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> July 20 - 2005
post Jul 21 2005, 05:06 PM
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July 20, 2005

I had to wait to speak with Chief scientist, Bon van Hardenberg because he has been so busy. Bon grew up in Holland where he learned to sail as a young man. After building two sailboats, a 40 foot catamaran and a more sturdy cruising boat, he decided to go back to school in the '80's for a degree in oceanography. After graduate school, his first work was doing numerical ice modeling at Bedford Institute in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and then at the Institute for Ocean Sciences (IOS) in Victoria, British Columbia. In 1995, Bon had a chance to be a part of a science team on a ship in the Arctic, and he took it. He's been coming to the Arctic, doing physical oceanography work, every summer since then, and he's been with Jackie on the July Laurier cruise since 1998. Bon told me that he feels extremely lucky to be in a position to do this work that he sees as a valuable contribution to the research on what is going on in this area and how the climate works.

While on board, Bon wears two hats. The one he prefers, CTD data acquisition, goes on 24/7 while we're out, and he gets a break only when we're steaming to another location. We've already done 84 CTD casts and there are four more to go! At one point, Bon got a total of 9-10 hours of sleep, in two hour intervals, over a three day period. He loves the work, however, because he feels he is slowly seeing a picture develop of what's happening in these waters and what goes on under the surface, in particular the currents, and what gets moved around (heat, fresh water, nutrients, pollution). As he says, these are the barometers that affect life. It's all part of learning how climate is controlled by the ocean and how things are changing. His other hat, that of Chief Scientist, involves coordinating all the science on board, who does what and when. It's often a juggling act to make certain that science makes best use of the time on board ship.

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Bon spends two to three months each year on board ship. The rest of the time he's busy processing and verifying the data, preparing graphics for presentations, and working with joint projects with other scientists. This cruise with Jackie is just one example; he also works with scientists from Russia, Japan, and other countries. New technologies have made the data processing job easier and faster. Bon's group provides real like data that numerical modelers need to see where things are going and to make predictions.

After leaving the Laurier, Bon will take some time at home before re-joining the Laurier in late September to travel through the Canadian Archipelago down to the Bering Strait. In addition to other science work, they will recover fifteen moorings and deploy nine others, far more than we did on this cruise. Working at that time of the year poses additional problems. It's only light from about 10 AM until 5 PM, the ice is coming back in, there's a high chance of storms, and the extreme cold puts a real stress on the equipment. I'm sure glad I'm on the July trip!

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