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Ship activities – Page 3 – Polar Night Cruise 2017
As the weather calms down around the cruising path of the R/V Helmer Hanssen, Max prepares to operate the new Kongsberg echosounder. This is a wide band acoustic transducer EK80. What is unique and novel about it is that it chirps (which is like whistling for brief periods), instead of pinging (which is similar to honking on a car). Together with the AZFP (stands for Acoustics, Zooplankton, and Fish Profiler) echosounder from the ASL Environment Company, both echosounders will tell the team where the plankton and fish are located in the waters outside of the Ny Ålesund research station. Before that happens, the Arctic ABC team needs to know how to operate it, test that all its cables and connections are working, and come up with a plan on how best to install both instruments in the water.
We are now at 75N. Yesterday we encountered rough seas, with winds at approximately 30 meters/second (!!). Some people were more sick than others, but we all managed to pull through and are in good spirits!
The zooplankton teams are getting ready to deploy another CTD, and a few more nets (WP3, WP2, multinet) for biological sampling. The samples taken from these nets will be used for a variety of studies. Two in particular will be assessing zooplankton community composition of small copepods, and behavioral studies of Calanus species (a copepod found in Arctic and sub-Arctic seas).
After we finish sampling, Jon Cohen (University of Delware) will deploy a light sensor into the water. This light sensor measures the bioluminescence of organisms found within these waters. Since organisms can be quite sensitive to non-natural light sources, the R/V Helmer Hanssen will move a bit away from the zooplankton sampling and turn off its exterior lights before deploying the sensor. That way, more of these smaller zooplankton animals will stay closer to the surface of the water, and the sample will be more representative of the polar night.
We plan on being in Van Mijen fjord this evening. Our first scheduled stop is in Longyearbyen on Sunday.
Research activities started immediately after lunch onboard. A CTD (conductivity, temperature, and depth sensor for seawater), and two sampling nets (multinet and WB3) provided the first insight into the environmental and biological characteristics of the ocean outside the sheltered continental area. The first crate sent from the Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS) was opened, and it was like Christmas all over again.
The Arctic ABC technology team (the A in ABC) did not waste any time and setup a mini electronics lab in the instruments room onboard to begin testing the ICE-POPES (electronic sampling devices, which stands for Ice-tethered Platform Cluster for Optical, Physical, and Ecological Sensors, so not the Catholic kind) that will be deployed at Ny Ålesund in Svalbard. We hope that you can appreciate the looks on everyone’s faces–the engineers in charge were happy to see not only that the equipment made it, but that their tools and spare parts were right where they were supposed to be.