After two weeks of quarantine at home where possible, Airbnbs, and deserted family vacation homes, the 12-member Endurance Array team will head to Newport, Oregon on July 1 to board the R/V Thomas G. Thompson. As part of COVID-19 precautions, all of the needed equipment to service the Endurance Array will have been transported to the pier by non-seagoing staff prior to their arrival. The seagoing staff will simply arrive at the dock, load the ship, and then go to sea.

Under normal circumstances, the array is serviced – that is moorings are recovered and new ones deployed to ensure that the collection and transmission of ocean data continues seamlessly – twice a year. The regularly scheduled expedition this spring was canceled due to the coronavirus epidemic, so the cruise this summer will combine the work of the spring and fall expeditions.

“We are pleased to be able to get to the arrays this summer and to work aboard the R/V Thomas G. Thompson. This ship is large enough to give us all enough space to adequately social distance while onboard,” said Ed Dever, project scientist and principal investigator for the Endurance Array project. The ship will sail from its homeport in Seattle to meet the Endurance Array team in Newport, Oregon.

“With COVID-19 keeping some researchers on land, people are more interested than ever in the data that we collect remotely using the OOI.  It’s important to have this opportunity to recover and replace the equipment at our Oregon and Washington lines,” Dever added.

The expedition will involve replacing seven moorings at six locations and the deployment of four gliders and four coastal surface piercing profilers. The team also will be measuring salinity, temperature, density, oxygen, and chlorophyll as a function of depth, during CTD casts before and after mooring recoveries. These onsite real-time data are publicly shared, as are all data continuously collected by the arrays throughout the year.

This expedition will involve three legs, traveling back and forth between different locations in the array and Newport to unload and pick up the huge coastal moorings.  (Estimated weight of ~ 11 tons/per mooring). In total, the team will travel an estimated 1000 nautical miles during the expedition.

Dever’s OOI colleague Jon Fram at Oregon State University will be the chief scientist on this expedition. He remarked, “COVID-prevention has significantly changed operations onshore as well as while we are aboard the Thompson. Even for the seemingly simple task of ensuring that everyone had adequate masks for the duration, we tried out six different mask styles to find one that would be comfortable enough for everyone to wear for the duration of the journey. We also had to figure out how to achieve appropriate social distancing while onboard, which will change our normal operations.”

The Endurance Array team usually invites graduate students along on these expeditions to provide extra sets of hands, while offering mentoring opportunities and shipboard experiences for future potential marine scientists. During this summer expedition, only one graduate student will be onboard, who has previous experience on similar cruises.

Collaborative non-OOI scientific experiments, however, will take place. The Endurance Array team will gather the data rather than the non-OOI scientists involved, who would normally be onboard. Three different non-OOI experiments will occur.  The first involves Linsey Haram of the Smithsonian, who collects fouling communities that grow on panels attached to OOI buoys.  Ashley Burkett of Oklahoma State University is involved in the next, which entails collecting settling organisms on devices attached to the Seafloor Multi-Function Nodes (MFN) at the base of some surface moorings and act both as an anchor as well as a platform to affix instruments. The third, proposed by Taylor Chapple of Oregon State University, involves testing deployment of tagged fish acoustic monitors on the Near-Surface Instrument Frame (NSIF), a cage containing subsurface oceanographic instruments attached to multiple data concentrator logger computers.

Added Dever, “These three experiments are great examples of how scientists can become involved in the OOI and access the data they need. They demonstrate how scientists can have access to ocean data without ever having set foot aboard a ship.”

After the Endurance Team’s expedition, the Regional Cabled Array team will board the R/V Thomas G. Thompson on 30 July to begin a month-long expedition to service the RCA array, which provides power and equipment to a multitude of data gathering ocean equipment on the ocean floor.

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A team from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) was onboard the R/V Neil Armstrong at the Pioneer Array, about 75 nautical miles south of Martha’s Vineyard in the Atlantic, deploying equipment and collecting data. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the number of the science party onboard was limited. These limits prevented participation by the Northeast U.S. Shelf Long-Term Ecological Research (NES-LTER) team, whose members would have been onboard under normal circumstances.

But through an innovative use of onboard technology, WHOI’s Shipboard Scientific Services Group made it possible for the NES-LTER team to receive data and images of phytoplankton and microzooplankton in near-real-time along the cruise track. The data were collected by Imaging FlowCytobots (IFCBs), which provide long term, high-resolution measurements of phytoplankton abundance and their cell properties. The data can be viewed here.

Said WHOI researcher Taylor Crockford from her research laboratory on land, who beta-tested the data transmission with the WHOI onboard team, “In this challenging time of the Coronavirus, we are thankful for this opportunity to continue long-term research into the productivity and food web on the Northeast U.S. Shelf while the cruise was underway.”

The Ocean Observatories Initiative is funded by the National Science Foundation.

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After ten weeks of preparation, two weeks of isolation, documentation of negative COVID-19 tests, temperatures taken, and personal protective gear in place, nine science team members from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) will depart on the R/V Neil Armstrong from Woods Hole, MA on Sunday 7 June 2020 for an 11-day expedition to service the Pioneer Array, a collection of ocean observing equipment off the New England coast, about 75 nautical miles south of Martha’s Vineyard.

The Pioneer mission is the first science expedition to leave Woods Hole following a “pause” in research expeditions imposed in March by UNOLS (University-National Oceanographic Laboratory System).  UNOLS coordinates the U.S. academic research fleet ship schedules and has established guidelines for COVID prevention and mitigation aboard these ships. The journey aboard the R/V Neil Armstrong is the second UNOLS science expedition to leave port with new stringent COVID-prevention protocols in place.

“We’ve worked extremely hard to implement measures that will help ensure the safety and health of our scientific party and crew members aboard the R/V Neil Armstrong,” said Al Plueddemann, chief scientist for the Pioneer Array expedition and a research scientist at WHOI.  “It’s been an extensive planning and re-planning effort as our procedures had to adapt to changing circumstances.”

“We’ve had to reduce our scientific team significantly to ensure there is enough social distancing room aboard the ship, and condense the work into one cruise leg instead of two, which forced us to scale back the scientific mission, as well. But with the extensive precautionary measures in place, we are able to provide much needed service to the array, while also ensuring the cruise is sufficiently low risk to all personnel involved.”

The Pioneer Array is a collection of long-term oceanographic observing equipment that provides continuous ocean measurements over a period of years. The data collected are sent via satellite to a network server on shore for use by scientists, educators, and others. The data are available for everyone to use in as near real-time as possible. These long time-series data are helping to advance ocean research, understanding of ocean processes, and the changing ocean. The equipment requires regular maintenance to ensure that it can continually collect and disseminate biological, physical, and chemical ocean observations for the the oceanographic community and others who have come to rely on it. The Pioneer Array is one of five ocean observing arrays collecting real-time ocean data as part of the National Science Foundation funded Ocean Observatories Initiative.

Extensive precautionary measures were necessary to enable the ship and its passengers to conduct the science mission safely during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Preparations began with trying to figure out the appropriate length and circumstances under which the scientific party and crew members could quarantine prior to heading out to sea, then evolved into gaining access to COVID-19 testing and labs to process the results, determining how to house the scientific party while in quarantine and onboard the vessel, and defining social distancing and protective gear that would be needed while at sea,” said Derek Buffitt, program manager for the Coastal Global Scale Node arrays, which includes the Pioneer Array.

Once such decisions were made, other practical considerations were tackled, such as how to:

  • store used personal protective gear while at sea for onshore disposal,
  • arrange bunks to minimize shared space,
  • feed passengers and maintain social distances in shared common spaces,
  • maintain the operational safety of the smaller science party,
  • prioritize the scientific objectives to ensure the most effective use of the ship time, and
  • respond if someone presented COVID-19 symptoms while at sea.

“The Pioneer expedition departure on Sunday will represent the successful culmination of preparations for the new normal of conducting research at sea during a pandemic,” added Plueddemann.

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The first issue of Download, the OOI’s new newsletter,  was released on 1 May.  It provides a short, concise look at the OOI, with clickable links for digging deeper into specific topics. It covers the latest OOI developments, scientific advances being made using OOI data, and opportunities for you to participate in the OOI, through help with proposals, data use, workshops, and other events.

The newsletter is available online here. If you’d like to subscribe, please send an email to dtrewcrist@whoi.edu, with a subject line: Download subscribe. 

 

 
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The Argentine Basin Surface Mooring buoy bobs with the waves after being deployed in over 3 miles of water (5.2km). (Photo Credit: OOI Coastal Global Scale Nodes program Argentine Basin deployment team)

The spring 2020 OOI Endurance Operations and Management (O&M) turn cruise has been canceled due to travel and personnel restrictions imposed to stem the spread of the virus COVID-19. The 16-day cruise was set to depart on 31 March from Newport, Oregon aboard the R/V Sikuliaq to service the array off the Oregon and Washington coasts.

Jonathan Fram, Program Manager of the Endurance Array, explains in this EOS article some of the possible implications of the cancellation, which may range from some of the moorings losing power, to the gliders running out of batteries, to possibly missing the recording data documenting the coastal ocean’s transition from winter to spring.

The fall 2020 Endurance turn cruise (currently scheduled for September) is expected to take place.

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Due to the global COVID-19 pandemic concerns, the Ocean Observatories Initiative Facilities Board has made the difficult decision to postpone the Northeast Pacific OOI Community Workshop scheduled for June 23-25, 2020 in Portland, OR.  Because of the importance of holding this workshop, OOIFB will work to find a future date that will promote optimal participation and engagement by the OOI community.

In the meantime, OOIFB members are exploring alternate options for connecting with researchers and educators who are using or plan to use OOI data.  This could include webinars and/or on-line training sessions.  Input from community members is welcome.  Please share your suggestions regarding webinar and training topics that would be of interest to you and whether you have any deadlines for this information (e.g., proposal submission, teaching a class).  Suggestions can be sent to Annette De Silva.

 

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Five years of data have made a significant difference in understanding of the complex processes occurring in the remote and hostile conditions of the Southern Ocean. In its five years of deployment, OOI’s Southern Ocean Array has provided critical data that enhanced weather modeling and forecasting, while providing means to study the mechanisms behind Southern Ocean warming and the storage of carbon at depth.

Four OOI moorings were deployed in February 2015 in a very sparsely sampled area in the Southern Ocean (55 degrees South, 90 degrees W) with the goal of helping modelers, forecasters and scientists understand this dynamic and volatile environment. One mooring was decommissioned in 2017. Two bottom halves remained in place through 2018 and a single surface mooring remained in place through January 2020.  Collectively, these deployments provided a continual treasure trove of data to scientists, modelers, and forecasters.

This data stream is particularly important because the Southern Ocean is not only warming faster than other parts of the world ocean, it has also been implicated as the major region for ocean uptake of carbon dioxide.

“Collecting continuous data in this sparsely sampled region has provided a groundtruth point to help refine climate models and weather forecasts, and better understand complex processes occurring in the Southern Ocean,” said Dr. Sheri N. White, lead systems engineer for the Coastal Global Scale Nodes of OOI at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and chief scientist on the 2018 and 2020 OOI expeditions that recovered the Southern Array.

The benefits of deployment were evident. When the moorings were first deployed in 2015, data were not initially integrated into the World Meteorological Organization’s Global Telecommunication System (GTS).  In August 2017, when the data were added to the GTS, making them more easily accessible for weather forecasters and modelers, they had an almost immediate impact on forecasting by the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF).  In August 2017, for example, OOI’s Surface Buoy picked up a low-pressure system moving through the area.  Integrating these data into forecast models, researchers filled in some key spatial gaps in their observational coverage, reducing the error in 24-hour forecasts.  With improved data, ECMWF was better able to forecast the next huge Southern Ocean storm with a central pressure around 955 mb that had simultaneous major impacts on southern South America, Drake Passage, and the Antarctic Peninsula.

The Southern Ocean Array also provided a platform for interagency and interdisciplinary collaborations. The National Science Foundation and its UK counterpart, the National Environmental Research Council joined forces to support two expeditions in 2018 and 2020. The 2018 expedition recovered the bottom halves of the moorings, while outfitting the surface mooring with equipment to measure silicate and nitrate using “lab-on-a-chip” technology (miniaturized analytical devices that integrate laboratory operations into a single chip on a very small scale.) This work was an investigation undertaken by Dr. Adrian Martin of the UK’s National Oceanography Centre and an investigator for CUSTARD (Carbon Uptake and Seasonal Traits in Antarctic Remineralisation Depth). The sensors and the surface mooring were recovered during the 2020 expedition.

“CUSTARD focuses on how interactions between marine organisms, nutrients in the water and the ocean circulation control the storage of carbon at depth. To do so requires information through the year because of the boom and bust seasonal cycle of phytoplankton,” explained Martin. “The mooring gave us both a variety of important data as well as a platform to deploy some of our own sensors year-round in the challenging environment of the Southern Ocean. The CUSTARD project benefited immensely from our collaboration with OOI. “

The OOI moorings also provided scientists with a means to study the mechanisms behind Southern Ocean warming.  In a study led by Sarah Ogle of Scripps Institution of Oceanography, scientists found that just a few extreme storm events drive most of the mixed-layer deepening, suggesting that air-sea heat exchange is a highly episodic process.

“Only the largest storm events each year are able to mix the upper ocean enough to influence the ocean interior,” said Dr. Sarah Gille, also of Scripps and a member of OOI’s Facility Board.  “With the removal of OOI, we’ve lost one window into these big events, but from the OOI data, we’ve gained some perspective on what types of measurements need to be collected to understand air-sea exchange in the region. In the future, I hope that we’ll be able to make use of newer autonomous systems to continue the research started in the Southern Ocean with OOI.”

[media-caption type="vimeo" path="https://vimeo.com/398932101" link="#"] Crew members recover the last Southern Array Surface Mooring (9000+ lbs) aboard the RRS Discovery, operated by the Natural Environment Research Council.Video courtesy of Dr. Adrian P. Martin, National Oceanography Centre [/media-caption] Read More

The spring 2020 OOI Endurance Operations and Management (O&M) turn cruise has been delayed for at least 30 days due to travel and personnel restrictions imposed to stem the spread of the virus COVID-19.

The 16-day cruise was set to depart on 31 March from Newport, Oregon aboard the R/V Sikuliaq to service the array off the Oregon and Washington coasts. The R/V Sikuliaq is part of the US academic research fleet managed by UNOLS (the University-National Oceanographic Laboratory System). UNOLS imposed a 30-day suspension in fleet operations on 13 March to help ensure the safety of the ship’s crew and science party and to mitigate the risk of virus spread. Rescheduling of activities will commence once the situation stabilizes and UNOLS sees a path forward to re-start research vessel operations safely.

Upcoming O&M cruises for the Pioneer, Irminger, and Papa Arrays also are scheduled aboard UNOLS vessels (R/V Neil Armstrong and R/V Sikuliaq). These cruises fall outside of the UNOLS current 30-day suspension so cruise preparation continues.

We do not anticipate that cruise schedule changes will affect the collection nor dissemination of OOI data, which will continue to be available for users here.

 

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