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I’ll Go on a Cross-Date if You Show Me Some Rings

The Broadleaf Papers - Thu, 03/28/2013 - 20:04

By Ana Camila Gonzalez

 

Ever since I’ve started learning to cross-date tree core samples, I’ve learned I have a type. I prefer my tree cores to be black oaks, middle-aged, with some nice big rings to show me. Alright, fine, I can deal with some smaller rings every now and then. As long as they’re some nice marker rings.

Unfortunately, the trees don’t seem to be trying to impress me.

 AC Gonzalez and N. Pederson

Sensitive black oak rings, showing the 1960s drought (faint bands of wood between the two dots on the right side of this image), from eastern NY State. Image: AC Gonzalez and N. Pederson

I was told on a fifth grade field trip that you could tell the age of a tree by chopping it down and counting from the ring on the outside, which represents the current year, to the inside ring, which represents the year it started to grow. I’m coming to learn at the Tree Ring Laboratory of Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory that there are a few problems with that statement.

Primarily, you don’t have to chop the tree down. I learned while doing fieldwork that coring a tree does not damage it at all. More importantly however, you can’t always find the exact age of a tree by simply counting the rings backwards. One has to verify the years you assigned to each ring against other samples, and, occasionally, against known climatic or ecological events. Sometimes a ring can be missing, possibly from either a very dry year or insect defoliation that causes a lack of growth on the side of the tree you’re looking at. Sometimes a ring is there, but it’s tiny; so small you need a microscope to see it: a micro ring. And this is where cross dating comes in.

 N. Pederson

A large, Y-shaped black oak in eastern NY State. Photo: N. Pederson.

 

I sit down to cross date my first batch of samples, black oaks from 2003, with rings I can see without using a microscope. I use the microscope regardless, of course, because sometimes what looks like a ring from far away can actually be a false ring: an “extra” late wood growth caused by an early freeze, early warming, or some disruption to ‘normal’  seasonal weather. The microscope helps me see whether these bands have defined edges or seem to fade, and I’ll know that only the truly defined ones are rings.

I seem to be lucky, however, as none of the Black Oaks seem to have any false rings. I’m actually eager to find some missing rings and micro rings, but I don’t find any of those either; missing rings in oak are so rare that you’ll likely be able to plant your own oak forest and watch it grow to maturity before you find one. This is so easy, I think. I feel like I have it in the bag.

I finish measuring the rings on my samples and labeling them with the years I assigned hypothetically to each ring from my cross dating. Now I’m ready to run the measurements through COFECHA, a program that gives me the correlations between individual samples and finally the correlation between all of the samples. When I first run the program with every sample, I’m told something between 0.5 and 0.6 is the expected correlation for ‘good’ black oaks (in other words, there is a 50 to 60 percent chance that given the ring-width measurements on one sample, you’d be able to predict the measurements on a second sample from the same batch). I get a 0.3 correlation. What could I have possibly done wrong?

I soon find that although Black Oaks don’t usually produce missing rings, micro rings or false rings, it is still a possibility, for reasons I didn’t understand at that time. There is also the possibility of human error resulting from mounting the samples incorrectly, missing pieces of the sample after coring and so on. (Editor’s note: one of the biggest issues dating oaks is jumping from one side of a ray to another while moving down an increment core. Sometimes the rings that are aligned across this division are not!).

———

 

What I was doing up until this point was just writing down the years where I found narrow and wider rings as marker rings and trying to find a pattern with everything I wrote down. It was helpful, but I needed to learn more about cross dating to make a few problem samples correlate with the population.

First, I was told I could take a step back and get my nose off of the microscope. By holding up a problem sample to one with a good correlation, I could try and find where patterns aligned visually, and this was usually more helpful than just trying to find the patterns in a sea of numbers I had written down. Second, I was focusing too much on individual samples and not remembering that multiple cores are often taken from the same tree: before a sample can correlate well with an entire forest it is easier to make sure it correlates against the others from the same tree. Finally, I learned that some trees—the very young, the very old, and the trees that constantly get outcompeted for resources—just don’t conform: the rebels, the grumpy old men, the proud nerds. Very suppressed rings won’t correlate well with a series, and neither will very wide rings that signal a release from competition from neighboring giants.  Sometimes a 0.3 or a 0.4 correlation is the best you can get for a sample, and I had to learn how to know whether to accept that or keep trying further.

That first batch took me a week and a half to finally cross-date. You should’ve seen the look on my face when I saw my first correlation in the 0.5 range.

 

And that was just the black oak.

 

 N. Pederson

Two, twin black oak – velvet goodness! Photo: N. Pederson.

I decided to continue coming to the Tree Ring Lab over winter break, and at first it was incredibly peaceful. A few days of sanding and stabilizing some pines really put me in the Christmas spirit. And then I met Baldcypress, which made me more of a Grinch.

At first, baldcypress and I were really only going to be a one-time thing. I was only told to measure three or four batches from the 80s as a side project, but after I logged all the measurements the COFECHA results were cringe-worthy. I was told I had to try my hand at cross dating the cypress.

If I thought the black oak population had trouble samples, I reconsidered. While Quercus velutina hardly ever displays missing rings, false rings or micro rings, Taxodium distichum seems to want to flaunt them. My first batch had mostly been false rings, but I also learned what a micro ring actually looked like.

I remember staring at a set of what should have been ten rings for 20 minutes, but only seeing nine. I finally asked my advisor and then watched as Neil marked a band relatively darker than its surroundings a cell wide as a ring. If any ring could be called a marker ring, it was this one. Sometimes finding a micro ring where I knew, from the chronology, that a narrower ring should be, was actually a relief. 1966, a heavy drought year for most of the Northeastern US, quickly (and morbidly) became my favorite year.

I dealt with so many false rings that I felt like I was five and my fingers were all turning green (I’m glad no one ever showed me this; I always felt like a princess). Every time I thought a sample couldn’t have any more missing rings I found more. I started thinking everything was a micro ring.

The black oak took a week and a half. I’ve gotten through three batches of baldcypress, and I’m on my fourth: I started over winter break and it is currently spring break. Of course, I’ve been working on other things as well, including a poster presentation on my black oak samples for the Northeast Natural History Conference, but it feels as if the baldcypress just doesn’t want to leave me alone.

 

Yes, I do have a type. I like real rings, I like big rings and I like rings that conform. In the end, however, I’ve learned more from the “problem children” than the ones that worked out like I wanted them to. I might even admit that the baldcypress has been much more rewarding to work through.

Shhh, don’t tell the black oak.

________

 

Ana Camila Gonzalez is a first-year environmental science and creative writing student at Columbia University at the Tree Ring Laboratory of Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. She will be blogging on the process of tree-ring analysis, from field work to scientific presentations.

 

‘Are You Using This Idea for Your Thesis Research?’ [UPDATE]

The Broadleaf Papers - Thu, 02/28/2013 - 20:53

By Daniel D. Douglas

Are you using this idea for your thesis research?”

I heard this as I stood in front of a classroom full of old-growth forest ecology students. The question had come from Neil Pederson, who was sitting directly in front of me. He was asking this question because I had just spent the past 12 minutes discussing the intricacies of land snail biology and ecology that would make them great organisms to use for ecological modeling in regards to disturbance. Things such as their lack of mobility, susceptibility to desiccation and sudden change that would occur because of major disturbance make their preferences for habitat similar to the defining characteristics of old-growth. Neil looked at me with the excitement of a small child on Christmas morning because he knew that I could potentially be on to something.

So, you can imagine his dismay when I answered his question with “No, I hadn’t really given it any thought.” I know I winced (at least on the inside, if not physically) after I answered because I had suddenly realized that I could be passing up a golden opportunity. I remember walking back to my apartment that night, thinking about what had just happened. I thought about it another hour or so after I arrived home and then emailed Neil to discuss the potential that my presentation had for being used as a master’s research project. Long story short, we developed a research plan of attack with the help of David Brown, my co-advisor, to study how anthropogenic disturbance* can shape land snail communities.

Microsnails on the Honest Abe – can you find the 28 microsnails? Image: D. Douglas

Not many people study land snail ecology. I had the fortune of working under someone that did, Ron Caldwell, while I was an undergraduate at Lincoln Memorial University. I had become deeply interested in these ignored and overlooked organisms. So, as I entered graduate school in biological sciences at Eastern Kentucky University, I had a fairly strong background in “snailology”, aka malacology. I had been unsuccessful in finding a graduate program where I could continue to work with land snails and was wandering the halls of EKU uncertain about what I was going to do for a graduate research project.

What happened in Neil’s class that semester was really fate telling me this is what I should be doing. A year and a half later, I found myself sitting on my back porch sifting through leaf litter samples, picking out micro-snails, excitedly thinking “I’ve got something here.” It was clear that these organisms could be indicators of past human disturbance.

This research took me to some of the most memorable places that I’ve ever been. Since the availability of old-growth in Kentucky is sparse, my sampling sites were limited. The first place I sampled, Floracliff Nature Sanctuary, was just a few miles north in the Bluegrass Region of Kentucky and, oddly enough, a few miles outside of Lexington. It’s crazy to think that a place with trees hundreds of years old exists right outside a fairly large municipal area, but it does.

The EpiCenter, a relatively dense cluster of 300-400 year old chinkapin oak, in Floracliff Nature Sanctuary. Photo: B. James

Floracliff rests on the Kentucky River Palisades in a very rugged, deeply dissected network of gorges cut by streams over eons of geologic time. It also has some of the most spectacular examples of old-growth trees you’ll find in Kentucky, including the oldest known tree in Kentucky to date: a 400+ year old Chinqaupin Oak.

Though this wasn’t true old-growth, it gave me some of the best results I got for the entire study: there was a clear separation of the land snail communities between old and young forest sites. In fact, abundance, richness, and species diversity, were all greater in the older sites. This is also the site where I found the most new county records (i.e. never documented from that county). These results only whet my appetite for more data from different forests.

The next stop was EKU Natural Areas‘ Lilley Cornett Woods Appalachian Ecological Research Station, a small patch of prime mesophytic old-growth forest in Letcher County. It’s bizarre to think that forests like this exists in the Cumberland Plateau portion of Kentucky, due to the fact that our countries insatiable thirst for natural resources has left the region in one kind of an ecological ruin. I was deeply impressed by this forest as wandered around. The snails at LCW did not disappoint either. I saw the same patterns as in Floracliff: old-growth forest had greater abundance, richness, and diversity. The highest species richness for the entire study came from LCW as well, which is something that I did not expect. The evidence was beginning to stack up.

Big Everidge Hollow, old-growth forest goodness, in in Lilley Cornett Woods. Photo: D. Douglas

My final study site was Blanton Forest State Nature Preserve. This preserve is over 1200 hectares and contains the largest tract of old-growth forest in Kentucky. Dominated mostly by oak and hemlock, the forest is very rugged and it had more rhododendron than I care to remember.  Nevertheless, it is impressive. Comparing Blanton to a nearby young forest didn’t necessarily give me the same exact results, statistically speaking, but I still saw the same trend of higher abundance, richness, and diversity of microsnails in old-growth forest.

A phatt, old-growth white oak in Blanton Forest, Bob posing, Merril coring. Photo: N. Pederson

You may be asking, “What does this all mean” or, “Well, he found that there is better habitat for these organisms in undisturbed forests. That’s doesn’t really seem novel.” In reality, this is novel. Better, it is important.

First, I documented that a minimum of several decades, if not more than a century, is needed for land snail populations to recover to a point that resembles what their assemblages looked like before human disturbance. As an important part of forested ecosystems in terms of nutrient cycling, organic material decomposition, calcium sequestration, and food sources for many other animals, it is vital that we know things like this so that we can better manage our forests for everything that lives there, starting from the ground up. Second, all of you must know that everything in an ecosystem is interconnected and, once one thing is removed, it can have cascading effects throughout the ecosystem. Better management practices will help us maintain ecological integrity of forests. Third, my findings also indicate the need for locating and protecting remnants of old-growth forests. As I have shown, old forests, whether true old-growth or lightly logged by humans a century or more ago, are biodiversity hotspots and therefore deserve protection beyond their representation of how complex forests are at great ages. And finally, my findings also indicate that land snails have great potential for being used as indicators of old-growth. This is something that many scientists, especially citizen scientists, have been chasing after for decades.

For myself personally? This means that I have a lot more work to do. Despite the fact that there are people out there that study land snails, they remain poorly understood. I feel as if it is my job to bridge that gap in the knowledge. I also hope that what I have accomplished with this research will open the door for future studies on not just land snails, but other non-charismatic fauna. I also hope that my work enables people to look at more than just the trees in old-growth forests. The trees are wonderful, and we are lucky to still have them, but there is a lot going on underneath those trees that we don’t know much about.

 

* = the linked article is open access and free for downloading – download away!

[UPDATE]

Earthwise picked up this study for their radio series on our changing environment. Hear their piece on land snails and old-growth forests here.

_________

Daniel Douglas earned his master’s degree in biological science from Eastern Kentucky University in 2011 studying terrestrial snails, important, but less charismatic creatures.

Jamuna River

Geohazards in Bangladesh - Sat, 02/23/2013 - 05:54

Women washing, clothes, their children and themselves at the foot of the embankment at Sirajganj. Suring the summer, the water reaches almost to the top.

Prior to the late 1700s, the Brahmaputra River flowed farther east by up to 100 km.  It then switched, or avulsed, into a straight north-south route, possibly triggered by an earthquake in 1787.  The small river whose course it usurped was called the Jamuna River.  Now, below the avulsion point where what is now the Old Brahmaputra deviates from the present course, the Brahmaputra is called the Jamuna.  The last two days were upstream of that location.  Now we are downstream of it and thus on the Jamuna River.   Our first stop was Sirajganj.  This town is protected by a stone embankment.  The river has been migrating to the west, threatening the town.  As a result, the embankment now protrudes into the river.  When I was here in 2011 I saw several collapses along the embankment and my class

Meredith and Chris buying snacks and fruit for lunch.

saw them repairing it in 2012.  They now have a lot more riprap at the base to protect it.

We drove along the embankment, a nice promenade, to the ghat and got a fast boat.  Chris had picked out an area with a lot of diversity, so we could efficiently do our sampling.  We checked our notes and found the char that had joined to the very large stable island was not the one we visited in 2005.  That char was now a thin sliver.  We stopped at the head of Katanga Char, only 2 years old, where the high ground was stabilized by grasses and people were growing peanuts and rice on the flanks.  We then crossed a channel to the tail of the next char to the north.  Here, what had been a grass-covered highland had been

Meredith taking notes with our sporty boat in the background.

ravaged by the river.  Tufts of grass that had help on were surrounded by large scours over a meter deep.  The little remnants had the same teardrop shape as the larger chars.  Here and on another small char, we were able to collect all the samples we needed.  We headed for the ghat and our hotel with an outside chance of taking their boat to the char I visited with my students last year.  However, before arriving, we finally found green coconuts for sale.  We had been searching for days for green coconuts. The seller cuts off the top with a machete, inserts a straw and you drink the refreshing coconut water.  Afterwards, he splits it and you can eat the coconut jelly, not yet matured into the coconut meat.  To add to our enjoyment,

All that was left of a vegetated char were mounds anchored by grass that had resisted the flood surrounded by large scours. The teardrop shape was a miniature of the larger chars.

Chris also found a shop selling the wasabi potato chips he had been searching for.  With the extra stop and the slow check-in process, we abandoned visiting the char, but it was still early, so we went into Tangail for some shopping, although we found most shops closed as it was Friday.

For our last stop in the field, we continued south to the confluence, where the Jamuna meets the Ganges to form the Padma River. There are ghats for crossing the Padma and for crossing the Jamuna.  We went to the later, which is smaller now that there is a bridge over the Jamuna.  As the chars shift, so does the ghat.  We had to walk for the last ½ km to the rental boats as Babu’s van could not go.  We started at the southern end of Shivayala Char, a large char at least 30-40 years

I am still drinking the green coconut water while Humayun is already eating the jelly inside the split coconut.

old.  However, the southern end had been eroded and then grew back.  Where we were was only few years old.  From there we went to the next, newer char for examining and sampling as it showed a lot of variety on the satellite imagery.  That done, our next stop was a piece of fluviotourism, the confluence or actual meeting point of the Brahmaputra and Ganges Rivers.  We stopped upstream and walked down the long narrow char.  There were huge scour pits from the turbulence of the two rivers meeting during the monsoon.  The point where the tow rivers met wasn’t as clearly defined as in 2005, but we waded around and found it our final group photo.  Our work was done and it was time to return to Dhaka for some final meetings and a last hartal, and then home.  As usual here, many things did

Boatman at Sirajganj watches Chris load a data point into his GPS. The white wind-blown sand is starting to cover the dry channel behind them.

not go as planned, but with some adjustments, everything we planned got done.

People leaving a crowded ferry at Aricha, by the confluence.

The scours pits formed by swirling eddies of water where the two rivers met during the monsoon.

Lunch on the boat.

The four of us standing a the confluence of the Brahmaputra (left) and Ganges (right) rivers.

Brahmaputra chars

Geohazards in Bangladesh - Fri, 02/22/2013 - 08:24

Chris walking cross the shallow dry season Tista River. During the monsoon, it will be filled to the opposite bank in the distance.

We left the pleasant house in Kushtia to resume our nomadic existence.  We spent a full day driving to northern Bangladesh. We will now work our way downstream stopping at multiple places along the Brahmaputra River.  Finding little traffic, we drove past Rangpur, where we will be staying to the Tista River, a tributary of the Brahmaputra.  While it is a large river during the summer monsoon, today it was a shallow stream with exposed sandbanks and people growing crops in the middle of the channel.   Chris decided the hour we had before sunset was enough time, so we climbed down the embankment and hired a boat to cross the river.  It was shallow enough that we saw children wading across and Chris got out and walked the rest of the way, followed by the chidren.  Water diversion projects upstream means

Humayun standing near the eroding bank of the Brahmaputra at Chilmari. The cracks show the next places to fall off the cliff.

there is little water here in the winter.  Some exploration, some sampling, some photos and we were done.

We were up early for the long drive to the Brahmaputra.  We hadn’t planned on coming this far north, so we didn’t have maps of this years arrangement of the river.  I found two possible places for boat hires and ended up choosing Chilmari as the place easiest to get a boat.  When we got the to river agound 11am, we found a cliff.  Apparently ~1 mile of the coast had eroded here.  An old woman chastised us that we should either prevent the bank erosion or give them money so they could move.  We learned the boats were a few hundred meters upstream where you could walk down to the water’s edge.  Along the way we

Meredith examining the bedforms on the bottom of what was a channel during the monsoon season.

passed a group digging up the topsoil along the cliff to sell before it toppled into the river.  We could see the cracks where the next pieces of land would be lost.

We bought some snacks for lunch and hired a boat.  The fist char (sandy island) was unnamed, but 5 families from Bazradiarkhata Char had settled the north end and started farming, growing squash, wheat and dal.  The char was only 5-6 years old.  The families still returned to the larger char in the summer and New Bazradiarkhata Char, as we called it, was chest deep in water during the summer.  We continued north to Kachkol Char.  This char was 8-10 years old.  However, it was now attached to Bazradiarkhata Char.  The corn, wheat, dal, etc. growing was being farmed by

The villagers brought us a bench so we could sit in the shade and not get sunburnt.

people from Bazradiarkhata Char.  The village we visited were people who only moved there 6 months ago when their village and land on a char was claimed by the river.  They were working a paid laborers and did not have their own land to farm.  They were concerned that Meredith be careful of the sun so she wouldn’t get burned.  They also suggested that if she moved to the char, she could get dark like them. We then went downstream to Bazradiarkhata Char itself.  This char was formed during the major 1988 flood when 2/3 of Bangladesh was submerged. Now, 25 years later it had lots of trees homes, crops, an elementary school and an adult education center.  We were surrounded by children, particularly Meredith.  She could get the girls to pose for her,

Eroded cut banks on the side of the channel revealed the successive layers of sedimentation that built the char.

but I could not.  On the side of the village, there were great sedimentary features and Meredith and I measured a channel for some flow calculations.  At all of there sites Chris sampled and documented the sediments and vegetation cover.  By now it was getting late, so we left and circled the downstream end of New Bazradiarkhata Char.  Newer and still unpopulated, the cut banks showed amazing patterns of crossbedding from the migration of the sand waves that built the char during high water. We explored this end of the char as the sun set over the right bank of the Brahmaputra.

Today, February 21st, is Language Day commemorating the 1952 martyrdom of students protesting Pakistan’s law making “Urdu and only

School children in Rangpur march to the local Language day memorial to pay their respects.

Urdu the language of Pakistan” when the Pakistan army opened fire.  The ultimately successful language movement in the 1950s marked the beginning of the path toward independence.   On our drive to Gaibanda, we saw numerous troups of school children heading to their local Shahid Minar, language day memorial, to pay their respects and drop off flowers.   In Dhaka people laid numerous fantastic decorations made of flowers.

Gaibanda was the opposite of Chilamari.  Here the coastline has grown outward and we had to walk out to the docks.  We later discovered that the new land filled in what was the channel we crossed to reach Rosulpur Char in 2005.  It is now attached to the mainland.  The embayment by the coast is all that is left of the channel.  Humayun again hired

Mr. Uddin explains to us the history of Manikkor Char and how he received the land his grandfather farmed when it reemerged from the river.

a boat and we went south to an area where Chris could see numerous color variations on the satellite image.  We found the land has changed substantially from the image of early January.  The channel we wanted was too shallow for the boat, so we had a very long walk. A new Landsat image to be acquired tomorrow should be close to what we saw. Where we stopped was Manikkor Char, only 6 years old.  The tree covered area to the north was Kashkhali Char, which is 13 years old. We walked towards it and met a farmer. He told us that there was a town and bazaar here 30-40 years ago, but it was lost to the river.  When it returned he received land because his grandfather had owned land here.  Such is life on the ephemeral chars.   We continued walking towards Kashkhali, but wanted to cross to another area. Only Chris

The farmer we met brought Chris samples of the muddy crusts on the sandy sediments.

and I walked through the muddy shallow waters of the embayment.  In this area, which we called New Kashkhali Char, we met another farmer, but had no translator.  Still, he helped us sample.

After finishing sampling, we went north to Rosulpur char that we visited in 2005.  We showed the people photos on my iPad, but found that most of our photos were of people who resided there only temporarily due to their land being lost.  They now lived across the channel to the east.  Still we were welcomed and follow by lots of children and a few people remembered us from 2005.  The teacher remembered Chris, but wasn’t sure about me. Overall, the village seems to be doing well with lots of corn growing on the char.  We ended early, but then had a long drive to Bogra for our hotel.

Meredith walks through the street of Rosulpur followed by the village’s children.

Me standing with the kids and women that came out to see us in Rosulpur.

View from the ghat (dock) looking towards Rosulpur. All this land is where the channel was when I was last here in 2005.

 

Sampling The Ganges

Geohazards in Bangladesh - Tue, 02/19/2013 - 04:35

Humayun interviewing farmers about the history of shrimp and rice farming in the area.

We got to Khulna about 5 pm and met up with Chris Small, who was brought from the boat with all the Vanderbilt University people by Bachchu.  This is the last segment of my trip. The next day, we went to an area near the compaction site.  Chris had analyzed 10 years of MODIS satellite images and just west of the compaction site was an area that stood out for having increasing vegetation over that time.  We drove to the site and then continued on the small dirt road that followed the small creek.  We went around a bend and followed the road as far as we could with Chris snapping photos the whole way.  We talked to locals at two places and the second one had the answer.  Most of the rice fields were still fallow, but one area had a pump watering some fields.  We walked over and immediately

Downloading the GPS data from the compaction site in the Islam family home.

became a center of conversation.   This area had previously been converted to shrimp farming. About 15 years ago the BWDB built and embankment, which was the road we were on.  This stopped the tidal flooding of the land inside the embankment.  The shrimp company pulled out and as the land was cleared of its salt by successive monsoons, everyone switched to rice farming.  That started about 8 years ago and the land has become more productive with time.  This is what caused the long-term trend.

On our way out, we stopped at the compaction site.  The Scotts had done everything but download the GPS data. Only the mother and youngest son were home. We were welcomed warmly and served cookies and pakan-pitha, a

The house of Humayun’s aunt in Kushtia where we stayed for 3 nights.

pastry filled with a dal paste.  Then I downloaded the data and visited the wells.  We were invited for lunch and told that Mr. Islam would be upset if he knew we left without lunch, but we were already behind schedule.  We had to go on to Kushtia near the Ganges.  During the long drive, we found out that there was a hartal called for Monday.  We had to rework our plans since we had a lot of driving to do that day.  It was dark when we got to Kushtia, Humayun’s hometown.  We were surprised to find we were staying in his aunt’s house.  Only the caretaker was there and we split the 3 bedrooms.  Staying in a home reinforced the plan we had come up with.  We would need to stay here three nights. An added plus is we’re close enough to hear the protesters singing every night.

We gathered in the rain for a photo to commemorate reaching the Ganges for the first stop on our river survey.

For our new plan, we went to the Ganges downstream of Rajshahi and back so we can go locally at Kushtia during the hartal.  During the long drive it started raining.  We also had trouble finding a ghat (dock) to rent a boat.  We ended up driving to the river and then walking out on a semi-attached char (sandy island).  The mud was incredibly slippery in the rain, but I only fell once.  Chris sampled along the riverbank and then the two of us waded over to the char to sample some more.  Chris will measure the spectra of these samples back home to calibrate his satellite analysis. He will be able to distinguish the percentage of different sediment types for each pixel of the satellite image, which we will then use to better understand the changes in the rivers.  The chars move around, appear and disappear

Chris prepares to take his first sediment samples along the Ganges in the rain at Charghat.

every year during the monsoon.  Meanwhile, we were getting soaked and called it quits.  Good thing we didn’t go out on a boat for hours.

Today, is another hartal (general strike), however, we were able to walk to the Gorai River here in Kushtia.  We went to a park where a lot of boats come to take people on rides, but none were here this early.  Still, we managed to flag one down and hire it for the day.  We went up the Gorai into the Ganges and headed upstream to Ranakor Char.  We spent the day visiting three chars (sandy islands), stopping at multiple sites on each.  The cold overcast day brightened as it went on.  We did sampling and a lot of walking around examining the bedforms and varied sediment deposits.  We could see 5 different scales of bedforms from the

We spent our first day on the water using a local boat to visit several chars.

chars themselves to the tiny ripples in the lows of larger waves.  This area by Kushtia now has numerous chars and they are much more accessible than the ones we tried and failed to visit yesterday.  When we returned in the late afternoon the empty park was filled with people.

Humayun and Meredith discussing the bedforms they see on one of the chars.

 

After dinner, we walked over to the nightly peaceful protests calling for the death penalty for the convicted rajakers, collaborators with the Pakistani army during the 1971 liberation war. The one on the left was given a life sentence for complicity in ~380 murders prompting the popular protests.

Unplanned Time in Dhaka

Geohazards in Bangladesh - Fri, 02/15/2013 - 05:55

February 13th was the first day of Spring in the Bengali calendar and many women (and some men) were dressed in orange and red with flowers in their hair to celebrate.

We passed protesters marching to Shahbagh Square, the site of huge rallies every night since the hartal.

After the resistivity, I was supposed to go to Khulna to join Scott and Scott on repairing the compaction meters.  We have two places with sets of wells where we installed optical fibers.  A local person uses a device to measure the length of the fibers each week by shining a laser through the fiber.  Unfortunately several on the fibers have broken since we installed them.  The Scotts will be repairing them, as well as the usual yearly measurements and data collecting.  They went to the northern site first – we saw them heading north while the conclave group was heading south.  I was going to join them for the southern site, but their work went so much faster than expected that they finished while I was doing resistivity.  Thus there was no need for me to go to Khulna before meeting Chris Small for the river work.  I spent the two extra days in Dhaka.  I had plenty of people to look up that I didn’t expect to have time to meet.

On the first day, Humayun and I went to the US Embassy to meet with people who couldn’t make it to the conclave due to the hartal.  Even the US Ambassador was going to meet us when he took guests to a resort in Sylhet.  As Humayun and I passed through several layers of security, we ran into the Ambassador on his way out.  We chatted for a few minutes and then went on to our meeting.  After making it back to the university for lunch, we went to the Geological Survey of Bangladesh, where my main contact has been promoted to Director General.  I showed him our results and we discussed collaborations, particularly on GPS.  All around the university women were dressed on yellow, orange and red

Banners hanging from buildings at Shahbagh Square. They are calling for the execution of the collaborators during the 1971 revolution. It is a huge popular response to the hartals calling for their release. It has been going on for the last 10 days.

saris for the first day of Bangla spring. Finally back to the Ambala Inn where I met up with the Scotts and Doug and all of us went to dinner with Chowdhury, my collaborator from the Bangladesh Water Development Board (BWDB).  He has gotten us a huge dataset on the water levels in the rivers and in groundwater wells.  Well over a million individual measurement.  Water is so central to life in Bangladesh that there is an excellent monitoring system in place that we use to determine the amount of water impounded in Bangladesh during the monsoon.  It is over 100 billion tons of water.

The next day, we went to BITWA to try to obtain more detailed information about the tide gauges for examining sea level changes.  Tide gauges measure the height of the water relative to the land, but here the land is sinking.  We put 2 GPS

Babu, our legendary driver, in his van. This time he managed to get us into the last spot on the fast ferry across the Padma River saving us two hours.

to monitor the land subsidence next to tide gauges.  That will let us separate the sea level rise from the subsidence.  The combined effect has Bangladesh worried about land loss and water salinification.  We went meet with the wrong person twice before we finally found the correct person, a woman whose sister had been a student of Humayun’s.  It will now be straightforward to get the detailed data.  The afternoon was spent working with one of the students from the resistivity training.  Sojon wanted to go through everything in detail so he knows how to run the system.  Fayaz would have joined us, but he was out filming archeological sites with Doug.  The two of them have taken the initiative to be leaders among the group.  The 10-minute ride back to the Ambala Inn took an hour.  An area just north of the

The semi-chaotic process of loading vehicles onto the ferries was particularly bad this time after a 3 hour wait. There were several fender-benders as everyone tried to force their way in.

university has been blocked off because of the peaceful protests against the razakers, the groups that collaborated with the Pakistani army during the revolution and helped them in their killings.  The Islamist party’s hartals for the release of their leader has lead to a larger movement wanting the death sentence for him and others.  It is Occupy Dhaka.  It was very strange to see women dressing in colorful clothing yesterday with headbands calling for death for the razakers.  Finally, I arrived and waited for Meredith, the last of our party to arrive from NY for the river work.  The bad traffic meant she arrived very late.  Doug and I had a last dinner together at 11 pm in a local packed restaurant.

Today I am finally on my way to Khulna with Meredith and Humayun, with Babu as our driver, of

Meredith Reitz on the Mawa ferry on her first full day in Bangladesh.

course.  I am stuck waiting to get on the ferry across the Padma River, formed by the merger of the Ganges and Brahmaputra.  Once across, we will be in the more leisurely and relaxing south to meet up with Chris in Khulna.

Resistivity in Comilla

Geohazards in Bangladesh - Thu, 02/14/2013 - 04:23

The resistivity cable and electrodes laid out along the fields with the Lalmai anticline of Comilla in the distance.

After returning from Sylhet, I left Dhaka the next morning for Comilla for 4 days to train a group of Dhaka University students and graduates on operating our resistivity imaging system.  Many of the conclave people headed out to the Padma River, formed by the joining of the Ganges and Brahmaputra to do sampling for a remote sensing study of the rivers.  I will be doing this later in the trip, but had other plans now.  The transects of wells that we are drilling provide detailed vertical records of the sediments, but how do we connect the dots when the wells are 3-4 km apart?  It turns out we can do it with electricity.  Clay and mud has much lower electrical resistivity (or higher conductivity) than sands.  The basic technique it to pound two pairs of electrodes (stainless steel rods) into the ground. We then use a car battery to

Sojon and Fuad coiling up the cables at the end of the day. It is important to collect the electrodes first or you cannot find them after the cable is gone.

send a current between one pair and measure the voltage at another pair.  The voltage depends on the rock type between the 4 electrodes.  For our system, we have 84 electrodes that can be spaced up to 9 m apart and a long cable in 12 sections to connect them.  A sophisticated resistivity device then sends current to one pair and measures the voltage at up to 8 other pairs at a time.  The device is programed to do measurements with thousands of different combinations.  The result is similar to doing and electrical catscan of the earth showing the distribution of sand and mud.

I came to Comilla with 6 trainees, Fayaz, Sojon, Jia, Rabi, Fuad and Paval.  During the 4 days, they will work with me to learn to use the system

Fuad standing over the resistivity meter monitoring as the measurements come in.

well enough to be able to carry out these surveys on their own.  For the training site, we came to Comilla where to work around the Lamai anticline. It is the westernmost hill sticking up out of the floodplain.  To help interpret the structure creating the anticlines, we need to know the dip, or slope, of the folded beds.  This has been roughly done from topography, but the exposed topography is partly eroded.  We want to image the boundary between the older Pleistocene sediments of the anticline and the younger Holocene sediments that cover them.  Both sediments are similar, but the surface exposed during the last glacial period when sea level was 120 m lower has been altered to clay.  This should show up as a dipping layer of low resistivity. We will do 4 lines, two on each side of the anticline to image the dipping beds.

Jia, Sojon, Pavel Babu, Rabi (cut off) and Fayaz having dinner at BARD cafeteria. We ate Bangladeshi style with our hands. The food line can be seen in the background.

Our first day was short because of the time it took to get here.  We laid out a short line with 56 electrodes a short distance south of one of the wells that was drilled on the east side of the anticline.  The car batteries we took along were not fully charged, so we hooked up Babu’s van to provide more power.  That worked well and decided to use the car to run the equipmet the rest of the days.  However, that meant the lines had to be where a car could go.  Humayun did not join us because his wife has been ill.  That meant we didn’t have a GPS to record positions or track where we were. We managed to use the GPS in my camera to get the positions of the line. We moved to our home for the next few days, the Bangladesh Academy for Rural Development or BARD.

Sojon downloading the data to a laptop after completing a line.

The next day we shifted to the west side the next day.  Google Earth became our tool for finding sites.  With a USB modem we had slow, but continuous internet.  We found a set of fields close to the one of our drill sites.  We navigated to it by recognizing buildings, mostly gas stations from Google Earth.  The fields were fallow, so we could cut across them. Everything was going smoothly.  We finished early and I was able to spend the late afternoon teaching the students.  That evening we processed the data for both lines.  The first one showed the boundary we were looking for to be very shallow.  A river had eroded part of the anticline.  Thus we were on top of it and not on the flank.  Good data, but it didn’t provide us with a slope.  The other line had noise problems from a power line, but clearly showed the layer we wanted dipping ~3° to the west.  The system was providing hard data.

Farmers planting rice in the fields. These muddy fields were too wet for us to use for the resistivity line, so we had to use the roadside.

We still needed a line on the east.  We tried our first site, but Babu’s van could not drive to the line location. On to plan B, a country road on the west side.  We drove our electrodes into the fields at the base of the road being careful not to disturb the growing vegetables. The data was marred by some power lines, but showed our layer for part of the line. It lined up well with the previous day’s results. For our final day, we need a good line on the east.  I picked several candidates on Google Earth.  The first was inaccessible, but I quickly found another road and we did it there.  Because they were planting rice, the side of the elevated road was not useable.  The top turned to not be that good a place.  The data was much worse quality than any of the other sites.  Still, it gave reasonable results.  Humayun and Doug came out, so we interspersed working on the resistivity line with filming.  That line competed our work here and the training and we all headed back to Dhaka. The students were trained and we learned how to select good sites.

Wrapping up in Sylhet

Geohazards in Bangladesh - Mon, 02/11/2013 - 10:36

Doug (with Diane) shows off his 3D camera after my interview.

Now that the hartal was over, we were free to travel as we wished.  We also switched film crews.  Doug and Diane from Earth Images are independent filmmakers that make PBS specials.  They arrived in Dhaka on the morning of Feb 6 during the hartal, so could not travel here.  Humayun arranged for them to be picked up by an ambulance, exempt from the hartal, and taken to the Ambala Inn to wait out the strike.  That meant they were able to spend the day walking around getting footage of Dhaka without cars, a rarity. Colorful bicycle rickshaws ruled the road.  They left Dhaka in the afternoon when the hartal was dying down and arrived at the Shuktara around 11 pm.

 

Some women who work feeding stones into a rock crusher stopped to pose for us. Making gravel for construction is a major industry at the edge of the Shillong Plateau.

The geology that we saw over the hartal changed our drilling plans.  Steve Goodbred was excited enough by what he saw to change the day’s well from the flat floodplain to the back of the anticline.  He and the Vanderbilt team went there early in the morning with the AMNH film team to get their last shots before heading to Dhaka.  That meant the rest of us had to stay away.  Most of the group went to the Sylhet anticline outcrops near the cricket stadium and airport.  I later learned that they found clear evidence of rivers cutting through the anticline while it was growing.  It caused mud deposits from the ponding on one side and gravels from the steeper slope on the other.  I was recruited by Doug for an interview and to take him up to the Jaflong area by the Shillong Plateau so he could film that.  Nafisa and Mosher stayed with us.  After they watched my interview from behind a

The pit we visited a few days before had now revealed some large buried boulders from the Rangapani River. The boulders in the background are still there because they are in India.

wall, our group headed north.  At the site where Nano gave us an overview, I repeated his story with a 3D camera rolling.  Nafisa, Mosher and I held conversations about the geology while Doug filmed us over and over.  We then went over to the Rangapani River where border guards stopped us and informed us that foreigners were not allowed to film there.  After some explanation from Nafisa, they call their superiors and we were OKed.  The pits we had seen a few days before were now deeper and the miners had uncovered a large tree trunk and exposed boulders up to 6 ft across.  We continued our conversations for the camera until the border guards told us it was time for us to go.  Doug still tried to get more footage, including outcrops out of site of the guards until they followed and saw us still going. We left peaceably.

Drilling a tube well at the Sylhet anticline. The lever lifts and drops the drill pipe, while the last team member uses his hand as a valve to create a pumping action. A slurry of sediment and water is emerging from the top of the pipe. This setup can drill a 100m well in a day.

All the filming and multiple takes meant there was no time for Jaflong itself.  We rushed back to the Sylhet Anticline in time to catch the drilling before it got dark.  Since we only had a short ride back to the hotel instead of a 1-2 hr drive,  a car full headed to Sylht City for shopping.  As it was the last night of the conclave, we had a barbeque on the deck on the roof of one of the bungalows.  They barbequed fish and tandoori chicken along with a host of other dishes and a procured bottle of vodka.  An excellent end to the meeting.

The next day it was time to head back to Dhaka, stopping at a few of the anticlines from southern Sylhet on the way.  As usual, getting everyone out and the cars loaded up took longer than expected.  Nano and Ellie decided to stay another day in Sylhet and then go straight to the airport rather than have a day in Dhaka.  Our group was shrinking.  Jenn and Sanzida had already left early

We finally remembered to pose for a group photo just before leaving the Shuktara Nature Retreat in Sylhet to head back to Dhaka. From left to right: Doug, Diane, Nsno, Steve, Lauren, Chris P., Saddam, Humayun, Fayaz, Ellie, Mike, Carol, Mosher, Chris S. and Nafisa.

because of ill relatives.  A few people had canceled because of illness.  We were down to about a dozen people heading to Dhaka.  However, the defections and splitting of the groups the last few days made the field stops less unwieldy and more efficient.  On the way south, we had a quick stop at Sreemongal, where a group from Singapore we are collaborating with put in a GPS. Then we saw tea gardens, a sure sign of an anticline.  Tea needs well-drained soils and cannot be grown on the floodplains.  However, the first tea plants were on flat land.  The rising anticline had uplifted some of the floodplain on its flank, another useful observation.  Then we entered the Rashidpur anticline proper.  Several stops revealed that the dips of the beds were not preserved, limiting the value of the outcrops.  We stopped for lunch in a tea garden and continued on to our GPS station and seismometer at a school in Chunarughat.  In

A statue of a woman picking tea leaves on the anticline, which was covered with tea plantations.

2007 when we installed the site, we found the building we originally selected was unsuitable.  It was brick made to look like reinforced concrete.  We found this site by driving down the main street of the town on a Friday night.  We found this school and contacted the headmistress, visiting her at her home on the weekend evening. The next morning we installed the site. Now on this visit, Humayun and I were again pressed into service for filming, along with a Nafisa, Mosher and Fayaz.  By the time it was finished, we had to head straight back to Dhaka.  Some quick stops at the next anticline revealed it too had poor outcrop. We then hit some of the worst traffic I had ever seen.  The highway into Dhaka, never very fast, was at a standstill.  Babu, our driver, turned around and led

Steve and Carol study the rocks at an outcrop on the side of a hill of tea plants.

us through back streets to alternative routes until we found one that was moving.  It was almost 10 pm by the time we reached our hotel and officially ended the conclave and part one of my trip. Still it was extremely successful, pulling together the different groups and changing the direction of our research.

Hartal!

Geohazards in Bangladesh - Fri, 02/08/2013 - 14:33

The AMNH film crew interviews Ellie.

Our experience in in Bangladesh in nothing will go as planned, but somehow we are able to get everything done.  Living in this ever changing land beset by numerous natural disasters has made Bangladeshis incredibly resilient and adaptable.  This was tested over the last few days – and may continue to be over the next weeks – by a hartal.  A hartal is a strike in which transportation is shut down.  The party calling it sets up roadblocks and attacks cars and buses on the streets.  Bicycle rickshaws and the green baby taxis are OK.  This one was called by Jamaat-e-Islami, the largest Islamic party.  The reason was that their leader was sentenced to life imprisonment for war crimes during the 1971 Independence War.  The religious

Walking up the anticline, we examine the outcrops near the Khadim tea factory.

parties supported remaining part of Pakistan and are accused of helping the Pakistani Army in killings.  Estimates are that 3 million people were killed in the war for independence with Hindus and intellectuals particularly targeted.  The leader on trial was specifically accused of killing 12 and assisting in the killing of 369 others.  The problem is that the Jamaat-e-Islami is part of the opposition coalition and many believe the trials are politically motivated to take down part of the opposition before the elections later this year.

On Feb 5, there was a hartal called that ran from 6am-6pm.  Driving around in our vans was our of the question.  Luckily, it was the day to visit outcrops on the Sylhet anticline, where our hotel is.  The sites at the airport and cricket stadium

At the forested anticline we saw a number of monkeys.

were out of the question.  We found out later that there were bombs thrown in Sylhet, although, thankfully, no one was hurt by them.  The third area of outcrops we planned to visit were right by our hotel.  We walked to the sites situated by the tea gardens and tea factory to see them.  They were not the greatest outcrops, but still provided valuable new data and discussions.  We returned to the hotel for a late biryani lunch, a step up from the cold packet lunches we’re been having.  For the rest of the afternoon, we held discussions around our large poster-sized maps, or relaxed.   The Bangladeshi students took advantage of the early night to go into town after the hartal ended.  This was also the day that the AMNH team was doing interviews, so we were able to have people walk back and forth to their makeshift studio in one of their rooms.

To travel around during the hartal, we pilled into a small pickup truck.

More serious was when a second day of hartal was called for Feb. 6.  The visit of the U.S. Ambassador to Bangladesh to our group was cancelled.  But what were we to do now? We were to visit outcrops to the north and one of our drilling sites.  After exploring several options, Humayun rented a very small pickup truck.  This type of vehicle should be exempt from the hartal.  To play it safe, we started our work by continuing along the same small road over the anticline that we walked on the day before.  There are no roadblocks on a small country road.  We continued the geologic work over the anticline. These young weathered sediments were hard to interpret confidently. However, we did see the dips of the strata switch from towards the south to towards the north

A local elementary school for the villagers on the Sylhet anticline. A super zoom camera is good for shooting into the classroom.

as we went over the crest of the anticline.  We crossed where the floodplain sediments lap up against the folded strata.  Our excitement about the interactions we are having in the field continues to grow.  After completing this part of the drive, we came to a decision point.  Would we continue to the main road and risk facing a possible roadblock?  Did we want to travel that far on the back of a pickup?  In the end, our group split up.  The film crew rented a baby taxi and went off to get footage of the countryside.  A second group walked back to the road over the anticline to visit more outcrop and pick potential drilling sites.  Steve Goodbred was excited enough by what we saw to change tomorrow’s drilling site from the floodplain to the anticline.  The interaction

We made it to Jaintiapur despite the hartal where Humayun showed us the evidence of a long gap in sedimentation that resulted in the devlopment of a particular rock indicating a long exposure.

at the conclave was now altering our project plans.  It is working. The last group, including myself, continued as planned with the pickup.  Not only was there no roadblock, but it was a pleasure to drive through Bangladesh with so few cars on the road and so little traffic.  We got to the well site as they reached the maximum depth they could drill.  Gas in the sediments impeded the drillers ability to lift the sediments out of the hole. We could see the gas bubbling up.  We continued on to Jaintiapur and took a pleasant hike through a new set of outcrops and beautiful views.  I personally found the evidence of a long gap in sedimentation 20-30 million years ago puzzling.  As darkness fell, we had to leave the solution for another day.  But at least the 2-day hartal was over.

Conclave in Sylhet, Bangladesh

Geohazards in Bangladesh - Tue, 02/05/2013 - 13:13

The Madhabkundu Waterfall formed due to faulting of the Patheria anticline.

Up to now, each group in our Bangladesh project has worked individually on fieldwork in their subject of expertise. Now that our project is now in it’s third year, we decided it was time to get together in the field to integrate our results. A major focus of the project is the interaction of tectonic forces and sedimentary processes. This week, is our opportunity to have experts on each interpreting the same outcops together. We have gathered a group of 9 Americans and 7 Bangladeshis in Sylhet in NE Bangladesh to what we have termed the “conclave”. I guess we have to send up a puff of white smoke if we all agree. Sylhet is an area where the large basement block of the Shillong Plateau and the Dauki Fault that bounds it meets the fold belt of the Burma Arc with its tea garden covered anticlines. It is also has a rapidly subsiding basin being filled with sediments in which the level of the rivers go up and down with sea level. Lots to see through different prisms. On top of the excitement of the conclave, we have a film crew from the American Museum of Natural History with us for the first 6 days to make a video to be shown in the AMNH and other museums about our project and the science we have been working on. After they finish, will we have another film crew from a company that makes PBS documentaries following us.

Steve Goodbred examines the rocks at the Madhabkundu waterfall.

Everyone is doing their individual fieldwork before or after the conclave. Several of us arrived in Bangladesh just before the conclave, while others drove over from their fieldwork in western Bangladesh and two crossed the border from studying the Shillong Plateau in India. We all arrived and filled all of the rooms in the Shuktara Nature Retreat. For our first day, we headed to the Patheria Anticline with the Madhabkundu Waterfall. While the waterfall was spectacular, if took most of the day to get there. Pulling out maps after breakfast, we spent time discussing the region, slowed by the filming. Then the drivers took a wrong turn that took us and hour out of our water plus another ½ hour to double back via a faster road. It was 2:30 by the time we got there and almost 3:00 when we finally reached the falls. While there were great outcrops, we only had a hour there before having to start back. It was too late to visit our second stop and quite late before our cranky group got back to the resort for dinner. Overall, a disastrous first day.

Nano Seeber explaining the geology to the conclave group.

Having gotten our bad day out of the way early, we had nowhere to go but up. And it did. We headed north toward the border with India and the Shillong Plateau. At the first stop we got an overview and our first view of the 2000 m high mountain and the geology while standing on one of the folds that mark the frontal area of the Dauki thrust fault. Then we went on to the Rangapani River where the large boulders are washed down from the plateau. There is a huge industry in Bangladesh mining rocks and gravel from the rivers along the border. Bangladesh has a shortage of rock that can be used in construction, particularly making concrete. The Indian border is clearly marked by the presence of rocks. On the Bangladeshi side they have all been stripped away and they are digging

Mining of rocks from the Rangapani River. The edge of the boulders in the distance is the Indian border.

pits to mine the rocks from the older river sediments. This results in beautiful exposure of the sediment layers and we scrabbled around in a pit while the workers mined the rocks around us. After a brief stop at the border crossing where trucks bearing rocks enter Bangladesh, we went to Jaflong, where the mining industry is even larger. The amazing thing about Jaflong is that besides being an industrial site with rock mining and noisy rock crushers, it is also a tourist site where people come to see the mountain. There are tourist kiosks, snack stands and guides mixed in with the industry. For us, there were also outcrops of the older strata from before the uplift of the Plateau. Our final stop was a visit to our GPS and seismometer station at Jalfong. Humayun and I were filmed explaining our work there while the others visited the geology exposed on the side of the hill we were on.

Humayun and Chris discussing the geology at Jaflong with Eocene limestone in the background.

Day 3 was an exciting trip up the Shari River. We rented three wooden country boats and sailed up the river, crossing through exposures of sediments of various ages. The originally horizontal layers of strata have been deformed from the tectonics. The dip of the sediments started at 38° then increased to nearly vertical before decreasing back to ~45°. This folding is due to the sediments riding over structures beneath, possibly a fault. We also saw that the oldest sediments were marine and the seceding layers went to estuarine and then fluvial (rivers) due to the increasing amount of sediments coming from the Himalaya. Our boats traveled together and occasionally leap frogged from outcrop to outcrop. Chris Paola, our river specialist, also noted changes in the shape of the river indicating active tectonics. Our group of specialists is coalescing into a team. Meanwhile, we passed other teams of people dredging the sand and gravel from the river bottom using buckets into their boats.

Our boats arriving at an outcrop along the Shari River.

IcePod Clears Hurdles and Takes to the Air

Peering Through Polar Ice - Sun, 02/03/2013 - 22:14

LC130 aircraft waits in the Stratton Air Force hangar for the IcePod instrument to be installed. (Photo M. Turrin)

Monday:The morning briefing room was filled with layers of engineers and technicians from the civilian side, matched with pilots, navigators and air support staff from the Air National Guard side. Spanning the middle were the two Systems Project Office (S.P.O.) representatives. Adding new instrumentation and equipment to any aircraft requires intense scrutiny, but on a military plane there are extra rounds of reviews and sign offs required, and it is the S.P.O. office that is responsible for overseeing this final testing and approval. Specialists at avionics (aircraft electrical systems) and aerodynamics (air interaction and flow meeting the aircraft/pod) the first part of the week was theirs as they observed, measured, questioned and weighed equipment as it was installed in the aircraft, and prepared to monitor the in-air operation of the pod for turbulence, and potential aircraft/equipment interference.

Crate containing the IcePod is prepared for the pod to be removed. (photo M. Turrin)

The IcePod team arrived at Stratton Air Force Base with a carefully planned schedule of equipment installation and flight-testing. One day of install followed by two days of S.P.O. testing and then five additional days available for our own flight maneuvers to test the full potential of the pod and instruments. Inside the airport hanger crates of electrical wiring, connectors, tools and supplies were piled around aircraft 21094 the LC130 labeled ‘Raven Gang’ that was selected for the test flight. The biggest item on the floor was the 700 lb. crate containing the IcePod. The plan was to finalize the installation of the 350 lb.avionics (AV) rack located inside the plane, and then move straight to installing the arm and hanging the pod. By close of business Monday the goal was that the S.P.O. ground tests to ensure all the equipment was functional could be completed.

View of the back of the AV rack thick with cables and equipment wires. (Photo R. Bell)

We were set back almost before we started. Rack pieces tightly matched to the curve of the plane body needed realigning, electrical connections needed adjusting, and by 7 p.m., the arm that would hold the pod was just being connected. Adjusted plans were agreed upon with an early morning return to add the pod and complete the ground check in the a.m. with a S.P.O. flight in the p.m. Snow was predicted over the evening but for flight the weather looked promising.

Fat arms of cables, the band of muscles that will make the pod arm work, are wrapped and tied up out of the way. (Photo M. Turrin)

Tuesday: The morning briefing covered plans for a 10 a.m. flight time, which quickly slipped to a noon decision on the possibility of an afternoon flight. With the 500-700 foot cloud base predicted to rise to 1500 feet in the afternoon, this was not unwelcome news. In the hangar, electricians and engineers worked with thick ropes of cables taming them into place, floor pieces were notched and the pod support arm and special door secured in anticipation of hanging the pod, but delays continued. Before noon, a no-flight decision for the day was reached, as work continued at a slow but steady pace to prepare for to pod. The hope was that the ground testing could be completed before the close of day and Wednesday morning would bring the first round of flight testing.

The pod is moved into position and attached. (Photo M. Turrin)

By mid-afternoon, the pod was moved into place and fastened to the arm. The first S.P.O. concern was that the pod weight be within the approved limit of 400 lbs.  Airport hangars have scales for weighing pallets of equipment but for this application a high degree of accuracy was needed. The first attempt showed a more accurate set of scales was needed. Each instrument, bracket, and set of cables added weight to the pod, so locating, calibrating and lowering the pod onto an accurate set of scales provided a few tense moments until the weight was established and S.P.O. clearance for test flights was provided.

The pod is weighed using twin scales for the first of the S.P.O. clearance tests. (Photo M. Turrin)

Test Flights included turbulence testing for laminar (smooth) airflow done by installing tapered lines on the pod ends with sections of string inset to demonstrate airflow – 174 sections of string were added like a lion’s mane to the pod, and extending back behind the domed door. Exterior accelerometers were added to detect and monitor vibration on the pod as the group approached a 9 p.m. close to the workday.  No matter what the status of the work the plane would be released from the hangar first thing in the a.m.

The pod covered with tapered lines and 174 sections of string to assess airflow. (Photo M. Turrin)

Wednesday: The weather dictated the day; socked in conditions with poor visibility meant no flights. S.P.O. ground testing was completed, but flying would be pushed off another day.

 

Thursday: High winds and driving rain arrived during the night with the morning briefing noting that although there was a high cloud ceiling and 3000-mile visibility, 25 mph winds and turbulence would keep us grounded early in the morning, but a 10 a.m. reassessment might allow a flight later in the day. Updates during the morning cited extreme turbulence for other flights forcing additional postponements. Mid-afternoon a decision was made to take up a minimal team to complete day one of inflight S.P.O. testing. On the runway engines are fired up, first 3 then 4 then 2 and 1, ready to go, but a problem with the Auxiliary Power Unit forced the mission to abort. Cancellation, and another day gone. As we headed out for the night we were warned that the APU issue could down the plane for up to two days.

Looking down on the pod from the belly of the LC130 on the first test flight. The skis of the LC130 landing gear can be seen in the top right of the photo. (photo M. Turrin)

Friday The hope is for at least one flight for this week, but we worry about the news on the APU. The morning briefing notes the APU seems to be holding and the first IcePod flight is a go! The plane is prepped; we are loaded onboard. Engine 3-4-2-1 fired up and we launch down the runway only to squeal to a stop. The domed door over the pod shows as not secure. The door is re-secured. A second attempt to move down the runway ends with the same results. Support is brought on-board and the door is reinforced for take off attempt #3.

10:56 a.m. we are up! The pod is deployed, lowering flawlessly. We begin the test flight at 5000 feet but lower to 2500 feet to move under the weather. The plan includes sets of cloverleaf maneuvers banked at 30 degrees to test GPS and lasers. The turns feel steep, and the ride is bumpy but after all the waiting we are happy to be in the air. There is no electromagnetic interference between the pod equipment and the aircraft, and the exterior accelerometers show a smooth ride for the pod. Test flight #1 for S.P.O. is complete, and everyone can head home for the weekend with a sense of accomplishment. In a week that seemed filled with adages (schedules are subject to change, everything hangs on the weather, anything that can go wrong will go wrong) at least we ended with …anything good is worth waiting for!

For more on the IcePod project see: http://www.ldeo.columbia.edu/res/pi/icepod/

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Welcoming a New Instrument for ‘Probing’ the Polar Regions

Peering Through Polar Ice - Thu, 01/24/2013 - 14:30

The new Common Science Support Pod (CSSP) Ice Imaging System for Monitoring Changing Ice Sheets (IcePod), designed by Lamont’s Polar Geophysics Group (Image M. Turrin).

In 2009 it was just a dream. But creative vision, sweat equity, good partnerships and funding can bring dreams to reality, and 2013 delivered.

It was four years ago that a small team of Lamont scientists, Polar Geophysicist Robin Bell, Engineer Nick Frearson and Ocean Climate Physicist Chris Zappa, began discussions of an instrument that could be used to collect measurements on polar ice during routine field-support flights in both the Arctic and Antarctic. Named the IcePod, it would fit onto the LC130 aircraft, a massive four-engine turboprop plane that is the workhorse of the U.S. polar support services. The pod design focused on a 9 foot long cylindrical “boot” that would hold a range of instruments and gather data on ice conditions as the aircraft carried out its seasonal polar mission. The pod would be removable, fitting in the rear paratroop door, and modular allowing for a range of instruments and ultimate utility.

New York Air National Guard directing the landing of the large LC130 aircraft, backbone of the flight support for NSF polar science. (image courtesy of NYANG)

Funding came through special Recovery Act Funding of a National Science Foundation Major Research Instrumentation grant. NSF saw this as an opportunity for the full science community to increase data collection and understanding of polar ice conditions, yet with a significant reduction in the logistical support needed.

The polar flights for the LC130 are coordinated through NSF but flown by the New York Air National Guard, requiring close planning and coordination with both groups as the Icepod was developed. Any design would need to meet full air safety standards, cause limited drag on the aircraft and be easily mounted or removed by the air-crew as needed.

(l-r) Nick Frearson (Lamont Engineer), Capt. Josh Hicks (NYANG pilot) and Bernie Gallagher (Lamont Senior Electrical Technician) review the interior mount of the removable door where the IcePod will be installed in the LC130 (Image M. Turrin)

Panel openings in the side of the IcePod instrument show two of the equipment boxes. There is an additional box between these two that remains covered in this photo, as well as space in the nose and tail caps of the pod. (Image M. Turrin)

The instruments housed in and around the pod would need to be insulated from any interference with the plane and its equipment. Additionally as the pod arm is extended below the aircraft, the instruments would need to be tightly sealed for temperature control and able to pass intense turbulence testing. Calling up visions of the electromagnetic shrinking machine from “Honey I shrunk the kids,” an additional challenge was the need to fit the instruments in the small interior cubicles of the pod. Instruments and equipment were compacted and streamlined.

The starting line up of instruments:

Radar (RAdio Detection And Ranging) uses radio waves to image through the ice. In order to collect both deep and shallow ice information Icepod will carry two types of radar. Deep-Ice Radar (DICE) is a blade antenna resembling black shark fins designed to collect data thorough more than 4 km (resolution of 10 m). The DICE radar antenna will work over the deep interior of the ice sheets to measure ice thickness and bed wetness where water may be lubricating the base of the ice sheet and changing conditions. The Shallow-Ice radar (SIR) is a horn antenna for penetrating closer to the surface of the icesheet, through approximately 300 meters of snow (25 cm resolution). SIR focuses on recent processes in the snow/ice system, looking at annual rates of snow accumulation and the layer of snow (firn layer) not yet compressed into glacial ice, estimated to range in depth from 40-100 m below the surface.

Two blade antenna for the Deep Ice Radar extend from the pod. (Image R. Bell)

Optics: Laser, is an instrument that uses light to image and collect data on surface elevation and snow texture.  Two different cameras will be used to collect data on reflectivity and temperature (visible-wave and infrared cameras). As we layer together all the information collected from the instruments we can integrate our understanding of the ice conditions at the base of the ice sheet up through the internal ice layers, to the ice sheet surface, and up to the reflective return from the ice.

Next week the Lamont’s Polar Geophysics Team will fly with the New York Air National Guard, bringing the long envisioned IcePod into the air for field-testing. The team is excited to take to the skies to see what the instruments can do, although with the first battery of tests flown close to home in upstate New York, not all the instruments can be performance tested. If all goes well and the go-aheads are received, a trip to Greenland is planned for later in the spring to allow full instrument testing in true polar conditions.

To learn more about the Icepod project see: http://www.ldeo.columbia.edu/icepod/

For more on the Polar Geophysics Group: http://www.ldeo.columbia.edu/polar-geophysics-group/

Funding for this project from #ANT 0958658 under the MRI initiative.

Welcoming a New Instrument for ‘Probing’ the Polar Regions

Arctic Thaw: Measuring Change - Thu, 01/24/2013 - 14:30

The new Common Science Support Pod (CSSP) Ice Imaging System for Monitoring Changing Ice Sheets (IcePod), designed by Lamont’s Polar Geophysics Group (Image M. Turrin).

In 2009 it was just a dream. But creative vision, sweat equity, good partnerships and funding can bring dreams to reality, and 2013 delivered.

It was four years ago that a small team of Lamont scientists, Polar Geophysicist Robin Bell, Engineer Nick Frearson and Ocean Climate Physicist Chris Zappa, began discussions of an instrument that could be used to collect measurements on polar ice during routine field-support flights in both the Arctic and Antarctic. Named the IcePod, it would fit onto the LC130 aircraft, a massive four-engine turboprop plane that is the workhorse of the U.S. polar support services. The pod design focused on a 9 foot long cylindrical “boot” that would hold a range of instruments and gather data on ice conditions as the aircraft carried out its seasonal polar mission. The pod would be removable, fitting in the rear paratroop door, and modular allowing for a range of instruments and ultimate utility.

New York Air National Guard directing the landing of the large LC130 aircraft, backbone of the flight support for NSF polar science. (image courtesy of NYANG)

Funding came through special Recovery Act Funding of a National Science Foundation Major Research Instrumentation grant. NSF saw this as an opportunity for the full science community to increase data collection and understanding of polar ice conditions, yet with a significant reduction in the logistical support needed.

The polar flights for the LC130 are coordinated through NSF but flown by the New York Air National Guard, requiring close planning and coordination with both groups as the Icepod was developed. Any design would need to meet full air safety standards, cause limited drag on the aircraft and be easily mounted or removed by the air-crew as needed.

(l-r) Nick Frearson (Lamont Engineer), Capt. Josh Hicks (NYANG pilot) and Bernie Gallagher (Lamont Senior Electrical Technician) review the interior mount of the removable door where the IcePod will be installed in the LC130 (Image M. Turrin)

Panel openings in the side of the IcePod instrument show two of the equipment boxes. There is an additional box between these two that remains covered in this photo, as well as space in the nose and tail caps of the pod. (Image M. Turrin)

The instruments housed in and around the pod would need to be insulated from any interference with the plane and its equipment. Additionally as the pod arm is extended below the aircraft, the instruments would need to be tightly sealed for temperature control and able to pass intense turbulence testing. Calling up visions of the electromagnetic shrinking machine from “Honey I shrunk the kids,” an additional challenge was the need to fit the instruments in the small interior cubicles of the pod. Instruments and equipment were compacted and streamlined.

The starting line up of instruments:

Radar (RAdio Detection And Ranging) uses radio waves to image through the ice. In order to collect both deep and shallow ice information Icepod will carry two types of radar. Deep-Ice Radar (DICE) is a blade antenna resembling black shark fins designed to collect data thorough more than 4 km (resolution of 10 m). The DICE radar antenna will work over the deep interior of the ice sheets to measure ice thickness and bed wetness where water may be lubricating the base of the ice sheet and changing conditions. The Shallow-Ice radar (SIR) is a horn antenna for penetrating closer to the surface of the icesheet, through approximately 300 meters of snow (25 cm resolution). SIR focuses on recent processes in the snow/ice system, looking at annual rates of snow accumulation and the layer of snow (firn layer) not yet compressed into glacial ice, estimated to range in depth from 40-100 m below the surface.

Two blade antenna for the Deep Ice Radar extend from the pod. (Image R. Bell)

Optics: Laser, is an instrument that uses light to image and collect data on surface elevation and snow texture.  Two different cameras will be used to collect data on reflectivity and temperature (visible-wave and infrared cameras). As we layer together all the information collected from the instruments we can integrate our understanding of the ice conditions at the base of the ice sheet up through the internal ice layers, to the ice sheet surface, and up to the reflective return from the ice.

Next week the Lamont’s Polar Geophysics Team will fly with the New York Air National Guard, bringing the long envisioned IcePod into the air for field-testing. The team is excited to take to the skies to see what the instruments can do, although with the first battery of tests flown close to home in upstate New York, not all the instruments can be performance tested. If all goes well and the go-aheads are received, a trip to Greenland is planned for later in the spring to allow full instrument testing in true polar conditions.

To learn more about the Icepod project see: http://www.ldeo.columbia.edu/icepod/

For more on the Polar Geophysics Group: http://www.ldeo.columbia.edu/polar-geophysics-group/

Funding for this project from #ANT 0958658 under the MRI initiative.

Recovering ‘Sea Spiders’ and Heading Home

Earth's Tectonic Plates - Tue, 01/15/2013 - 17:42

Recovering an MT instrument.

Lamont graduate student Natalie Accardo reports from the Pacific.  Blog 4: Jan. 13, 2013

The NoMelt project is more than just a seismic experiment; it also has an important magnetotelluric (MT) component. MT instruments measure natural magnetic and electric fields on the seafloor, allowing scientists to estimate the electrical conductivity of the underlying rocks. Conductivity is highly sensitive to tiny amounts of water and molten rock within the upper mantle and thus can help distinguish whether the mantle is “wet” (and thus easy to deform) or “dry” (rigid and plate-like).

To obtain information concerning the conductivity of the mantle, six long-period MT instruments were deployed along with the seismographs from the R/V Langseth in 2011. These instruments, which appear more like sea spiders than scientific hardware, sit on the ocean floor and record electrical and magnetic fields approximately every minute. We recover these instruments in the same way that we retrieve the OBS (previous post), although they proved to be much more shy than the OBS in communicating with us. We welcomed back our first MT instrument on a dark and windy night, and over the course of two weeks we recovered five additional instruments without incident, displaying them in all of their neon-orange glory on the stern deck.

With the last instruments safely strapped down, we have put the NoMelt site in our rearview mirror and are steadily speeding to our final destination of Honolulu. Sunny skies and calm seas accompany the slowing pace of activity during our four-day transit to port.  Behind the boat, we trail fishing lines with every color of bait in the hopes that a tuna or mahi mahi might take a bite. Deck chairs have snuck their way out from the shelter of the hangers and onto the sun-drenched back deck where we, like moths to a lantern, try to soak up every last ray of sun before we must head back to the chilly Northeast.

Today we passed close enough to the island of Hawaii to give us our first glimpse of dry land in almost a month. The crew poured onto the main deck to snap photos and hunt for the tiniest glimpse of cellphone reception. There may be no better way to be welcomed back to land than the awesome sight of Mauna Loa towering above the clouds. Overall, the trip has been a great success. Most of our instruments survived their year of solitude on the dark, cold seafloor and came back to us with a set of unique and priceless data. We consider ourselves lucky to have gotten the chance to visit this remote region of the world, which will likely not see comparable human activity for some time.

Until next time, Aloha!

Santa Comes Bearing an OBS

Earth's Tectonic Plates - Thu, 01/10/2013 - 11:44

Lamont graduate student Natalie Accardo reports from the Pacific.  Blog 3:  Jan. 1, 2013.

Christmas found the R/V Melville in the middle of the Pacific Ocean on the last day of a seven-day transit to the NoMelt Project site. In a coincidence that we hoped would be auspicious, we reached our first OBS site late that night. As much as we yearn to be home to do celebrate the holidays with our families, we also realize how fortunate we are to have the chance to do what we do. Many of us began Christmas day with phone calls home to offer holiday greetings to our families and loved ones. Then the entire crew mustered on the upper deck for the requisite group photo, with more than one Santa Claus in attendance. Sunshine abounded as the captain led a crew-wide gift exchange that produced enough chocolate candies to feed an army. The rest of the day was filled with a “coits” (a ring toss) tournament on the main deck, where two young female scientists (that is us!!) came from behind to win the championship and all the pride and glory that come with it. An epic feast topped off with homemade pies and cakes ended the day for most of the crew; for the science party our adventure was just beginning.

We arrived at the first OBS station late into the night of the 25th with apprehension abounding. Recovering OBS instruments from the ocean floor is always a tricky business, especially in our case; these instruments have been sitting beneath more than 3.5 miles of water for over a year. With cold, tired batteries powering the instruments’ acoustic transponders, communicating with them through miles of ocean currents amounts to a whispered conversation on a stormy night.

We initiate communication with an OBS by transmitting audible “chirps” from a communications box in the main science lab to a transducer on the ship’s hull. The transducer acts as a speaker to transmit the chirp through the ocean and down to the instrument. If the OBS is alive and well, it transmits seven chirps in response. Given the distance these signals have to travel, it takes about eight long, stressful seconds to hear the instruments reply. Sometimes there is no reply, and we try again, at different locations, from different angles, with alternate acoustic devices.

Once we know an instrument is up and running, we conduct an acoustic survey by cruising around and sending continuous chirps. We measure the time it takes for the instrument to chirp back to determine the distance to the OBS, providing a precise estimate of the instrument’s actual location on the seafloor. Once we have completed the survey, we are ready to bring the OBS up. We send another series of commands that tells the instrument to release itself from the seafloor and then monitor the distance to it as it rises through ocean. Once on the surface, the captain skillfully steers the ship very close to the OBS so that we can hook lines onto it and pull it safely on board.

Our Christmas Night OBS was successfully recovered, and by New Year’s Day we had retrieved 12 OBS and one magnetotelluric instrument (to be discussed in the next installment). Sadly, two instruments never responded and are assumed lost to the deep; we are likely to never know why. Our success can be seen in the growing army of instruments that stand at attention on the main deck.

We are completing the charge around the perimeter of the deployment, picking up instruments approximately every 10 hours. Soon we will make the turn and head onto the central line of the deployment, where interstation spacing is much shorter and the recoveries come hard and fast. From the Pacific we wish everyone a happy and healthy New Year!

Transiting the Pacific

Earth's Tectonic Plates - Sun, 12/30/2012 - 18:18

Lamont graduate student Natalie Accardo reports from the NoMelt recovery cruise.

Blog 2:  Dec. 23, 2012

Calm seas and sunshine find the R/V Melville in the Pacific.

Today marks our sixth day aboard the R/V Melville on a journey to a remote region of the Pacific to retrieve seismic instruments that have been quietly recording earthquake signals on the ocean floor for the past year. We have covered more than 2,600 km thus far but must cruise for another two and a half days before we reach the NoMelt project site. We have been making good time — the ship’s crew has been pushing the Melville to move at a quick pace, 12.3 knots or 14 miles per hour – and should be at the project site around midnight on the 25th of December.

The Melville initially met rough seas off the coast of California that forced most of the science party to remain horizontal in our bunks in an attempt to sleep off the affects of seasickness. We hastily tied down laptops, keyboards, and a glittering Christmas-themed snow globe so that they would not be chucked about by the rolling waves. Sticky mats and cup holders found their way into the mess hall so that the those of us who could stomach a meal would not find ourselves with a lap full of spaghetti or coca-cola.

However, calm seas found their way to us two days out of port and have stuck with us since. Hotter temperatures and increasingly sunny days remind us that we are steadily cruising toward our tropical destination. We fill our days at a leisurely pace acquiring bathymetric and magnetic data from the ship’s onboard instruments, deploying drifter instruments, and working on projects we’ve brought from home. As we near the project site, the pace will pick up, and the science party will commence 24-hour round-the-clock scientific operations.

A “drifter” instrument floating away from the R/V Melville.

The science party makes up only six of the total 30 people on board. The rest represent the talented, permanent crew of the Melville, who work tirelessly to keep her safe and operational in the open ocean. Their vocations span the gamut from the engineers that keep the huge diesel engines humming smoothly to the computer technicians that keep the Internet running and the onboard ship computers (and scientists!) happy. The crew is gregarious and inviting, welcoming any question or concern, no matter how banal. They may even invite you to join in their card games … though few of us are brave enough to test their skills.

Christmas and New Year’s are just around the corner and promise to be exciting, as they will mark our first days retrieving the OBS from the deep. Until then we wish everyone safe holiday travels and happy holidays!

One Year Later – Return to the NoMelt Site

Earth's Tectonic Plates - Sun, 12/30/2012 - 18:03

The R/V Marcus G. Langseth completed the initial portion of the NoMelt experiment on Dec 29, 2011. In the subsequent year, scientists began analyzing the active-source seismic data collected on that cruise, constructing initial models of the oceanic plate. The full analysis awaits the so-called “passive source” data – the year-long recordings of earthquakes and natural electrical and magnetic signals on the instruments that remain on the seafloor.

On Dec. 18, 2012, the R/V Melville departed San Diego to recover remainder of the NoMelt instruments and data. The expedition includes two scientists from Columbia’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory: Post-doctoral scientist Patty Lin and graduate student Natalie Accardo. Natalie is sending regular reports from the ship, and I will post them here.

Post 1:  Natalie Accardo, Dec. 19, 2012.

Map displaying the NoMelt project site located ~1200 km southeast of Hawaii.

In the early hours of Dec. 18, a team of scientists aboard R/V Melville set out from San Diego to a remote portion of the Pacific Ocean on a trip that will take 28 days and cover more than 8,500 kilometers. On this voyage, we aim to recover 27 ocean bottom seismographs (OBS) instruments that have been sitting silently on the ocean floor for nearly a year. Throughout their stay on the seafloor, the OBS have been continuously listening and recording the shaking caused by distant earthquakes all over the world. By recording ground motion, we can constrain seismic wave properties and in turn the geologic characteristics of the oceanic plate. With this information, we hope to answer the multilayered question of what defines a tectonic plate.

For decades, geologists have focused most of their attention on locations where tectonic plates come together (i.e. subduction zones like Japan) and break apart (i.e. rift settings like the East African Rift System). Yet to better understand the complex processes happening at those sites, we must first understand the fundamental characteristics of a tectonic plate. For further information concerning instrument deployment and other aspects of this project, please refer to previous blog entries.

It takes seven days to make the 4,300 km journey from San Diego to the NoMelt OBS sites. During the transit time, we use instruments aboard the Melville to map topography and gravity of the ocean floor. Additionally, at regular intervals we toss “drifter” instruments overboard. These so-call “instruments of opportunity” were designed by students at the University of California San Diego (UCSD) to be deployed by any research vessel traveling through an area of interest. They are completely autonomous and will record sea surface information (temperature, salinity, etc.) wherever the currents take them, data that will be of use to oceanographers at UCSD.

Today marks only our second day on board and has given us our first true glimpse of the open ocean. Rocky seas have confined most of the science party to their bunks in a group effort to retain what is left of our last meal. However, the promise of calmer weather in the coming days has brought some cheer to the entire crew.

Role-Reversal (and Some Fun) at AGU

francesco-aguFrancesco Fiondella is normally behind the scenes writing web stories, developing audio slideshows and videos for the International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI). But at this year’s annual American Geophysical Union (AGU), the tables were turned for a brief moment. He was video ambushed by climate scientist Andrew Robertson and forced to explain [...]

LDEO email back up

IT Announcements - Mon, 12/17/2012 - 10:05
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