Edge of the Arctic Shelf
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Daily Update

Dispatch 33 - October 12, 2003
By C. A. Linder

Weather conditions: Fog, 10 kt winds, 1-2 ft seas, air temperature 32°F

Slow News Sunday
What day is it? What cast are we on? Everything has started to blend together as we sampled with the CTD northward across the Chukchi Sea. Almost everyone in the science party has tasted the watchbill routine - draw water samples, put CTD in water, lower to depth, fire bottles, retrieve CTD, repeat... and repeat! For the next few days this will be our mantra, until we break off to head south - for Nome, and home.

Throughout the day a thick fog surrounded us, blurring the edges of the day and the line between water and sky. The sun occasionally shone through the mist, casting long shadows on the water. The water took on colors of black, deep blue, or even a rosy peach depending on the sun's angle.

Both scientists and crew showed their creative side today as they decorated styrofoam cups. Tomorrow the cups will be gathered into a mesh bag, attached to the CTD, and sent down to 3,000 meters depth! The tremendous pressure at this depth will squeeze all of the air out of the foam, crushing the cups to a fraction of their original size. It's an old oceanography trick, and a great souvenir from a CTD cruise.

Sarah sampling Decorate Cups
Sarah Zimmermann collects water for oxygen analysis. Seaman Gaylin Swibold decorates a foam cup. Foam cups - pre-shrink.
Click to enlarge Click to enlarge Click to enlarge

Mrs. Cadwell's 5th grade class at Varnum Brook Elementary School has some more excellent questions about storms at sea.

Question from Shawn: How long or big was the worst storm?
Answer: The worst storm we have weathered on this cruise was on October 6th. The storm lasted almost two days, and produced winds as strong as 55 knots. That's almost 65 miles per hour! The waves reached heights of about 20 feet from wave crest to trough. It's incredible to see storms like this in the open ocean - it really makes you appreciate the power of nature.

Questions from Marlayna: Does anyone go on the deck during the storms or do you 'lock down'?
Answer: Hi Marlayna, thanks for writing. When the weather gets really bad, the very front part of the ship, known as the foc'sle (short for "forecastle") is off limits (you can see why!). The Healy is so incredibly stable, even in the worst weather, that there are still places you can go outside to watch the waves or get some fresh air. As far as our equipment goes, that is always locked down using a combination of straps and bungees - we need to be prepared for the worst at all times. In this photo, you can see the chains that are used to secure the heavy mooring anchors on deck. Everything in the main lab is also tied down so that it can't budge an inch. The last thing you want to see is your computer sliding off the desk onto the deck!

This will be the last week of dispatches from the Edge of the Arctic Shelf, so be sure to send in your final questions to arcticedge@whoi.edu!

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