ECOHAB-2000 Planning Meeting 1 - A Brief Summary

Date: 1 October 1999

In Attendance:
Don Anderson
Jim Churchill
Rocky Geyer
Jason Hyatt
Bruce Keefer
Kalle Olli
Rich Signell

Notes from Jim Churchill:

The first ECOHAB-2000 planning meeting was held in the Bigelow 1st floor conference room. The discussion moved fairly rapidly from issue to issue, and we reached at least tentative consensus on a number of points. This was due in part to a general agreement on the need to shift our focus to the east. The excellent Friday afternoon weather may also have been a factor. Below is a brief summary of the discussion and what was decided on some specific issues

Mooring Locations - Rich Signell initiated the eastward migration movement by making a strong case for moving the moorings from the New Meadows River offshore and to the east. As in '98, we will have three current meter moorings in the 2000 season. Two possible mooring layouts were discussed. Both have a mooring at the '98 M1 site (offshore of the New Meadows) and another in the nearshore region east of Monhegan Island (hereafter MI). In one plan, the third mooring will be placed offshore, either directly seaward MI or midway between the M1 and MI moorings (forming the vertex of a mooring triangle). The other plan has the moorings in a line with the third mooring midway between M1 and MI. Neither plan was definitely agreed upon, although in the ensuing discussion there was often an implicit assumption that the 1st plan would be in effect.

After Meeting Progress - Rich has drawn up straw-man mooring locations,  shown as a map with mooring locations, high surface cell counts from June 1998, high cyst concentrations in the sediment, and geostrophic surface currents from Dan Lynch's May-June climatological model run.

Sediment Traps - A new tool added to our collection is a 21-bottle time series sediment trap. There was general agreement that this should be placed below the expected "plume depth" at about 50 m. Much of the discussion favored attaching it on the offshore mooring (if the plan eventually agreed upon has such a mooring). Placing a single canister trap on each of the other moorings was also greeted with general approval.

Additional Moored Sensors - Don Anderson pointed out the need to acquire more information on sediment concentrations in the bottom boundary layer. Putting a transmissometer near the bottom of each current meter mooring and at the sediment trap got a universal nod.

Mussel Bag Moorings - There was general consensus that the '98 mussel bags paid big dividends and that the 2000 array should have more mussel bags. John Hurst (ME DMR) has agreed to analyze about a dozen samples per week in year 2000. Everyone agreed with Rocky Geyer's point that all mussel bag mooring should be outfitted with a CTD. Rocky noted that there may be four CTDs available in his inventory. Assuming that these are available, our total number of mussel bag moorings, including the current meter moorings, will be seven. The group formulated a tentative plan of distributing these moorings, with three on the New Meadows line, three on the MI line (east of Monhegan Island) and one in the nearshore region between the lines. The need for weekly mussel samples (from bags placed in the water for only a week) had universal approval. However, the addition of long-term integrating samples (from bags placed on moorings at the beginning of the study and then harvested weekly) elicited a lively debate. This ended on a "let's study this some more" note.

After meeting note - Bruce Keafer has posted updated comparative plots of the long term and short term bag toxicity . Included is a graph of the predicted depuration rate of mussels. Further examination of the data and incorporation of a mussel model, with accumulaton and depuration rates, into the circulation models will be done by Dennis McGillicuddy.

After meeting progress - Craig Marquette confirmed the availability of four CTDs for the extra mussel bag moorings, and is working on reserving the hardware and four surlyn floats for the moorings.

Regular Surveys - The push eastward also extended to the weekly surveys. The group formed tentative plans for three survey lines: one going through the M1 mooring, the other extending through the MI mooring, and the third mid-way between the two moorings. The first line would be something like the '98 D-survey line, with stations within and offshore of the New Meadows (but with fewer New Meadows stations). With this plan, operating out of Boothbay made the most sense to all. The highly optimistic hope is that the survey could be done in two days, with the first devoted to transit and covering the New Meadows line and the second aimed at covering the other two lines. The possibility of some other group acquiring a water and CTD sample from the Lumbos Hole area was also discussed. Bowdoin, which has a shore lab nearby, was identified as the top prospect.

After meeting tasks - Jim Churchill will renew some Bowdoin contacts and make a case for Lumbos Hole sampling. Bruce will talk to people within Maine Phytoplankton Monitoring program to see if they can collect some quantitative Alexandrium samples from the inshore areas of Casco Bay. He is also looking into ship-based operations out of Boothbay and/or the Darling Center on the Damariscotta River.

Additional CTD Sampling - The need to acquire turbidity measurements and suspended sediment samples near the bottom was noted by Don. Adding a transmissometer to the CTD and acquiring a near-bottom bottle sample was placed high on the 2000 "to do" list.

After meeting task - Jim C. and Bruce will work with Marshall Swartz on adding a transmissometer onto the shipboard CTD.

Role of The R/V Anderson (not Don) - There is a good chance that we may have 1-2 weeks of R/V Anderson time in 2000. How to best use the Anderson time was discussed at some length. It was noted that if two weeks were granted, that this may be best split into two chunks: one week for an early "toxicity initiation" time cruise and another to track the late season distribution of cells from the eastern Gulf of Maine region. Much of the ensuing discussion focused on possible times and operations for the early cruise. Suggested times of this cruise ranged from mid-April (when moderate cell numbers were first seen in the '98 samples) through early May (when toxicity first appeared in the '98 mussel samples and water samples showed high cell concentrations offshore). It was noted that the Anderson could be used to complete one or two of the regular three-line surveys together with a larger-scale survey of the Western Gulf.

After meeting note - A larger-scale Western Gulf cruise from the Anderson would likely include 5 survey lines in Massachusetts Bay, done as part of a Sea Grant project in which Anderson (Don not R/V), Keafer, Churchill and Loder will be involved. The EPA may require, or strongly suggest, this as their interest is principally in Mass Bay. An item not discussed at the meeting was the possible use of the Anderson for a diurnal vertical migration study. Determining the swimming behavior of the cells is key to modeling Alexandrium and understanding their uptake of nutrients. A vertical migration study is slated for ECOHAB-GOM in 2001. The Anderson's round-the-clock capability would allow us to get a head start on this in 2000. However, it would have to be scheduled for a time when cell concentrations are likely to be sufficiently high.

After meeting task - The scheduling meeting for the R/V Anderson is sometime in November (Bruce will find the exact date). Prior to the meeting a number of decisions have to be made regarding our desired use of the Anderson. Most importantly, we need to determine our general cruise track, and the time period (or periods) to request. The official request has been made for the late April through early May period, but this can be adjusted somewhat at the scheduling meeting. We have to make this an item of discussion in October.

Survey Times - Surveying once per week beginning in the 2nd week in April met with general approval. Bruce noted that our 2000 budget will allow for roughly 20 R/V Gulf Challenger days. Assuming 3 days per cruise including transit days, this translates to approximately 6-7 Gulf Challenger cruises.

After meeting task - Bruce will draw up a tentative R/V Gulf Challenger 2000 schedule for the next meeting. This will include 3 Mass Bay cruises (see tabled items below on Mass Bay cruises). The scheduling meeting for the R/V Gulf Challenger is usually around the second week in December.

Tabled Items - Three issues slated for discussion were tabled when our quorum evaporated at 3 PM. One was the need for coring on the weekly cruises. In `98, weekly cores were taken at stations B1 and B9. Questions that must eventually be addressed are: how useful were the results of the coring, and should more, less or no coring be done in 2000? Another tabled issue was the role of drifters in 2000. In '98 two drifters were deployed on most of the weekly surveys. Two drifters were also set out in the eastern Gulf as part of the large-scale survey of July '98. We have money in the budget to purchase roughly 7 ARGOS drifters for 2000, and will likely have 4-6 other drifters available for use. Where and how often drifters should be deployed has to be decided upon. The third tabled issue was coordination with the 2000 Massachusetts Bay Study. This effort, which now seems likely to be funded, will include four two-day Mass. Bay cruises in the May - early June period. CTD surveying, water sampling and drifter tracking will be done on each of the cruises. How to best dovetail these with the ECOHAB cruises is an item in need of discussion (see R/V Anderson discussion above for at least one possibility for a common cruise, perhaps with a port-of call to exchange personnel).

Another Meeting - A good start was made at this meeting, but clearly many issues remain to be resolved before we kick off the 2000 field effort. Most importantly, input is needed from the overall ECOHAB community. An issue needing immediate attention is use of the R/V Anderson. As noted above, decisions on the R/V Anderson use will have to be firmed up by early November. Let's keep communicating on this issue - a short meeting may be necessary. To further discuss the overall field project, I'm hoping that the WHOI group, and anyone else who is interested, can get together for another full-blown meeting in about a month. I suggest post-COFDL on November 5 or 12. Any feedback or other suggestions are welcome.