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14 November, 2000


Glad everyone tuned in today. The waves last night were incredible. They didn't reach their predicted height of twenty to thirty feet but they did get between ten to fifteen feet high. After midnight the waves slowly died down. During the peak of the storm it was difficult to sleep. The waves were hitting the ship so hard that it felt like you were going to be tossed out of your bunk. I certainly have a new appreciation for people that make their living on the ocean.

Today I was taught how to collect chlorophyll samples from the ocean. On the picture below you can see the green pipes. Ocean water constantly passes through the green pipes and through several instruments to include a fluorometer. The flurometer is the large instrument that measures chlorophyll. You can see it in the picture on the top right corner.

The method we will use to measure chlorophyll is slightly different. We take the ocean water and pour it through a series of two filters. The first filter traps parcticles larger than 20 microns, and the second filter traps parcticles larger than 0.45 microns. You can see the apparatus below. After the water has passed through the filters they are collected and placed in glass vials and frozen. When we arrive at Palmer we will check our frozen specimens for chlorophyll content.

I'll bet your wondering why we don't take the chlorophyll measurements off of the fluorometer. There is a simple answer. Lets suppose you have a thermometer and you measure the outside air temperature to be 72 degrees Fahrenheit (22 degrees Celsius). How do you know if your thermometer is measuring the correct air temperature?? One way to find out is to get a second thermometer. If they both measure the same value then you can be fairly sure that your thermometer is accurate. So the fluorometer gives us a chlorophyll value but we must be sure it is accurate. There are other reasons why we use the second method. Such as accuracy. It is a long way to Palmer Station and everything must be working properly.

I couldn't go outside today because of the bad weather we have encountered. The passengers on the Gould are restricted from going out on deck. With wind gusts of up to 40 knots (about 35 miles per hour) and the deck was getting sprayed with water making an outside excursion very hazardous. We should arrive at Cape Shirreff on Thursday morning and Palmer Station on Saturday.

A big question for everyone following along. Why is it important to study Antarctica?? Please just drop me an e-mail message.


-- Bill

Fluorometer on the top right. Water from the ocean coming in through the green pipes

Filtration system used to catch chlorophyll.

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