What we got up to on the JR17005 NERC Changing Arctic Ocean DIAPOD and Arise Cruise...

AS I write this I am sat in my friend Otti's flat in Longyearbean looking out at the incredible view where the mountains lie dormant covered in the thawing snow, ships bustle in and out of the harbour and I can see the JCR moored alongside the dock. I met Otti in Rothera when she was studying snow algae, she's now living in Longyearbean and has kindly let me stay whilst I explore the area!
         We did not have much internet as we sailed around the Fram Strait so sorry for the lack of updates. Someone in work recently said to a few colleagues of mine that I hope you've had a nice 'holiday' whilst we've been away from SAMs....I wish we could say it had been a holiday but it was far from it. Firstly, we had an incredible cruise and got to see parts of the Fram Strait which only a handful of people see, the views were spectacular, the sea ice majestic, the wildlife even though limited this year was a beautiful site to see. But you never forget that you are at sea away from home, your loved ones, your favourite food and normal exercise and that you're pulling long shifts or working through weird hours of the night (which you don't know is night as it's so light). I feel so privileged to have a job that lets me see the world and get involved with science that is looking at how climate change is going to change the Arctic and in turn the rest of the world so I wouldn't change this job for the world!! The photos are mine and also from the shared photo drive that people added to from the cruise.

So here is what we've been doing the last few weeks....

Our routines regularly changed depending on sea ice/weather/kit/breakages/depth of water (the deeper it was the longer the science took to complete). This is the big science team that were working different shifts on various different projects and experiments, the crew (who I didn't quite manage to round up for this photo) made it all happen, without them the science could not have been done! So we thank them for their help and laughter during the cruise.
Teams DIAPOD and ARISE..you can find information about the individual projects from this website and my earlier blogposts https://www.changing-arctic-ocean.ac.uk/about/ 
 There's something that draws me to the sea, the beauty and power of it..and the unknown!

So our very rough plan where our schedule usually started at midnight was a CTD (the conductivity-temperature-depth) instrument that collects water at various depths depending on the physics from the cast, then bongos, then onto more zooplankton nets, then coring!

This is the CTD...at least half of the people on board were completing science from the CTD. In the UIC (the control roomm on the ship) a graph is plotted in real time from the CTD's which tell us what the oxygen, florescence ( measure of chlorophyll so a proxy for how much plankton is in the water), light, depth, temperature, salinity which all together creates a picture of what is happening in the water column at that station....
Whether it be a big plankton bloom at 15 m (chlorophyll maximum), warm Atlantic water rushing in. All of this information then allows the scientists to make a decision of what depths they would like the niskins (bottles around the CTD) to be fired (closed mechanically from the UIC) at what depth.

Here is Rich sampling for nutrients from the niskins, it's very easy to contaminate nutrient samples so everything from the sampling bottles, caps and tubes are cleaned with diluted HCL (acid) a common method for cleaning equipment. Gloves are warn to reduce adding contaminets like handcreams, oil, food...
Back in the lab Rich uses this automated nutrients analyser to measure the nutrients in the sample straight away, this gives more confident data as it is less likely to be contaminated or the chemistry changed by biological action of beasties like bacteria which are in the sample. After a long process of lots of various chemicals and standardization (to compare against your data) Rich gets depth plots of what the nutrients like Nitrate, Phosphate and Silicate are doing at that specific locations. Without nutrients in the water there would be almost no life, so it's important to know what's happening at each station in order to build a picture of what's happening!

Debra (who trapped her finger earlier on that day) is first to sample from the CTD as she is completing oxygen titrations, she samples from the CTD first so that the atmospheric air does not contaminate the samples. My next cruise which is at the end of this month is to complete oxygen measurements from Iceland to the Rockall Trough and back so my mission of this cruise was to learn this technique. The analytical process is complicated and the samples can easily be ruined. The purpose of measuring oxygen insitu to calibrate the CTD which is also collecting oxygen data but from a prob, these titration measurements confirm that the probes and sensors are working correctly. Standardisations on a known sample from a company are run to rule out chemical or any type of contamination.

Chemistry in action...the color change is the point of titration marking the point at which oxygen is taken up by the reagent. 
Here Celeste is spiking her DIC (dissolved inorganic carbon) samples, as you can see the fume cupboard is at a low height (hopefully the new ship will be designed a bit better) so  squatting position is usually taken. DIC is important to measure to understand the carbon cycling in the arctic ocean and how it is changing.

Carbon cycle
Here is the ARISE blog https://ariseatsea.com/2018/05/14/the-marine-carbon-cycle/ where more information about the carbon cycle can be found, you can contact them if you have any questions or would like to know more about their project!

I like this automated way of filtering! A known volume of water is usually filtered depending on what you're looking at. Various people were filtering for lots of different reasons varying from HPLC to look at what pigments (phytoplankton) was in the water column, particulates, dissolved carbon, fatty acids.

Measuring cylinders...very important!

Who knew there were so many different types of filtration rigs! Robyn loves nuts.

LT Norman was our cruise mascot ...you can read his twitter page about all the science he gets up to here:  https://twitter.com/LT_ResearchBear

We did a few CTD dips near glaciers to see what was going on in the water column...svalbard has some epic scenery!


The sun didn't come out very often, so when it did we all enjoyed and absorbed it....

Not as pleasant when it was snowy and wavy but pretty exciting!

My last blog was about the coring so I won't go into much detail...but here is how they organised their samples:

The JCR has such a good set up for doing science, lots of benches, and this sorting tables and sinks mean we can get a lot done!

Now onto the zooplankton. There were lots of people on the cruise researching the zooplankton using various methods, we all have the same end game which is to make models to predict how the Arctic is going to alter with the changing timing and amount of sea ice.

This is a bongo net (similar to the nets I used last year). they are dipped over the side and taken down to 200 m and are vertically towed upwards..all of the zooplankton are caught in the end of the net which is a devise called the codend.

Elliot and I were at Plymouth Uni together so it was funny to find out we would be working in the Arctic together, he was named King of the Bongo!

Elliot is completing a PhD and looking at the isotopic signature of zooplankton mostly copepods, this is to track what they eat.

Here is the epic plankton capturing devise called the mocness....this has 9 individual nets with it's own codend, which is mechanically closed at various depths..it even has it's own CTD. Naturally working in the middle of nowhere, on a vessel, in the cold arctic there was issues with mechanics...however Carwyn and Bjorg who were responsible for this net overcame many issues; it also helped that there are so many various engineers on the ship lots of people like Ross chip in to help on their specialty. That's what I like about BAS if you can't do it or know someone else can teach you how to do something then they are their and happy to help and teach! Working on a vessel can either be seen as a prison or a community...or sometimes both!

It cracked me up when about 6 or maybe more people crowded around the buckets to see what was caught...! Having the mocess allowed a depth integrated approach which you usually can't have. Great for capturing the diapausing (hibernating) copepods.

The nightshift team work for hours collecting water from the CTD, then all work together in the cold room to pick out plankton eggs for incubation experiments. Very finicky and precise work...it's very easy to loose, miscount or squish a micron sized egg. There was also Claudia working in the cold room where she was incubating Calanus at different temperatures to see what affect this had on them.

Then we got to my favorite bit of the trip...the sea ice! Sea ice forms when the sea water temperature is -1.8 oC, we headed to the sea ice that had formed last winter and was just breaking in the 2018 sun. This is a very important time of year for the Arctic, as when the sea ice breaks up after the sea is closed off from the atmosphere for <7 months this instigates a phytoplankton bloom from the diatoms which live on the bottom of the sea ice throughout the winter. When the sun then hits the open water for the first time that year this develops the bloom further. The animals that have been hibernating like the copepods at depth over winter rise to the surface (using a lipid filled oil sac) to feed and populate. The main reason we are here in the Arctic this summer is to measure this change to predict how the arctic is changing therefore how it may be in the future in terms of the timing of when the sea ice breaks up. If earlier or later this could create a predator-prey mismatch.

Even more exciting when we were visited by this incredible beast!

When I had down time my favorite thing to do was to seat outside all wrapped up reading a book and watching the ice...I didn't see much wildlife whilst sat their most days, I think we were a bit early in the year!

Even though Penguins don't live in the Arctic I had to bring my amazing handmade and personalised wash bag made by Hannah Hayward at Highwater...if you would like one made please get in contact with her at the Highwater sailing loft: https://www.facebook.com/highwatersails/

Now onto the bit of science I was doing! I was working with Prof Dave Pond a.k.a my boss and PSO of the cruise and principal investigator of the DIAPOD cruise...you may think this meant I would have to be on my best behavior...and obviously I was. For the last few months I have been training with him Jon Cohen and Kim Last on respiration in copepods, hence all the trips up to Loch Etive. So the aim of this trip was to measure the respiration rates of both Calanus hyperboreus and Calanus finmarchicus/Calanus glacialis from both the mocness and bongos. The overall aim was to capture animals that were in diapause (hibernation at depth) so that we can see how much they respire in their dormant state.

After the animals were brought in from the codends I would sit in the cold room on a microscope and gently select the species of copepod we wanted to study.

0.2 micron filtered water was added to each well, oxygen bubbles were taken out...this is so that it can be certain that we are measuring the animals respiration rate and not any bacteria that could be in the water for example or atmospheric oxygen.

Using this Loglio equipment  https://www.presens.de/products/detail/sdr-sensordishr-reader-basic-set.html
I would place the individuals into separate wells, then place parafilm (and try not to get any air bubbles in it) then place inside an incubator.

This screen was linked to the SDR (sensor reader) so that you can get real time data on how much the animals were respiring. We left then for 24 hours in the wells, we then took them out of the wells and took photographs for length, width and lipid sac measurement as size makes a big difference on how an animal respires, as does if its female or male, the species, the depth it was found, at what time of year, how much fatty acid/lipid they have in their lipid sac hence how much they've eaten...it's rather interesting that all of this is linked to how our climate is changing and whether there will be food and sea ice in the future for this center of the food web creatures to be able to live.

Icebreaking! We only got stuck and broke down once....!

That concludes JR17005 the 2018 DIAPOD and ARISE scientific CAO NERC funded project. I will post one quick blog about my time in Svalbard after the trip...as I really recommend visiting!