Where are we now?

12 March 2010 

Patrick reports that the ship he's on near Antarctica has a luxurious improvement over similar voyages just a few years ago: four different television channels! The ship used to get only one. Patrick assures us that he is spending most of his time taking ozone data.

2 March 2010 

Patrick has just embarked on a research cruise with the ozone analyzer. The ship departs today from South Africa, will travel close to 60 degrees south near Antarctica, then head straight north to Ghana. Patrick will be taking ozone flux measurements the whole way. He left for this cruise the day after his comprehesive examinations--no stress there! We'll hear more from him as the ship gets a ways out to sea.

January 2010 

Graduate student Patrick Boylan will be taking the ozone analyzer to the Southern Atlantic Ocean in the spring.  Patrick is studying Chemical Oceanography for his doctorate through CU-Boulder's Atmospheric and
Oceanic Sciences department. He will gather data on the cruise, then compare it to data from past cruises. Along with some lab tests, this will end up being his dissertation.

Summer 2009 

A new grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is enabling us to continue this line of our work. It is enough to take the ozone analyzer on some additional cruises and do some more lab tests. More soon...

October 2008 

Our project is wrapping up after three years at sea and in the lab. We are pleased that we have been able to develop new techniques for measuring ozone fluxes over the ocean, capturing information that was not possible to observe before. The sensitivity of the ozone analyzer is quite good: we have been routinely achieving about 60,000 counts per second of ambient ozone levels. This rate allows us to measure very small ozone fluxes.

We will continue to write up our results in journal articles and to use our data to refine global climate models. We are also looking forward to using our new capability to understand more about ozone fluxes over the ocean in future experiments. We have several avenues of research that we would like to pursue, and we are writing a proposal to the National Science Foundation now that, if funded, will take us the next few steps.

Thanks for riding along with us on our cruises and looking over our shoulders in the lab.

September 2008 

Laurens presented a poster about this project at the International Global Atmospheric Chemistry (IGAC) conference in Annecy, France. The entire team had a hand in making the poster, which summarized the data we obtained from each of our five cruises with the ozone analyzer. The IGAC conference is an activity of the International Geosphere Biosphere Programme (IGBP), an international science research effort. The meeting was chock-full of atmospheric chemists trading information and scientific data.

Summer 2008 

We have now completed five cruises on the Ron Brown over the last three years, refining our techniques for measuring the ocean's role in regulating energy and gas exchange with the atmosphere. The ozone analyzer, just an idea and some tangles of wires a few years ago, is now a functioning and proven instrument that can help us understand the uptake of ozone by the world's oceans.

April 2008 

Ludovic is back at last from the GasEx cruise, after a final week in which storms sent waves that reached the height of the bridge. In Colorado, far from the ocean, he is starting to process some of the copious data they collected.

20 March 2008 

Ludovic is on week three of the GasEX cruise and is blogging away. Want to know what a day aboard ship is like? Or what it feels like to use a rowing machine while underway? Read to find out...

12 March 2008 

The results are in: Don won two special awards at his high school science fair with the ozone project he designed and carried out. The first was from the U.S. Navy Office of Naval Research, and the second was from the Zone 7 Water Agency for "Best Senior Individual Project Related to Water." He also received a second place award for the Tri-Valley Science and Engineering Fair. Don sent us a few photos from the day of the fair (see them in the right-hand column).

Congratulations, Don. We are sure we'll be seeing you again, as you discover new things about water and the atmosphere.

10 March 2008 

Detlev just spoke about the Ozone and the Oceans project to researchers and students at INSTAAR as part of a lunchtime talk series. Last week he described the research to graduate students as part of a course here at the University of Colorado. Scientists spend almost as much time communicating about their research as they do conducting it--writing articles, giving talks at conferences or public lectures, and teaching classes.

5 March 2008 

Don, the intrepid high school freshman who began a science fair project on ozone a few months ago, is finished with his experiment. Detlev introduced him to ozone experts Ron Cohen and Julie Fry from the Berkeley Atmospheric Science Center. They have been loaning Don some equipment and helping him refine his project so that it will produce good results. The science fair judging is today--good luck Don!

4 March 2008 - blog from Southern Ocean  

Ludovic has started his blog from the Southern Ocean GasEx III cruise on the Ron Brown. He's a few days out of the windy city of Punta Arenas, Chile. Check out the blog for interesting updates, maps of the cruise track, and photos of Ludovic clambering up and down masts!

February 2008 

Ludovic is packing right now for a trip to Chile. The Ron Brown is about to start another voyage with the ozone analyzer on board, and Ludovic is going along to take data and keep the machines running properly. Soon he and the rest of the ship's crew will be far out on the Southern Ocean.

January 2008 

Kathrin will share her work on this project with fellow INSTAAR grad students tomorrow afternoon. Her talk is part of the graduate student seminar series, which gives students a chance to share their research and practice speaking. Most scientists give at many talks a year at conferences, in the classroom, and during public lectures, so it is important to communicate well.

Kathrin will introduce the eddy covariance technique developed for this project and present the data and results from the GOMECC cruise (Galveston, TX to Boston, MA) this past summer in July and August.

December 2007 

Don, a high school freshman from California, emailed our team about his science fair project for his advanced biology class. He is thinking of conducting an experiment on the effect of marine phytoplankton on ozone levels. He asked our team for suggestions on how to make his experiment safe, soundly designed, and scientifically interesting. Because ozone is a toxic gas, people have to be especially careful working with it. Detlev has been talking back and forth with Don and will visit him when he goes to California for a conference this month.

November 2007 

The ozone analyzer was just loaded back on the Ron Brown, now docked in San Diego. It is waiting for the next cruise, which will start in March and take place in the southern Pacific Ocean. Ludovic is going to be on board to monitor the instrument and data.

August 2007 

Kathrin emails from the ship that things look good. No cruise goes perfectly, and she had to deal with a power outage on the second day and a lightning storm one night. But Kathrin fixed the problems, and the team should have almost three solid weeks of good-quality data from this cruise. The ship will dock in Boston Aug. 4.

July 2007 

Kathrin is tending the ozone analyzer on the GOMECC cruise, headed north from the Gulf of Mexico up the eastern seaboard. As well as keeping the instrument running, she is performing some calibration tests that test just how well the instrument is measuring.

May 2007 

We've just scheduled our next two cruises, so that we can try out the ozone analyzer in new places. The GOMECC cruise, in July, will travel up the east coast of the United States, from Galveston, Texas on the Gulf of Mexico to Boston, Massachusetts. A few months later the GASEX cruise will take us to the southern Pacific Ocean off the coast of Chile. Time to go to sea again!

April 2007 

Our team just met with many of the other scientists who collected data during our first cruise (TexasAQ2: see our posting for August 2006). All the scientists on the ship were working on different projects about air pollution over the Gulf of Mexico, off the coast of Texas. That ship was covered with instruments! Now all the science teams are working with their data, getting the first indications of whether their hypotheses worked out as expected. Our meeting was a way for all the scientists to share their preliminary results, trade information, and see how our data might work together.

March 2007 

Running the ozone analyzer during cruises may be the most dramatic part of our project. But once the cruises are over, the important work begins: to analyze all the data we took and understand the patterns we see in it. The ozone analyzer took a measurement several times per minute--that is a lot of numbers! One important job we have is to figure out the time periods during which we have good data, and those during which we don't. For instance, at times when the wind was coming over the stern (back) of the ship, the exhaust from the ship's engines interfered with our measurements of ozone in the atmosphere. So we have to set aside all the data from when the wind was behind us. Right now we are looking at all the data, comparing it with data from other instruments that were working at the same time, and making sure that all the data we will use for our analysis are measuring the right things.

November 2006 

The team is back together in Boulder, Colorado after our latest cruise. We are putting together the data from our two cruises so far: the first in the Gulf of Mexico and the second in the southern Pacific Ocean. We tried out some improvements to the instrument during this last cruise, which seem to be working out well. One change was adding a new sampling line - a clear hose - from the intake to the instrument. The new line has a filter two-thirds of the way back to the instrument, instead of right by the intake. That means that when we need to look at or clean the filter, we don't have to climb up several stories of metal mast to get to it. It's a lot more convenient, and the ship's crew won't let us up the mast in bad weather anyway - too easy to slip overboard. We still ran air through the old sampling line once in awhile to make sure we were getting the same results with the new line.

Another change is a new, heavy-duty laptop computer running the instrument. The old computer was a standard PC with a fan, and moist sea air got blown through the instrument. Computers don't like moisture, and it caused some problems collecting data. The new laptop is a fanless design, so it's much happier at sea.

October 2006 

We are at sea again! We're 1000 kilometers (620 miles) off the western coast of South America as part of the Stratus '06 cruise. During our first cruise in August, we were part of the larger research effort of TexAQ2. The Stratus cruise works in a similar way; many teams of scientists are running experiments from the ship. This time the common theme is clouds, weather, and air-sea fluxes. The ship started from Panama on October 1 and we're now at a stationary buoy at 20 S, 85 W.

The buoy monitors the climate around it and is maintained by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute (WHOI). Each year, WHOI staff make a trip to retrieve the old buoy and replace it with a new one with fresh batteries and new sensors. (A year in the ocean, with its salt-water environment and storms, takes a toll on even the toughest instruments.) As many scientists as possible cram on board, taking advantage of the opportunity to measure and observe regional air-ocean dynamics and air-sea fluxes. That way the scientists can share the cost of running the ship, and many more research projects can get done.

We are looking forward to getting some ozone analyzer data from here in the eastern Pacific to add to our data from the Gulf of Mexico. The two places have very different climates, and we expect to see those differences in our data.

September 2006 

Jacques and Ludovic just took off for Charleston, South Carolina, where they are tinkering with the ozone analyzer. Charleston is the home port of the Ron Brown, where the ship goes between research cruises to the Atlantic, Pacific, or Indian Oceans. The ozone analyzer will stay on board through the Ron Brown's next cruise through an area in the South Pacific.

August 2006 

We are at sea in the Gulf of Mexico, off the coast of Texas, using the ozone analyzer on its first cruise. The ozone analyzer seems to be performing well.

First Jacques and Ludovic installed the ozone analyzer on the deck of the ship. The analyzer is housed in a box of sturdy gray plastic. Insulation wasn't keeping the instrument cool enough to give us good data, so we finally put a portable air conditioning unit in the side of the box. That seemed to work. After the instrument was installed, we ran clear hoses up from the analyzer to a bundle of instruments forward on the ship, on a large mast. The clear hoses bring air samples down to the analyzer. It took us a long time to install everything properly - by the end the sun had gone down and things were looking a little dark. But we got it all together.

Jacques returned to Colorado, but Ludovic remained on board during the cruise to take data and make sure everything worked okay. He took the picture of the ozone analyzer working away at sea.

Ludovic certainly wasn't the only scientist on board the Ron Brown. Thirty others were working on their own projects, covering everything you can imagine that has to do with air quality: where pollution moves through the air, how emissions transform into different chemicals over time, where air pollution comes from, and many more.

June 2006 

Testing, testing, testing! The ozone analyzer is much improved and now resembles a real instrument instead of a tangle of wires and chambers hooked up to a PC. Jacques is testing it outside on Table Mountain, near Golden, Colorado, to make sure it takes appropriately precise measurements. The ozone analyzer is sheltered under sheets of a silver-colored material to keep it as cool as possible.

February 2006 

Our first cruise is scheduled for June on the Ron Brown. We'll be participating in the Texas Air Quality Field Study II (TexAQ2).

October 2005 

We're still working on the ozone analyzer, trying to reduce the amount of "noise" we get in the readings. Noise in this case means electrical activity that interferes with our measurements by acting the same way as the thing we're trying to measure! We are looking at such tiny amounts of ozone that we need the measurements to be very precise. Heat interferes with good measurements, so we're keeping the chamber that holds the gases very cold. But not cold enough, apparently. The team is thinking of ways to keep the chamber colder, perhaps by insulating it differently.

September 2005 

A poster exhibit about the Ozone and the Oceans project is up in the Discovery Science Center in Fort Collins, Colorado, a hands-on science and technology center where kids can generate electricity, blow through a dinosaur trumpet, and learn all kinds of things about the natural world. Shelly Sommer, the INSTAAR librarian who is handling outreach for this project, had a great time choosing a place for the posters in cooperation with the science center's staff. We hope the posters will reach many people there, since the Discovery Science Center draws 35,000 visitors per year. Most of these visitors are from towns and rural areas in northern Colorado and Wyoming. Download the 3-panel poster (PDF, 300k).

August 2005 

We are busy in the lab, working on the ozone analyzer. The prototype is finished, but we have some work to do to make sure that it will operate outside the lab. The open ocean is a tough place for instruments – the salt water, constant motion, and exposed positions are tough on equipment!

We’re also figuring out where we’ll be going on our sea voyages. The number of research vessels operating on the open sea is limited, and scientists have to apply for the places on them. We’ll be glad to have a confirmed plan. We want to traverse as many oceans and latitudes as possible during our voyages, to see how ozone fluxes are different from place to place.

All of our voyages will be on the Ron Brown, a ship run by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The ship houses six officers, 20 crew members, and up to 33 scientists at any one time.

Summer 2008: Tracks of the five cruises wetook aboard the Ron Brown to refine and test the ozone analyzer and our techniques for measuring ozone fluxes over the world's oceans.



March 2008: Ludovic climbs the mast of the Ron Brown during setup of the ozone analyzer in Punta Arenas, Chile, before the start of the GasEx III cruise.



Don at the science fair - March 2008

Water samples for Don's science fair experiment. At the Bay Area science fair where Don exhibited his ozone flux experiment: samples of water from the ocean and a local creek, and a control sample of distilled water.

Don with his science fair experiment. Don inspects his results as the experiment is running.

Don's ozone experiment - the water tank and bubbler. Ozone bubbles through one of the water samples in Don's glass tank. There were significant differences between the ozone flux observed in creek water, ocean water, and the control water sample.

The Ron Brown docked in Galveston, Texas before the start of the GOMECC cruise. The ozone instrument is mounted on the mast at the bow of the ship.


This map shows the route of the GOMECC cruise from Galveston, Texas, around Florida, and north up the eastern coast of the United States to Boston. The cruise took place over four weeks in July and August, 2007.

Jacques and Ludovic setting up the ozone analyzer on the Ron Brown in August 2006. The analyzer is in the gray box between them.

The ozone analyzer at work while the ship is underway. The ozone analyzer is in the large gray box resting on a pallet on deck.Clear hoses stretch from the box to the top of the instrument mast in the right of the picture. The hoses bring air samples to the analyzer. The air intake is mounted on the mast, about 60 feet above the surface of the water.

The ozone analyzer on Table Mountain, Colorado, during a test in June 2006. The silver sheets helped keep the instrument cool on a series of 90-degree days.

Jacques Huber is a professional scientist working at INSTAAR, the University of Colorado, Boulder. He is building the first version of the ozone analyzer in the lab. Right now it looks like tangles of wires attached to circuit boards and a laptop computer. The team will package the instrument and add a cover before they take it to sea.

This 3-panel poster is being exhibited at the Discovery Science Center in Fort Collins, Colorado. Each panel is 4 feet wide. Download an 8.5 x 11 inch version of the poster (PDF, 300k)