Having now had a few days to perfect our sampling routine, it has become a fairly slick operation. Every morning at 09:00 about 12 or 13 of us head out to take the daily water samples, with 5 or 6 on a large powerboat known as the Wasserman, and 3 Zodiacs each carrying 2 to 3 intrepid scientists. The role of the Wasserman is to act as a sampling platform to take the more delicate samples, such as those for trace gases, and to enable those on the Zodiacs to offload their samples once they have collected them from the mecocosms. The Wasserman team also sample from mesocosms 1, 2 and 3, while the other Zodiacs deal with the rest.
To collect our samples, we use some very clever contraptions called integrated water samplers. These samplers are slowly lowered down through the water, and are programmed to collect water continuously for 12m, thereby giving us samples that are representative of almost the whole water column inside the mesocosms. It’s quite hard work though – lowering the samplers is fairly easy, but hauling them back up and out of the mesocosms and onto the boats is a bit more tricky! And on some days up to 6 hauls are required per mesocosm. I think we will have some impressive muscles in a few weeks…
Today was a particularly fine day for sampling – soon after heading out the sky cleared, the sun came out, and there wasn’t a breath of wind. In fact, it was actually rather warm, something I thought I would never think in the Arctic!
We were back on shore by 11:30, with enough time to distribute all the samples to the relevant labs, stop for some lunch, then spend the afternoon filtering and analysing the precious water….
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