…it pours, quite literally. We began the second day of sampling not-so-bright and early. The rain audibly pelting our rain gear and wind blowing fairly ferociously – looking at data from the FHL Weather Station, they have recorded morning wind speeds of 10.91 m/s, or roughly 37 mph!!! Though the Weather Tower is not at the mesocosm site, I think it is safe to say winds were still fairly fast. The dock was bobbing up and down dramatically, and my body continued to feel like it was swaying for several hours after sampling was complete.
Here is how sampling works: we have two groups, Group A and Group B, and they alternate coming early every morning. They take off the domes (one at a time or all together depending on the weather), run the light core with the mesh caps on the mesocosms, and mix each mesocosm so that Amanda can come through with the CTD. Then sampling begins. Two people run the integrated sampler while another two take off and put on mesocosm domes and caps. Mike goes back and forth between our mesocosm dock and the sampling table carrying the water from the integrated sampler. There is a lot of rinsing involved, and the wait to either collect the sample or get your personal sample for Mike can seem like a millennium when you have raindrops hitting your body at roughly the same speed as a motor vehicle.
Today, I worked with Amy on collecting the integrated samples. The process is actually incredibly fun if you can ignore the ruthless weather and cold water temperatures. The pump tube has to be lowered into the center of the mesocosm, capped, and pulled back up (bonus points if you never let the tubing touch the mesocosm rim, the dock, your clothing, or anything that is not your rubber gloved hands). Then comes the fun part: the tube has to be held incredibly level with the capped side raised above. Then, after the cap is removed from the tubing, a person has to slowly raise the opposite end of the pump so the sample will flow gently into the sampling jar. This may sound like the simplest task, but trust me, when you can feel neither your wrists nor your fingertips, it is an art form. This process happens ten times, once for each bag and once for the dock (always rising between), and it is followed by Niskin sampling from the mesocosms. After that, it’s time to wrap up! All of the caps and domes are replaced – usually immediately following the Niskin – and samples must be processed or placed somewhere cool.
Sampling a processing is different for everyone. Some people sample daily and process daily. Other people sample daily and process every other day, freezing their samples for later processing if necessary. Others sample every other day and process every day they sample. I belong in the last group, and since everyone sampled for time zero, today was my “day off”.
After helping out with all of the morning sampling, I had a couple hours free before lunch. This time was spent reading papers and working on class assignments. I even had time to check the mail! Lucky for me, my bedding had arrived from Seattle. After lunch, I spent an hour and a half getting reacquainted with my pillow before heading to our class discussion. Next I went to the weekly seminar; Win Watson gave an amazing lecture on the endogenous clocks and associated rhythmic behaviors of marine biota. The lecture was really enjoyable not only because I had a chance to learn about some amazing local research, but also because Win is such an entertaining lecturer. There were times when he had the whole room laughing! The Seminar was followed by carbon dioxide additions using a cool piece of equipment we call the spider, and then it was dinner time.
Dinner and afterward is by far my favorite part of the day. Everyone has a chance to relax and converse while eat some tasty food. Afterward some people have to go back to lab, but if we have managed to get all of our work done, we like to go on group walks. The campus is beautiful, and after a long day of standing, or sitting, in the lab it is nice to get out and move around. Tonight we spent some time exploring one of the shore trails. Though the thought was hardly scientific, I could not help thinking of Tolkien’s The Hobbit as I walked through the tranquil and (dare I say) mystic woods. Either a plethora of moss or tiny mushrooms and flowers cover practically every available surface. The trail winds up and down moss-covered hills, and the occasional obstacle of a fallen tree is easily found. These amazing sights have already become my way of recharging for the next day, and I will most definitely miss them once I’m gone!
Tomorrow I will be filtering and completing the colorimetric method on mesocosm and dock samples to record bulk transparent exopolymer particle (TEP) values for our experiment. My hope for this experiment is to determine if any differences are observed in TEP cycling when the partial pressure of carbon dioxide in seawater is increased. I feel really confident in my procedure since I’ve had quite a bit of practice doing the calibration of Xanthan Gum, and I know I can only become better with time. Since I will be sampling and processing tomorrow, instead of living a leisurely day as described below, I will be in lab all morning and afternoon, working alongside all of my outstanding peers. Crossing my fingers and hoping for green tint!