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24 September 2000 - In the Tropics

RRS James Clark Ross: Diary entry, 24 September 2000

Noon Position : 8° 42.8' N 18° 55.3'W
Distance travelled since Grimbsy: 2941 Nautical Miles
Air temperature @ noon: 28.4 degrees Celsius
Sea temperature @ noon: 27.7 degrees Celsius

The JCR heading south

IN THE TROPICS: As we head further South towards the Equator the heat is rising and we're very grateful to the engineers for the air conditioning. This week has seen a disruption to the science programme as we entered the Economic Exclusion Zone (EEZ) around the Cape Verde Islands. This prevents any science being performed within a 200 mile radius of land without permision from the appropriate authority. This meant that two of the 0430 regular early morning shifts were cancelled and all involved, scientists and crew alike, got a few extra hours sleep. It also allowed all those "not so scientific" jobs to be done.

Map showing route so far
Map showing route so far.

Wildlife has remained scanty apart from the flying fish which have a habit of landing on the ship's deck overnight. They haven't yet been spotted on the menu, although I have been informed they taste quite good. Whales have been sighted today but I'm afraid they are too elusive to be caught on camera.

Flying Fish collected by Don Bonner.

Saturday night saw the first dining "al fresco". Plenty of fun was had by all in the warm evening sun, with good food and a few cold beverages.

Dining "Al Fresco" Closer Inspection of activities.


If you thought we were missing out on all the sporting activities that the Olympics have to offer then you'd be wrong. We have been hosting our own sporting events onboard RRS James Clark Ross. Featured below is our golfing equivalent of the Open, and, for those with slightly less energy, a good oportunity to sit back and enjoy the entertainment. Note the golf ball is attached to rope, not elastic!

Anyone for golf ? Enthralled spectators



View from Malcolm Woodward (Principal Scientist)

We are now well into our second week of the cruise south to Montevideo. The transect south has continued with the two daily CTD stations, although the pre-dawn cast at 0430 is starting slowly to wear people down. The track of the ship has deliberately navigated us outside nearly all the EEZ’s, thus enabling the science to continue daily in international waters. The only exception was at the end of the week where we were between Senegal and the Cape Verde Islands, where it is impossible to avoid the coastal zones. So here we terminated the over-side science for 36 hours, giving time to repair and maintain all the analysers, and recharge our personal batteries.

The weather continues to be kind, with air temperatures in the low thirties, and during the 36-hour science break the sea surface temperature increased from 25.2 degrees C to 28.5 degrees C, and now has increased further to 29.4 degrees C. Also we continue with calm seas, with only slight to moderate winds mainly from the North and East, and generally only a gentle swell. Good conditions for the science.

Over the next couple weeks we shall give you some flavour of the science and the aims of the groups on board for the Atlantic Meridional Transect (AMT-11) cruise. This week we will start with the Spanish team with a piece written by Emilio Fernandez (University of Vigo).

The “Spanish team” scientific programme on AMT-11 as described by Emilio Fernandez, pictured below.


Although the participation of Spanish scientists on AMT cruises has been the rule rather than the exception, their presence on AMT-11 is numerically more significant than in the past. Seven investigators from three different Spanish research institutions (The universities of Vigo and Oviedo and the Spanish Oceanographic Institute) are currently collecting and analysing samples on board. The research programme, “Circulation of Carbon and Nitrogen in the Atlantic Ocean" (CIRCANA), is funded by the Spanish Ministry of Science and Technology and, obviously, has very close links with the groups from Plymouth Marine Laboratory and Southampton Oceanography Centre which lead and/or are involved in AMT.

The main goal of CIRCANA is to advance the understanding of the role of the biotic component of the ocean on those biogeochemical processes relevant in the context of global environmental change. Specifically, CIRCANA aims to quantify the fluxes of carbon and nitrogen in the upper layers of different regions of the Atlantic Ocean in order to assess the corresponding budgets, which will allow a more comprehensive understanding of the cycling processes.

If we represent the ocean as a hydraulic system (see diagram below), we would see reservoirs (boxes and circles in the diagram) that represent the different compartments of the pelagic marine environment and channels (arrows in the diagram) whereby matter is transferred between the reservoirs. We identify several chemical and biological compartments such as nutrients, photosynthetic organisms (phytoplankton) and consumers (zooplankton) and differentiate size classes within the compartments. The functioning of whole system ultimately relies on the input of Solar energy.

Every day, the masses of the compartments shown in the diagram as well as the fluxes between them are being concurrently determined. By the end of the study, diagrams will be constructed for every region of the Atlantic. This study will ultimately contribute to a more profound understanding of the functioning of the upper layers of the ocean, a primary step needed for the development of predictive models of the role of marine biota in global change.



Chief Cook, RRS Ernest Shackleton

The sad loss of Del occurred on 20 September 2000. Del will be sadly missed by all who had the pleasure of sailing with him. He was a good shipmate and is fondly remembered

From all that knew him on RRS James Clark Ross

Weekly diary entries