Arrival at Station Papa

Current Location: 50° N, 145° W (!)

We arrived at Station Papa in the early hours of this final day of 2014. Today was spent putting out the replacement wave buoy, which is more complicated than you might think. Many of the components of the mooring are heavy, particularly the 3000 lb anchor. Meanwhile, the buoy itself is somewhat fragile and definitely not cheap. It becomes a sort of puzzle to get everything off the ship without putting the instrument or any of the crew in danger. Hopefully the photos below give you an idea of the deployment operations.

Even though my research doesn’t make use of this particular buoy data, I am proud to be part of the operation to maintain our presence at Station Papa. Long-term and open ocean wave measurements of this sort are very rare, but in high demand. Consider just how much of our vast oceans is not nearby to any coastline, yet there are hundreds of well-maintained wave buoys in coastal areas. That all makes sense from a practical perspective — coasts are where the people are — but scientifically it leaves much to be desired. That’s where our buoy comes in. The data is all available to the public, even to you (if I could access the internet I would put the link here). And for wave forecasters, climate modelers, researchers using satellites, basically anyone looking for measurements of waves to compare with, our data is a truly valuable resource.

Tomorrow we pick up the two-year-old buoy, likely covered in barnacles, and drop another moored instrument as a favor to some collaborators at NOAA. There’s no alcohol allowed on the ship, but a milk-and-cookie toast would be more fitting anyway given the amount we’re all getting fed here (more on that another time). Until then, so long 2014, hello 2015!

– Mike

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