We are less than a day away from our first study area on the continental shelf in front of the Dibble Glacier. As we approach Antarctica we are starting our science program with a 4500 meter deep CTD and multibeam acquisition. The CTD is used to determine the conductivity, temperature and depth of the ocean, while the multibeam maps large swaths of the seafloor from the ship.
The main goal of our project is to investigate the continental shelf in front of different glaciers along East Antarctica. We want to find out what the water depths and the water properties are in front of these glaciers and ice streams. Deep troughs and connections between the glaciers and the open ocean could allow “warmer” ocean waters to reach the ice front and result potentially in melting of the ice. We are especially interested to compare the situation in front of different glaciers along East Antarctica to better understand the differences between them. Many of these areas are poorly charted, if at all. So we are all excited to discover what is there!
Follow @FrankatSea for additional updates and images from the Southern Ocean.
Day 3 sunset
Day 4 sunset
There is a bizarre foggy mist across the entire surface of the ocean.
This was a huge cargo vessel off in the distance. I know it isn't a sunrise or sunset but its a sweet pic.
Day 6 sunrise with a storm front in the distance.
Panorama of Day 6 sunrise.
Porthole sunset with my refection.
First bit of sunset color directly off the bow of the Endeavor.
about 20mins later....
A look at all the instrumentation on the bridge of the R/V Endeavor.
The full moon as it shines over the ocean water! Creepy!
The OBS retrieval at night! One of the crew members installed a light at the end of the hook to aid in the equipment capturing process.
This picture was take from the bridge of the Endeavor. It is the Quantum of the Seas cruise ship at ~0300 during an OBS retrieval. This picture is ~2 miles away from the Quantum of the Sea cruise ship and is as close as the Endeavor can legally pass another large ocean vessel under maritime law. The bright celestial object overhead is Jupiter.
This photo shows the Endeavor docked at port just before we embarked on this high seas adventure. The first evening we went to a chinese restaurant called 7 moons. By the time we arrived back at the shipyard the gate had been pulled shut and appeared to be locked and was topped with plenty of barbed wire. After some deep thought our highly intelligent group realized that it was pulled closed and all we had to do was roll it open haha. There is a geophysicists joke embedded in that experience.
This is the WHOI crew carefully bringing the OBS back onto the ship. Hard hats and life preservers are required when on deck during retrieval operations. The OBS in this photo is hanging down beneath the orange apparatus.
As the Endeavor aligns itself with the OBS in the ocean currents at night the WHOI crew get in position to capture the Ocean Bottom Seismometer.
After a successful OBS capture the WHOI crew quickly disassembles the OBS and prepares it to be stacked with the other equipment that is strongly secured to the surface of the deck.
This shows the spotlight at night. It is used to help orient the ship alongside the OBS in the pitch black darkness of the night at sea. We have also thankfully had the full moon over the last few days to assist us in finding the OBS once it pops up to the surface.
This lovely burry image is the spot light as it tracks the OBS. The spotlight is extremely useful once the OBS is within several ship lengths of distance.
The OBS is starting to get closer now....
Full moon over a perfect OBS recovery.
Hammock in the middle of the night!
You can really get a good feel for spotting the OBS at night in this picture. It is obviously a ship length or two off the starboard bow.
Dr. Maureen Long and one of the crew members race each other to safety!
Graduate Student intern Colton Lynner is almost unrecognizable once the survival suit is fully on. Only the last troublesome step up zipping up to go before full emersion can take place.
Graduate Student intern Terry Cheiffetz struggles with the final zipper step as well.
Dr. Maggie Benoit looks like she wants to really know how to put on the survival gear in case of emergency or... she can't believe she has to participate in these fun shenanigans.
The final product appears to be both fashionable and comfortable. We would interview the model in this photo but he declined to comment....hopefully next years model will have a mouth hole haha!
Using the restroom at sea can be challenging at times...... especially when the seas unexpectedly turn on you while you are trying to take a shower. It is basically an unexplainable balancing act.
This lovely area is where we gather for three amazing meals a day and get an opportunity to socialize with some of the various crew members aboard the ship.
Maggie has about a million movies to choose from. They are an ancient technology called VHS used a long, long time ago....
The science deck is the room where all the magic happens. Everything from running the burn sequences on the OBS's to recalculating the surfacing locations due to variable ocean currents occurs here. The amount of technology on the Endeavor is impressive.
This 20 second video clip show just how dangerous life at sea can be! As the Endeavor rolls from one side to the next there is little to no warning as waves crash up and over onto the deck. Thankfully I was able to escape up the stairs to a somewhat dryer deck where the mist from the cresting waves and the wind were the only things able to assault my senses. The dangers out in the open on the ship at night are only multiplied by these variables.
Since the ship travels at ~10 kts between each OBS waypoint which can produce transit times as long as 12 hours and the weather isn't alway dreary the interns have a fair share of free time on the ship to explore around and lounge about.
Checking to see if the internet wants to semi-work. I think Sampath knows he is in this picture.
Dr. Maureen Long creating a short cut to the relocated OBS equipment.
(Terry- I found two hammocks up on top of the ship perfect for some afternoon chill time haha. It also serves as a perfect vantage point when trying to find the OBS's when they reach the surface because the wave height and reflection of the sun off the water make it difficult to spot at times.)
From left to right: Sampath Rathnavaka, Sumant Jha, Gillean Arnoux, Colton Lynner and Terry Cheiffetz.
After days of rough seas we all managed to gather up on the deck to take a group photo. The five of us are proud to be on the Research Vessel Endeavor and to finally have our sea legs. The Endeavor works around the clock out at sea and we worked in pairs on the following shift schedule, 0800-1600. 1600-2400, and 2400-0800. Each group had a PI in charge of their shift. The WHOI team was primarily in control of the extraction of the OBS in the rough seas due to the danger on deck and the sensitivity of the equipment.
The WHOI crew capturing an OBS in rough seas just prior to sunset.
A short video of an OBS retrieval on the R/V Endeavor*WARNING* This video video contains a lot of ups, downs and what have you's. Viewing is not recommended for the land based geoscientist!
This is a short video showing the Endeavor orienting itself alongside the OBS before the WHOI crew pulls it out of the water. It is clearly visible that both waves and weather play a major role when trying to retrieve the equipment from the ocean.
A high resolution photo of the OBS on the starboard side of the endeavorSampath Rathnavaka (left) and Terry Cheiffetz (right)Graduate student interns are excited to locate the OBS on the surface after waiting over an hour as the instrument made its transit through the water column.
It is only a matter of time before your feet get soaking wet out on the deck. The ocean only likes to do this though if you are wearing tennis shoes instead of waterproof boots!
Its a mechanical sea turtle!
We had a smooth trip to Kolkata with our two taxis amazingly staying together through the traffic. After checking in and freshing up, we went out for dinner and found a great Bengali Restaurant filled mostly with Bangladeshis around the corner. Our hotel turned out to be next to an area where Bangladeshis frequently stay, including Humayun previously. In the morning, he and I went for an early morning walk through the park and saw the Queen Victoria Memorial. Circling back past all the cricket players, we passed Fort William, the original British fort here, and joined Doug and Diane for breakfast. Our car arrived and before heading to the Sundarbans, we drove around to get shots of the Hooghly River. Before the 1600s, this was the main course of the Ganges, but since
then it shifted to it present course into Bangladesh. We got some shots from the new bridge before being chased off. Then we headed to the Strand to get close to the river. While we were filming, a funeral procession arrived to scatter ashes of the deceased into the river. Once the Holy Ganges, always the Holy Ganges. We couldn’t have planned it better.
Then, off to the Sundarbans. Where we were going was a lot farther than implied. This is because of a difference in naming. In Bangladesh, the Sundarbans is the National Mangrove Forest. The cultivated areas that previously were forest are not considered the Sundarbans. In India, they are. Thus we entered the Sundarbans after 2.5 hrs, but still had that long to go to meet our boat.
Admittedly, some of the cultivated areas in India still maintain mangroves outside of the embankments, which is not the case in Bangladesh. Continuing on, we reached literally the end of the road and carried our luggage (including a 50 lb. bag of rock samples) down to a ferry that took us to Gosaba. There, we first got a hand rickshaw to get the luggage across the town, then got two motorized rickshaw trucks to cross to the other side of the island. Finally, we were met by a boat that took us across the river to the eco-lodge where we would stay. After a late (4 pm) lunch we went on a sunset boat ride through some tidal channels. The saw and heard lots of bird and at times the channel became so narrow that we had to push branches away to fit through. The
trees here overhang the channels more than in Bangladesh. We would see further differences tomorrow. After finally showering off, we met other people staying at the eco-lodge, started by 4 cousins including Ajoy, who is leading our trip. The lodge is solar powered, so electricity is limited,but the water was refreshingly cool, not cold. We all heard a performance of Bengali Baul music, recognizing some songs from similar experiences across the border. After dinner, we all went for some local rice wine and then a boat ride to see bioluminescent plankton in a small channel. If you wave your hand in the water dots of light flash.
In the morning, we started at 6 am to have enough time before I had to head for the airport. We picked
up food and a cook and permits and a guide and finally were ready to enter the forest. In India, no one is allowed off the boat to step on the forest, nor to stay overnight in the forest, even on a boat. Thus many hotels and lodges have sprung up outside the forest for tourists. Many come simply to party and drink. We are very glad to be using an eco-lodge that is more respectful of the land and the local population.
At 8, we finally entered the national forest. Among the differences from the Bangladesh side we noted were the shorter height of the trees in the more saline water, the lack of sediment in the water, and the extent of bank erosion. Where the eastern Sundarbans is fresher with ample sediment carried by the tides due to its proximity to the Ganges-
Brahmaputra-Meghna River mouth, the western, Indian Sundarbans is more saline and lacks new sediment. Between subsidence and sea level, it is loosing ground. More land is being lost than gained. With the higher salinity, there is also less wildlife. However, there was a tiger sighting this morning. We sailed to the spot, but it was too late, we missed it. Still, we spent 4 hours sailing through tidal channels of different size, eating, and filming. Doug captured the beauty of the Sundarbans and I was interviewed with a great backdrop.
After completing our work, we briefly visited an observation post, we took a short cut through an interior channel in Gosaba Island, dropped off our guide, and crossed the channel to our car. Three hours later, I arrived here at the airport to start my journey home. It was an intense, yet calm 48 hours in West Bengal, the third leg of three very different pieces of this trip.