Fifth U.S. Southern Ocean GLOBEC Science Steering Committee Meeting

03 Lounge, RVIB Nathaniel B. Palmer

10 September 2002



  1. Opening Comments (Hofmann)
  2. Case for going to Cape Shirreff
  3. Case for requested packing time for dive van on L.M. Gould
  4. Time Constraints - Transit times/positions required for the L.M. Gould to reach Punta Arenas, Chile on time
  5. Discussion and resolution - Alternatives to current plans
  6. Other joint ship science planning

Minutes of U.S. Southern Ocean GLOBEC Science Steering Committee Meeting

Participants:  Bob Beardsley, Dan Costa, Eileen Hofmann, Jose Torres, Peter Wiebe, Karl Newyear (MPC, L.M. Gould), Chris Shepherd (MPC, N.B. Palmer), Captain Joe Borkowski (N.B. Palmer), Captain Robert Verret (L.M. Gould)


The fifth meeting of the Science Steering Committee (SSC) for the U.S. Southern Ocean Global Ocean Ecosystem Dynamics (SO GLOBEC) was convened with the purpose of trying to resolve issues associated with the L.M. Gould (LMG) being able to reconnaissance the elephant seal colony at Cape Shirreff on Livingston Island while on the homeward transit, and the time needed to pack a dive van that will be deployed at Palmer Station when the LMG calls at the Station in about two days.  The issue has arisen because the PI (Langdon Quetin) has requested three days to pack the van, which will make it impossible for the LMG to stop and survey the Cape Shirreff elephant seal colony.  Hence, Dan Costa, the Chief Scientist on the LMG, has requested input from the SO GLOBEC SSC on how best to resolve this issue.


The meeting began with Hofmann giving background on the interaction between the SO GLOBEC program and the U.S. Antarctic Marine Living Resources (AMLR) program.  The elephant seal colony and research base on Cape Shirreff are components of the AMLR program.  Hofmann said that from the outset of the SO GLOBEC program there has been strong coordination and interaction with the AMLR program.  She noted that Dr. Rennie Holt, director the AMLR program, attended and participated in many of the U.S. and International SO GLOBEC planning meetings and that he has tried to incorporate SO GLOBEC-related science questions into the AMLR program, when feasible.  She also noted that the elephant seal work that is ongoing at Cape Shirreff provides information on another seal species that is of interest to the SO GLOBEC program.


Dan Costa said that the seal and penguin groups on the LMG managed to deploy all of their satellite tags and that this has given the LMG flexibility and time to do other activities.  He also noted that seal team has not done seal-related work for about three weeks and that this group has spent this time assisting other science groups on the LMG.  Costa said that when it appeared that there might be time for the LMG to call at Cape Shirreff, he contacted Rennie Holt to ask if this is acceptable.  Rennie Holt indicated that this would be a most welcome visit.  Costa said that there is a viable science issue for calling at Cape Shirreff.  This site is the southern-most breeding colony of elephant seals and when the AMLR scientists arrive in late October to open the research base, elephant seal pups are already present.  The issue is then to determine when the adults arrive so that changes in arrival time due to such factors such as climate warming in the Antarctic Peninsula region can be detected.  Observations from early September would help in narrowing the time when the adults arrive.  He also said that he would like to document the snow and ice conditions on the breeding beaches.  Costa also noted that he has a three-year NSF grant to study fur seals and that he would like to determine if these animals are present at Cape Shirreff.


Costa said that the Chilean scientists who work with the U.S. AMLR program made a request for the SO GLOBEC scientists to check the status of buildings at the research base on Cape Shirreff.  If damage has occurred to the buildings during the austral winter, the Chilean scientists want to be able to bring the materials needed to do the repair work when they arrive in late October.


Costa also noted that Chris Fritsen (SO GLOBEC PI on the LMG) is currently funded by the NSF as part of the Life in Extreme Environments program and that Fritsen indicated that he would like to obtain bacterial samples from the glacier/land interface from a glacier that is near the Cape Shirreff research site.


Costa then said stopping at Cape Shirreff on the homeward transit would require about 12 hours additional time in order to make this detour. Therefore, the proposal is to move the LMG arrival/departure times at Palmer Station by 12 hours.  This desire was communicated to the Palmer Station manager, as required when changes are made to the published arrival and/or departure dates for Palmer Station.  The Station manager said that changing the dates by 12 hours would not cause any problems for the Station.  Thus, the plan was for the LMG to arrive at Palmer the morning of 12 September, begin off-loading activities immediately, and depart on the morning of 13 September in time to detour by Cape Shirreff and still arrive in Punta Arenas, Chile on time.


Costa said that the issue that has arisen on LMG is that Langdon Quetin has indicated that the proposed changes to the LMG schedule would severely impact his packing schedule for his van.  Quetin also complained that the schedule for Palmer Station arrivals/departures cannot be changes without unanimous agreement of all parties on the ship, as per a document written by ARVOC.  This document was subsequently checked and it indicated that a schedule change cannot impact a science program and that all parties must remain open to unusual and new opportunities.  Costa noted that Quetin closed his science program on 9 September and that the issue is one of packing a van that has been used for staging dives.  Several of the SSC members noted that stopping at Cape Shirreff constituted an exciting and unusual science activity.  Captain Robert Verret indicated that he would prefer to arrive at Palmer Station on the morning of 12 September because it would give flexibility to ensure that the cargo operations go smoothly.


Costa reported that Quetin said that it will take him three days to pack his van for off-loading at Palmer Station.  (It should be noted that Quetin was asked to attend the SSC meeting, but declined to do so). Quetin further said that he could not have his van packed and ready to be off-loaded until the morning of 13 September.  This would cause the LMG to depart too late to call at Cape Shirreff because the van used by Quetin needs to be off-loaded first before any of the other vans from the LMG can be moved, off-loaded, or other vans, such as hazardous waste vans, loaded onto the LMG.  Newyear noted that LMG is scheduled to pick up three hazardous waste vans at Palmer Station and that the vans currently in the hold of the LMG need to be moved/off-loaded to allow on-loading of these vans.


Several suggestions were made as to how to help Quetin get his van packed in time for the LMG to depart for Cape Shirreff.  These included: 1) having other scientists on the LMG help Quetin's group, 2) sending over extra people from the NBP to help pack, 3) packing up other labs on the LMG (e.g., Costa's lab) to provide staging space for Quetin's group to store equipment for packing, and 4) delaying the LMG's crossing ceremony until after the call at Palmer Station so that packing could continue uninterrupted. Additional suggestions were made on how to do the cargo/van off-loading at Palmer Station so that Quetin could have maximum time to pack.


Costa said that he had talked to Quetin prior to coming to the NBP and that he had agreed to at least try to get his van packed in time to allow the LMG to depart and call at Cape Shirreff.


The SSC supported the request by Dan Costa to detour to Cape Shirreff.  It was felt that this was an opportunity to add to the SO GLOBEC science program, provide international cooperation, and to support the U.S. AMLR program.  It was felt that a 12-hour detour in a fifty-day cruise was not a big issue and that considerable benefit could be gained from doing this. The SSC also noted that the cruise plan laid out for this series of U.S. SO GLOBEC cruises called for being flexible and taking advantage of opportunities, such as this.  Therefore, the SSC agreed to write a letter of support for Costa and encouraged him to work with Quetin to find a solution to that would allow visiting Cape Shirreff.


The discussion then turned to logistics issues related to the two ships calling at Palmer Station at the same time and potential science projects that may be undertaken by the NBP on the homeward transit.


There being no other business, the meeting was adjourned.