Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Some yellow in the fog

Tadaaaaa!!! :D

Here I am again! I haven’t been able to update the blog in these last few days, as I had a reeeeally busy time and had to use those few free hours to get some rest (although they didn’t protect me from being called “Zombie girl” by Tom hahaha!!).

Anyway.. a lot of exciting news from the Indian Ocean!! 

First: I’m sure that all the students from the John Witherspoon (JW) Middle School will be very thrilled to know that.. their first float, JW, has already sent its first profiles (which you can see below)! Another success!!! Whooohoooo!!! 

JW’s is well and has sent us it’s first data!

The excitement has not finished yet: another SOCCOM float (the third of this voyage) has begun its journey! The JW students called the Apex 9757 Nemo. I love it! :) Our artist-on-board Annalise drew the Disney character on the yellow skin of the float:


Annalise draws Nemo on the float (that’s impressive: I don’t really know how she can do that on a curved surface)

The float has been named Nemo not just for the cute and brave clown fish with a foreshortened fin, that we all fall in love with (I confess that when I went scuba diving in the warm waters of the Great Barrier Reef, I searched for him). Nemo is also the enigmatic captain of the Nautilus, the 20000 Leagues Under the Seas submarine born from the wild imagination of Jules Verne. As Captain Nemo, the float will indeed be in an underwater tour of the world, in a mission risen from our scientific thirst for knowledge. Will it have to battle against a school of giant cuttlefish, too?

For the next 5-7 years (depending on how long the battery will last) JW and Nemo, while collecting data, will drift with the currents. Where will they go? Well, this is a hard question, as their trajectories will depend on the type of circulation they’ll encounter. JW has been deployed inside the core of an eddy, so it might be trapped in the eddy for a while (months or more, sometimes). Or, maybe not. Predicting the exact path it’ll have in, let’s say, years is not really possible, due to the nature of the ocean: currents and eddies mix waters around, in some places as strong as a a giant blender. Existing data, such as previous Argo floats that have passed close to the location where the JW and Nemo (and Jose' before, of course) have been deployed, can give us an idea of possible trajectories. Also, with numerical simulations we can model the circulation and test the possible pathways that a float could take. To do so, we can release some float-like-particles in our model and see where they go. And we can put thousands of them in the model, so that we can have a better estimate of where they most likely be in 1 year, 2, 3… etc. Have a look at the movie below, which shows where some of these float-like-particles are transported by modelled currents: in every colored point there are hundreds of them and the lines show their paths.

Modelled trajectories

I guess that if you really wanna know where these floats are, keep an eye on the SOCCOM website ;-)

My last surprise for today is Nemo’s first profiles!!! :D All the sensors are working perfectly and I cannot be happier to see that! As you can see from the temperatures close to the surface, Nemo has been deployed in colder waters with respect to JW and Jose', as we are heading south, and we are closer and closer to Antarctica (we won't go that far, though, this time). Nitrate concentration is also higher in the surface waters, compared to what JW has found. Every 10 days we will receive data like this, which will allow us to unravel new stories to tell.

Nemo’s first profiles!

I haven’t been out much in these days, unfortunately. Apparently, we had an astonishing sunset, a beautiful sunny day, whales, seals and penguins (uhm. I think that at this point my ship-mates are just making fun of me..). Oh well. All I could see from the porthole in the past few hours was fog. Very thick. Very bright.. fog.

The world around the ship has disappeared.. 

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