Exploring the ocean space

Any Star Trek fans out there? Visiting the bridge of FS Polarstern feels a bit like starship enterprise. Thousands of buttons, little lamps and the captain seat, overlooking the endless ocean, reminded me of the SciFi adventures. To hang onto this feeling, the students and I went out on deck and scanned the environment with our tricorders. Who...

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From the deep

Luckily scientists do not ever fully grow up - our perfect excuse to colour plastic penguins the sizeof a coffee mug and let colleagues drown them in the deep sea. After they had been at the bottomof the ocean at 3775 m depth at the equator, they returned as miniature versions. The waterpressure compressed the styrofoam so that the penguins shrunk...

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Passing the Intertropical Convergence Zone

You picture the Intertropical Convergence Zone with scenes of striking lightening and rolling seas? We have seen some lightning in a convective system far away from the ship after a beautiful sunset last night. Today we occasionally spot deep convection, but it is hard to identify individual towers like depicted in textbooks. We certainly have...

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Stars for Christmas

Just after midnight, a fine net was lowered to 200 m into the ocean. The harvest was just enough to fill a small jar. We stared at it with fascination and spotted thousands of tiny plankton rushing through the glass. A glance with a microscope revealed their diverse shapes and behaviour. Some were busy with their mid-night snack, others were...

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How to cool in the tropics

As we approach the ITCZ, it is getting hot and humid. It is hard to stay in the sun to take measurements with the sun photometer. Also the imager struggles with the heat and is running hot. Usually this means a shut down of the instrument, but we would not want to miss the cloud scenes in the ITCZ. So I built an improvised ice pack and cooled the...

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Desert dust ahead

Offshore of West Africa, my colleagues have interrupted their aerosol measurements for maintenance. The thin filters are made of different materials and porosity to catch aerosol particles of various sizes and chemical compositions.

Exchanging them is hard work in the heat for several hours every few days. Back in the lab, the work continues with...

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Spread your wings and fly

We are getting close to Cape Verde - typically a good place to observe dust aerosol in this season, but the clouds still prevented us from measuring it with the ship-based and the co-located space-borne Lidar tonight. Every now and then, small parts of the atmosphere clear up, teasing us with the fact that the ship is not exactly in the right spot...

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Bad for one is great for the other

The classical text book picture of sunshine and scattered clouds at a latitude of 21 degrees North does certainly not apply today. A cyclonic disturbance cause upward motion and condensation of the humid air surrounding us. As consequence we observe an overcast sky with occasional drizzle - better to close the door and stay inside. This weather is...

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Good morning sunrise

Sneaking out when most people are still asleep gave me this beautiful sunrise over the Sahara. Thanks to the aerosol, the sky was coloured in various shades of red and yellow. This was an impressive and calm way to start the day on the ship, before we got excited about Lidar Arielle showing us evidence of desert dust in the Saharan air layer at...

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Short stop in Gran Canaria

While having breakfast, the ship entered the harbour of Las Palmas. We said goodbye to roughly 15 colleagues, welcomed two new teachers in our module, and quickly bought more acrylics to jointly paint on a 10m-long canvas. We now set course for Cape Town and reach the scientifically most interesting regions. The oceanographers are most excited...

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This is MPI-M´s ship blog. Employees repeatedly travel aboard different research vessels to perform aerosol measurements. Here, they will share their experiences and let you have a glimpse of life aboard.


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Dr. Annette Kirk
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