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  • richardmitnick 2:08 pm on March 1, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Bremer Canyon Marine Park, , Schmidt Ocean Institute   

    From Schmidt Ocean Institute: “Deep-Sea Coral Gardens and Graveyards Discovered in the Submarine Canyons Off South Western Australia” 

    From Schmidt Ocean Institute

    February 28, 2020

    Stunning ‘gardens’ of deep-sea corals have been discovered in the Bremer Canyon Marine Park by
    Australian and international scientists during an oceanographic expedition aboard Schmidt Ocean
    Institute’s R/V Falkor.

    1
    Deep-sea Coral Garden Discovered in Bremer Canyon. ROV SuBastian/SOI.

    Bremer Canyon Marine Park is already known as a biodiversity hotspot for marine
    species such as whales and dolphins, however, a recent expedition focused on the deep sea has now
    revealed rich and diverse ecosystems inhabiting the cold waters deep within the canyon. Led by
    researchers from the University of Western Australia (UWA), these discoveries were only made possible by the philanthropic Schmidt Ocean Institute’s (SOI) deep-sea remotely operated vehicle, SuBastian, which is capable of sampling depths to 4,500 meters.

    The team strategically collected deep-sea corals, associated fauna, seawater, and geological samples from the abyssal depths (~4,000 meters) to the continental shelf (~200 meters). “We have already made a number of remarkable discoveries from the Bremer Canyon” said DrJulie Trotter, the Chief Scientist from UWA who led the expedition. “The vertical cliffs and ridges support a stunning array of deep-sea corals that often host a range of organisms and form numerous mini-ecosystems”.

    These new discoveries are being integrated into a comprehensive package of biological, geological, and bathymetric data. Such rare records of these deep-sea habitats are a new and very important contribution to the Marine Parks, which will help managers as well as the broader community to better understand and protect these previously unknown ecosystems.

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    Coral Graveyard in Leeuwin Canyon. ROV SuBastian/SOI.

    The deeper waters in the three oceans that surround Australia, including the world’s largest barrier reef and submarine canyons, are largely unexplored. The expedition explored the Bremer, Leeuwin and Perth canyons, all of which have extensive fossil coral deposits, with the Leeuwin especially notable for a massive pedestal-like coral graveyard.

    “This has global implications given these waters originate from around Antarctica which feed all of the major oceans and regulate our climate system” said Professor Malcolm McCulloch from UWA.

    Australia has only one oceanographic vessel available for scientific research and no supporting deep sea underwater robots, which makes this expedition so important and rare. Facing the Southern Ocean, the Bremer Canyon provides important information on the recent and past histories of climate change and ocean conditions in this region, as well as global scale events. Because the Southern Ocean completely encircles Antarctica, it is the main driver of the global climate engine and regulates the supply of heat and nutrient-rich waters to the major oceans.

    “A particular species of solitary cup coral was found during the expedition. This is significant because we are working on the same coral in the Ross Sea on the Antarctic shelf, in much colder waters”, said collaborator and co-Chief Scientist Dr Paolo Montagna from the Institute of Polar Sciences in Italy. “This an important connection between disparate sites across the Southern Ocean, which helps us trace changes in water masses forming around Antarctica and dispersing northward into the Indian and other oceans”.

    —–

    You can view some of the amazing species discoveries in 4K here. Additional high resolution images and Broll can be found here. You can learn more at https://schmidtocean.org/cruise/coralandcanyonadventure/.

    See the full article here .

    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Our Vision
    The world’s oceans understood through technological advancement, intelligent observation, and open sharing of information.

    Schmidt Ocean Institute RV Falkor

    Schmidt Ocean Institute ROV Subastian

    Schmidt Ocean Institute is a 501(c)(3) private non-profit operating foundation established in March 2009 to advance oceanographic research, discovery, and knowledge, and catalyze sharing of information about the oceans.

    Since the Earth’s oceans are a critically endangered and least understood part of the environment, the Institute dedicates its efforts to their comprehensive understanding across intentionally broad scope of research objectives.

    Eric and Wendy Schmidt established Schmidt Ocean Institute in 2009 as a seagoing research facility operator, to support oceanographic research and technology development focusing on accelerating the pace in ocean sciences with operational, technological, and informational innovations. The Institute is devoted to the inspirational vision of our Founders that the advancement of technology and open sharing of information will remain crucial to expanding the understanding of the world’s oceans.

     
  • richardmitnick 2:29 pm on February 23, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Labor(art)ory at sea", , , , , Schmidt Ocean Institute, The Art of Angela Rossen   

    From Schmidt Ocean Institute: “Labor(art)ory at sea” 

    From Schmidt Ocean Institute

    2.22.20
    Angela Rossen

    Nearly five weeks ago I left the quiet and solitude of my studio to embark on this voyage of deep ocean discovery on the invitation of the Schmidt Ocean Institute with R/V Falkor. This gift of an adventure to some of the most remote, most unexplored parts of our biosphere was an unexpected and a wonderful surprise. My work is usually with the near-shore marine environment, so it is strange to be on the water, but not in it. I gaze at an array of screens revealing the depths kilometres below, where deep ocean animals are interrupted for a moment in time by our noise and light. It has been a time of learning, of working with others, of long hours, of comradery that grows from being side by side in exciting times.

    1
    Marco and Angela blending art and science in the laboratory.

    Challenges and Opportunities

    My studio in the dry lab places me amongst the technical and engineering team. It has been fascinating to watch the engineers work cooperatively to solve glitches as they come up. Their attitude is that a problem or breakdown is a welcome challenge. They work until the matter is fixed, which can be all day, through night – and beyond if need be. The ROV operations are central to the scientific objectives of this mission, but so too is the collation, cataloguing, storing and sharing of data that is generated by the scientific teams. It has been inspirational listening to these technological geniuses solving complex issues with their patient and methodical collaborative labour. Through their work I have glimpsed the intricacies of coding, and the process of working within this world – and for the first time, I feel that it is less intractable and unfamiliar.

    3
    The ROV team work under the searing Australian sun to maintain the vehicle ready for each new mission.

    It seems that each of us on the ship comes from a different place of the globe, and at each meal the dining room is full of laughter, discussion and the music of many accents and languages. The cooks have created a cuisine of incredible multicultural variety considerate of all food preferences. The Captain’s sure-hand has carried us through wild weather, and his team manages the smooth day-to-day running of the ship with smiles and laughter. It has been an amazing experience, seeing people working together in real friendship.

    3
    Biologist Ana visits Angela in her studio

    Many of my scientific colleagues have been generous with sharing their excitement in discovery and it has been my pleasure to photograph their precious specimens brought up each day. This expedition has brought scientists together from our own West Australian Museum, the faculties of Science and Engineering at the University of Western Australia, as well as the Italian contingent from the Institutes of Marine and Polar Sciences in Bologna. The daily exploration live stream has been narrated by Marco Taviani: an inspired thinker, scientist and master storyteller. Whilst it is not possible to mention everybody by name, many have taken the time to explain to me the aims and objectives of their particular projects.

    This research trip has woven together the mapping the ocean floor, as well as the stories of the foraminifera that settle on the rocky ledges and sandy floors; sampling for stable and radioisotopes in the water column; the crustaceans and worms that live in these deep silent dark places; and animal forests of soft corals with associated invertebrate communities; the large eyed fish; the rock corals whose very lineaments tell the story of water composition and temperature over great timescales; and the rocks, whose story can be read by those who understand their language.

    4
    5
    6
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    A collection of tiny sea creatures photographed by Angela Rossen.

    The specimens – carefully labelled and packaged – will lead to scientific understanding gained on this historic trip that will take years to unravel. I will return to my studio with my journal, sketches, paintings, and photographs where my work will also continue. It has been a time of great learning that I will share through displays and workshops with children in schools throughout Western Australia. I look forward to that. It has been an amazing trip.

    8
    ‘Bremer Canyon Ensemble’ one of the artworks created by Angela Rossen on this expedition.

    9
    Angela taking photographs on deck aboard R/V Falkor

    See the full article here .

    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Our Vision
    The world’s oceans understood through technological advancement, intelligent observation, and open sharing of information.

    Schmidt Ocean Institute RV Falkor

    Schmidt Ocean Institute ROV Subastian

    Schmidt Ocean Institute is a 501(c)(3) private non-profit operating foundation established in March 2009 to advance oceanographic research, discovery, and knowledge, and catalyze sharing of information about the oceans.

    Since the Earth’s oceans are a critically endangered and least understood part of the environment, the Institute dedicates its efforts to their comprehensive understanding across intentionally broad scope of research objectives.

    Eric and Wendy Schmidt established Schmidt Ocean Institute in 2009 as a seagoing research facility operator, to support oceanographic research and technology development focusing on accelerating the pace in ocean sciences with operational, technological, and informational innovations. The Institute is devoted to the inspirational vision of our Founders that the advancement of technology and open sharing of information will remain crucial to expanding the understanding of the world’s oceans.

     
  • richardmitnick 11:27 am on February 15, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: (DIC)-Dissolved Inorganic Carbon, (TA)-Total Alkalinity, , , , , , , Schmidt Ocean Institute, The wet lab then becomes a bedlam of buckets containing rocks; corals; sponges; and shell fragments; occasional deep sea litter; and an assortment of marine creatures that I have never seen before., You need to know how to tie knots.   

    From Schmidt Ocean Institute: “Darling it’s better, Down in a Wet(ter) Lab at Sea” 

    From Schmidt Ocean Institute

    2.13.20
    Jill Brouwer

    1
    Cruise Log: The Great Australian Deep-Sea Coral and Canyon Adventure

    Trying to understand a constantly moving ocean system is a huge challenge. Accurately measuring the chemistry of the ocean is important for understanding many processes, including nutrient and carbon cycling; ocean circulation and movement of water masses; as well as ocean acidification and climate change. On this expedition, the water chemistry team has the important job of analyzing the seawater in three canyon systems. We are measuring Dissolved Inorganic Carbon (DIC) and Total Alkalinity (TA) on board, while also saving samples for later analysis of stable isotopes, trace elements, and nutrients.

    2
    Jill and Carlin using the CTD rosette to collect water samples from the depths of the Bremer Canyon.

    Knotty and Nice

    There are some quirks of successfully doing chemistry at sea that I definitely did not consider before this voyage. Firstly, you need to know how to tie knots. Making sure all the instruments, reagent bottles, and yourselves are secured is just as important as doing the actual chemistry. The precious sample counts for nothing if it flies across the room because you forgot to put it on a non-slip mat. The movement of the boat transforms normal lab activities into fun mini challenges – opening oven or fridge doors as the ship moves with the weather, pipetting as you hit a large wave, storing sample vials in a giant freezer. It is weird (but comforting) to see our analytical instruments strapped to the bench, and doing most of my work out of a sink – the safest place to keep samples. I particularly enjoy the arts and crafts component that comes with bubble wrapping and storing samples to prevent them from being damaged by sudden movements.

    After the chemistry work is done for the day, ROV SuBastian [below] comes aboard with all kinds of creepy-crawlies from the deep sea. All the biology and geology samples that have been collected from the dive are carried into the wet lab to be sorted, processed, and archived. The lab then becomes a bedlam of buckets containing rocks, corals, sponges, shell fragments, occasional deep sea litter, and an assortment of marine creatures that I have never seen before. Surrounding these specimens is an eclectic mix of scientists who all bring their own unique interests and passions to the group.

    3

    To name a few; Julie, Paolo, and their team are interested in finding calcifying corals for their paleoceanography studies. They study the chemistry of the ocean thousands of years ago, recorded by coral skeletons when they were formed. We also have Andrew from the Western Australian Museum, who is doing his PhD on specialized barnacles that live in sponges, but is interested in pretty much everything. It is not just the big things we are looking for either. Aleksey and Netra are on the lookout for tiny single-cell organisms called Foraminifera that we have found in the water column, sediments, and attached to things like corals and whale bones.

    4
    Netra, Jill, and Angela investigating the latest samples to arrive in the wet lab of R/V Falkor.

    5
    This Stephanocyanthus is a soft cup coral.

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    This Caryophylliidae is from a family of stony corals.

    Working in a wet lab at sea has its share of challenges, but considering the important scientific discoveries that are facilitated by us being out here, the cool (and in some cases totally new) marine life we are encountering, as well as the incredible views of sun glint and waves through the lab window, I would not choose to be anywhere else. To all the undergraduate students reading this, I encourage you to seek out as much volunteer/work experience as you can. Getting involved in science firsthand is an invaluable experience: you get to work with incredible people, gain useful skills, and learn so much more about yourself and your areas of interest than you can from the classroom. Perhaps most importantly, you get to share all the exciting things you learn with others!

    7

    See the full article here .

    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Our Vision
    The world’s oceans understood through technological advancement, intelligent observation, and open sharing of information.

    Schmidt Ocean Institute RV Falkor

    Schmidt Ocean Institute ROV Subastian

    Schmidt Ocean Institute is a 501(c)(3) private non-profit operating foundation established in March 2009 to advance oceanographic research, discovery, and knowledge, and catalyze sharing of information about the oceans.

    Since the Earth’s oceans are a critically endangered and least understood part of the environment, the Institute dedicates its efforts to their comprehensive understanding across intentionally broad scope of research objectives.

    Eric and Wendy Schmidt established Schmidt Ocean Institute in 2009 as a seagoing research facility operator, to support oceanographic research and technology development focusing on accelerating the pace in ocean sciences with operational, technological, and informational innovations. The Institute is devoted to the inspirational vision of our Founders that the advancement of technology and open sharing of information will remain crucial to expanding the understanding of the world’s oceans.

     
  • richardmitnick 8:13 am on January 30, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Schmidt Ocean Institute   

    From Schmidt Ocean Institute: “Canyon Exploration Begins” 

    From Schmidt Ocean Institute

    1
    An oasis of corals and associated animals in the Bremer Canyon. Schmidt Ocean Institute.

    Cruise Log: The Great Australian Deep-Sea Coral and Canyon Adventure.

    Jan. 29 2020

    Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) SuBastian [below] has returned after a journey of more than 3000m below the sea surface, searching through one of the previously unexplored and deepest parts of Bremer Canyon. So what do we hope to find and why has this expedition already generated much public interest?

    2
    Co-chief scientists Julie Trotter and Marco Montagna recovering the first precious samples of the #DeepCoralAdventure.

    The Bremer Canyon is a system of submarine canyons, mostly interlocking, cutting into the edge of the continental shelf off South Western Australia.

    3
    Geoscience Australia

    It is one of the largest systems in this region, and this week we have started to produce the highest resolution bathymetric maps yet available. This time of year brings a heightened, intense interest to the nearer shore surface waters of the Canyon: here, the largest seasonal populations of killer whales in the Southern Hemisphere congregate, as well as other important migratory marine life including sperm whales, the southern right whale, dolphins, sea lions, sharks, giant squid, and seabirds.

    3
    Grzegorz Skrypek and Malcolm McCulloch looking for signs of marine megafauna from starboard side of R/V Falkor. Thom Hoffman

    But no one has yet explored the deep ocean here, so we have to ask: What is happening under the surface? Aims of this research include understanding why this is such a biodiversity hotspot, and how the nutrients that are driven upwards (upwelled) by the deep-sea canyon system influence the animal life gathering here. We also have large-scale, globally significant questions to answer. The canyon waters mostly originate in the Southern Ocean, where deep water masses are drawn to the surface as part of the global overturning circulation system, driven by strong westerly winds and currents encircling Antarctica. The northwards flowing arm of this current supplies most of the world’s upper oceans with nutrients, as well as acting as a disproportionately large sink for anthropogenic CO2 and greenhouse generated heat.

    The southern ocean facing Bremer Canyon is in the direct pathway of this globally important ocean current system. Because of this position, the canyon’s deep-sea corals and sediments have potentially been recording both recent anthropogenic, as well as longer term, changes in this global system. The skeletons of living corals and coral fossils act as historical archives of the conditions within the ocean they have lived. These records can span decades, centuries, and even millennia, providing a means to assess the vulnerability of corals and other calcifiers in extreme conditions. Corals can tell us about important environmental changes, including fluctuations in the temperature of these deeper waters, pH, nutrients, and dissolved calcium carbonate concentrations, that enable these animals to build their skeletons.

    Yesterday evening we launched the CTD, sampling the deepest (4200m) and coldest (~1 degree C) waters of the canyon. The key carbonate chemical properties are being measured in the Falkor wet lab, while other parameters will be measured in laboratories back on land, to trace the origin and (in the case of radiocarbon) depth to which anthropogenic CO2 has penetrated into these waters. We are just getting started, and we are excited that our research will help to better understand the major changes both regionally and worldwide that our oceans are now undergoing, the effects on deep-sea calcifiers and marine ecosystems, as well as their broader impacts on society in general. You can join us live on this voyage by following our livestream on YouTube and Facebook, and we will see what we discover together.

    4
    ROV team and chief scientists watching the live feed from the control room on R/V Falkor. Angela Rossen.

    See the full article here .

    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Our Vision
    The world’s oceans understood through technological advancement, intelligent observation, and open sharing of information.

    Schmidt Ocean Institute RV Falkor

    Schmidt Ocean Institute ROV Subastian

    Schmidt Ocean Institute is a 501(c)(3) private non-profit operating foundation established in March 2009 to advance oceanographic research, discovery, and knowledge, and catalyze sharing of information about the oceans.

    Since the Earth’s oceans are a critically endangered and least understood part of the environment, the Institute dedicates its efforts to their comprehensive understanding across intentionally broad scope of research objectives.

    Eric and Wendy Schmidt established Schmidt Ocean Institute in 2009 as a seagoing research facility operator, to support oceanographic research and technology development focusing on accelerating the pace in ocean sciences with operational, technological, and informational innovations. The Institute is devoted to the inspirational vision of our Founders that the advancement of technology and open sharing of information will remain crucial to expanding the understanding of the world’s oceans.

     
  • richardmitnick 3:43 pm on November 20, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Secrets at the Surface", A Boundary Between the Ocean and Atmosphere, , Creating Maps like We’ve Never Seen Before, , Schmidt Ocean Institute, Studying Air To Sea Interaction   

    From Schmidt Ocean Institute: “Secrets at the Surface” 

    From Schmidt Ocean Institute

    11.20.19
    Alex Ingle

    Picture Mount Everest, and, on top of that, add the One World Trade Centre four times over (~36,000 ft total), now imagine a credit card (~1 mm) sitting on top. The former gives some sense of scale for the deepest point on planet Earth, the Marianas Trench; the latter is the thickness of the sea surface microlayer.

    A Boundary Between the Ocean and Atmosphere

    With so much focus on the deep sea, the vast unknown, and the secrets within, it is easy to overlook the
    surface itself – however, this sliver of a boundary between the atmosphere and the ocean is not something to
    take for granted. It controls all transfer between the atmosphere and the ocean, serving as a mediator of air-
    sea gas exchange, it plays a huge role in marine biogeochemical cycles and air-sea interaction, and it creates
    the link between all the complex processes that meet at the sea surface. So, despite vast scale of the body of
    water beneath, the surface microlayer is more important to many environmental processes than most would
    know.

    1
    Sitting on a newly created ‘flight deck’, the aircraft sit with their nosecones removed – exposing the complex circuitry within. Before flying, everything must be checked and double checked.

    Studying Air To Sea Interaction

    Building upon previous work, conducted by Christopher Zappa, Oliver Wurl, et al in
    2016, the team will be able to do everything from measuring solar radiation, rain drop size and studying the
    ocean’s ‘skin’ and surface currents, to collecting samples and data from the water column via the CTD
    (Conductivity, Temperature, and Depth) Profiler, measuring water column characteristics using an ‘apex float’
    (a float that moves up and down autonomously) and measuring light in the water with a spectral radiometer.
    They will also be collecting data and samples via a remotely piloted catamaran; a vehicle which, amongst other
    things, utilizes a ‘skimmer’ – a rotating glass disk that skims the sea surface microlayer, sampling the top 1mm.

    Creating Maps like We’ve Never Seen Before

    2
    Co-Principal Investigator Oliver Wurl assembles the ‘Sniffle’. This piece of equipment allows the in-situ observation and sampling of CO2 fluxes in the ocean. The science team are busy all around the ship, preparing their instruments for a test deployment in the morning.

    Studying The Sea-Surface Microlayer 2 brings new and improved technology to the fore. The team are
    expanding the capabilities of the Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) this year including i) autonomous takeoff
    and landing from a moving ship, ii) multi-aircraft high-endurance missions (up to 12 hours), iii) real-time high-
    bandwidth image telemetry up to 50 nm. The latter allows the scientists to focus the flight mission during the
    flight, acting as the eyes over the horizon, to target the features of interest more easily in real time. Without
    image telemetry, it would mean waiting 8 hours until the mission is completed before finding out specific
    locations upon which to concentrate. Alongside the UAVs, and the atmospheric and oceanographic data which
    they will collect, the team will be taking measurements from equipment mounted on R/V Falkor as well as
    deploying instruments and remote-controlled sampling vehicles such as the catamaran.

    3
    On the aft deck, various pieces of equipment are laid out in preparation for first deployment. Amongst them is a catamaran, a remotely piloted vehicle which, amongst other things, utilizes a ‘skimmer’ – a rotating glass disk that skims the sea surface microlayer, sampling the top 1mm. In front of the catamaran sits the ‘Sniffle’, which allows the in-situ observation and sampling of CO2 fluxes.

    Other equipment includes the SPIP (Surface Processes Instrument Platform) which measures temperature,
    salinity, currents and mixing in the top 1m of the ocean; and the ‘Sniffle’, which, amongst other things, allow
    the in-situ observation and sampling of CO2 fluxes. Tying all of this together will be the data which the UAVs
    collect, allowing the team to visualise their findings in wonderful detail.

    With this huge variety of equipment potentially yielding all manner of exciting data, the aim is to produce sea
    surface maps in a spatial and spectral resolution never seen before; addressing crucial questions about the
    ability of the ocean surface to absorb heat.

    See the full article here .

    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Our Vision
    The world’s oceans understood through technological advancement, intelligent observation, and open sharing of information.

    Schmidt Ocean Institute RV Falkor

    Schmidt Ocean Institute ROV Subastian

    Schmidt Ocean Institute is a 501(c)(3) private non-profit operating foundation established in March 2009 to advance oceanographic research, discovery, and knowledge, and catalyze sharing of information about the oceans.

    Since the Earth’s oceans are a critically endangered and least understood part of the environment, the Institute dedicates its efforts to their comprehensive understanding across intentionally broad scope of research objectives.

    Eric and Wendy Schmidt established Schmidt Ocean Institute in 2009 as a seagoing research facility operator, to support oceanographic research and technology development focusing on accelerating the pace in ocean sciences with operational, technological, and informational innovations. The Institute is devoted to the inspirational vision of our Founders that the advancement of technology and open sharing of information will remain crucial to expanding the understanding of the world’s oceans.

     
  • richardmitnick 1:18 pm on November 11, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "High-Tech Sensors Prepared to Study Sea Surface Microlayer in Fiji", , , Schmidt Ocean Institute   

    From Schmidt Ocean Institute: “High-Tech Sensors Prepared to Study Sea Surface Microlayer in Fiji” 

    From Schmidt Ocean Institute

    11.11.19
    Antonella Wilby

    While mapping the gaps in existing high-resolution bathymetry around the Phoenix Islands Protected Area is the primary scientific objective on this transit from Hawaii to Fiji, R/V Falkor remains abuzz with other scientific activity. In preparation for Falkor’s next cruise in Fiji, Carson Witte, a PhD student in Ocean and Climate Physics at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, has been installing a large variety of sensors around the ship which will facilitate the study of the sea surface microlayer, which is the boundary between the atmosphere and the ocean formed by the top 40-100 microns of the sea surface.

    Data from these sensors, which include infrared cameras for measuring sea surface temperature, differential GPS for precisely calibrating the ship’s position, and three-dimensional wind sensors, will be used to understand the dynamics of the sea surface microlayer (SML) and the complex physical, chemical, and biological processes that take place within it.

    One of the sensor platforms which will be deployed on the next cruise is a drifting buoy carrying four CTD sensors, which measure the conductivity, temperature, and depth of the surrounding seawater. Each CTD is arranged to collect data at a different point in the water column, with one logging data close to the surface, another about 1.5 meters below, and a third midway between the first two. A fourth CTD will be mounted on a linear actuator controlled by a stepper motor, which will move slowly up and down in the water column collecting CTD measurements with high spatial resolution. This buoy will be deployed from Falkor to drift freely with the ocean currents for eight to twelve hours, retrieved to download data and swap batteries, then re-dispatched to resume its floating mission in the currents around Fiji.

    2
    The drifting CTD (Conductivity, Temperature, Depth) profiling buoy from Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University, which will drift with ocean currents collecting data during the next SOI cruise around Fiji. Bailey Ferguson / SOI

    One of my tasks during this transit was assisting Carson with the stepper motor that controls the position of the fourth CTD sensor. A stepper motor is able to precisely control its angular position using a series of geared electromagnets, which when energized rotate a central gear into a specific position. By electrifying each electromagnet in sequence – a “step” – the motor can make a full rotation while keeping a precise position every step of the way. The stepper motor on the buoy is connected to a linear actuator called a lead screw, which converts this precise rotational motion into precise linear motion, thereby controlling the position of the CTD measurements with high spatial accuracy. In the wetlab aboard R/V Falkor, we wired up the stepper motor and motor controller to a power supply, and tested its functionality in the lab to ensure everything worked properly before installing it permanently on the buoy.

    3
    Bench testing the stepper motor and linear actuator for the CTD buoy in the wetlab aboard R/V Falkor. Bailey Ferguson / SOI

    Other components inside this high-tech buoy include a wave logger, which tracks the height, period, and position of waves as the buoy drifts, and data loggers which log all the measurements coming in from each CTD and track the current position of the stepper motor. We wired up these components inside the buoy on the aft deck of Falkor, only occasionally having to stop to cover up the sensitive electronics when a tropical rainstorm rolled by.

    4
    Wiring components inside a floating buoy designed to take CTD (Conductivity, Temperature, and Depth measurements at the ocean’s surface. Antonella Wilby / SOI

    5
    A rainstorm approaches from the port side of R/V Falkor, temporarily halting all activities involving expensive uncovered electronics.
    Antonella Wilby / SOI

    6
    Carson Witte installs a data logger inside a drifting buoy designed to take 24 hours of Conductivity, Temperature, and Depth (CTD) measurements at the ocean’s surface. Antonella Wilby / SOI

    See the full article here .

    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Our Vision
    The world’s oceans understood through technological advancement, intelligent observation, and open sharing of information.

    Schmidt Ocean Institute RV Falkor

    Schmidt Ocean Institute ROV Subastian

    Schmidt Ocean Institute is a 501(c)(3) private non-profit operating foundation established in March 2009 to advance oceanographic research, discovery, and knowledge, and catalyze sharing of information about the oceans.

    Since the Earth’s oceans are a critically endangered and least understood part of the environment, the Institute dedicates its efforts to their comprehensive understanding across intentionally broad scope of research objectives.

    Eric and Wendy Schmidt established Schmidt Ocean Institute in 2009 as a seagoing research facility operator, to support oceanographic research and technology development focusing on accelerating the pace in ocean sciences with operational, technological, and informational innovations. The Institute is devoted to the inspirational vision of our Founders that the advancement of technology and open sharing of information will remain crucial to expanding the understanding of the world’s oceans.

     
  • richardmitnick 12:02 pm on September 18, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "A Dive with SuBastian", , , Schmidt Ocean Institute   

    From Schmidt Ocean Institute: “A Dive with SuBastian” 

    From Schmidt Ocean Institute

    Necker Ridge: Bridge or Barrier?

    9.17.19
    Virginia Biede

    1
    Schmidt Ocean Institute

    ROV SuBastian, the Research Vessel Falkor’s Remotely Operated Vehicle, is designed for the efficient collection of scientific data at depths up to 4500m. The yellow robot is currently being used to understand the similarities and differences across large features of the deep sea. Recently, researchers have asked, are the communities on either end more similar to each other or more dissimilar? Using samples collected throughout the dives as well as videos at the bottom, this question can be investigated.

    Following a single dive of SuBastian takes the team through multiple natural environments. Like moving from the desert up the peak of a mountain, changing depth (or altitude) changes the surrounding environment. As you would not expect to be able to wear the same outfit at the top of a mountain as you would in a dessert at its base, the same is true of the ocean. So what does SuBastian see as it travels downward? What sort of data is it collecting and sending back to researchers on board?

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    ROV SuBastian is deployed in the Central Pacific. On this dive SuBastian heads down for an exploratory dive on MPM5 (Mid-Pacific Mountain) to survey deep-sea coral communities. SOI / Monika Naranjo Gonzalez

    Going Down

    SuBastian is lowered into a foamy sea of small waves and warm water. In this region, the surface waters are crystal blue and lack the characteristic green of nutrient-full waters. Here, there are fewer nutrients – and so lower concentrations of phytoplankton – swirling around the yellow sub. Already, even on the surface with waves lightly crashing over its yellow frame, the ROV is collecting information on the temperature, pressure, and surrounding water chemistry, including the saltiness, number and type of minerals around it, as well as how much oxygen is in the water for organisms to breathe.

    Scientists wave at SuBastian as it leaves the surface and via fiber optic cables, they check all equipment onboard. The manipulator arms of the ROV wave back to those onboard Falkor: each turbine is checked, systems are run, and the lights get turned on. The lights may not be necessary on the surface during the day, but as the vehicle slowly sinks through the water, the daylight starts to fade into a zone of constant night.

    In this region of darkness, pelagic swimming animals reign. The water is much colder than surface waters, and have several more atmospheres of pressure weighing on it from the water above. Squid and jellyfish float by the screen, sometimes dazzling with swaying tentacles and self-created lights.

    3
    A squid briefly appears before SuBastian’s cameras, on the ROV’s descent towards the depths of the Pacific Ocean.

    Selective Sampling

    Sliding through the black waters, SuBastian collects important scientific data before even reaching the seafloor. Each region of the water it is moving through has different characteristics that a variety of species and organisms prefer to live within. The water column is layered, with nutrients and oxygen changing along with the changing temperature and pressure. Just as you would not expect to find a desert lizard in the cold arctic, a pelagic fish that swims at the surface (such as a sunfish) cannot survive the greater pressure and colder temperatures of the bathyal zone from 200 to 2000m. As the CTD (conductivity, temperature, and depth) sensors take measurements in deeper waters, these fast moving pelagic organisms become more rarely seen.

    At the seafloor, SuBastian is able to start collecting video transects while also photographing the different species on the sediment and the rocks. The ability to send cameras to such depths revolutionized the sample collection methods for the deep-sea scientific community. No longer reliant on highly disturbing trawls or sleds, researchers are using remotely operated vehicles with cameras, gliding through the water and leaving the seabed community intact. The specimens collected are only those required to verify what was seen in the murky waters through ranging video quality. Each specimen provides multiple samples for genetic analyses and taxonomic samples, as well as samples for museums and other institutions. The team also collects in-hand identification and verification.

    As SuBastian rises back from the seafloor, researchers hurry to prepare workstations and workflows, so that their samples can be organized as soon as possible after the ROV reaches the deck. Using buckets of chilled water and long tweezers, each sample is extracted from their individual box on the frame of the ROV. At the end of the day, 12 to 24 hours of bottom community videos have been collected. The column of water the ROV moved through has been measured for important water chemistry and environmental parameters, too.

    4
    PhD candidate Nicole Morgan retrieves the samples from SuBastian’s bio-boxes. Deep-sea ecologist Virginia Biede observes. SOI / Monika Naranjo Gonzalez

    This work can then be used to answer the questions of which species occur at each site, and in what numbers, allowing for comparisons between sites. Samples collected by SuBastian can tell us whether the geography of this region is indeed a “bridge or barrier.”

    5
    Nicole Morgan shares tips with Virginia Biede on how to collect samples from a glass sponge specimen. SOI / Monika Naranjo Gonzalez

    See the full article here .

    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Our Vision
    The world’s oceans understood through technological advancement, intelligent observation, and open sharing of information.

    Schmidt Ocean Institute RV Falkor

    Schmidt Ocean Institute ROV Subastian

    Schmidt Ocean Institute is a 501(c)(3) private non-profit operating foundation established in March 2009 to advance oceanographic research, discovery, and knowledge, and catalyze sharing of information about the oceans.

    Since the Earth’s oceans are a critically endangered and least understood part of the environment, the Institute dedicates its efforts to their comprehensive understanding across intentionally broad scope of research objectives.

    Eric and Wendy Schmidt established Schmidt Ocean Institute in 2009 as a seagoing research facility operator, to support oceanographic research and technology development focusing on accelerating the pace in ocean sciences with operational, technological, and informational innovations. The Institute is devoted to the inspirational vision of our Founders that the advancement of technology and open sharing of information will remain crucial to expanding the understanding of the world’s oceans.

     
  • richardmitnick 3:08 pm on September 14, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Bailey Skinner, , Schmidt Ocean Institute,   

    From Schmidt Ocean Institute: Women in STEM “On Board for the First Time” Bailey Skinner 

    From Schmidt Ocean Institute

    9.13.19
    Bailey Skinner

    Howdy! My name is Bailey Skinner and I a am junior environmental geoscience major at Texas A&M University. When I am done with school, I would like to go into ocean conservation work, so when Dr. Roark presented this opportunity to aid him in this research on deep-sea corals, I knew it was something I would not be able to pass up. Seeing the Falkor for the first time in person was a bit of a surreal and humbling moment – I knew right then that any nerves I had about coming on this expedition were instantly calmed.

    I have been living on the Falkor for almost over a week now, and have already learned so much. Each day has been something new and since I am on the 0:00-12:00 shift adjusting my sleep schedule. After unpacking all the equipment in the wet lab, we were given a run-through on how to process the samples once the ROV is back on deck. After Falkor left the harbor, the XBT, Expendable Bathythermograph, had to be calibrated. The XBT measures temperature through a water column and uses copper wires to transmit the data back to the ship as it is falling to the sea floor. This probe plays an essential role in multibeam mapping, such that the sound speed in water be calculated to the multibeam sonar gives accurate depth measurements.

    2
    You don’t get a lot of sun during the 0:00-12:00 shift, but then again, no one inside Falkor’s Control Room does! OI / Monika Naranjo Gonzalez

    During our 70-hour transit to our first dive site, one of the marine technicians taught us how to use the multibeam mapping system in two different programs: Qimera and Fledermaus. This software is important because after the XBT data is sent over and the calibration of the USBL, Ultra-short baseline – the tracker for the ROV, the multibeam echo sounder (MBES) should be ready to map the seafloor. These two pieces of software help to visually interpret the 3-D mapping of the seafloor. Once all of the background noise is removed, the maps can be used to find slopes of terrain for the ROV dives.

    3
    Marine Technician John Fulmer explains how to process bathymetric data to members of the current research team. SOI / Monika Naranjo Gonzalez

    With all of that being said, let me tell you a little about the star of the show: SuBastian. This is the remotely operated vehicle (ROV) going down – deep down – into the Midnight Zone of the ocean, about 2000-4000 meters deep. ROVs were first developed for industrial processes (e.g.. internal and external process of underwater pipelines), but now ROVs have a wide range of applications, many of which are scientific. ROVs allow scientists to investigate areas that are too deep for humans to reach safely, and these machines can stay underwater much longer than a human diver, thus increasing time efficiency for exploration.

    I am eager to keep learning all that I can while aboard the Falkor, as it feels I have just begun to scratch the surface of the vast amount of knowledge that is on this vessel. By my next update I will have gotten a lot more hands on experience with sample processing and seeing SuBastian dive down a few times.

    Thanks and Gig’em!

    4
    Bailey Skinner helps in the processing of samples collected during ROV SuBastian’s dives. SOI / Monika Naranjo Gonzalez

    See the full article here .

    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Our Vision
    The world’s oceans understood through technological advancement, intelligent observation, and open sharing of information.

    Schmidt Ocean Institute RV Falkor

    Schmidt Ocean Institute ROV Subastian

    Schmidt Ocean Institute is a 501(c)(3) private non-profit operating foundation established in March 2009 to advance oceanographic research, discovery, and knowledge, and catalyze sharing of information about the oceans.

    Since the Earth’s oceans are a critically endangered and least understood part of the environment, the Institute dedicates its efforts to their comprehensive understanding across intentionally broad scope of research objectives.

    Eric and Wendy Schmidt established Schmidt Ocean Institute in 2009 as a seagoing research facility operator, to support oceanographic research and technology development focusing on accelerating the pace in ocean sciences with operational, technological, and informational innovations. The Institute is devoted to the inspirational vision of our Founders that the advancement of technology and open sharing of information will remain crucial to expanding the understanding of the world’s oceans.

     
  • richardmitnick 2:40 pm on September 10, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Schmidt Ocean Institute   

    From Schmidt Ocean Institute: “Transecting time” 

    From Schmidt Ocean Institute

    Necker Ridge: Bridge or Barrier?

    9.10.19
    Mónika Naranjo González

    1
    Schmidt Ocean Institute

    For the crew, one of the many perks of working onboard Falkor (apart from the satisfaction of aiding the advancement of science) is that each expedition is unique. Every new cruise brings with it new people to meet, new science to learn, and new logistical challenges to overcome. This is something the team is completely familiar with, yet something about the Necker Ridge expedition still feels different.

    2
    Necker Ridge. https://www.sciencedirect.com

    Both the 24-7 operations and intense involvement of everyone onboard make an this extremely busy mission. However, once SuBastian hits the water, time seems to expand and slow down. The strategy in which the scientists are exploring the seafloor may be part of this phenomenon.

    3
    During the Necker Ridge expedition, scientists will be looking at the megafauna community composition and distribution. SOI / Monika Naranjo Gonzalez.

    Meticulous and Replicable

    “We’re very selective in where we deploy the ROV, because even if we’re covering a fair bit of ground, once you go back and you look at the aerial expanse of the seamount, we are still seeing just a relatively small percentage of it,” explains Brendan Roark, chief scientist. “One of the other things we’re careful about doing is what we think will be representative transects.”

    Flying Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) SuBastian over the seafloor almost uninterruptedly feels very different from the ROV’s more common operation, which is to dive, explore, sample and come back over the course of around eight to ten hours. The way the dives are currently planned is of course not a whim, but a carefully designed strategy.

    ROV SuBastian is exploring this area of the ocean for the first time, which means the scientists have to be very discerning when it comes to choosing the diving spots. After processing high definition bathymetric maps acquired with the ship’s multibeam echosounder, the team looks for geological features that might suggest the presence of megafauna. Such features include hard substrate or structures that might increase the flow of currents (hence benefiting filter-feeders).

    Once the scientists choose a location, they dive along a contour line for a set distance. This is a meticulous process in which they do not even change the ROV’s camera angle. Being systematic in how they are observing the community composition at different depths is critical. This is an exercise that they replicate in each seamount – by keeping the navigation and dive characteristics consistent, the scientists can make a direct comparison from seamount to seamount, as well as making their technique replicable.

    4
    The team must first acquire high resolution bathymetric images with Falkor’s multibeam echosounder. Then they can choose a location to dive in.

    Non-Stop

    Because of their previous work experience, the ROV team is very familiar with these types of dives. “This is not uncommon in the ROV world,” shares Russ Kjell, who supervises the ROV team. “However, we have not done so many transects with SuBastian.”

    Hovering 1.5 to 2 meters over the seafloor can be tricky, “Especially if the ships takes a heave, the vehicle is programmed to compensate for that, and you don’t have much room to maneuver, so it could actually plunge into the seabed,” Russ explains. “But what we’ve done is dialed the controls back so it’s very light, yet even if it does want to go back to the seabed it won’t go beyond a certain point.”

    Diving long transects over unknown territory poses its own particular challenges. The pilots must be very aware of the sonar and what it is showing up ahead so they can adjust the ship’s position, its speed, and the ROV accordingly. The ROV team keeps in constant communication with the officers on the Bridge, who maintain Falkor heading in the right direction and at the right pace, in spite of the elements.

    5
    Russ Kjell keeps an eye on the ROV at all times, communicating constantly with the officers on the Bridge. Erik Suits and Captain Allan Doyle, in this case. SOI / Monika Naranjo Gonzalez

    “These types of dives can actually be easier,” shares Erik Suits, navigation officer. “You are moving with the water, instead of holding position like in most ROV dives.” That is, until the different forces that affect the vessel begin complicating the scene. During one of the dives, the currents were pushing Falkor in one direction while the wind pushed and yawed it. Both forces were opposing each other by about 120 degrees. Keeping an eye on every factor at the same time is fundamental.

    Weather conditions might also change during the course of such long dives. Recovering SuBastian while wrestling with surface currents of over two knots helps shake things up and breaks the cadence of the prolonged operations. Time then accelerates while the vehicle is tested and prepared for its next mission, and the scientists swiftly recover the samples and process them in the wet lab.

    After that, time stretches again, and a transect is drawn over the silhouette of a previously unexplored seamount.

    6
    What would be ocean exploration without a little bit of adventure? Recovering ROV SuBastian from strong surface currents is one of them.
    SOI / Monika Naranjo Gonzalez

    See the full article here .

    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Our Vision
    The world’s oceans understood through technological advancement, intelligent observation, and open sharing of information.

    Schmidt Ocean Institute RV Falkor

    Schmidt Ocean Institute ROV Subastian

    Schmidt Ocean Institute is a 501(c)(3) private non-profit operating foundation established in March 2009 to advance oceanographic research, discovery, and knowledge, and catalyze sharing of information about the oceans.

    Since the Earth’s oceans are a critically endangered and least understood part of the environment, the Institute dedicates its efforts to their comprehensive understanding across intentionally broad scope of research objectives.

    Eric and Wendy Schmidt established Schmidt Ocean Institute in 2009 as a seagoing research facility operator, to support oceanographic research and technology development focusing on accelerating the pace in ocean sciences with operational, technological, and informational innovations. The Institute is devoted to the inspirational vision of our Founders that the advancement of technology and open sharing of information will remain crucial to expanding the understanding of the world’s oceans.

     
  • richardmitnick 11:06 am on August 18, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Deep Coral Diversity at Emperor Seamount Chain, , Schmidt Ocean Institute   

    From Schmidt Ocean Institute: “From Mesocale to Naked Eye” 

    From Schmidt Ocean Institute

    Aug 16, 2019
    Christine Lee

    Deep Coral Diversity at Emperor Seamount Chain 2019

    1
    Hawaiian seamount chain. Wikipedia

    We have passed the halfway mark of our cruise’s journey having sailed over 3,200 nautical miles during the past eighteen days. The Schmidt Ocean Institute’s ROV SuBastian [below] has made eight dives so far to depths ranging from 1500-2400 meters deep at the seamounts; Hess Rise, Suiko (north end), Suiko (south end), Yomei, Godaigo, Nintoku (deep), Nintoku (shallow), and Jingu. I was able to witness an amazing show – in real time – of the ancient and young corals, sponges, and other deep sea life observed through the ROV Cam. I can not imagine now how any other live streaming video can compare to seeing nature’s beauty in the deep ocean. Read on to learn about the first two projects I have started while onboard the Falkor, inspired by eddies and by some of the collected specimens we have acquired from the dives.

    2
    HES 102-1 sample: Paragorgia with Brittle Star collected during the Hess Rise dive Christine Lee

    Mesocale

    The swirling of ocean water into currents that flow in a somewhat circular motion are known as mesoscale eddies, with the rotation dependent on the temperature and salinity of the water masses inside and outside the eddy. Cold eddies rotate cyclonically and warm rotate anti-cyclonically. I have been embroidering on paper the estimated averages of the eddies located in the rough area our cruise has been conducting dives. I am using the gradient numbers that characterize the Bell curve for each eddie calculated by Glenn Carter, associate professor in the Department of Oceanography at UH Manoa, to determine the stitching pattern. Since our region of research is in the northern hemisphere, I use cooler tones stitched counterclockwise for eddies under the sea surface and warmer tones stitched clockwise for eddies above.

    3
    In progress: My hand-stitched map of eddies within our research regio Christine Lee

    Naked Eye

    During each dive, the ROV collects specimens as designated by the scientists watching through the live video feed, observing the organisms in their habitat. After the specimens have been documented and preserved, I have been capturing some of them using the Autodesk photogrammetry program ReCap Pro to create an archive of 3D scans, and ROV Supervisor Jason Rodriquez has helped me to 3D print them at various scales. Chief Engineer Allen, with Fitters Edwin and Alex, modified a piece of equipment to create a small platen press where even pressure is applied to transfer a low relief pattern or texture to the surface of a piece of paper or other thin substrate. We used this process to transfer the surface topology of the 3D printed object made from the HES102-1 sample to paper, as well as to a piece of tin sheet. I am now preparing a series based on the antiquated look of ceiling tins to reference how the corals we observe today may become extinct and part of our history.

    4
    Chief Engineer Allen and Fitter Edwin helping me to create a blind embossing on paper with the 3D printed model. SOI / Monika Naranjo Gonzalez

    5
    3D printed object made from the HES102-1 sample (left) and blind embossing paper test (right). Christine Lee

    6
    Tin sheet test embossing. Christine Lee

    Coming Up…

    When we observe these corals, sponges, and other organisms, there are similar characteristics they share – yet when their DNA is analyzed, they may be from totally different families. I am curious about this occurrence as well as another research question begging to be investigated on board: how does the environment trigger similar morphology across diverse species? Of the variety of characteristics exhibited by the collected specimens and viewed in situ, I am amazed by their surface quality, textures, and colors. We are able to see these with a light source from the ROV, but what do the inhabitants “see” in the deep dark abyss? Perhaps textures and touch interactions are one of the threads that connect us. Stay tuned for the next blog to read about the other projects I have started looking at inspiration from micro to the molecular!

    7
    Christine Lee threading the shapes of the different eddies in this region, inside the diameter of one of Falkor’s portholes. SOI / Monika Naranjo Gonzalez

    See the full article here .

    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Our Vision
    The world’s oceans understood through technological advancement, intelligent observation, and open sharing of information.

    Schmidt Ocean Institute RV Falkor

    Schmidt Ocean Institute ROV Subastian

    Schmidt Ocean Institute is a 501(c)(3) private non-profit operating foundation established in March 2009 to advance oceanographic research, discovery, and knowledge, and catalyze sharing of information about the oceans.

    Since the Earth’s oceans are a critically endangered and least understood part of the environment, the Institute dedicates its efforts to their comprehensive understanding across intentionally broad scope of research objectives.

    Eric and Wendy Schmidt established Schmidt Ocean Institute in 2009 as a seagoing research facility operator, to support oceanographic research and technology development focusing on accelerating the pace in ocean sciences with operational, technological, and informational innovations. The Institute is devoted to the inspirational vision of our Founders that the advancement of technology and open sharing of information will remain crucial to expanding the understanding of the world’s oceans.

     
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