Studying the Climate, Sailing the Sea: Friday on the JR

Greetings from the JR School of Rock 2016 crew!

Our Friday aboard (and off board!) the ship was a healthy mix of climate science, open lab work time and a chance to sail on the sea to observe ocean wildlife and catch the sunset off of Cape Town.

The day started with a look at what ocean core samples – in conjunction with many other types of scientific sampling and modeling – can tell us about the world’s changes in climate in the longer-term past. In addition to core samples, we looked at a variety of other data – such as ice core samples and other more complex data that pulls from multiple sources.

SOR’ers then had a few hours to have open space in the lab: some folks chose to work on creating smear slides; others re-washed nannofossils they had previously sampled to prepare them for inspection. We have gathered dozens (perhaps hundreds?) of samples that we are excited to bring back to our students and colleagues.

We are also excitedly planning out the student activities and other ways we will bring back our learnings about the ocean core, life at sea and more to our home institutions. Numerous ideas have been proposed, including a engineering design challenge involving students making their own ocean driller that must land on a precise piece of “ocean bed”, and a computer-aided design challenge to create a replica of an ocean core.

Before the day wrapped up, the majority of SORs were able to take an excellent boat tour that started near the Cape Town Two Oceans Aquarium. We love the JR, but it was really nice to get out onto the ocean on a moving vessel! We saw too many bird species to list, sun-bathing sea lions and several fish (sadly, no penguins or dolphins today!). The tour finished up with a lovely sunset as we finish our last two days aboard the ship!

Written by Blair Mishleau.