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Vertigo Daily 2004

Dispatch 20 – VERTIGO is heading home

All thoughts are moving on shore as we steam in to Honolulu on this final day of our research cruise here on the R/V Kilo Moana. It is hard to measure the impact of any given cruise, but certainly this VERTIGO cruise has had more than its share of success. In cruise jargon, the “event…

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Dispatch 19 – It’s the Law, the Power Law, but why?

The flux of sinking particles, i.e. the mass sinking through a square meter each day, decreases as you go deeper into the sea, and in many regions this decrease is well described by a Power Law: Flux(z) = Flux(zo) (z-zo)-b This expression states that the flux at depth z depends on the initial flux at…

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Dispatch 18 – Determining Sinking Particle Collection Funnels

The sinking flux of particles in the ocean has many similarities and many important differences compared with the raining of raindrops in atmosphere. Both raindrops and sinking particles undergo transformations (combining to make larger particles, disaggregating into smaller, etc.) as they fall. Again, many of the processes creating these transformations are the same and some…

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Dispatch 17 – What is the Café Thorium?

If you’ve been following our VERTIGO cruise from the home page of the Café Thorium, you might be asking yourself, what does a Café have to do with ocean science? and what the heck is thorium? and what does all of this have to do with VERTIGO, our study of the sources and sinking rates…

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Dispatch 16 – Hawaiian bacteria experience polar conditions…

There are over a billion bacteria in every gallon of seawater at the VERTIGO sight, and these organisms play an important role in regulating the quantity of particles that are caught in sediment traps. Karen Casciotti and I (both from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution) have big plans for the bacteria that are being sampled…

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Dispatch 15 – Disappearances can be deceptive

Phytoplankton don’t expect much from life except to chilli out, fix some carbon dioxide and grow as much as conditions will allow – and fortunately for us mere mortals, liberate an important ingredient for our well being, oxygen. Of course, like anyone else you or I know, their diet requires lots of other goodies too…

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Dispatch 14 – Mocness captures giant squid!

Never has and event caused so much stir amongst the scientific community so fast, as a giant squid being captured alive for the first time ever on the R/V Kilo Moana, July 1st, 2004. “Rarely do we see any organisms in a zooplankton net over 5cm in length,” said the stunned Robert Condon, a graduate…

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Dispatch 13 – Critter Cam

Now that the “MOCNESS” plankton net samples are on board, Stephanie Wilson and colleagues are hard at work using microscopes to identify the tiny marine organisms caught at different depths in the ocean. Here is just a selection of their favorite critters caught thus far during VERTIGO.

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Dispatch 12 – Studying iron on a rusty ship

Here’s a problem for you. How do you collect and study water from the ocean for iron, when you are surrounded by rust? By most laboratory standards, ships are dirty places, rusting, greasy, and bathed in diesel fumes. Stopping the rust is nearly impossible, as seawater is a perfect medium for accelerating corrosion of metallic…

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Dispatch 11 – Catching rain in a hurricane

A basic problem that VERTIGO sets out to study, is how fast do particles in the ocean sink from the surface where they are produced, to the deep ocean, and how many break apart or are consumed by animals and bacteria along the way. Part of the problem is that catching sinking particles in classic…

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Dispatch 10 – Open ocean jellies: alien ocean drifters

Typically, when we think about gelatinous animals we think of jellyfish, like the sea nettle, which sting sea bathers or clog fishing nets. Yet these organisms, collectively known as ‘gelatinous zooplankton’, can play an important role in many ecosystems including the open ocean. On the VERTIGO cruises, our group (comprising of Joe Cope, Steph Wilson…

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Dispatch 09 – European team looks for warmer waters

Why is a University of Brussels, Belgium research team that is usually involved with studies of the ocean carbon cycle in the Southern Ocean looking for in the warmer waters off Hawaii? During a 2001 cruise in the icy Southern Ocean waters, we had the opportunity to collaborate with Ken Buesseler, Tom Trull and Phil…

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Dispatch 08 – Caught in a viscous goo

Tom Trull and his colleagues Lisette Robertson and Clodagh Curran from University of Hobart in Tasmania Australia came quite a distance to be part of VERTIGO. They are studying the composion of ocean particles that they catch using a variety of sampling methods. Here they report on their first look at what they have caught…

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Dispatch 07 – Crushing cups

A simple lesson in hydrostatic pressure Water is much heavier than air (actually about 1000 times heavier). This is a simple fact we all take for granted. It is obviously true; if it weren’t rain would fall up and the ocean would be the atmosphere (but this is a silly digression). The weight of a…

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Dispatch 06 – The Mocness Monster Lives

One of the many tools used on board the RV Kilo Moana during this cruise is the MOCNESS zooplankton net. MOCNESS stands for Multiple Opening and Closing Net Environmental Sampling System. This net is used to collect tiny zooplankton species in discrete depths from the surface of the ocean to, in this case, 1000m. This…

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Dispatch 05 – Like a glazed doughnut…

Things just happen at sea. Rob Condon, a graduate student with Debbie Steinberg’s group, has been saying all week that “it’s ALL happening”. Many good things have happened and some not so good. And with lots of big machinery around and lots of moving parts, sometimes bad things happen. First, the good news. No one…

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Dispatch 04 – From the VERTIGO Air-Traffic control

The primary goal of VERTIGO is to measure and understand the controls on sinking particles as they enter the twilight zone from the well-lit, surface ocean. To do this, a wide variety of tools and platforms have been deployed. Some of these are arrays of tubes or large cones designed to collect sinking particles from…

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Dispatch 03 – Surprises in the phytoplankton

Mary Silver (University of California, Santa Cruz) and her collaborator Sara Tanner (Moss Landing Marine Lab) are on board the Research Vessel Kilo Moana collecting water samples and using microscopes to probe the mysteries of the marine particle cycle as part of their contribution to VERTIGO. Here is Mary’s report from June 23rd. One of…

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Dispatch 02 – Needles in a Haystack

In the early morning hours several scientists and crew members gather on the upper deck, peering out into the sea, still dark. They’re looking for a needle in a haystack. Well, actually they’re looking for the antenna of the second Neutrally Buoyant Sediment Trap (NBST) deployed on this leg of VERTIGO. The 24-inch antenna is…

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Dispatch 01 – June 21, 2004 VERTIGO is a go!

These are the words we’ve been longing to say as we worked for over two years to reach this point of departure out of Honolulu on the R/VKilo Moana with 27 scientists and almost as many crew members on board. It took us only two days to load thousands of pounds of scientific gear to…

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