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8 July, 2003

Better Day on the Water

Today in Kotzebue
The morning was overcast and windy. We almost called off the work today like we had to yesterday, due to weather, but the afternoon was clam and sunny so we were able to get a lot of work in.

What Science Is Happening?
We went out to cape blossom, about 10 miles away from Kotzebue to sample 4 different station around that area. Iím sure glad we had the GPS to tell us exactly where to sample. I donít know how people were able to be so accurate before. It all looks the same to me.
We used the CTD diver again. Took three nets of zooplankton (animal plankton), 1 net of phytoplankton (plant plankton), water samples at the surface and at depth. (1 meter above the the lowest place you can see Sechi Disk, a black and white disc. Today the water was so mixed that our make-shift Sechi disk (we forgot the real one) was barely visible, so out samples were from about Ĺ meter below the surface.
Back at the lab, the water collected was sucked through a filter. These filters are sent back to East Carolina University to be tested for chlorophyll (the amount of plant material in the water). The little filters are much easier to transport than the big gallon jugs of water. The samples from the plankton nets are preserved with a formaldehyde, seawater and borax solution so they can be viewed and the life forms counted and cataloged later. The other part of work at the labs is clean up and set up. Everything that touched the water needed to be rinsed out and left to dry. Also the bottles for sampling had to be set up for the next day.

Classroom Connections:
One curious occurrence we noticed was that the salinity of the water (how much salt is in it) was very low. Almost like fresh water. As we drove I could see blue water and green water forming lines on the ocean. We would pass from a blue zone into a green zone and visa versa. Do you remember what I told you about estuaries? It is a place rivers and run-off enter the ocean, a place where salt water (ocean water) and fresh water mix.
Given that information, can you tell me:
1.) WHY the salinity was so low?
2.) If we went back another day, could we expect the salt level to be the same as today or different? How so?

Reflections

After my last foray in a small boat left me leaning over the side with sea sickness, I was a little trepidacious*** about getting on the boat again. You see whether or not I get sick, we still have work to do, therefore, we donít come back unless we canít take samples or there are boat problems. The good news is that I took some motion sickness medication and the waves were much calmer and the result was that I had a great day and a lot of fun.


Links
Learn more about our project here
View curriculum for this project, ďAsk a ScientistĒ and learn about other Arctic Real Time research at Arctic Alive
City of Kotzebue Webpage
Listen to the local radio station KOTZ live

***What do you think trepidacious means? Look at the sentence. How would you feel if you got sick last time you were on a boat and you were going to go again? Can you Email me another word that might mean the same as trepidacious?


Taking water samples with the Neskin Bottle.


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