Edge of the Arctic Shelf
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Daily Update

Dispatch 04 - September 13, 2003
By C. A. Linder

Weather conditions: Overcast skies, 5 kt winds, 1-2 ft seas, air temperature 28°F

Deja Vu
The small puddles of water on the weather decks were glazed over with ice this morning. The temperature has been slowly dropping as we steam farther out into the Chukchi Sea. The stillness of the cool morning was broken by the whoosh of rotor blades as an HH-65A lifted off from the flight deck, bound for Barrow on a final supply run.

Today our primary scientific mission was to test out the CTD system. The first test cast went fairly smoothly, although an unexpected visitor hitched a ride aboard the rosette. Large jellyfish have been sighted floating all about the ship lately, and as luck would have it (bad luck for the jellyfish), as the CTD rosette was being brought to the surface a large specimen became tangled in the instruments. Looking like something out of the movie "Aliens" or "Ghostbusters", the CTD was covered with stringy tentacles and sticky bits of gelatinous goo. The body of the creature was about as big as a human head, and the tentacles measured about 6 feet long. Biologist Carin Ashjian decided that it was a fairly common variety of jellyfish known as a medusa (Cyanea sp.) After disentangling it from the instruments, Christina Courcier returned it to the sea.

Rob in CTD Jelly Sample class
Rob Palomares connects a cable inside the CTD rosette before the first test cast. Christina Courcier takes a closer look at the jelly we "caught" with the CTD. Jeremy Kasper practices his oxygen bottle shaking technique in "water sample class."
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Due to some technical difficulties Principal Investigators Rebecca Woodgate and Bob Pickart decided to delay the mooring deployment until tomorrow. In the meantime, we are conducting a set of CTD casts across the mouth of Barrow Canyon. A series of CTD casts in a straight line, also known as a transect, allows us to see a cross section of water properties (sample temperature section from 2002). However, on the first cast of the section a bit of the cabling connecting the CTD and the computer that collects the data was pinched, necessitating a lengthy (3 hour) repair. Luckily, this problem happens frequently enough that the science party is well equipped to solve it. Marshall Swartz and Rob Palomares nursed the CTD back to health, and the second cast went beautifully. Ironically, last year's cruise also started out with a CTD problem (read 2002 Dispatch 03 for details) -- Bob Pickart remarked that it felt like deja vu.

The CTDs will continue through the night, and with luck we will finish sampling this section by tomorrow evening. To see more images of the science activities, icebreaker, crew, and the Arctic Ocean, be sure to visit the image gallery.

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