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News – Ocean Observatories Initiative
  1. And what a wild ride it was!  The US National Science Foundation Ocean Observatories Initiative (OOI) 11th expedition to the Global Station Papa Array aboard the R/V Sikuliaq had a bit of trouble with the weather gods during its 17-day journey in the Gulf of Alaska.  For safety reasons because the ship cannot deploy large moorings in conditions with ~20’ seas and high winds, the ship spent almost five of the 17-days moving in and out of the array site, trying to find “safer ground” to wait out the worst of the storms. Nonetheless, the Coastal and Global Scale Nodes team (CGSN) based at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) and a Waverider mooring team from the University of Washington succeeded in meeting all their mission objectives.  Despite the extra transit and down days, the teams recovered and deployed three OOI subsurface moorings and two open ocean gliders. They recovered and deployed a Waverider mooring for the University of Washington.  A POGO Fellowship awardee was onboard and gained valuable shipboard experience, including experiencing how safety is the underlying foundation of these at-sea operations. [media-caption path="https://oceanobservatories.org/wp-content/uploads/2024/06/Hybrid-1.jpg" link="#"]The CGSN team successfully deployed a Hybrid Profiler Mooring (HYPM) at the Station Papa Array.  The HYPM is in a water depth of ~4000m and is equipped with two profiling vehicles that move up and down the riser wire at regular intervals to collect data for almost the full water column. An anchor (left) holds the mooring in place during its yearlong deployment. Credit: Dee Emrich © WHOI.[/media-caption] [media-caption path="https://oceanobservatories.org/wp-content/uploads/2024/06/hybrid2.jpg" link="#"] An anchor holds the Hybrid Profiler mooring in place during its yearlong deployment. Credit: Dee Emrich © WHOI.[/media-caption] The team also successfully conducted water sampling at the deployment sites and collection of shipboard underway data. “It was a pleasure participating in the Papa 11 cruise with such a professional and able team,” said Chief Scientist Kristopher Newhall.  “And as always, I can’t say enough about the skill and professionalism of the R/V Sikuliaq’s officers and crew.”  This is the fifth time Newhall has led the annual recovery and deployment cruise to Global Station Papa. [media-caption path="https://oceanobservatories.org/wp-content/uploads/2024/06/Biofouling-2.jpg" link="#"]In addition to deployments of OOI moorings and gliders, the CGSN team assisted colleagues at the University of Washington Applied Physics Laboratory deploy a waverider mooring at the Global Station Papa Array, providing wave data wave such as height, period, and direction from this important site. Credit: Dee Emrich © WHOI.[/media-caption] The site is in the Gulf of Alaska, about 620 nautical miles offshore, in a critical region of the northeast Pacific with a productive fishery subject to ocean acidification, low eddy variability, and impacted by the Pacific Decadal Oscillation.  “We are pleased that Station Papa is now set to provide data for the next year from this critically located region,” Newhall added. A more detailed report of the expedition can be found here.                    
  2. Principal Investigator of the U.S. National Science Foundation Ocean Observatories Initiative (OOI) Program Office James B. Edson today announced that Amber Stronk is the new OOI Community Engagement Manager.  Stronk assumed her responsibilities on June 24, taking over for Darlene Trew Crist, who has served in this role since January 2020. Trew Crist announced her retirement in January 2024, which led to an exhaustive search to find a qualified replacement. “Darlene’s done an exceptional job for OOI and leaves very big shoes to fill, but we are delighted to have Amber assume the reins of this well-run effort. Amber brings a wealth of experience running communication and engagement operations for environmentally focused organizations and has a deep understanding of both the scientific and communication strategies essential to OOI. We are enthusiastic about the new energy and insights she will bring to the position,” said Edson. Stronk most recently served as the Communications & Engagement Manager for the Marketing Science Institute.  Previously, she was the Communications Manager for Sailors for the Sea Powered by Oceana, the world’s leading advocacy organization dedicated to ocean conservation. Her extensive background also includes communications roles at PricewaterhouseCoopers and the Broad Institute of MIT & Harvard. Stronk holds a master’s degree in marine biodiversity and conservation from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and a BA in communications from Marist College. To ensure a smooth transition, Stronk and Trew Crist will overlap in the position for two weeks, until July 5 when Trew Crist formally leaves Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, where OOI’s program office is based. The Ocean Observatories Initiative is a long-term infrastructure project funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation to gather physical, chemical, and biological data from the ocean, atmosphere, and seafloor and to deliver that data on demand and in near real-time online. The program includes moored instrument arrays and autonomous underwater vehicles deployed at critical locations in the coastal and open ocean worldwide. Data from the observatories help researchers address questions across short and long time periods, small and large spatial scales, and from the ocean surface to the seafloor. OOI is managed by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) and implemented by WHOI, the University of Washington and Oregon State University.    
  3. Ever wonder what a SPKIR is? If the meaning isn’t top of mind, SPKIR is the Spectral Irradiance sensor (Sea Bird OCR-507 multispectral radiometer), which measures Spectral Irradiance.   What about ADCP?  This stands for Acoustic Doppler Current Profilers that use acoustics to measure 3D water-current velocity for a small volume of the water column above or below the sensor.  The sensor calculates velocity by measuring changes in the sound waves. All of this information and more is available on OOI’s website on the "Rosetta Stone for OOI Sensor Names" (instrument page) at https://oceanobservatories.org/instruments/.  Bookmark this page where you can easily find the definition of these acronyms, as well as a visual of what the instrument looks like and information on how it works.  In addition, you can be linked to data products specific instruments create, and much more.
  4. Aditi Sharma, a PhD candidate at the National Institute of Oceanography India, was selected from more than 80 applicants for a shipboard training fellowship sponsored by the Partnership for Observation of the Global Ocean (POGO), WHOI, OOI, and the Nippon Foundation.  She is aboard the R/V Sikuliaq for a 17-day expedition to recovery and deploy OOI’s Global Station Papa in the Gulf of Alaska. Jim Edson, Principal Investigator for OOI’s Program Management Office, is also onboard as her advisor. In addition to fantail activities, Edson and she will be working on a project to compare near surface “sea-snake” temperature with an infrared radiometer measuring the sea-surface or skin temperature. This will provide hands-on experience at sea and enhance Aditi’s research experience as she works to complete her PhD when she returns to India.  Over the course of the expedition, Aditi will be sharing her experiences, which appear below:

    JUNE 14, 2024 Lots to Report!

    Sunrise Surprise

    Sunrise has become a rare sight after spending ten days onboard in the Gulf of Alaska. [media-caption path="https://oceanobservatories.org/wp-content/uploads/2024/06/1-scaled.jpg" link="#"]Sunrise view from the bedside window. Credit: Aditi Sharma, NIO.[/media-caption]

    Tangled Glass Balls

    We began retrieving the mooring from the Global Papa 10 Array deployed last year. The most captivating aspect of the operation for me was dealing with the glass balls. These glass balls are often tangled, presenting a fascinating challenge to untangle them, which I found incredibly enjoyable and fun. [media-caption path="https://oceanobservatories.org/wp-content/uploads/2024/06/2-1-scaled.jpg" link="#"]Retrieval of Acoustic Release accompanied by entangled glass balls. Credit: Aditi Sharma, NIO.[/media-caption] [media-caption path="https://oceanobservatories.org/wp-content/uploads/2024/06/3-1-scaled.jpg" link="#"]Entangled glass balls on deck, awaiting detangling.Credit: Aditi Sharma, NIO.[/media-caption] [media-caption path="https://oceanobservatories.org/wp-content/uploads/2024/06/4-1-scaled.jpg" link="#"]Jim Edson lending a hand in deciphering the tangled puzzle of glass balls.Credit: Aditi Sharma, NIO.[/media-caption]

    Teamwork on Deck

    Following the retrieval of the Global Papa array moorings, the team commenced operations to recover the University of Washington wave rider mooring. [media-caption path="https://oceanobservatories.org/wp-content/uploads/2024/06/5-1-scaled.jpg" link="#"]Team members assisting in tagging the ropes during the retrieval of the waverider mooring. Credit: Aditi Sharma, NIO.[/media-caption] [media-caption path="https://oceanobservatories.org/wp-content/uploads/2024/06/6-scaled.jpg" link="#"]Recovery of the spheres from the waverider mooring.Credit: Aditi Sharma, NIO.[/media-caption] [media-caption path="https://oceanobservatories.org/wp-content/uploads/2024/06/7-scaled.jpg" link="#"]Mooring covered in biofouling by goose neck barnacles and “sea-slime”. Credit: Aditi Sharma, NIO.[/media-caption]

    Ocean Wizards or Inflatable Tube-man

    The rope connected to the mooring was covered with organisms, creating a mesmerizing, almost wizard-like appearance. Dr. Jim Edson compared these organisms to inflatable tube-man at used-car lots, a comparison I found amusing and wholeheartedly agreed with. [video width="1280" height="720" mp4="https://oceanobservatories.org/wp-content/uploads/2024/06/v1-1.mp4"][/video] The mooring rope bio-colonized by organisms.

    Winch Adventure

    Deck Operation Lead Jim Ryder offered me the opportunity to learn how to operate the winch, which I found exhilarating despite the cold weather. Fueled with happiness, my hands worked efficiently as I operated the winch barehanded. Despite his offers for a break, I was too excited to pause, deeply grateful to the team for their guidance and teachings during my learning experience. [video width="720" height="1280" mp4="https://oceanobservatories.org/wp-content/uploads/2024/06/v2.mp4"][/video] Winch operation following instructions from Deck Operations Lead Jim Ryder.

    CTD operations

    In addition to deploying moorings and gliders, we performed CTD casts near the deployment locations to gather samples at specific depths using a 24-bottle rosette of Niskin samplers. The samples were collected for analysis of Dissolved Oxygen (DO), Dissolved Inorganic Carbon (DIC), nutrients and conductivity by salt analysis. Apart from sensors for conductivity, temperature, and depth, CTD was equipped with additional sensors for dissolved oxygen, chlorophyll fluorometer, transmissometer, and PAR. DIC samples were treated with mercuric chloride for preservation prior to storage. Nutrient samples underwent filtration before being stored in the deep freezer, while Dissolved Oxygen samples were analyzed onboard. [video width="720" height="1280" mp4="https://oceanobservatories.org/wp-content/uploads/2024/06/v3.mp4"][/video] Sample collection using 24-bottle rosette of Niskin samplers via the wet wall.

    Spooky dangling figure

    As I was doing my laundry after a day's work, my attention was drawn to the mannequin dressed in safety gear. Ironically, for a moment I didn't feel safe at all since it actually freaked me out. Well, for a little while. [media-caption path="https://oceanobservatories.org/wp-content/uploads/2024/06/8-scaled.jpg" link="#"]Safety gear attired mannequin. Credit: Aditi Sharma, NIO.[/media-caption]

    Spectacular Sunset

    [media-caption path="https://oceanobservatories.org/wp-content/uploads/2024/06/9-scaled.jpg" link="#"]The stunning sunset painted the sky, as a masterpiece on a canvas.Credit: Aditi Sharma, NIO.[/media-caption]

    JUNE 11, 2024 The Giant Hairy Bearded Man

    Recovery operations were set to begin once the deployment operations were successfully completed and the decks cleared. A little time was also allotted between the deployment of new and recovery of the old to provide overlapping data to intercalibrate the moored instruments. The recovery operations brought back the old moorings that had been deployed a year ago. Covered with a dense growth of organisms and encrusted with biofouling, with many goose barnacles, the old moorings took on an almost anthropomorphic appearance, resembling a "Giant Hairy Bearded Man." Recovering the Synactic sphere while Jim Edson handles the tag lines helping to stabilize the sphere. [video width="720" height="1280" mp4="https://oceanobservatories.org/wp-content/uploads/2024/06/v1.mp4"][/video] [gallery ids="34111,34112,34113,34110,34114,34115,34116,34117"] With the weather not on our side, we've adjusted our plans to make the most of the sunset's glow. Working into the evening doesn't feel exhausting with the late sunset, enabling us to make up for lost time during the storm. With the improvised plans, the team has successfully completed tasks up to date. As we move forward, our sights are set on recovering another mooring and glider. Stay tuned for more exciting updates on our upcoming adventures!

    JUNE 1-7, 2024 A Week at Sea: A Journey of Science and Collaboration

    Last week we commenced our oceanographic journey, for the deployment of mooring instruments and the acquisition of invaluable data. Below is a firsthand account of our week-long expedition:

    Sea-snake (Thermistor) Setup and Calibration

    Our endeavors started by setting up and calibrating the equipment, ensuring readiness for deployment. Sea-snake thermistors were checked and calibrated, ensuring accuracy for subsequent data collection. [media-caption path="https://oceanobservatories.org/wp-content/uploads/2024/06/Sea-snake.jpg" link="#"]Jim Edson helping in setting up the sea-snake boom, aimed at collecting near-surface sea temperature data.[/media-caption]

    Mooring Deployments

    Given the constraints inherent to research vessels, such as cost and limited operational days, relying solely on these vessels for oceanographic data is impractical. Consequently, instruments are deployed into the sea for extended periods, facilitating the collection of data that would otherwise be challenging to obtain, especially during prolonged and stormy weather conditions. These moorings endure harsh marine environments for up to a year or more, continuously collecting and storing vital data. The process of mooring deployment started with the attachment of instruments to the cable at designated depths, accompanied by the marking of the rope for subsequent attachment of larger instruments. The sequence began with the deployment of the syntactic sphere, followed by the attachment of additional instruments at predetermined intervals along the wire. Finally, the anchor was dropped, and the alignment and buoyancy of the instruments were ensured. [media-caption path="https://oceanobservatories.org/wp-content/uploads/2024/06/Mooring-deployments.jpg" link="#"]The initial phase of mooring deployment, showing the 64” Syntactic sphere poised for deployment.[/media-caption] [media-caption path="https://oceanobservatories.org/wp-content/uploads/2024/06/Mooring-2.jpg" link="#"]James Ryder, Chris Newhall, and Keith Shadle affixing the Acoustic release float onto the line.[/media-caption] [media-caption path="https://oceanobservatories.org/wp-content/uploads/2024/06/Mooring-3.jpg" link="#"]Chris Newhall and James Kuo affixing the temperature salinity sensors on the line.[/media-caption] Release of anchor from the deck is captured in the video below. [video width="848" height="480" mp4="https://oceanobservatories.org/wp-content/uploads/2024/06/anchor-deployment.mp4"][/video]  

    Glider deployment 

    [media-caption path="https://oceanobservatories.org/wp-content/uploads/2024/06/Glider-deployment.jpg" link="#"]Jessica Kozik, the glider operations lead, attaching wings to the glider that enables it to advance underwater.[/media-caption]

    Deployments and Challenges

    While our mooring deployment was successful, we faced a few challenges. One of these is to be constantly aware that our equipment needs to be tied down and secure on our moving vessel. For example, I noticed that a row of our wooden spools was becoming loose. Promptly detecting this hazard through back deck camera footage, I alerted Joe Talbert and Jim Edson, who swiftly secured the spool, preventing a potential hazard. I quickly learnt that vigilance and swift action are pivotal in preserving the safety of our team and integrity of our equipment.

    Cruising and Celebrating

    With all the deployment works, we managed to celebrate two birthdays, including mine, with a delectable cake, infusing this journey with a sprinkle of joy. [media-caption path="https://oceanobservatories.org/wp-content/uploads/2024/06/Cake.jpg" link="#"]Birthday celebrations with a delicious cake prepared by our talented cook, Evan Dunaway and chief steward, Alanna Trillingham.[/media-caption]

    Weathering the Storm

    A swiftly escalating storm necessitated a diversion to safer waters. Nonetheless, we seized the opportunity to collect valuable data, conducting comparisons between sea-snake readings and temperature sensors to calibrate the IR temperature sensor, crucial for measuring sea surface temperatures. [media-caption path="https://oceanobservatories.org/wp-content/uploads/2024/06/Storm.jpg" link="#"]High-speed winds sweeping across the Gulf of Alaska, captured via the Windy software.[/media-caption]

    Chilly Weather and Hot Chocolate

    Following successful mooring deployments and CTD casts, we find ourselves back on course. Despite the chilly weather, the warmth of hot chocolate and hearty meals fills even routine tasks with enjoyment. There's much to observe and to learn from our team of experts. Stay tuned for further updates.

    MAY 29, 2024From a Small Town to the Vast Ocean

    [media-caption path="https://oceanobservatories.org/wp-content/uploads/2024/05/IMG20240526190853-2-scaled.jpg" link="#"]The R/V Sikuliaq, loaded and ready to head out to the Global Station Papa site, about 620 nautical miles from Seward.  Credit: Aditi Sharma, NIO.[/media-caption] Born in a small Indian town, my journey with the ocean began unexpectedly. Joining the National Institute of Oceanography for an internship, I immersed myself in ocean science under the guidance of Dr. Sarma. His mentorship fueled my passion, leading me to embark on a PhD journey. It was during my first cruise that the ocean's enchantment took hold of me. As in the words of Jacques-Yves Cousteau: "The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever." When the opportunity arose to participate in shipboard training in the Gulf of Alaska, I seized it eagerly. The journey from India to Boston was quite long, but the warmth of welcome from Dr. Edson and his family made every mile worth it. Exploring the operational side of oceanography at Ocean Observatories Initiative (OOI) at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution alongside Dr. Edson and Dr. Carol Anne Clayson was fascinating. And as we journeyed from Boston to Anchorage, Alaska's landscapes left me awestruck. Now, aboard the RV Sikuliaq, our mission begins. Setting up the thermistor to start collecting sea surface temperature, we are navigating toward our deployment site. I still pinch myself to believe I'm living my dream. Talking about dreams, the endless daylight here makes sleep tricky, but the sight of the Alaskan mountains and the ocean under the midnight sun is worth watching. I am excited to enjoy this voyage while gaining invaluable knowledge from the experts in the field. [media-caption path="https://oceanobservatories.org/wp-content/uploads/2024/05/IMG_20240527_083151-scaled.jpg" link="#"]A view of the Kenai mountains from the deck of the R/V Sikuliaq. Credit: Aditi Sharma, NIO.[/media-caption]    
  5. RAPID: A Cost-Effective Approach for Characterizing Variability at High Temporal Resolution for Long Duration onthe Continental Slope of the Southern Mid-Atlantic Bight Two popeye data shuttle-enabled current and pressure sensor equipped inverted echo sounders (PDS-PIESs, Figure 1) were successfully deployed on the continental slope east of the U.S. National Science Foundation Ocean Observatories Initiative (OOI) Pioneer Array in the southern Mid-Atlantic Bight in June 2024. Data collected during the 4-year deployments will be shared broadly when PDS pods ascend annually to the sea surface and return data batches via a satellite link. [media-caption path="https://oceanobservatories.org/wp-content/uploads/2024/06/IMG_8421-scaled.jpg" link="#"]Figure 1. Massachusetts Institute of Technology/Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (MIT/WHOI) Joint Program students, Ysabel Wang (right, Physical Oceanography) and Will Harris (left, Applied Ocean Science and Engineering) and WHOI technician Brian Hogue (background) preparing a PDS-PIES for deployment. The instrument will measure round trip vertical acoustic travel time with bursts of 16 pings every 10 minutes and near-bottom pressure and current measurements every 30 minutes. The PDSs (orange) are scheduled to rise to the sea surface to return data batches remotely on September 1 in 2024 and yearly thereafter until 2027 with recovery of the PIES (white) planned for 2028.[/media-caption] The scientific motivation is to (1) capture mesoscale variability offshore of the Pioneer Array, (2) capture western excursions of the Gulf Stream North Wall that may influence ocean-shelf exchange, and (3) observe the upper portion of the equatorward-flowing Deep Western Boundary Current where it squeezes under the poleward flowing Gulf Stream. The PDS-PIESs were deployed on the 1000 m isobath 40-km apart to extend the Pioneer Array mooring footprint offshore and to allow comparison with a glider which is running a line (nominally) along the 1000 m isobath (Figure 2). [media-caption path="https://oceanobservatories.org/wp-content/uploads/2024/06/Screenshot-2024-06-11-at-2.08.19-PM.png" link="#"]Figure 2.Map of PDS-PIESs (red dots, C1: 36° 3.125' N; 74° 42.365' W and C2: 35° 42.005' N; 74° 46.209' W), Pioneer moorings (yellow dots), and nominal offshore Pioneer glider line (blue). Red curve is time-averaged position of the Gulf Stream core and dotted lines are Jason altimeter tracks. Heavy contours are the 200 and 1000 m isobaths.[/media-caption] Cruise RR2407 was supported through the Office of Naval Research through the National Ocean Partnership Program Global Internal Wave (NGIW) study and provided at sea experiences for four MIT/WHOI Joint Program students and four undergraduates from the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth as part of their Blue Economy Program with WHOI. Many thanks to the National Science Foundation Division of Ocean Sciences for funding the PDS-PIES deployments and to engineer Erran Sousa from the University of Rhode Island who provided emergency shoreside support (on a Saturday!) to walk us through the PDS setups.