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Cruise Report: Setting Sail on the CCGS Amundsen

Posted by Kitty Kam on August 19, 2019 in News
Members of the Dalhousie University research team (left to right: Kitty Kam, Nina Golombek, Anna Olivia Melville, Lin Cheng, and Tor Kitching). Photo credit: Nina Golombek
Members of the Dalhousie University research team (left to right: Kitty Kam, Nina Golombek, Anna Olivia Melville, Lin Cheng, and Tor Kitching). Photo credit: Nina Golombek

Halifax, NS - St. Anthony, NFLD

June 4 - 23, 2019

From the 4th to the 23rd of June, 2019, CERC.OCEAN researchers Lin Cheng and Kitty Kam were onboard the CCGS Amundsen for a 19 day cruise across the Labrador Sea. This journey officially began the 109-day Arctic expedition of Amundsen Science and was dedicated to the annual expedition for Atlantic Zonal Off-Shelf Monitoring Program (AZOMP) run by scientists from the Bedford Institute of Oceanography (BIO). CERC.OCEAN PhD student Lorenza Raimondi previously participated in the same cruise in 2016.

Led by chief scientist, Dr. Igor Yashayaev, the science team was composed of 36 scientists and technicians from BIO, Dalhousie University, Amundsen Science, and other international institutions. Among them, five researchers from Dalhousie University were onboard. The CERC.OCEAN researchers investigated oxygen and carbon across the Scotian Shelf and Labrador Basin. Masters student Tor Kitching and undergraduate co-op student Anna Olivia Melville, from Dr. Julie LaRoche’s group, extracted DNA and protein samples from seawater to investigate the microbiome present in Labrador Sea. Additionally, PhD student Nina Golombek collected δ15N samples for Dr. Markus Kienast’s ongoing research project.

Science at Sea: Dissolved Oxygen

The CERC.OCEAN team was lucky to have the chemistry laboratory all to themselves. Our Winkler titration system and DIC-C13 system were brought onboard for dissolved oxygen and isotopic total carbon (DIC-C13) analysis, respectively. The BIO science team set up their Winkler titration system next to our lab. Replicates of oxygen samples were collected at each CTD station and analyzed on both Winkler systems. The goal of having two Winkler systems onboard was to compare the oxygen from the same sample bottles between groups. Calibration of oxygen sensors relies on Winkler oxygen measurements, and as such, the intercomparison may provide a representative baseline among the research groups. Previous comparison of the CERC.OCEAN Winkler system was also performed with GEOMAR on the MSM54 cruise (GEOMAR scientific cruise report; CERC.OCEAN cruise report). All oxygen samples were titrated onboard and our data was compared with BIO’s Winkler results, with the first glimpses of this comparison showing promising results.

Sampling at sea:

Due to an unforeseen mechanical issue, we had a short break while waiting for our departure which unfortunately resulted in the sampling schedule along the Scotian Shelf being shortened as a result of the delay. The journey began with a CTD station on Halifax Line followed by another CTD cast on the Laurentian Channel (between Cape Breton and Southwest Newfoundland). The vessel then headed up to the AR7W line through the Gulf of St Laurence. Eight days of sampling on the AR7W line began near the coast of Labrador and ended on the coast of Greenland. When the vessel neared Nunarsuit, Greenland, the dense fog on the sea slowly dissipated and we were very fortunate to see a clear view of the Greenland coast. On the return trip, the vessel veered off from the AR7W line to head north for additional CTD casts and ARGO float deployments.

CTD casts were done throughout the day and night so the CERC.OCEAN team collaborated with BIO scientists to divide the sampling workload. During the day, Lin and Kitty collected oxygen samples for both the Dalhousie and BIO teams as well as DIC-C13 samples, while the BIO scientists collected these samples throughout the night shift. On top of oxygen and DIC-C13, the CERC.OCEAN team also sampled Total Alkalinity, another carbonate chemistry parameter, and δ18O from a seawater sampling pipe every 3 to 6 hours.

Life at Sea from Kitty:

It was truly an unforgettable experience. I was very excited but also nervous to get on my first research cruise. Luckily the scientists and the crew onboard made the trip a lot easier for me. Science meetings were held daily to discuss the sampling strategies and primary results of the analysis. While working in a tight-spaced Rosette room, scientists and CTD technicians always maintained a cheerful atmosphere. Although the Labrador Sea was quite rough off the Labrador coast, it was as calm as a mirror for 4 days when the vessel reached Greenland. It was a surreal experience even for the senior scientists. The food was superb! After a long day of work, scientists and crew members liked to gather together in the crew lounge playing cards, participating in table soccer, dart and Mario Kart tournaments, and watching the satellite stream of the NHL and NBA playoff series.

Big thanks to the crews of CCGS Amundsen for a smooth sail, and BIO scientists and Amundsen Science who helped us with oxygen and DIC sampling. I would also like to extend my great appreciation to Dr. Kumiko Atsuzu-Scott, Dr. Douglas Wallace and Dr. Dariia Atamanchuk for providing this incredible opportunity to me.

Experiencing life onboard the CCGS Amundsen in motion picture

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