Two OOI Expeditions in Two Oceans

11th Recovery and Deployment of Global Station Papa and Irminger Sea Arrays

Two OOI Global Scale and Nodes (CGSN) teams are working simultaneously, but in different waters on opposite sides of the United States during June. The first CGSN team left Seward, Alaska aboard the R/V Sikuliaq on May 29 for a 17-day expedition to recover and re-deploy the Global Station Papa Array in the Gulf of Alaska. On June 2, a second CGSN team will depart from Woods Hole, MA to travel to the Irminger Sea Array aboard the R/V Neil Armstrong for a month-long expedition to recover and re-deploy this array.

The expeditions share similarities and differences.  Both arrays are in remote locations.  The Station Papa team has a 2.5-day transit to the array site in the Gulf of Alaska, while the Irminger Sea team has a longer transit of eight days to the array site.  Once onsite, the teams will get to work quickly to deploy the replacement moorings to allow for overlapping measurements before recovering the moorings currently in place.  This is the 11th time that each array has been turned – that is, existing ocean observing equipment at the sites will be recovered and replacement equipment will be deployed in their place. Such “turns” are needed to address biofouling of sensors, depletion of batteries, and wear and tear on equipment that has been battered by wind, waves, and weather for a year.

This is what one year in the ocean looks like: a Global Station Papa flanking mooring 64” sphere with 12 months of marine growth. Marine growth can inhibit the operation of the mooring and instruments and is one of the reasons we need to recover and refurbish the OOI infrastructure on a regular basis. Credit: Rebecca Travis © WHOI.

The Global Station Papa Array is located in the Gulf of Alaska, about 620 nautical miles offshore in a critical region of the northeast Pacific with a productive fishery subject to ocean acidification, low eddy variability, and impacted by the Pacific Decadal Oscillation.  The Global Irminger Sea Array in the North Atlantic is located in a region with high wind and large surface waves, strong atmosphere-ocean exchanges of energy and gases, carbon dioxide sequestration, high biological productivity, and an important fishery. It is one of the few places on Earth with deep-water formation that feeds the large-scale thermohaline circulation.

“Because of their remote locations, both Station Papa and the Irminger arrays provide critical ocean data that scientists are using to better understand ocean circulation patterns and help identify changes in ocean conditions,” said Sheri N. White, Chief Scientist for the Irminger 11 expedition.  “These arrays are hard to get to and to maintain but the data they provide are invaluable.”

Expedition Activities

A team of 11 scientists and engineers aboard the R/V Sikuliaq departed from Seward on May 29 for a 17-day expedition. During their time at sea, they will recover and deploy three OOI subsurface moorings and two open ocean gliders. They also will recover and deploy a Waverider mooring for the University of Washington.  A POGO Fellowship awardee will be onboard to gain shipboard experience as part of OOI’s collaborative efforts to provide early career scientists opportunities to help increase their knowledge and advance careers. Other onboard activities will include water sampling at the deployment sites and collection of shipboard underway data.

The OOI CGSN science team will start operations at the Irminger Array by deploying two gliders. This allows the gliders to be monitored by the pilots onshore and ensure all systems are operational while the vessel is still onsite performing mooring operations. These gliders will operate autonomously at Irminger for ~12 months. Credit: John Lund © WHOI.

On the east coast, a second team of 15 scientists and engineers aboard the R/V Neil Armstrong will leave Woods Hole, Massachusetts on June 2 to begin their eight-day transit to the Irminger Sea.  Once onsite, the team will recover and deploy four OOI moorings, deploy two gliders, recover a third, and conduct water sampling at the deployment sites.  Underway shipboard data will also be collected throughout the voyage.  Four additional subsurface moorings will be “turned” for the Overturning in the Subpolar North Atlantic Project (OSNAP). Water and biogeochemical sampling will be conducted in support of both OSNAP and researchers from Boston College.  A marine mammal observer from NOAA will be onboard as a continuing collaboration between NOAA and OOI.

Added White, “When planning these expeditions, we do our best to maximize use of ship time by providing berths to researchers who could benefit from direct observation and data collection in these remote locations.  During the expedition to Irminger, for example, we will be joined by a graduate student and two undergraduate students from Boston College who will collect biogeochemical data, and experience what it is like to do science at sea.”

A bird’s eye view of a previous Irminger Sea Array expedition:

Daily reports will be filed from both expeditions.  Bookmark this site to follow along.