Paige's CO2 Adventure

“Are you the nurse?”
hmmmm… the third time I've been asked this question today. AM I the nurse? Its 0 degrees with windchill and I just boarded the ship, fingers now numb, mask awkwardly sliding down my frozen nose. I’ve gotten lost on the ship twice already within my first hour.

“No, not the nurse. Just a CTD kid” I reply to the woman. “Ahhh, that’s what its all about”, she says. I try to read her eyes as she says it.

What am I getting myself into?

R/V Thomas G Thompson! 

Lets talk about the ship we’re sailing on- the R/V (research vessel) Thomas G Thompson!

This vessel is owned by the University of Washington and is 274 feet. It has been in service for over 40 years, and was recently updated in 2017. What I’ve heard from other oceanography folks is that this is one of the nicer ships out in the American research fleet right now.

There are roughly 25 scientists aboard and 15 crew. This boat could sleep more but due to COVID were running on limited capacity.

The purpose of this cruise aboard the TGT is four fold:
  1. Collect samples at 98 stations with the CTD rosette
  2. Deploy 6 ARGO floats (more on ARGO to come)
  3. Deploy 8 Bio ARGO floats
  4. Deploy 4 RAFO floats
It might seem like all were doing is throwing stuff off the side of the boat. Although that somewhat true, it’s the water samples collected from the CTD that constitute the majority of the science aboard. Each group has their own measurement or goal for the water collected. For example, there is a group using a machine called a mass spectrometer, which I could describe as a wind tunnel for individual elements, to study Cloro Floro Carbons (CFCs). Other groups are interested in measuring the Dissolved Inorganic Carbon (DIC) and alkalinity. These two parameters tell us about the carbon cycle in the ocean and can provide insight to how quickly the ocean is acidifying.

The dance of piloting this piece of equipment, making sure everyone gets the water samples that they need in the correct order, not contaminating the samples, and doing this repeatedly all hours of the dance is pretty nuts. Did I mention that this exact CTD is worth well over one million dollars?

Below are some limited pictures of some of the main spaces on the boat. I plan on going into detail on all of this as we progress!
The CTD! Worth about  1 million dollars

Captians Log

Wednesday 3-17-21
We are underway people! My first night sleeping on a ship in the north Atlantic surely did not disappoint.  Although these seas appear to be calm, and this boat is of a formattable size, there were some serious rocks from 22:00 to 3:00 today.

Today we pulled up to a test station, the purpose of which is to make measurements and test the instruments before the show begins. (The official sampling, which will be 100 CTD's will start Friday) It was cold and exciting and very very fun. It seems that everyone that subscribed to this newsletter wants to know if we are going to see sea life, and I can confirm that we saw a couple of whales today along with a pod of dolphins, but this is a chemical oceanography cruise (there are no marine biologists aboard) and when you are in a huge ship like this there’s a lot of laws to keep your distance from wildlife if possible. (side note, its really hard to get good pictures of whales and dolphins. I’ll try but don’t hold your breath)

The general *vibe* on the boat is great. The crew and scientists are all really wonderful. The food is SUPERB. And the gym isn’t half bad either, but I will say that weightlifting and running on a moving boat is a little bit scary.

After we finished this test station we began motoring, and as I write this we are in Canadian waters. We will have two more relaxing days before we begin regular sampling. Until then I plan on learning everyone’s names, taking way too many pictures, and writing!

Where is the Thomas Thompson right now?

Lets find out!


The first of what im sure will be many boat pics!
XOXO Paige Hoel

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