Jean Loock and Johan Viljoen, Stellenbosch University doctoral candidates currently onboard the S.A. Agulhas II, gave some insight on why the TracEx -group is so interested in studying the Southern Ocean during winter and the particular interest in the seasonal sea-ice.
“Phytoplankton are microorganisms that help regulate global climate through carbon dioxide uptake as they photosynthesise. To do this they require nutrients but in the remote oceans food is scarce, resulting in fierce competition and poor growth of these plankton. However, within the seasonal sea-ice that grows during winter and extends northwards from Antarctica, a thriving little community of microorganisms exist.
Our team is looking to analyze the snow layer on the ice, the ice itself and the water below the ice in an attempt to understand how these nutrients are concentrating within the ice. It may be that during the summer melting phase, these nutrients are expelled from the ice and provide the food required for large scale blooms of phytoplankton and thereby improved carbon dioxide uptake. These curious cases are crucial to improving our understanding of the climate system in a changing environment”.
Follow the TracEx Group on Facebook and Twitter.
TracEx team member Johan Viljoen busy subsampling water from a Niskin CTD sampling bottle to filter for phytoplankton cells to create a depth profile of how the phytoplankton changes with depth in the winter Southern Ocean. Photo Credit: Dr Susanne Fietz.
The trace metal sampling bottles (GoFlo Bottles) and trace clean rosette being launched by the very skillfull SA Agulhas II crew for water sampling up to 4000m. Photo Credit: Johan Viljoen.
The UCT ice team busy preparing to drill ice cores from more consolidated pancake ice. The drilling is done for the multiple teams onboard. Credit: Jean Loock.
TracEx onboard team leader, Dr Susanne Fietz, on site at coring of pancake ice to ensure trace clean coring as far as possible. Very skillfully done by UCT students, Benjamin Hall and Riesna Audh. Photo Credit: Johan Viljoen.
Preparing the Mini Geotraces CTD Rosette before the cruise:
On the day of the first launch, during the #SCALExperiment #WinterCruise2019 .
Team TracEx getting ready to deploy their new mini CTD rosette in ice conditions to collect water samples to study the trace metals in the water column below ice. Photo Credit: Johan Viljoen.
For more information on #SCALExperiment #WinterCruise2019 – click here.
Anché Louw, Antarctic Legacy of South Africa, 01 August 2019
All onboard the vessel has gone thorough customs.
The tugboat has just arrived alongside the vessel, to assist her in shifting into East Pier where passengers will disembark.
Our Wave Gliders have arrived back from the Southern Ocean. Last Friday 5th April we picked up our second carbon Waveglider WG027 a few tens of metres from the breakwater in Granger Bay at the end of an exciting but problem free transit of 1500km from the Sub-Antarctic Zone (43oS 8oE)(Video). Its twin WG052 had completed its even longer transit of 2800km from the Polar Upwelling Zone (54oS OoE) 9 days earlier. Both units arrived in excellent shape in what was a first for us, bringing our gliders home with a ship pick-up. Both gliders completed 4-month long missions of which 10 weeks were sampling at their respective locations and 6 weeks transiting back to Cape Town.
VIDEO: WG052 waiting to be picked up off Granger Bay in a cold misty morning in Cape Town a couple of weeks ago after its 2800km epic from 54oS.
Bringing the gliders home under their own means opens the door towards the direction of reducing the dependency on ships and reduces the long-term costs of long-term observations. It is a significant technical challenge for the robots and the engineers. The biggest problems we encountered, apart from the vicious storms, were the very strong mesoscale jets west of the Agulhas retroflection area. Jets with flow speeds of over 2kn posed navigation challenges for the pilots but we also learned much from the experience and despite a few necessary deviations (Figure 1a,b) that probably added a week to the transit we got them home in really good shape (Figure 2).
Figure 1a: shows part of the route of the gliders from the Sub-Antarctic Zone (SAZ) to highlight how the transit routing had to be adapted to follow the mesoscale jets to the west of the Agulhas current retroflection area.
Figure 1b: shows the location of those jets SW of Cape Town.
Figure 2: Wave glider WG027 on its dolly after recovery last week and displaying a few goose barnacles as a memory of its 4-month in the Sub-Antarctic Zone.
The decision to bring them home was shaped by two main considerations: firstly, we wanted to avoid the expensive physical damage to the gliders that often happens with ship recovery, especially under the typically rough conditions in the Southern Ocean. As it turned out we made the right call especially for WG052 which would have been all but impossible to retrieve such were the conditions. Secondly, we wanted to evaluate if wave gliders can be combined to address mesoscale differences in the response of the ocean to synoptic scale atmospheric forcing.
As mentioned in earlier posts each of these gliders was paired with a buoyancy glider over the entire period of deployment at their respective long-term observational sites in the SAZ and the PUZ as part of two NRF-funded SOCCO SOSCEX-Storm projects. This pairing enabled us to simultaneously observe the air-sea fluxes of CO and the ocean physics dynamics that influence them in the upper 1000m of the ocean. This is necessary because it is not clear how important these ocean dynamics are in predicting the climate sensitivity of the carbon cycle in the Southern Ocean. This learning will be used to improve the Earth System Models used to predict regional and global climate change, particularly the South African CSIR-VrESM model being developed as a collaboration between SOCCO, Global Change Institute-Wits University and the MaRe Institute at UCT.
All the instruments were fully operational over the entire time and the initial look at the data suggests that we have excellent accuracy and precision. This was the first operational test for our newly developed VeGAS pCO2 units on both gliders and we will do a deep dive into the data later this week.
This science work would not have been possible without the expertise and dedication of our engineering partners at Sea Technology Services who run SA-RobOTIC and their student engineers.
– Dr. Pedro M. Scheel Monteiro & SOCCO & SA-RobOTIC team, 08 April 2019 (posted 16 April 2019)
Greetings from the M75 team to all our friends and families!
Where have the days gone?! March, our last full month alone on Marion, has flown by! For many of the field assistants, the work has slowed down substantially as the final tasks are being ticked off. For others, there is still quite a lot that needs to be squeezed into these final days. And, on the other hand, there are some (including the sealers) whose work has continued uninterrupted as is the case with base personnel who need to keep the ball rolling until we’ve boarded the ship home.
In between our duties however, the big clean-up has begun. All the huts have been tackled by the field assistants and back at base everyone is pitching in to make sure that everything is ready for take-over. Apart from the general base skivvy, we have all been busy packing up our own rooms too; as the total population of Marion explodes from 24 to over a hundred (with all the scientists and maintenance crew), we will soon be bunking with each other and the new M76 team while they find their feet.
Outside, island life goes on, oblivious to our bustling preparations. The wandering albatross which dot the landscape continue with their inredible life cycle and the fur-seal pups are venturing further and further from comfort as they grow at a rate. The winter leaves sap in the fading sunlight and the mountains are beginning to try on their winter coats.
We are sad to announce that this edition of The Wanderer (March 2019) will in all likelihood be our last. The next few weeks are undoubtedly going to be very chaotic and there will be little time to spare before we board the S.A. Agulhas II to go home. It has been a massive privilege to bring you these insights to our fantastic adventure in this paradise! We hope that you’ve enjoyed them as we have and that these newsletters can become part of M75’s legacy and serve to inspire future expeditions and explorers!
Authors: Elsa van Ginkel (Editor) and James Burns (Co-Editor), 75th Marion Island Overwintering Team, 16 April 2019 (received 13 April 2019)
Click here to view all the Marion Island newsletters available on the Antarctic Legacy of South Africa Archive.
Meet the Marion Island Overwintering team here.
See below some photos of the departure, more detail regarding the take-over to follow.
Most of the M76 team.
Oceans and Coasts Birders, Bruce Deyer and Leshia Visagie, with two of their overwinterers, Elena Reljic and Laurie Johnson.
Take-over personnel from Department of Environmental Affairs, University of Cape Town, Nelson Mandela University – awaiting the ship’s departure.
Take-over personnel (Scientific personnel) -Liezel Rudolph (University of the Free State) and David Hedding (University of South Africa)
Janine Schoombie (M76 Team member) and Danielle Steyn (The RockBox) who designed the artwork for all the M76 merchandise.
We met the helicopter crew of Ultimate Helicopters at SANAE IV, in January, now they’re on their way to Marion Island to fly cargo and passengers onto the island. L-R: Charlie Tait, Ria Olivier (ALSA), Jacobus Rautenbach.
Ria Olivier and Errol Julies (Department of Environmental Affairs)
Take-over scientist, Daniela Monsanto (University of Johannesburg, Supervised by Prof Bettine van Vuuren).
Three of the #Marion76 (#M76) team members looking excited for their overwintering expedition! L-R: Makabongwe Sigqala (Field Assistant), Alain Jacobs (Diesel Mechanic), Gerard Oppel (Senior Meteorological Technician).
Meet the M76 Team Leader
Meet the M76 Deputy Team Leader
Meet the M76 Science Team Leader
All photos and videos taken by Ria Olivier, Antarctic Legacy of South Africa.
Anché Louw, Antarctic Legacy of South Africa, 12 April 2019
Interested in the South African Research and Supply Vessel, the S.A. Agulhas II 2019 Voyage Schedule?
Welcome to Cape Town SANAE57 team, take-over personnel, Weddell Sea Expedition crew, Department of Public Works personnel and Nolitha Construction (responsible for the refurbishments of the SANAE IV base), the Ultimate Helicopter Crew and the S.A. Agulhas II’s Captain and Crew.
The 57th South African National Antarctic Expedition (SANAE) team has returned to Cape Town, after 15 months away from home (see photo below). This team had to stay a bit longer at SANAE IV than usual, due to the longer take-over in order to accommodate the Weddell Sea Expedition, that was incorporated in the 2018/2019 Antarctica Cruise.
S.A. Agulhas II arriving at the Port of Cape Town, 14 March 2019. Photo Credit: Heine Smith (Department of Public Works)
S.A. Agulhas II passing East Pier, Building 1 (Department of Environmental Affairs). Photo Credit: Errol Julies (DEA)
S.A. Agulhas II entering East Pier, Port of Cape Town. Photo Credit: Riana Snyman
L-R (Back): Stephanus Schoeman (RADAR Engineer), John Skelete (Diesel Mechanic), Bo Orton (Electrician), Will Jelbert (Doctor), Forster Mashele (VLF Engineer), Sabelo Biyela (Diesel Mechanic); (front) Hloni Rakoteli (Communications Engineer), Lux Tanyana (Base Engineer), Elias Seabi (Meteorological Technician) and Cobus van der Merwe (Neutron Engineer).
This Weddell Sea Expedition was funded by the The Flotilla Foundation and the S.A. Agulhas II chartered a team of scientists into the Weddell Sea, for extensive scientific exploration on and around the LarsenC ice shelf and the A68 Iceberg. Click here to meet the South Africans that was part of this expedition.
The Weddell Sea Expedition also involved the search for Sir Ernest Shackleton’s ship, the Endurance (click here for more information), but due to unfavourable weather conditions and the loss of the AUV (automated underwater vehicle) the search was ended where after the ship headed back to Penguin Bukta where overwintering members (S57) and take-over personnel of SANAE IV boarded the ship.
The welcoming ceremony was led by Mathibela Selepe (Department of Environmental Affairs, Chief Engineer: Telecommunications and Instrumentation) and welcoming speech delivered by Mbulelo Dopolo (Department of Environmental Affairs, Branch: Oceans and Coasts, Director: Earth Systems Strategies).
Anché Louw, Antarctic Legacy of South Africa, 15 March 2019
SOSCEX-Storm II Experiment Wave Gliders heading to Cape Town from the Antarctic waters
Following up on the story of the our Liquid Robotics Wavegliders returning home to Cape Town from the Southern Ocean (click here) we have now completed the first half of the journey. Waveglider WG052 will arrive at its intermediate waypoint 43°S 9°E on Saturday 2nd March. It has completed the first 1200km of its journey in 17 days at an average of 70km per day during which it sailed through 3 storms and crossed both the Polar and Sub-Antarctic fronts (see photo below).
On Sunday 3rd March WG052 will meet up with its twin WG027 that has been making its own CO2 and physics measurements at our long term observation station SAZ-1 since early December 2018. They will return together in the second 1200km stretch of sub-polar and sub-tropical waters but separated by about 50 – 100km to test some ideas about the correlations length scales for pCO2. Both units continue to provide almost real time observations of ocean physics and CO2. You will see from the attached pic (earth.nullschool.net), which is derived from almost real time satellite observations-based surface ocean circulation product OSCAR of the mesoscale features around the south of Africa, that we are aiming to use one of these “jets” to propel both gliders towards Cape Town across the turbulent cauldron west of the Agulhas current retroflection. It shows very nicely how the ocean is not made up of large homogeneous currents but a series of high speed jets and eddies. We are exploring how the interaction of storms with these features influence the seasonal variability and ultimately the climate sensitivity of the air – sea fluxes of CO2 in the Southern Ocean.
– Dr. Pedro M. Scheel Monteiro & SOCCO & SA-RobOTIC team, 01 March 2019 (posted 06 March 2019)
Sea Ice Observations currently conducted onboard the S.A. Agulhas II by Stellenbosch University and University of Cape Town.
As the S.A. Agulhas II is currently returning from the Weddell Sea Expedition and the SANAE IV take-over voyage (current position about S 61°12′ E 000°00′), scientist onboard the vessel are still hard at work…
Check out this video and learn more…
Click here to see who is onboard, returning form the Weddell Sea Expedition 2019.
Want to see more video’s? Go to Facebook (click here).
Anché Louw, Antarctic Legacy of South Africa, 01 March 2019
Click on the video video to meet Thapi. She is the meteorological observer of the South African Weather Service (SAWS), currently in the Southern Ocean on-board the S.A. Agulhas II.
Check out how she releases a weather balloon and what data is gained from this operation.
Anché Louw, Antarctic Legacy of South Africa, 20 February 2019
Call for student and lecturer applications
Applications are now open for LECTURER and STUDENT participation on the 2019 SEAmester-South Africa’ Class Afloat Programme.
The Department of Science and Technology requires platforms to “attract young researchers to the region and retain them by exciting their interest in aspects of global change”. SEAmester introduces marine science as an applied and cross-disciplinary field to students. Its long‐term vision is aimed at building capacity within the marine sciences by co‐ordinating cross‐disciplinary research projects through a highly innovative programme. The strength of SEAmester is that postgraduate students combine theoretical classroom learning with the application of this knowledge through ship-based and hands-on research. The state‐of‐the‐art research vessel, S.A. Agulhas II, provides the ideal teaching and research platform for SEAmester; its size, comfort and shipboard facilities allow large groups of students and lecturers to productively interact over a period of 10 days. The 2019 SEAmester Voyage will team up with SAEON’s ASCA (Agulhas System Climate Array) scientific programme on a 10 day voyage extending across the Agulhas Current.
The tentative dates for SEAmester IV are 1-11 July 2019. Please find enclosed application forms for either LECTURER or STUDENT participation as well as a brief description on SEAmester. For further information please refer to www.SEAmester.co.za or contact Prof Isabelle Ansorge on Isabelle.Ansorge@uct.ac.za
DEADLINE FOR APPLICATIONS : 5 APRIL 2019
– SAEON’s ASCA (Agulhas System Climate Array) scientific programme
Completing an MSc or PhD within the South African National Antarctic Programme can be something out of the ordinary.
Are you interested in the sub-Antarctic, Antarctic or the Southern Ocean?
Keep an eye out for related postgrad positions here.
Anché Louw, Antarctic Legacy of South Africa, Department of Botany and Zoology, Stellenbosch University, 22 October 2018
This mini-seminar is organised by Annie Bekker, Associate Professor in the Department of Mechanical and Mechatronic Engineering, Stellenbosch University and director of the Sound and Vibration Research Group.
In collaboration with Aalto University in Finland, this group has been in full-scale measurements on the S.A. Agulhas II since 2012. This work has culminated in the development of a unique multi-sensor measurement system to research the rigid body motion, vibration and environmental conditions on the S.A. Agulhas II.
However, the future does not call for data, but for insight.
As such this mini-seminar seeks to communicate research results and involve stakeholders in a collaborative brainstorm activity to direct and focus our efforts in future. We will explore…
- How real-time engineering information on the bridge can aid operational decisions on the ship to increase safely and operational efficiency.
- How digital visualizations of data and vessel infrastructure can be used to develop training material in Maritime Engineering Programmes as well as Virtual Museum Exhibitions?
- How a consolidated database of real-time ship data can facilitate science on the A. Agulhas II. Examples include the availability of vessel motion data for the de-contamination of ship-based camera footage or wave slamming predictions to assess the feasibility of launching CTD from the environmental hatch.
- How can the continuous monitoring and analysis of real-time measurements contribute to the design of ice-going ships and attract participation of the international digital ship economy?
Selected stakeholders, collaborators and officials are invited to participate in this mini-seminar with the aim to stimulate inter-disciplinary, practical discussions towards the exploitation of science on the S.A. Agulhas II to impact the South African blue economy and polar science.
For further enquiries please contact Dr Annie Bekker (firstname.lastname@example.org).
This event will be covered in social media by Antarctic Legacy of South Africa (Twitter, Facebook and Instagram).
Authors: Dr Annie Bekker (Department of Mechanical and Mechatronic Engineering, Stellenbosch University) and Anche Louw (Antarctic Legacy of South Africa), 20 September 2018
Click here for more information.
Gough 63 returning after a year on Gough Island.
Click on the event for more details…
S.A. Agulhas II Mini-seminar