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[OOI in the News] During a Pandemic, Is Oceangoing Research Safe?

Dr. Jonathan Fram, project manager for the Endurance Array, is quoted in this Eos article about the potential implications of the cancellation of the spring cruise to recover and redeploy equipment at the Endurance Array:

With research cruises postponed, scientists are trying to get home safe, and others worry about the fate of their instruments left at sea.

By Jessica Duncombe
Oceanographer Rainer Lohmann from the University of Rhode Island was on a research cruise near Barbados when the coronavirus spread rapidly into a pandemic.“When we left, everything was normal,” Lohmann said, speaking by phone while his ship, the R/V Endeavor, waited to dock in the city of Praia in Cape Verde on 17 March. “Now what we’re hearing and seeing is that we’re coming back to a country where we have to fight for toilet paper, where there are no hand sanitizers left, and you can’t go out to restaurants.”The Endeavor left the Caribbean island of Barbados in late February and set off toward Cape Verde near West Africa, collecting sediment cores as it went. Lohmann and his team were investigating whether ocean sediments thousands of meters below the surface contained traces of atmospheric black carbon. After traversing much of the Atlantic Ocean, they had all the samples they needed and planned to fly home via Europe in mid-March.But they faced a problem: The United States had just imposed strict travel restrictions through Europe. They needed a new way home.

Past Plans Scrapped…

Scientists around the world are scrambling to adjust to a rapidly changing environment. Researchers are shuttering their labs, switching to remote observing on telescopes, and learning to present their work virtually.