RV Investigator Trial Voyage to the Ice Edge

posted 10 Mar 2015, 15:59 by Bodeker Scientific   [ updated 23 Apr 2015, 15:25 ]

Stefanie Kremser was part of the first trial voyage to the ice edge on the new Australian research vessel, the Marine National Facility RV Investigator. The voyage started on 29 January 2015 and finished 21 days later on 18 February 2015. The objectives of this trial voyage included:

       Test Investigator’s ice-edge operational systems in low water and air temperatures

       Safely undertake cold water and atmospheric operations including specific testings and checks of aerosol sampling mast, aerosol laboratory and air-chemistry laboratory.

       Geophysical Survey and Mapping (GSM)

       Underway data acquisition and seagoing instrumentation testing

       Test performance of satellite TV and communications systems in high latitudes

       Test the limits of flying radiosondes from a ship’s deck

Stefanie, together with Robyn Schofield and Dougal Squire from the University of Melbourne were launching ten radiosondes and three polarsondes at several latitudes and in different weather conditions to measure temperature, wind, pressure and humidity up to about 25 km. The main goals were to test the limits of launching balloons from a ship and to specify the boundary conditions at different latitudes for modelling purposes. They launched balloons into fronts, through a polar low (962 hPa), into perfect weather conditions but also into 25 knot winds and 3 metre swells. They got to know the limits of launching balloons from a moving vessel, with lots of cranes and other sharp objects to avoid.

The team departed Hobart, Australia, going as far South as they could, right to the ice edge at 65oS. The ship sailed along the 145/146oE longitude apart from times when they had to change the course due to bad weather. Sunshine and calm waters are rare in the Southern Ocean and they experienced lots of cloud, fog and rough seas with wind gusts of up to 65 knots (about 110 km/h). Everyone has been told that the Southern Ocean is large and the fronts are ferocious but it is only when you spend 5 – 7 days crossing it, surrounded by it and being physically challenged to stay upright and even challenged to stay in bed at night, you realize how strong and intensive the Southern Ocean can be. They got to see amazing wild-life, the ice-edge and, when it wasn’t cloudy, they saw an amazing aurora in the unpolluted night sky. The trial voyage was a real success, not only for the testing of the ship’s operational systems but also for the testing of the state of the art aerosol monitoring instrumentation set up in the air chemistry lab. The dataset that has been collected on this voyage is just the beginning and will form the basis of important testing for chemistry climate models as we couple the biogeochemistry of the oceans to the atmosphere. For more information about the trail voyage visit: http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/national/investigator-passes-icy-test-with-first-voyage-to-antarctic-waters/story-fnjj6010-1227244601521