The microorganisms in the ocean enjoy the sun and warmth of the equator, just as we scientists do when we are not working. Here in the equatorial upwelling zone, microorganisms grow well because of the extra nutrients that are brought to the ocean’s surface by upwelling (upwards movement) of water from the deep ocean. As a consequence, in certain depths of the water column, oxygen is consumed faster than it is supplied via circulation
This morning at 6 a.m. we ended our 24-hour sampling at this station, and continued our journey north. Neptune, of course, noticed that we had passed the equator without permission; he visited us in person.
We have finally reached the equator – the boundary between the northern and southern hemispheres at 0 N and 0 South. But we aren’t just anywhere on the equator: we are exactly at the point at which one step in the right direction can turn today into yesterday, and visa versa. Our station is exactly on the international date line between 180 W and 180 E.
We are rapidly approaching the equator. Tomorrow, we will begin our first twenty-four hour continuous station, in order to sample the water column for an entire day/night cycle. We will have a very long work-day! Someone else is also waiting for us: Neptune, the ruler of the ocean…
I want to give blog visitors an explanation for the long pause between the last blog entries. We are going through such a remote region of the Pacific that we only have limited (and sporadic) internet connectivity.
We eagerly awaited these samples, the first from the very bottom of the ocean to reach the deck. These samples were especially exciting because the bottom of the ocean at this station is at 4200 m water depth; moreover, it was our very first use of this sampler in the deep sea, which the ICBM just recently acquired.
On this research expedition we are using two classical methods to characterize the surface water of the ocean. These methods were developed in the 19th century, so they do not require advanced technology or power supplies.
We are now in the middle of the ocean, surrounded by blue water. And finally we have also collected our first samples. That was a very exciting moment: the Niskin bottles (water samplers) came on board for the first time with our eagerly-anticipated water.
After months of intensive preparation and anticipation of our cruise aboard the Sonne, we are finally at sea. Yesterday morning at 9 a.m. we left Auckland harbor. We have now travelled almost 600 km; the ocean floor is 3950 m below us.
It is almost time – tomorrow we go on board. On May 1st, our research expedition across the Pacific will begin: 34 days from New Zealand to Alaska.