Friday 1 June – Ray Leakey (Chief Scientist)
At last! We are heading north on our expedition to the cold, icy waters of the Arctic.
We cast off from our quay at 15:48hrs and passed through the dock loch (picture 1) into a calm Humber estuary (picture 2), then east into North Sea leaving land far behind. It will be a five long weeks before we see the mainland UK again.
This is my fifth research cruise on the James Clark Ross (or the JCR for short) and my third as Chief Scientist, so I know her well. It has been a real pleasure to re-join the ship and meet officers and crew from past expeditions, including the captain, Graham Chapman, in whose safe hands we will travel.
On this expedition we will investigate the effects of ocean acidification on the small plants and animals which live in the surface waters of the ocean. It is the second of three UK-led cruises and our focus is on the Arctic as the organisms living in the cold polar oceans are particularly susceptible to the effects of acidification. This is an important area of environmental research and it will be exciting to see what we will discover in the weeks ahead. Our website and future blog posts will explain more about the science and why we are doing it.
For me the last few days have been more about organisation than science. Many tonnes of cargo have had to be loaded on ship, equipment has had to be set up in the ships laboratories and the fine details of the route north and our sampling stations decided. This is a very busy time and it is my job to see that everything goes smoothly to plan. This is lot easier said than done but fortunately we have an experienced team of scientists and crew on board so scientific gear is set up and ready to go (well almost!) in the ship’s labs and on deck.
Science at sea is as much about the people as it is about the research and over the next few weeks my colleagues on board will explain on our website what it is like to work at sea and convey some of the excitement of what we discover. I hope you will enjoy their accounts of what promises to be a memorable adventure north.