Life in the Low Latitudes

Sunset in the South Atlantic

As I hear about all the snow that has hit the northeast in the past week, I realize how grateful I am to be enjoying summer weather here in the Southern hemisphere.  The past few days we have been working our way up to 32 degrees South, the point on our cruise closest to the equator.  Once we reach this destination, we will shift our course towards 60 degrees South.  Our cruise track has been slightly altered from the original plan in order to account for inclement weather we may experience later on in the trip.  I was excited to hear that this new route will bring us within six miles of the island of South Georgia!

With less than ten stations to go until we say goodbye to warm weather (today is 63 degrees) everyone has been spending as much time as they can on deck soaking up some sun.  Equipment deployment becomes more of an enjoyable task in such favorable weather conditions.  Nevertheless, there is still work that must be done inside in the lab.

I have spent most of my time in the lab thus far filtering water samples.  During my watch I usually filter 2-3 stations worth of water.  At “water” stations, I collect water samples from 8 niskin bottles on the CTD, which come from various depths.  These stations generally alternate with “no water” stations, at which I collect one underway sample from a sea surface water faucet in the lab.


All of these water samples are run through various filtrations.  I filter the water for chlorophyll-a, the value of which I later measure using the fluorometer, biogenic silica, PIC (Particulate Inorganic Carbon), CHN (Carbon, Hydrogen, Nitrogen), and I prepare a filter that is ultimately used to make a cell count slide.  Other than chlorophyll, analysis of these nutrients will be performed back in the lab at Bigelow, which is why it’s important to keep all samples organized.  After 11 days, we already have 162 samples.  In addition, each sample is run through the FlowCAM, an amazing, albeit sometimes temperamental, machine.  The FlowCAM takes black and white pictures of particles in the water sample and measures the size of these particles.

On a different note, I thought I’d mention that I rolled out of bed the other night while I was sleeping.  Luckily, I had a smooth landing.  It’s a good thing I wasn’t assigned a top bunk.


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