I'm home and it feels great. However, Jake is just starting his part of VOCALS. He has a blog at dopplerjake.blogspot.com. Read it to follow along what's going on with leg 2 of the VOCALS cruise.
I've checked out of my hotel room.
The VOCALS findings and progress meeting starts at 1:00pm.
I'm giving my 10 minuet talk at 3:00pm.
I'm leaving for the airport at 6:30pm.
My flight leaves for Santiago at 9:00pm.
I travel for a billion years (24 hours).
I finally get to go home.
All times are Chilean (GMT -3).
In case anyone was curious, the water draining in my hotel in Arica, Chile spins clockwise.
Today is my last full day aboard the Ronald Brown. We're scheduled to arrive in Arica around 10:00am local time tomorrow. Already things are winding down on the ship. There are numerous conversations about what people are going to do when the get to Arica. Mostly the discussions center around travel plans, where to get good food, and what bars are within stumbling distance of the hotels. People are starting to pack up their things, stow equipment, and clean up their work areas. While I'm not packing my clothes into my duffel bag just yet, I am working on tidying some things up and getting ready to have Jake take my place. I'm making sure all the data I've collected so far is organized and written to my external hard drives. I'm making sure that I've collected any data from the other scientists that I think will come in handy. I'm making sure that I have a lot of written instructions so that Jake will have a reference for how to do some of the tasks that I've had to figure out on my own.
Overall, things just feel like they're coming to a close. While my part in the VOCALS project is nearing its conclusion, things aren't over yet. There's still one more day of data to collect. On the 5th of November, Guy Fawkes Day, I'll be training Jake on the things I've been doing on ship and on the things I've learned so far. I'm trying to get a speaking spot at the mid-project meeting on the 6th to present an outline of how we're using the Brown's C-band radar, some interesting things we've seen in the data, and where we're putting our data for the world to preview. Speaking of that final point, the NCSU online field catalog can be found at precip.meas.ncsu.edu/vocals. When I go home to Raleigh, VOCALS will still be going strong. While my month long odyssey will come to a close, Jake's will just be beginning. Also, once I'm home, I'll probably take my place in the shore-side support role. While I've been on the Ronald Brown, the rest of the research group back at NCSU has been working hard processing raw data and analyzing the meager amount of data the Brown's limited internet bandwidth allows me to send out.
I'm starting to get excited about the prospect of getting off the ship. The thing I'm looking forward to the most is sleeping in a bed that doesn't move. Anyone with romantic notions of the ocean waves gentle rocking them to sleep has never been woken up by bumping their head into the wall when the boat makes a sudden roll. I've gotten used to sleeping on a pitching and rolling ship, but that by no means suggest that I prefer it to my usual terrestrial sleeping arrangements.
Happy Halloween, everyone! We here on the Ronald Brown are getting into the Halloween spirit. The women among the science party have disappeared and murderous pirates have taken their place. The shrill battle cry of "Arrrgh!" echoed across the mess deck during lunch. The balloon for today's 16 UTC sounding was replaced with the Great Pumpkin who spreads Halloween cheer. To all of you who may be in Raleigh, go enjoy the Haunted Hillsborough Hike for me.
Dan Wolfe and Lelia Hawkins prepare the Great Pumpkin for release
Most of the instruments that are deployed either on an open-ocean buoy or on the mooring line are unable to transmit their data to shore via satellite phone. They have to store their data on internal memory cards. As a result, if you want to collect the data from those instruments you have to recover the buoy and the mooring line, disassemble the instruments, and extract the memory cards. Now, the buoys that you recover have usually spent a year or more in open waters with only birds and aquatic life to keep them company. In fact, many sea critters decide to call the buoy and it's mooring home. After a year at sea, the buoy and mooring line harbor their own ecosystem. Read on to see what I mean.
One of the tasks in completing the VOCALS mission to study ocean and atmospheric processes and interaction involves maintaining a buoy with myriad instruments in the vicinity of 20S, 85W; right in the heart of the Eastern Pacific stratocumulus region. The buoy we carried with us on the Ronald Brown for deployment is the ninth in a series of buoys deployed to study this region and it is so dubbed Stratus 9. Stratus 9 and it's deployment is mainly handled by the fine folks at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute including our chief scientist, Bob Weller. Deploying an anchored open-ocean buoy is no small task, especially when the sea floor is 4500 meters (2.8 miles) beneath the waves. However, the Woods Hole crew makes it look easy.
Early this morning on the Ronald Brown one of the deck hands, Ricardo, caught a rather large squid. There's really not much more to the story than that, but, if you look at the picture below, you'll probably agree with me that this thing may haunt my dreams for a few days.
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