August 31, 2015

Juggling routine

On the cruise so far, I’ve spent the majority of my time sampling and analyzing samples for the CO2 system parameters (pH, dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) and alkalinity), along with sampling for dissolved organic carbon (DOC). Since I’ve been so busy with samples, writing these posts is taking longer than I had initially hoped. Because of that, it seems relevant to share what a typical day is like for me, now that I’m fully adjusted to my odd sleep schedule and excellent shift.

Shortly after my shift ends at 8 AM, I check the “Board of Lies” before going to bed so I know what to expect during my next shift. If there is a station while I’m sleeping, I organize bottles for Ryan to collect DOC samples for me so my sleep is not disturbed. Once I’ve organized my bottles I head to my stateroom, climb into my bunk, pull the curtains closed (all of the bunks have curtains), and am usually asleep before 11 AM. While sleeping in a twin bed on the top bunk in a shuddering icebreaker may not sound that great, I always sleep soundly in my small, yet cozy bed.

The image of the board of lies is updated every 2 minutes, however, the board itself is updated at most every hour. Since things are constantly changing at sea — especially in thick ice — the times on the board are often wrong (they are the chief scientist’s best estimates), which is how it earned its name, The Board of Lies.

After my good morning/afternoon’s sleep, my alarm wakes me up around 5:30 PM (I average 6-7 hours of sleep each day), and the first thing I do (before getting out of bed) is check if we’re on station by opening the ship’s CTD Cast Display from my phone. If we’re on station and the rosette is in the water, profiles of the CTD sensor data are displayed and I assess the amount of time before the rosette is back on deck and sampling begins.

Display of the CTD data while the rosette is in the water from my phone. The y-axis is depth in meters (ocean surface is at the top, and the ocean bottom is at the bottom). The red profile is temperature, blue is salinity (cut off on right) and yellow is oxygen, while the horizontal pink lines mark the depth that Niskin bottles have been closed as the rosette is brought back to the ship.

While the rosette is in the water, Ryan, Fen and I (whoever is on shift) organize sampling bottles and carry them (usually takes about five trips) to the hanger where we sample. Going back and forth to the hanger and van has resulted me walking an average of 4.7 miles and climbing 50 flights of stairs per day over the past week (according to Apple’s Health app). Once our bottles arranged in the hanger, one of us goes to the aft control room to add our bottle numbers to the sampling log before the rosette is brought back on deck and sampling begins.

Joseph (left) follows the CTD profile trace and closes bottles at the desired depths as the rosette is raised by the winch operator on the right (not sure of his name).
Once the CO2 system parameters have been sampled, we bring our bottles forward to the carbon van and prepare them for analysis. While CO2 samples get to temperature (20 or 25°C) and the instruments warm up, I run back to the hanger to collect DOC samples from the rosette. Once I’ve collected all of the DOC samples and have stowed them in the freezer, I head back to the van to juggle analyzing samples on four instruments simultaneously. Whether Ryan, Fen or I are in the van working solo or if we are overlapping, we are managing the collection and analysis of our samples incredibly well and keeping high spirits. Typically, seven people would be doing the amount of work we are accomplishing out here in the Arctic, and we are all proud of the beautiful data that is resulting from this cruise.

After all samples are analyzed or passed on to Ryan to finish during his shift, my shift ends at 8 AM, when I like to go on to the bow or up on the bridge to get a good look at the ice we’re making our way through, and also to chat with some of the Coast Guard who on bridge watch duty. If I’m not on the bow or bridge after my shift, I’m either in the conference room or computer lab writing a blog post, catching up on email or entering information into my DOC sample log spreadsheets before checking the Board of Lies before bed.

View from above the bridge, taken at 10:43 PM on Aug. 27 at station 26. Views similar to this, which are updated every hour, can be found on the sidebar to the right.
We just recently finished a line of 6 Repeat Hydrography (yellow dot) stations, and are now at station 26, which is a Full (white triangle) station located at 83° 44’N, 174°36’W (view station map here). We’ll probably be here for another day before we continue on, en route to the North Pole.