In response to a recent decline in requests for UNOLS facilities, two separate Chief Scientist Training Cruises are proposed on an Intermediate General Purpose Research Vessel to serve as forums for teaching early career marine scientists how to effectively plan for, acquire, utilize and report on time at sea for multi-disciplinary research and educational activities. The intellectual merit of this program will develop from opportunities given to new investigators to test compelling research ideas, work collaboratively, use equipment, and acquire samples critical for developing future oceanographic field programs. The broader impacts are that as many as 28 new investigators will be trained in the mechanics of leading expeditionary ocean research while coming to understand how oceanographic research infrastructure is scheduled, maintained and upgraded. They will also be exposed to standard sets of observations appropriate to a variety of oceanographic disciplines (e.g., physical, chemical, biological and geological oceanography) inspiring new ideas for research and the transfer of science information to the public.

Project Report

The University-National Oceanography Laboratory System (UNOLS) is an advisory organization to U.S. federal funding agencies, influencing the execution and safety of research cruises around the world. In 2011, NSF supported two training cruises on one of the ships in the UNOLS fleet, the RV Wecoma, to instruct early career participants in all of the "cradle to grave" phases of expeditionary oceanography, from the initial proposal, to science and cruise logistics planning, to cruise execution and post-cruise reporting. Fourteen participants were chosen from a pool of applicants for each training cruise based on their passion for oceanography, the quality of a research project they would bring to the cruise, and longterm research aims among other things. Equipped to complete a wide range of science operations, the first cruise sailed in July. This cruise mainly sampled the sea-surface, water-column and underlying sediments, with samples shared among the researchers including microbiologists, atmospheric chemists and chemical oceanographers. One research objective was to assess regional rates of transfer between the atmosphere and the ocean waters of three greenhouse gases: carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide. Another objective was to determine concentrations of greasy organic surfactants in films over the sea surface and in marine aerosols. During the second cruise, a different variety of activities took place. A group of the researchers focused on sites in and around the Astoria submarine canyon. Armed with special trawl nets, these biological and chemical marine scientists honed in on capturing a range of elusive, fragile organisms with the intent of analyzing their metabolism, phylogeny, isotopic chemistry and bioluminescence. Others examined the affects the canyon had on benthic biodiversity and the off-shore and down-canyon transportation of organic carbon. In addition, two physical oceanographers used measurements of currents and water properties to study how waves internal to the water column are propagated up canyon and how fronts form at the boundaries of the Columbia River plume. Although the coordinating team and participants had a few challenges along the way, all learned that advanced planning, assembling a synergistic science team, communicating, being familiar with your equipment and environment, establishing and maintaining a cruise plan and priorities, and following rules of safety and appropriate conduct are the keys to success. By working together, many involved in the UNOLS community enabled the program’s success. Each of the participants contributed to the effectiveness and enjoyment of the training efforts. Hopefully, these young scientists will continue to make contributions to oceanographic research long into future.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Ocean Sciences (OCE)
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Rose Dufour
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Oregon State University
United States
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