Blackberry Withdrawal

(CBS)
NEAR THE STRAIT OF BELLE ISLE -- I woke up this morning and realized that being away from my BlackBerry and cell phone even for a few days has exposed that I'm not as socially well-adjusted as I thought I was. Or maybe I'm just rusty.

It's especially apparent because there's a lot of interaction onboard. You see, although it's a fairly large ship and everyone is usually busy, when it's meal time or coffee time or the bar is open or you run into someone on the deck, there's a sense of camaraderie and "good morning" that's lacking in today's every-man-for-himself world (particularly in Manhattan.)

In other words, folks actually talk to each other. Face to face. I know. It's CRAZY. Perhaps no one else here has noticed, but it's painfully clear to me that all too often when there's a lull in conversation I'm used to scrolling through e-mails or checking out a sports scores or reading a headline or two. It's partly out of necessity working in the non-stop news business, sure, but also an escape. That said, I'm not sure I could handle this alternative all the time! Even the crew gets a shore leave. But it's a good lesson in getting my nose out of the gadgets once in a while.

Anyway, there's more activity today as it's the first real deployment of some ocean measurement equipment. The ship came to a complete stop, and with the help of a winch and some strong cable, scientists and Coast Guard personnel teamed up to gently lower the devices overboard. One is the "rosette," which looks like a big horizontal gun barrel with a couple dozen chambers used to gather water samples. When it's full it can weigh upwards of 1,500 lbs. Here in the Strait of Belle Isle it's not deep water, only going down about 82 meters. But once we're in the Arctic the water can be deeper than 4,000 meters. Today's drop was really more of a test to ensure everything works properly..

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For More On Trip





Among the important measurements are conductivity, temperature and depth (or what everyone onboard refers to as a "CTD" -- it can be acronym soup around here sometimes). With those readings scientists can calculate the salinity of the water, which is different between the surface and the bottom. It's accurate to within one or two parts per million. That, in turn and over time, can illustrate how various organisms in the water are faring, and, further along, how minute (I mean tiny) increases in the water temperature can affect the thickness of the ice. Factor in current speed (measured with the ADCP or Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler) and a handful of other readings and that, dear readers, is basic 101 in understanding climate change from the Arctic perspective. Of course I'm REALLY oversimplifying for the purposes of brevity and time, but there'll be much more on that later.


The trip is still heavy with anticipation. We're just now getting close to the Labrador Sea. What lies ahead? Patience, I tell myself. It's not unlike studying the subtle shifts of the Earth.

  • Daniel Sieberg

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