Weather Window

    After dealing with some very rough sea conditions for the last few days, we found a weather window late yesterday that provided us the opportunity to sample seawater. As you learned in yesterday's journal, sea water can be sampled using the ship's onboard flow-through system, however, large quantities of water from specific depths cannot be sampled in this way. Instead, the RVIB Palmer is equipped with two different rosettes or carousels. These rosettes are essentially large epoxy coated metal cages that can hold equipment for sampling at various depths. The two rosettes used throughout this research cruise hold a CTDA research tool that is submerged in the water to measure conductivity (salinity), temperature, and depth. instrument and Nisken bottles. Additional sensors like a photosynthetically active radiation (PAR) sensor or sensors for dissolved oxygen levels can be added, if needed. Using this equipment, we were able to collect some water samples from both rosettes as a practice or "shakedown" of the future procedures. Each rosette can weigh more than 1000lbs, so it is important that the Marine Technicians, the crane operators and the scientists complete a few deployments (or casts) before reaching our first incubation station. This type of sampling technique will be used throughout the research cruise, so it was excited to be able to begin sampling.

    TM rosette deployment
    Marine Technicians Rich Thompson and Holly Martin prepare to deploy or cast the trace metal rosette. The white circular frame holds a CTD instrument and Nisken bottles.

    CTDA research tool that is submerged in the water to measure conductivity (salinity), temperature, and depth.

    The CTDA research tool that is submerged in the water to measure conductivity (salinity), temperature, and depth. instrument is a collection of sensors that transmits data on the conductivity, temperature and depth. You may not be familiar with the term conductivity as it relates to ocean water. The conductivity sensor uses electrical conductivity to measure the salinity of the ocean (in other words, how salty the water is at an given location). The information collected from the CTDA research tool that is submerged in the water to measure conductivity (salinity), temperature, and depth. can be seen in real-time on the monitor at the ship's CTDA research tool that is submerged in the water to measure conductivity (salinity), temperature, and depth. station. An electronic technician (ET) can monitor the data collection, identify sensors that are not working properly and alter the speed of the cast from the computer station. Members of the science team are able to view the data collected by the CTDA research tool that is submerged in the water to measure conductivity (salinity), temperature, and depth. to determine where to sample water.

    CTD real-time data
    Electronics technician Barry Bjork and Dr. Bethany Jenkins monitor the real-time data from the first conventional CTD cast. Information about chlorophyll levels, water temperature and salinity can help Dr. Jenkins determine where (what depth) to collect water samples.

    Nisken Bottles

    Nisken bottles are attached to the rosette and programed to collect water samples at desired depths. Nisken bottles were patented by Shale Nisken in 1966 as improvements on a collection bottle known as the Nansen bottle. The Nisken bottles have caps on each end that are open prior to the cast. The caps are connected to a tensioned or spring-loaded wire that closes both caps when triggered. The trigger can be programed to close all of the caps at once, or have a group of bottles close at one depth while another group of bottles closes at a second depth and so on. This type of sampling can allow for large quantities of water from a specific depth, or to acquire samples at different depths in the same cast to create a profile (to see what changes or similarities are present over different depths at similar times).

    Preparing the Nisken bottles
    Marine Technicians Rich Thompson and Holly Martin watch as Dr. Kristen Buck prepares the Nisken bottles on the trace metal rosette. The CTD instrument is located at the base of the rosette, just below the Nisken bottles.

    Two Rosettes

    During this research cruise, two different rosettes are used for water sampling. The first is the trace metal rosette (shown in the previous pictures of this journal). The trace metal rosette holds twelve Nisken bottles and is deployed near the trace metal van on the main deck. The cable attached to the rosette is able to lower the rosette to a depth of just over 2500m (~7500ft). The trace metal rosette completed two casts last night, one at 200m (~600ft) and another at 2000m (~6000ft). In case you are wondering, the depth at that location was around 4000m (~12,000ft)! The water from the trace metal bottles is immediately transported to the trace metal van for removal and storage. This is done in order to limit contamination.

    The second rosette is referred to as the conventional rosette. Twenty four Nisken bottles hang on this rosette. The conventional rosette is deployed from a dedicated room on the ship known as the Baltic Room. A cargo bay door opens and a large crane moves the rosette out the door and then lowers the rosette into the water. Once the rosette returns and is secured in the Baltic room the science team can empty the Nisken bottles into pre-washed carboys. These carboys can be stored for use with the molecular biology sampling or other uses within the labs.

    Emptying Nisken bottles
    Cara Pekarcik learns how to empty Nisken bottles from the conventional CTD rosette. These nisken bottles are not removed from the rosette because they do not require trace metal clean techniques. Photo courtesy Maia Theophanis.

    Carboys all around
    Ten liter and twenty liter carboys were filled with water from the first conventional CTD cast. These Nisken bottles collected samples at a depth of 300m (~900ft.). Photo courtesy Maia Theophanis.

    Baltic Room
    The conventional CTD is deployed in the Baltic Room of the Nathaniel B. Palmer. The yellow and black door swings inward to allow a crane to deploy the CTD. Photo courtesy Maia Theophanis.

    The Real Deal

    Tomorrow, we will reach our first incubation station. This means that we will be at the first desired sampling station for this research cruise. At this station, we will be completing four trace metal casts and a conventional cast to collect water for the incubation studies discussed in a previous journal. Each science team member has been assigned a specific duty during this sampling period. It is important that sampling is done as quickly as possible to help maintain the ambient (natural) temperature of the water to limit heat shock for the microorganisms. It is also important to sample quickly to limit contamination. The goal is to get the incubation bottles filled and begin sampling from the bottles throughout the day. It will be a busy, but exciting day on the RVIB Palmer. Stay tuned for a more detailed description of the process and to find out what it is like to do deck work outside in the Southern Ocean!

    Weather gear on deck
    Fearless leaders (l to r) Dr. Kristen Buck, Dr. Dreux Chappell and Dr. Bethany Jenkins are prepped for deck work. Working in the Southern Ocean during high seas requires proper gear. Waterproof, warm clothing and safety gear like float coats are required while working on deck.

    Weather Summary
    Wind Speed
    Wind Speed: 25-30 knots, Vessel Speed: 10 knots
    Wind Chill


    Anastasia Z, Block B

    How long does it take the rosettes to descend to their maximum depth and do the salinity levels increase the deeper it goes in the water?

    Jake O, Block A

    Hi Ms. PekarcikHow long does it take to test the water using the CTD system?

    Jake O, Block A

    How long does it take to test the water using the CTD system?

    Jenny T Block F

    How long does it take to sample each of the water samples?

    Cara Pekarcik

    The speed really depends on how quickly the rosette is lowered. The other night, a deep cast to 2500m (around 7500ft) took about two hours
    to go down and come back up. You do not want to move the bottles too
    quickly because you do not want them to fall off. You also want to give
    the CTD time to collect data. The salinity levels may be different at
    different depths depending on where you are.

    On 2016-09-13 14:32, PolarTREC wrote:

    Cara Pekarcik

    Hi Jake - the time really depends on how deep the CTD will travel. A cast to 2500m (approximately 7500ft) could take about 2 hours.

    On 2016-09-13 15:22, PolarTREC wrote:

    Cara Pekarcik

    Hi Jenny - If you are referring to the rosette cast, it depends on the depth.
    Shallower depths will take a shorter amount of time. The rosette speed
    can be changed by the controller, but you do not want it to move too
    quickly and mess up the data collection.

    On 2016-09-13 17:10, PolarTREC wrote:

    Tracy Bowen

    What makes them decide to sample at certain depths? How do they know when they've reached that depth?

    Julie Brunelle

    Cara...please tell me these Nisken bottles are a bit easier to use than those we used at Southampton! I do not miss fumbling around with those! I imagine the basic operation is not that terribly different.

    Aili Aifan Block G

    How can we know Nisken bottles were finished their job in the water ,when the thermometer is inverted or it has specific time?

    Aili Aifan Block G

    What else can CTD do except measure the salinity of the ocean?

    Tengfei L, Block B

    How long does it take the crew members to finish on collecting the water for sampling?

    Victoria H, Block G

    The temperatures are so low. Do the people have to wear masks to protect their faces

    Talia Viera, Block A

    How deep do you usually have to go for the samples?

    Talia Viera, Block A

    How deep do you usually have to go for the samples?

    Vivian Tran

    Since the diatoms grow under cold weather, is there a special dress code that you and the research team need in order to prevent temperature change and contamination?

    Michael G Block F

    How does the sensor tell the Salinity of the water around it?

    Andrew L, Block F

    Trace metal rosette has a cable to hold the Nisken bottles, what kind of material is it made of?

    Winnie C Block F

    What was your initial reaction when sampling the seawater?

    Cara Pekarcik

    Everyone aboard has gear to cover their faces. It depends on the comfort level of the person at this point. If the temperatures drop, I
    would bet most people will start wearing something to cover their face.

    On 2016-09-14 11:40, PolarTREC wrote:

    Winnie C Block F

    What was your initial reaction when sampling the seawater?

    Jonathan Knowl…

    What is your hypothesis on how the diatoms use metals, such as iron, biologically? And do you think that they have this adaptation due to their habitat(s)?

    Sarah M, Block A

    Hi Mrs. Pekarcik,I was just wondering what is the size of a conventional CTD rosette because in the photograph it looks as if it is as tall as a human.

    Jessica A, Block F

    What did you learn about the relationship between iron and the organisms that use iron for photosynthetic growth and carbon uptake?

    Morgan Murphy

    What do the samples that you collected tell about the ocean you're studying?

    Melissa Z, Block A

    So far, did you encounter a problem with sensors that are not working properly or ever need to alter the speed of the cast? If so, how did the ET fix the problem?

    Cara Pekarcik

    Hi Julie! I spent the day working with some of the scientists in the trace metal van. When I asked them about the Nisken bottles, they all
    laughed. They said that the Nisken bottles haven't changed much, so I
    imagine that the fumbling would be the same!

    On 2016-09-12 08:15, PolarTREC wrote:

    Melissa Z, Block A

    So far, did you encounter a problem with sensors that are not working properly or ever need to alter the speed of the cast? If so, how did the ET fix the problem?

    Cara Pekarcik

    Hi Tracy! There are actually some standardized depths that many scientist use when they are trying to get a profile of the water column.
    Other times, the scientists will actually watch the readings on the CTD
    monitor and decide where to collect samples based on temperature
    changes, chlorophyll levels or other factors.

    The depth is determined based on the readings from the CTD and from the
    length of cable that is let out as the rosette is lowered.

    On 2016-09-12 05:33, PolarTREC wrote:

    Cara Pekarcik

    Great question Aili! There isn't a way to know is the Nisken bottles actually did their job until they reach the surface. The CTD does not
    have anything to do with the Nisken bottles (other than riding on the
    same rosette). A computer controls the Nisken bottles and will tell the
    bottles when to close to hold water from a specific depth. If the
    bottles do not close, it will not be obvious until the rosette comes
    back to the surface. So far, all of our Nisken bottles are working

    On 2016-09-12 11:48, PolarTREC wrote:

    Cara Pekarcik

    Sarah - as you said, the rosette is caller than a human. The trace metal rosette is probably about 6 feet tall. The conventional rosette
    is a little taller and wider.

    On 2016-09-14 13:41, PolarTREC wrote:

    Cara Pekarcik

    Hi Aili - if you look again at the paragraph about the CTD, you will read that the sensors can detect the conductivity (salinity),
    temperature and depth. Other sensors can also be added to measure other
    ocean characteristics such as dissolved oxygen.

    On 2016-09-12 12:27, PolarTREC wrote:

    Cara Pekarcik

    Morgan - as I have mentioned in a few journals, we are learning more about diatoms, bacteria and nutrients. Keep following the journal as I
    start talking with individuals scientists about what their experiments
    and thoughts on our research cruise.

    On 2016-09-14 13:58, PolarTREC wrote:

    Cara Pekarcik

    Hi Melissa - great question! We have encountered problems with some sensors and even the winch that brings the rosette back on deck. The
    ETs use their knowledge of the instruments, instructions guides and lots
    of troubleshooting and colaboration to work on fixing the problems.
    Many of the issues also involve the MLT (Marine Lab Technician), the MPC
    (Marine Programs Coordinator) and the MTs (Marine Technicians). They
    are all very good at their jobs and work well together to make sure that
    the science team can collect data when needed.

    On 2016-09-14 14:21, PolarTREC wrote:

    Cara Pekarcik

    Tengfei - I am responding to this question after a 12 hour day working to collect samples. The day would have been longer, but I was given the
    morning off because I was up until 2am last night waiting for a deep
    cast to come to the surface. Because these scientists are here for a
    short period of time, they try to collect as much water as possible.
    This can take some time to distribute to those bottles and move to the
    incubation units for storage. Even though it was a long day - it was
    exciting to begin the first incubation. I will share more information
    about this process in future journals, so stay tuned.

    On 2016-09-12 13:09, PolarTREC wrote:

    Julia Brady, block G

    How deep are you going to get the samples and how can you tell the depth?

    Cara Pekarcik

    Hi Talia - thanks for the question! We did our first large sampling day yesterday, so I will give a more detailed update in a future
    journal. In the meantime, I'll let you know that we are sampling for
    diatoms at about 30m (60 feet). Remember, these organisms require
    sunlight for photosynthesis, so they don't move too deep into the water

    On 2016-09-12 14:31, PolarTREC wrote:

    Cara Pekarcik

    Vivian - you are correct that Southern Ocean diatoms live in cold temperatures. In order to keep the diatoms at their ambient (or
    natural) temperatures, many of the samples are processed in cold
    environments such as van that are located outside or coolers set at
    specific temperatures. Since these temperatures are a little cold for
    humans, anyone dealing with the samples is dressed in many warm layers.
    The scientists working in the trace metal van do remove their shoes and
    exchange them for "clean" shoes that always stay in the van, but
    otherwise, the only dress code would be lab safety equipment like
    gloves, goggles and lab coats.

    On 2016-09-12 14:32, PolarTREC wrote:

    Cara Pekarcik

    Great observation Andrew! The bottles have coated metal springs along the side to maintain tension. The bottle caps are held in the ready
    position by heavy-duty mono-filament line. You may have used fishing
    line in the past - it is the same material, but much thicker.

    On 2016-09-12 14:43, PolarTREC wrote:

    Cara Pekarcik

    Hi Winnie - I love this question! I spent a lot of time yesterday working in the trace metal van watching sea water samples get prepped
    for incubation. I was struck by the how clear and how light blue the
    water appears. I am sure you have looked at the water's near Quincy and
    noticed a dark green tint to the color. The coloring is a little
    different here. I can also tell you that the water is very cold. It is
    almost shocking the first time you actually feel the temperature!

    On 2016-09-12 15:20, PolarTREC wrote:

    Cara Pekarcik

    Jessica - this is one of the main questions for this research cruise. I am still earning more about this interaction and will continue to
    update the journal with more information over time.

    On 2016-09-12 16:43, PolarTREC wrote:

    Cara Pekarcik

    The samples can be collected at different depths based on the information collected from the CTD. As mentioned in the journal, the
    scientists watch the monitor to see temperature changes or chlorophyll
    levels in the water and they make determinations based on these
    readings. They also do not need to put the rosette very deep to get to
    diatoms because they have to stay in the photic (or light) zone -
    usually above 200m/600ft. There is a sensor on the CTD (remember - D
    for depth) that determines the depth.

    On 2016-09-14 16:17, PolarTREC wrote:

    Cara Pekarcik

    Hi Jonathan - I am going to hold off with this answer for two reasons. 1 - I will talk more about the hypotheses later in the trip and 2 - some
    of the answers regarding adaptations are not yet known. This is one of
    the reasons why researchers spend time studying this tiny organisms.

    On 2016-09-12 16:15, PolarTREC wrote:

    Loretta C. Block F

    Do you have extra crew members who might take place of a member that might be in an in jury or illness while being in Antarctica?

    Donna Xu B Block

    How much sample do u have to collect?

    Donna Xu B Block

    How much sample do u have to collect?

    Emily Tan, Block B

    Can the conductivity sensor measure anything else other than the salinity of the ocean?

    Donna Xu B Block

    What is the minimum and maximum conductivity, temperature, and depth?

    Emily Tan, Block B

    What will happen if the temperature of the water changes in the sample?

    Caroline H, Block B

    By far, what is the most challenging aspect of your trip?