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Posts published in “ICBM at sea”

The deepest place, and (finally!) land in sight

Eine Ohrenrobbe vergnügt sich im warmen Wasser der SONNE.
A fur seal enjoys the warm water near the Sonne.

Yesterday we passed through the Aleutian Islands. The Aleutian Islands are a chain of volcanic islands dividing the Bering Sea from the Pacific Ocean. We were lucky: the visibility was good, and it was still light outside, so that we could see one of the islands relatively clearly, and two others could be seen (using binoculars) on the horizon. South of the islands is the Aleutian trench, where the Pacific Ocean is nearly 8000 meters deep.

The Bering Sea is a marginal sea of the Pacific Ocean, just as the North Sea is a marginal sea of the Atlantic Ocean. But the Bering Sea covers four times as much area as the North Sea and is also much deeper. For our last two stations, we will deploy our instruments once more to depths of 3500 meters, in order to collect sediments and water.

Heavy equipment for small cells

The video showing sampling of the ocean floor with the multicorer (MUC) was taken at Station 12 (43 N, 177 E) during our cruise with the Sonne in the Pacific. It was one of the few stations at which the MUC team was able to collect samples during daylight hours.
  …and what happens after the video?

The double Tuesday

Tonight is the time for time-travel! At midnight, the day will start over. Today is Tuesday May 24th; tomorrow is also Tuesday, May 24th. Tomorrow becomes today…

Behind the scenes – the heart of the Sonne

Zusätzlich zur normalen technischen Ausstattung eines Schiffes, hat SONNE noch viele Maschinen, die für die wissenschaftliche Meeresforschung gebraucht werden. So gibt es auf dem unteren Deck einen extra Windenraum für die kilometerlangen Drähte und Kabel, an denen wir unsere wissenschaftlichen Geräte ins Wasser lassen.
In addition to normal technical equipment, the Sonne has many other pieces of equipment that are required for oceanographic research. On the lower deck, there is a winch room for the many kilometers of winch wire and cables that are used to lower equipment into the ocean.

For more than three weeks, we have been underway aboard the Sonne as we transect the Pacific. While we carry out our research around the clock, others are also working night and day. The Sonne does not operate itself -  the engines are continuously working. Moreover, the 70 people aboard need power, water, and heat, and we need special technical support for our equipment.

15000 liters of water for science – and more is coming!

Die niegelnagelneue CTD des ICBM wird ins Wasser gelassen. Mit tatkräftiger Unterstützung der Deck-Crew des Forschungsschiffs SONNE.
The brand-new CTD from the ICBM is lowered into the water with assistance of the crew of the research vessel Sonne. Picture shows Frank Heibeck and Sascha Fischer.

The brand-new CTD from ICBM – Germany’s largest CTD -  is being used for the first time during this research cruise with the Sonne. In addition to valuable data, the CTD brings 24 large bottles of seawater from different depths on deck. Not ‘just’ water, but up to 480 liters with every cast.

Safety on board

There are regular safety drills on board, so that everyone knows what to do in case of an emergency. The safety drill was announced ahead of time; once the alarm bells rang, we rapidly collected our life vests and met at the assembly point on deck.

Lab work at sea: a special experience

Everything has to be taped and lashed, also in the fume hood. Pipetting  on a moving ship is a challenge! On the picture:  Mara Heinrichs and Beatriz Noriega (Research Group for Marine Geochemistry).

We have been on board Sonne already for 15 days; it feels like we have been here since forever. We know where everything is and we are so used to our working space. But it was not always like this...

There’s also life without oxygen…

Kulturgefäße mit sauerstofffreiem Medium. Bislang unbekannte Bakterien, die ohne Sauerstoff leben können, sollen sich unter sauerstofffreien Bedingungen vermehren, damit wir sie später genau untersuchen können.
Culture vessels with oxygen-free media. So far unknown bacteria that can live without oxygen are supposed to grow under oxygen-free conditions for later studies.

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

24 hour station and Neptune’s visit

Ein langer Tag geht zu Ende, mitten auf dem Pazifik ...
End of a long day, in the middle of the Pacific Ocean ...

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.

With the sunrise came our last samples – some of us had worked for 24 hours without pause, other teams had divided the work into shifts. In any case, at breakfast the mess hall (the cafeteria) was quite empty. And in the labs, many of which otherwise are extremely busy the whole day, the lights were out until late morning.

Equator station: between North and South, yesterday and today

Wo sind wir eigentlich? Bild vom Bordcomputer, das in allen Laboren live verfolgt werden kann. Der rote Punkt markiert die aktuelle Position von SONNE. Foto von Rohan Henkel (AG Sensorsysteme ICBM, Wilhemshaven; hier an Bord gehört er zum “Bio-optics” Team).
Where are we? Screenshot of the bord computer display that can be followed in all laboratories. The red dot marks the current position of Sonne. Photo by Rohan Henkel (Marine Sensor Systems ICBM, Wilhemshaven; on board member of the “bio-optics” team).

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.