A great crew

The unsung heroes of this succesful expedition are undoubtedly the ship`s crew who make sure all the daily ship operations go like clockwork, so that the scientists can perform their research in the safest and most optimal conditions.

Linda Holste and Chris Lindemann interview the crew and captain of the FS METEOR. A big THANK YOU to them for their efforts during the past 6 weeks.

FS METEOR`s Captain Schneider

Captain Schneider, for how long have you been working as a captain? And for how many years on the METEOR?

Schneider: My first ship as a captain was a coaster called REALTA since January 1980. In June 2010 I started as captain on the METEOR.

What do you like most about “your” ship?

Schneider: Actually everything; besides the fact that I am allowed to sail with a great crew, I really enjoy the variety of work on a research vessel.

What is the greatest challenge on a research vessel?

Schneider: For sure one challenge is to “sail” the ship, maneuvering the ship is as much of a challenge as the deployment of scientific gear. Most of the gear is by now well-known, but yet there is new gear whose deployment demands improvisation. This applies to the crew on the bridge, but even more to the crew on deck. And only if everybody works hand-in-hand, including the scientists, the designated research goals can be achieved.

In what way do you follow the science on board? Do you have special scientific interests that you follow as soon as you have the possibility?

Schneider: Actually I do not have a single special scientific interest. The ocean is full of life, not only in the water column, but also in the benthos and it is always astonishing, what scientists investigate. Most of the research topics are new to me, but some I know from the media already, some living creatures I can directly watch (if sampled), others I can follow during investigation with, for instance, the ROV. Also, geology is a research field that I am engaged with, especially since I was confronted with it during my studies on deep drilling technology.

Spontaneity seems to be a captains` requirement as we have seen here and there on the first Leg. How flexible are you and do you like geological cruises with a well structured station plan better than physical/biological cruises, during which station plans have to be changed spontaneously?

Schneider: Spontaneity and flexibility are for sure things that belong together. If one cannot deal with it or one is too rigid, many things will not be achieved at all or only with a lot of effort. Science often seems like chaos, sometimes more, sometimes less, but it is always interesting enough to investigate. And this is only possible if one is flexible to the environment.

Thank you very much fort his interview, captain Schneider!


Chasing transparent needles in a moving haystack!

by Michael Blackett,
Sir Alister Hardy Foundation for Ocean Science

Jellyfish represent a bewilderingly diverse array of zooplankton that play an often under appreciated role in planktonic ecosystems.

When conditions are favourable, jellyfish can grow and reproduce extremely quickly. Voracious predation by dense seasonal blooms can influence the structure of the planktonic community and restrict energy transfer to higher trophic levels.

Physophora hydrostatica © Mike Blackett, SAHFOS

Unfortunately, we know surprisingly little about the biology and ecology of these ubiquitous yet enigmatic creatures. This makes predicting the causes and consequences of their blooms challenging. On this cruise we have deployed the ‘jelly-net’, which is designed to carefully sample these fragile organisms. This has allowed us to examine the jellyfish species assemblage and collect specimens for molecular genetic analysis back on terra firma.

Unlike the highly sophisticated LOPC, mentioned earlier in the bog, the jelly-net samples do require tedious hours behind the microscope. Taxonomic identification requires an extensive knowledge of jellyfish anatomy and is challenging at best. The task is even more difficult on a ship in the North Atlantic. Imagine trying to find needles in a haystack, only the needles are transparent and the haystack is moving with the pitch and roll of the boat!

Rathkea ocptopunctata ©Mike Blackett, SAHFOS

Positive identification of the species encountered means we can validate the images captured by the VPR (see entry Flying through microspace) and investigate the fine-scale vertical distribution of discrete components of the jellyfish community that exhibit highly variable behavioural and functional ecology.

Molecular genetic characterisation allows us to explore the genetic similarity of geographically isolated populations, unravel phylogenies and evolutionary lineages and produce ‘genetic barcodes’ for the identification of specimens based on their genetic makeup.

Since the beginning of Leg II of this expedition, it is remarkable to see how the jellyfish communities have developed. An explosion of new recruits and reproductive stages has succeeded the few characteristic winter species as the jellyfish begin to exploit the intense productivity of the spring bloom.

A breathing ocean

Latitude: 62°48′  N
Longitude: 002°36′ W
Waveheight: 2.5 meters
Water temperature: 6.7 Celcius
by Gisle Nondal & Emil Jeansson

A group from the Uni Bjerknes Centre and the Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research in Bergen, Norway, are on-board to perform measurements related to the oceanic cycling of carbon, in addition to measurements estimating the flux of oxygen directly involved in biological activity.

The parameters describing the oceanic carbon cycle include total inorganic carbon dissolved in the seawater (DIC), total alkalinity, pH, and the partial pressure of CO2 (pCO2).

Projected ocean acidification in the North Atlntic, and related impacts on corals by 2020, 2060 and 2100: from better (blue) to worse (orange) conditions for coral skeletal growth. Source: Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

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Flying through microspace

Latitude:  61°06′ N
Longitude:  001°06′ W
See latest position
Air Temp.: 3.3° C
Water Temp.: 8.1° C
by Klas Moeller onboard the FS METEOR for Leg II

The Video Plankton Recorder (VPR) is non-destructive modern, optical sampling gear. Imagine flying a sophisticated underwater microscope through the water at night. The VPR`s rapid camera images plankton and suspended particles (the base of the food web) at up to 30 frames per second.

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Back on track

Latitude: 60°42′ N
Longitude: 000°30′ E
Wave height: 1 m
Air Temp.: 2.1° C
Water Temp.: 8.4° C
by Chris Lindemann onboard the FS METEOR for Leg II

After a successful first leg we arrived in Torshavn (Faroe Islands) early morning on last thursday (5 April). Most of us invaded the town right way, eager to set their feed on land and to interact with civilization outside our tiny microcosm universe.

Full crew party for Deep Convection Leg I. See Crew page for details.

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Surface Blooms as convection goes strong

Latitude: 62°48′
Longitude: 003°12′
Wave height: 2.5m
Air Temp.: 3.1° C
Water Temp.: 6.3° C
by Ivo Grigorov, EURO-BASIN Project Office

Chlorophyll a satellite imagery around the sampling trinagle of the 'Deep Convection' sites. ©NEODAAS/PML/NERC

Following a short stop at Torshavn (Faroe Islands) last weekend for a crew swap, the FS METEOR is back in the sampling area in occassional heavy seas.

Due to a problem, 24hrs were lost from the schedule, but the team is now trying to catch up. Seniour scientist aboard, Michael St John, mentions that the surface has not yet stratified, but FS METEOR is sailing in surface bloom conditions.

“Convection is still spinning out here. Amazing!!” Continue reading

Snow above, snow below

by Ivo Grigorov, EURO-BASIN Project Office

While waiting for the expedition to change over the scientific party before heading back out to sea, how about an imaginary journey. Imagine you had James Cameron`s DEEPSEA CHALLENGER submersible for a day, and you were descending down just below the FS Meteor in the Faroe-Shetland Channel. What would you see?

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Snowy end to Leg I

Latitude: 61°48′ N
Longitude: 005°54′ W
Air temperature: 6.7°C
Wind: 14 knots, south-west
by Michael St John, Seniour Scientist onboard FS METEOR

FS METEOR under snow near Faroe Islands.© C.Lindemann, DTU Aqua

Greetings from Meteor docked in Thorshavn, Faroe Islands. Here we are just finishing off our first circuit around the triangle. The weather gods have been relatively friendly, we have missed but a few hours due to rough seas which is rather surprising. To give you an idea, last night we had snow on the deck leading some to test their snowball skills, but again, no big seas.

The night before we took a wave over the back deck that twisted the big metal frame of the MOCNESS. The power of water is truly amazing! It seems every time we get close to the side of the boat, Neptune has a greeting for us. This is now an expected by all on board. I guess he does not want to give up his secrets without a comment or two. Anyway, we can hope for more friendly weather for the next leg, but as we all know this can be a stormy time of the year. Continue reading

Laser counting in bouncy seas

Latitutde: 60°18′ N
Longitude: 001°00′ E
Water temperature: 7.6
Sea state: waveheight 1.5 meters
by Sunnje Basedow, aboard FS Meteor

Over the last 48 hours we have crossed the Faroe-Shetland Channel, and are relatively sheltered by the Shetland Islands to the west of us.

Waves crashing over the side is a regular event while sampling the North Atlantic.

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