There are quite a few graduate students aboard the Langseth but that isn’t anything out of the ordinary. What is a little unusual is that we’re all women, which is remarkable given the demographics of our field. Read on to find out why we’re proud to be making waves in the South Pacific and in the scientific community at large!
Future El Niño
Team: Co-led by Lamont climate scientist Pratigya Polissar, Lamont graduate student Allison Jacobel
Purpose: Climate Research
Start Date: May 1, 2012
The El Niño weather pattern in the tropical Pacific influences weather across the planet. As the planet warms, it is unclear if El Niño will grow stronger, bringing more extreme floods and droughts to some regions, or if El Niño will slacken, creating more uniform weather. Scientists aboard the Lamont-Doherty ship, R/V Langseth, will sample ancient sediments from the central Pacific Ocean to see how El Niño and climate varied in the past, and how they may change again in the future.
We have been steaming and searching for locations on the seafloor where the sediments are accumulating undisturbed. We tried without luck to take cores at several promising locations, however the cores came up less than perfect. On our thirteenth core attempt of the cruise we got lucky.
Sunday night after successfully recovering a gravity core about 42 miles north of the equator, conditions were right for a rare treat – the green flash.
Yesterday we left our first study region with new samples from the seafloor and a healthy respect for the ocean currents that can erode sediment deep in the ocean. The seafloor we surveyed was heavily eroded and we had to look carefully before finding sites that were promising enough to try sampling. Even then we ran into difficulties getting the sediments back to the ship.
Alice stepped through the mirror to see the world beyond, and we peer through the bottom of the ocean to see what is below. Short pulses of sound from the ship are focused on the seafloor, and we listen to the echo and reverberations that return.