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February 20th, 2003: Leg 1, Day #2

Feb20_Waiting1lg.jpg (107129 bytes)

 

Here we are waiting for the CTD to return to the surface so that the real work can begin.

 

 

Feb20_Waiting2lg.jpg (107543 bytes)

 

 

And, since we are waiting, a good opportunity for a photo!

 

 

 

Still blowing 40 knots out of the northwest. We are sure glad that we are going downwind. If it is like this on our return in May it will be very painful, the ship will only be able to make a few knots. We are actually going uphill to Baja. Sea level is several centimeters higher off Baja than off Monterey. The extra weight of water is what creates the California Undercurrent, forcing water to move poleward. The northwesterly winds that we are currently experiencing are responsible for the higher sea level off Baja. Since they are not that active during winter, the sea level difference is smaller. We expect the undercurrent to be weak during the southbound transect that we are currently making and much stronger when we return in May. Our scientific interest in the undercurrent has to do with the fact that it carries chemical fingerprints and organisms from tropical waters to the California coast. Changes in its intensity can have impacts on Monterey Bay chemistry and ecology. 

Feb20_graph.jpg (27764 bytes)The first results of our voyage are starting to come in, courtesy of the iron group (Ginger Elrod, Josh Plant, and Steve Fitzwater). Profiles of iron like the one shown on the graph are very rare because ship contamination is a serious issue. The profile shows a maximum close to 100 m, exactly where we expect the flow of the undercurrent to be strongest. Is the undercurrent bringing iron from the south or is it just acting to resuspend iron-rich sediments from the bottom? We hope to be able to answer these questions soon. 

After the next station we will be turning into the Southern California bight, coming very close to the Channel Islands. The bight is protected from the northwesterly winds so we should see calmer waters after that. Even with the strong winds we are experiencing, the Western Flyer provides an extremely nice ride. I just snuck into the kitchen to see what we will be having for dinner tonight. It looks like roast beef, potatoes, and asparagus. Hope I donít outgrow my pants before we reach La Paz! 

Francisco

Feb20_fishtacolg.jpg (76912 bytes)

 

 

Anyone for fish tacos?

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