Scientific Research Program
Instrumentation onboard Ocean Watch will enable the collection of datas throughout the expedition. Whenever possible, scientists will join the expedition and participate in port-based education and outreach activities. Brief descriptions of the ship-based science projects are below.
(Dr. Michael Reynolds, RMR Co. and Dr. Andy Jessup, University of Washington Applied Physics Laboratory)
Understanding of global climate change is dependent on quality measurements feeding computer models. Satellite measurements depend on a grid of high precision measurements from the Earth’s surface. Air-sea flux (heat and water vapor exchange) measurements are both sparse and crucial. The Around the Americas meteorological package is a carefully designed system that will make all required measurements to completely define the exchange of heat and water vapor between the ocean and atmosphere. Measurements made during the voyage (winds, temperature, humidity, pressure, solar radiation, infrared radiation, and sea temperature) are measured to very high precision.
(Dr. Bill Asher, University of Washington Applied Physics Laboratory in collaboration with Dr. Jenny Purcell, Western Washington University, and Dr. Mary Beth Decker, Yale University)
Jellyfish blooms, which are becoming increasingly common in coastal waters, are thought to be a symptom of anthropogenic ocean stress and climate change. Little is currently known about the areal extent of jellyfish populations, and few surveys have been conducted measuring their populations over wide geographic ranges. Visible imaging techniques have been shown to be effective in measuring jellyfish populations, and a survey of jellyfish populations as a function of latitude over an entire ocean basin would help address this issue. This study will use video cameras mounted on the stern of the boat combined with opportunistic tissue sampling and species identification of jellyfish.
Arctic Buoy Deployment
(Dr. Ignatius Rigor, University of Washington Applied Physics Laboratory)
Buoys deployed in the Arctic for the International Arctic Buoy Program measure air pressure and sea surface temperature. These data are widely used by both weather and ice forecasters. If the buoys are near other buoys or research stations collecting similar data, the air pressure measurements can be used to estimate wind speed and direction. The location of each buoy over time is tracked by a satellite. Tracking information is used to derive information on ocean currents or ice velocity, depending on where the buoy is deployed. Recently, data from these instruments were employed to support the introduction of polar bears to the endangered species list.
Solar Reflection Study
(Drs. Tom Ackerman and Dave Covert, Joint Institute for the Study of the Atmosphere and Ocean)
Atmospheric scientists from UW’s Joint Institute for the Study of the Atmosphere and Ocean (JISAO) will use a hand-held sun photometer to examine the reflection of solar energy by particulate matter (aerosols) in the atmosphere. Aerosols come from both man-made and natural sources. They reduce the amount of solar radiation (energy) reaching the earth’s surface, thus reducing temperature and partially counteracting global warming from greenhouse gases. However, any aerosol counteraction of greenhouse warming is short term and localized. These data, not routinely collected at sea, will be compared to NASA’s satellite-based measurements and supplement NASA’s ground-based photometer network.
(Dr. Peter Dahl, University of Washington Applied Physics Laboratory)
A hydrophone will be used to record the underwater sounds of marine mammals, along with the more general background sound, or ambient noise environment, found within different ports. When possible, the acoustic data will be paired with photo and video recordings of marine animals. Data collected from different ports will be used to examine the variation of sound level with latitude as it is influenced by snapping shrimp populations (which are more prevalent at tropical latitudes) and the degree of industrialization characterizing the port.
Water Quality Measurements in Port
(Dr. Chrys Chryssostomidis, MIT Sea Grant College Program)
In collaboration with the MIT Sea Grant College Program, a Sea Perch will be used to collect water quality data in each port. The Sea Perch is a simple, remotely operated underwater vehicle, or ROV, that is equipped with sensors to collect near-shore water quality data in each port. Developed by the MIT Sea Grant in 2003, the Sea Perch Program trains teachers and their students to build and deploy the Sea Perch. Now, students around the world are using their Sea Perches to collect and enter water quality data into the online Sea Perch Data Bank, an international water quality database. Data collected by Sea Perch users is automatically integrated into state of the art GIS-based maps and comparative graphs. Students and scientists around the world can tap into the database to use Sea Perch data in their research. To learn more about Sea Perch, see http://seaperch. mit.edu.
(Dr. Lin Chambers, NASA)
Daily observations of cloud cover and type will be made from Ocean Watch throughout the expedition as part of the NASA Students’ Cloud Observations On-Line (S’COOL) project. These data are used to verify data from the NASA CERES satellite instruments. This project represents the first time that cloud observations are collected consistently from the open ocean for the S’COOL project. Students following the expedition can contribute to this dataset by using the S’COOL Rover website to make their own cloud observations from their backyards and/or schools to compare with observations from Ocean Watch.