To facilitate the collection of the sea surface microlayer samples during the 2016 NETCARE Arctic research cruise, the plan is to bring the microlayer skimmer onboard the Amundsen. The skimmer, designed at the Institute of Ocean Science (IOS) in Victoria, BC, has great advantage over manual sampling methods; it improves the quality of the microlayer samples and significantly reduces the sampling time.
Unfortunately, the skimmer has historically been a temperamental instrument and has not received much attention in the past few years. Therefore, to ensure functionality in the Arctic, the skimmer was in need of some maintenance and improvements. Since I had previous hands-on experience repairing/developing instruments, the folks at IOS agreed I would be a great candidate to spend some quality time with the skimmer.
Before leaving for Victoria, I was not sure what to expect. The trip was prefaced by a brief overview of known problems that needed repaired, but the list was not inclusive.
It was also made clear to me that the skimmer lacked any schematics or documentation. Upon my arrival, I was quickly put to work. After a week and a half of working with the existing system, we were able to perform tests on the water. The practical testing provided direction for further modifications.
During my time at IOS, Vickie Irish paid a few visits from UBC to collaborate with me on the skimmer. We worked together to improve the system, implement a spectrometer, write a manual, and run further tests on the water. We combined our knowledge and practical experience to solve various problems that we encountered with the skimmer. In the end, our efforts were successful. The skimmer is now reliable, more robust, and ready for the Arctic!
All in all, spending time at IOS was a worthwhile experience; the project was challenging and rewarding, I gained valuable experience, and I was able to meet and collaborate with excellent scientists. I want to extend a special thank you to Lisa Miller, Kyle Simpson, and Lucius Perreault from IOS for providing this opportunity.
Matt Boyer, NETCARE graduate student, Dalhousie.