Dispatch 28 - August 11, 2002
By C.A. Linder
Weather conditions: mostly cloudy skies, winds 15-20 knots from the N, 4-5 ft. seas, air temperature 54° F.
The Sunday Routine
Although theres never a true weekend at sea, the Polar Star has a special relaxed Sunday routine. Instead of the 7-8AM breakfast theres a brunch served from 8AM to noon. Those personnel not standing watch are free to make use of the many great amenities on the ship. Even scientists need an occasional break from staring at their computer screens, and Sunday is a great time to watch a movie. This afternoon I caught the matinee showing of Lord of the Rings in the crews lounge, which has comfy movie theater seats and a big TV. The science lounge is another popular spot on the ship for the science party - its where we keep up on email and watch the occasional movie.
The monster waves we expected never materialized today, to our relief. The highest waves of the day were 4-5 foot swell waves. There are two broad categories of waves in the ocean - sea waves and swell waves. The only difference between these is the location where they were formed - sea waves are generated near the ship; they often propagate, or move, in many directions and look confused to the eye. Swell waves were created by a storm far away from the ship and have traveled sometimes hundreds of miles away from the place they were created. Swell waves are very organized and tend to form neat rows, or wavetrains. The swells of the past few days have been coming out of the north, and we are truly thankful for these following seas!
In the past few dispatches we have looked at water property data that we collected with the CTD. On every CTD cast we also measured currents using an instrument called the Lowered Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler (LADCP). Dan Torres, the WHOI LADCP expert, made up a plot right, showing the surface currents spanning the Beaufort slope. The blue arrows show the direction the currents are flowing, and the length of each vector is proportional to the current speed (see scale). Notice how the currents become stronger and more easterly offshore. This indicates that we passed along the western edge of a swirl, or eddy (outlined by schematic black circle on plot). Each of the WHOI moorings has an ADCP collecting current data every hour for the next year, which will help us observe these eddies moving across our picket fence of instruments.
Tomorrow is our last day to pack up our science gear and our seabags, because we pull into Dutch Harbor, Alaska on Tuesday morning. We are all eager to be reunited with our families - I know I miss my wife Meghan and my dog Oscar!
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