As Lisa wrote in the last post, since the experimental period started, the weather isn’t very nice… Actually it’s the 4th day of sampling and sun didn’t really shows up since…
- Thursday (1st day) wasn’t too bad (the rain arrived after the samplings);
- Friday the same type of weather but for the first 5am sampling of the experiment it was very cold;
- Saturday rain for the 8.30am sampling and wind for the 10.30 sampling;
- Today: rain started with the 5am sampling and still haven’t stopped. On top of this we have a nice swell entering the bay (very bad for mesocosms)… Not very easy to do our job in these conditions….
At 7am this morning when the light of the day arrived, what did we see on the montains behind Villefranche: snow!!
Sampling under the rain with snow in background…
Also very impressive weather events was on Thursday around 4pm during 2-3 hours rain and thunder storm settle in the bay… This give very nice pictures and hopefully we didn’t have sampling at this time of the day:
Can you see the mesocosms?? A bit hard.. (thursday afternoon storm).
It’s maybe time to explain how our days are made with. We have a 2 days cycle: Day 1 and Day 2.
On D1 & D2 there is the 8.30 am sampling for what we call ‘core parameters’: carbonate chemistry; pigments; nutrient; particulate organic carbon, phosphorus and nitrogen; … And the CTD (Conductivity Temperature Depth instrument) cast at 11am.
Than, on Day 1 there is, in addition of the normal sampling, the 10.30am for every two days parameters such as taxonomy and coccolithophores assemblages.
On D2, there is the 5am sampling for processes. In this we have all the nitrogen fixation realized by Plymouth Marine Laboratory (see Lisa post, Friday 22nd); microbial metabolism (OGS Italia); Viral Production (HCMR, Greece) and Primary Production (local team).
This is a little bit of organization (who is going when, prepare the boxes, put the right bottles into the boxes …) but in few days (if the weather get a little bit better) everything will run like clockwork!!
The Story so far:
In the Mediterranean Sea (not) far, far away………
It’s been 6 months since our intrepid scientists last visited the mesocosms. How will they cope with the change of location, the change in temperature & (more importantly) the change in sea temperature? There’s only one way to find out!!
Ok, joking aside, I’m sure that more than a few of us were a bit apprehensive about the change in sampling conditions; the last MedSeA mesocosm experiment took place in June/July last year in Corsica. The weather was mostly hot & sunny & most people sampled in shorts, tshirts & swimsuits with our feet dangling off the side of the cubis (our small floating sampling platforms). The water temperature was warm and comfortable and some even swam or kayaked to & fro.
Thus, a few of us greeted the news that these mesocosm experiments would be taking place in February with not a small amount of trepidation. What would be most practical to wear sampling? How could we still manipulate the integrated sampler & sampling bottles whilst still maintaining some feeling in our fingertips? Just how cold would pre-dawn sampling actually be?
Two days into the experiment, I can reveal that our fears were (mostly!) unfounded. After wrapping up warm & wearing either waterproof clothing or wetsuits it was as if we’d never been off the cubis.
Yes, it is cold, but it’s given us the chance to try various hot beverages from around Europe. So far we’ve had English Tea & Italian coffee, we look forward to Greek coffee tomorrow!
Now we can only hope that the air & water temperatures increase & bring on the start of the spring bloom – a period typically occurring in early spring where the abundance of phytoplankton increases significantly. The timing, size & length of a spring bloom can alter due to a variety of conditions such as nutrients & temperature, so it will be interesting to see the effect of ocean acidification. For me in particular it will be interesting to see the effects of the spring bloom under these conditions on various mechanisms within the nitrogen cycle – namely nitrogen fixation, nitrification & nitrate uptake.
In the meantime I’ll look forward to warming up with next hot beverage!