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Moving Into the Meteorological Equator

05/25/2010, 1:12 PM by Lollie Garay
Miram prepares the MOCNESS for deployment<br/><br/>Credit: lollie garay
Miram prepares the MOCNESS for deployment
Photo Credit: lollie garay

Lat/ Long: 09.42N 054.12W
Air Temp: 28.8C 83.8F
Surface Temp: 28.97C 84.15F
Salinity: 30.07psu
Moving Into the Meteorological Equator!
Did you know we had two equators? There’s the standard 0 degrees on a map, and then there’s a meteorological equator that moves! It marks the hottest place on Earth causing air to rise. Characteristically, there is lots of rain, but the winds die down! It is also flux in that it moves north or south of the standard equator position ,depending on which hemisphere is warmer. So today the clouds started building up and the winds blew strong. Might be moving right into this area :)

Yesterday’s station provided a full days work and many worked through the night. I was lucky and got to bed around midnight. Today there was another successful launch of the MOCNESS (Multiple Opening-Closing Net and Environment Sensing System). The MOCNESS has 10 nets that open up at different depths (like a CTD). Its precise sampling ability will show differences in the biological communities in and out of the plume.

Dr. Deb Steinberg (Virginia Institute of Marine Sciences) is the Principle Investigator (PI) for this study. She will be conducting both day and night casts. She explained that she is looking for differences in the zooplankton community in and out of the plume. How do the grazers of the food web affect the export of DDA’s and carbon? Organisms from the twilight zone of the ocean migrate back and forth in the water column and “swim down” the carbon and nitrogen. She had two very cool specimens to look at today- a Hatchet fish from the deep, and an Alciophod (a type of polychaete worm). When I saw the Hatchet fish I asked what happened to the rest of it- it looked like all I was seeing was the face. But no, that’s all there is to it! (see photos)

Working with Deb are technician Joe Cope (VIMS), Brandon Conroy ( a grad student in her lab), and Miram Gleiber, a recent graduate of the College of William and Mary.

Late afternoon, we began to another 17 hours of steaming to our next station. The wave action and the speed we’re traveling at is making for a lot of rolling!!

By Wednesday morning we should be off the coast of French Guiana and will begin a long work day again.

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Question of the Day

  • Do the bacteria in the water make us sick?

    Only a few of them.  Bacteria are in every habitat on Earth, growing in soil, hot springs, radioactive waste, water, as well as in organic matter and the live bodies of plants and animals. Bacteria recycle nutrients, with many steps in nutrient cycles depending on these organisms, such as nitrogen fixation.