Mario Esposito , NOC , Friday, 29 June 2012
Well, what can I say? We are almost at the end of this unexpected (I was a last minute replacement), exciting, sometimes tiring but definitely worthwhile voyage. For me this cruise has been another great experience both from a scientific point of view and on a practical side of life.
Polar bears, seals, whales, the uncountable birds, the shiny sea-ice, the never setting sun and all the awesome people on board contributed to make the JR271 cruise an unforgettable expedition.
My task on board is to measure inorganic seawater nutrient concentrations (nitrate, phosphate and silicate). The general analytical method is based on colorimetric chemical reactions of nutrient with specific metals. The intensity of the colour of the solution is proportional to the concentration of the reacted nutrient. The concentration is determined by measuring the absorbance of light using a photometer.
So far I have measured more than a thousand samples collected from Niskin bottles, incubation experiments and from the non-toxic sea-water supply. It is interesting to see how nutrients vary with respect to the different water masses at shelf and ice edges and with regard to potential phytoplanktonic activity and composition. Samples to analyse are coming all the time and especially during the bioassay days the work has been quite intense. By now, I must be famous for my 20 minutes “power naps” and for the night “cheeky cheese sandwich”, two essential things that have helped me to stay awake and active most of the time.
We are now heading south, getting closer and closer to Iceland so close that just 30 minutes ago we even got radio 5 signal back. From the window of my lab I can see a very flat sea and a reasonably clear sky – in fact it was so flat and calm and today that we did the team photo for the cruise.