02/02/2017 03:36 EAST
Before getting on board, I was a little apprehensive about the voyage.
Being unfamiliar with being at sea and the instruments I would be working with was one thing, but a main concern was the social aspect of the journey. Seven weeks is a long time to spend with people you have never met. Seven weeks on a relatively small ship (with no escape!) could feel like forever! I needn’t have worried.
Upon leaving Hobart, and especially since starting shift work, my fellow scientists and I have become firm friends. Our shift represents a cross section of the scientific community, encompassing undergraduate students, PhD students, post-docs and established professors. This creates a wonderful learning environment for the other students and me.
We are often treated to pearls of science wisdom from our seniors, which are much appreciated. I hope this relationship goes both ways, and that our youthful vigour is enough to keep everybody excited and motivated.
While the 2am-2pm shift is a great scientific environment, it is also great fun. I have no problem finding volunteers to come to the aerosol lab with me (a number of mates have commented that they find the instrument humming very peaceful!), in return for a hand with core processing or water filtration. We laugh often and all get along well which makes sometimes arduous tasks, such as sieving kilograms of mud, much more bearable.
A frequent source of mirth originates in idioms lost in translation (Adrián is a Spanish PhD student and Amaranta Italian); or in different pronunciations between English speaking nations (Meghan and Amy are here from New York state).
I’m very grateful for the company of all the wonderful people that I am working with on the ship. I know I’ll have someone to laugh with and someone to talk with whenever I need (which is comforting in this amazing but sometimes strange part of the world!).
Instrument of the day: Cloud Condensation Nuclei Counter
This machine measures aerosols that are hydrophilic (water-loving). This type of aerosol is crucial for cloud formation, and impact cloud properties such as lifetime and precipitation patterns – hence they are known as Cloud Condensation Nuclei, or CCN.
It works very similarly to the UCPC I described in my previous post, but instead of using butanol, we pass the sample air through a chamber supersaturated with water. As water condensed onto the particles, the aerosols grow to a size detectable by laser. The type of CCN affects how quickly the particle grows, and the instruments measures this by outputting both a particle count and a size distribution.
Thanks for tuning in!
Adrián and Meghan measuring the magnetic susceptibility of a sediment core