Before the game starts

by Feili Li

It has been two days since we left Reykjavik and we are heading southwestward to the Irminger Sea, east of Greenland.   It will take about another day before we reach the location of the first CTD station near the Greenland side.   So before we get there, let me explain several things: who we are, why we are in the cold subpolar area, and what we are doing before getting to the working site.

We are a group of enthusiastic hard-working researchers coming from seven institutions and four countries on a research cruise aboard RRS Discovery.  Here the word “researcher” is preferable to “scientist” because we have an artist Mia and a photographer Amanda onboard – we are all doing research, just in diverse disciplines.  (If you are as interested in their work on the cruise as I am, stay tuned to our blog!)  Below are some nice photos of us.

One of the main goals of this research cruise is to retrieve data (sea water temperature, salinity, and current velocity) from the moored array as part of OSNAP, which has been sitting in the Irminger basin for another full year.  After the data retrieval, moorings will be redeployed and will be staying in the water for the next two years.  Processing of the data will begin shortly after they have been collected, although it may take several months to finish the processing and quality control of all these data.  With the data, we are one step further towards the first result about the overturning circulation in the subpolar North Atlantic.  It will provide unprecedented opportunities for understanding how water masses formed at high latitudes are tied to large scale Atlantic circulation that relates to climate change and variability.

Before getting to the site, we are generally free.  I feel like I have moved my office from Durham in North Carolina to the ship.  Except for training on CTD watch, I have been basically working on my laptop in a lab with a nice ocean view.  The boundary between work and life disappears:  eat, tea, work, eat, tea, work, eat, eat, eat … Yes, the boundary between the times you are eating and the times you are not eating also disappears.  But, soon, this will be substituted with days filled with lifting, walking, taking water samples, and that is when the real game starts.


Photos credit:  Neill Mackay

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