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Fire & Ice Cream

Posted by: | August 8, 2017 | 2 Comments |

This week, I finally made a stop at the Tillamook Cheese Factory’s visitor’s center and had 2 scoops of caramel butter pecan ice cream. It was an unusual 88 degrees in Tillamook that day and we were headed to Garibaldi to install sensor rigging beneath a pier and collect water samples. It was a nice break from the car ride from Newport and the already long day. I had spent the morning learning how to analyze cholorophyll samples with the Turner Designs 10AU fluorometer. While not especially difficult, making sure to do every thing in the right order with the right checks conducted can get confusing fast when you’ve only had 5 hours of sleep. Analysis is conducted under low-light levels, and the fluorometer gives off a fire-red glow from it’s power button that is both sinister and sedating. It was a long morning with too little coffee, the 10AU glaring at me like the frighteningly incomprehensible machine that it is inside the dull black, ruggedized case. Science apparatus can often-times look quite frightening for no reason at all. The 10AU says, “I might explode,”, it’s red light screaming, “look out”. The fluorometer is just a fancy lamp, but it sure doesn’t look like that or feel like that when you’re sleep-deprived and concentrating on doing things right because the samples are not practice samples. Why can’t it look like an ipod?

After the welcome ice cream break, we launched the boat and tied up beneath the pier of interest. The installation of the sensor rigging and test package went off without a hitch. I took pictures to document the project, and collected water for BOD incubation and nutrient analysis. The test package, with a somewhat sacrificial sensor, will be retrieved shortly to check the data and see how the whole set up did with the tides.

My respiration runs have yielded interesting variation in rates, and as the time to present this research and talk about its implications comes near, I am forced to admit that I am intrigued by what I have found so far but cannot explain it or say just what it means in terms of pH, carbonate chemistry, or nutrient pollution. Perhaps the most important knowledge gained at this point is a sense of the magnitude of change involved in respiration rates, how those rates might change spatially and temporally, and how best to measure them.

I am incubating the last samples taken from beneath a pier in Garibaldi near the mouth of the bay. The three samples were taken over the time that we were there installing the rigging, as the tide changed. It will be interesting to see the results. The last sample was taken as sea water was rushing back in to the bay and was super-saturated with oxygen, unlike any sample incubated so far. Exciting!

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  1. By: Sarah K on August 8, 2017 at 3:47 pm      

    I can taste that ice cream right now!! Your musings on uncertainty in science and observations are good ones. Especially thinking about how to communicate these concepts to others, in the context of how uncertainty (or stochasticity) doesn’t mean that measurements (or results) are “bad” or flawed.

  2. By: Haley on August 8, 2017 at 4:35 pm      

    That was your first time making it to the Tillamook Cheese Factory?? I hope that you tried all of the various cheese samples, though the ice cream is the most important part. Your description of the 10AU has me feeling like I’m right there with you, sleep deprived, and nervous about analyzing chlorophyll samples under the glare of the 10AU. Great descriptive language, it’s always so fun to read your blogs.

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