things have changed since my first cruise way back in 1989. Then the crew was entirely male, and the scientists tended to be predominantly male. This is my first cruise where there are more women scientists on board than men, and the ship has several women, including the captain, one of the engineering officers and the head chef.

Disco Laoding

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Next cruise: RRS Discovery, Celtic Sea

My next research cruise is due later next week. I’ll be at sea for 23 days aboard the RRS Discovery, leaving Falmouth on November 9th and returning to Southampton on December 3rd. This cruise is a part of the Shelf Sea Biogeochemistry research programme.
On an earlier cruise, with a collection of meteorological buoys ready for deployment.

The shallow seas around the world’s landmasses, called the shelf seas, cover about 5% of the ocean’s surface area, but they generate somewhere between 15 and 30% of the total amount of biological production in the ocean. We are not entirely sure how they do that. In particular we know that they must receive nutrients from the deep ocean to fuel this biological growth, but we don’t know how that happens. This biological growth supports all of the main commercial fisheries in the sea, and it is also important to our climate. The growth of plankton results in the sea surface absorbing carbon from the atmosphere’s CO2; the shelf sea biological production is thought to remove about one third of the total carbon we put into the atmosphere each year by burning fossil fuels. So, we want to understand how the plankton do this and, importantly, if they are sensitive to changes in our climate.