Written by Andrian Gajigan and Hugh O’Sullivan |
We are all here!! Despite a rocky start, with students arriving from far and wide and airport security being what it is, we have made it! We feel like we are part of something special, something big that will have a major impact on all of our careers. Bit by bit, students arrived from far and wide to assemble at the Havenhostel in Bremerhaven, a South African, a Mexican, an Egyptian and so many more! It feels incredible to be part of such a mixed group of motivated scholars. After we all arrived, we visited the Alfred Wegner Institute, a fortress of ocean science and a magnificent sight for all the students. We were given a tour of all the facilities including the ice lab “BBBRRR!!!” The ice core examination machine looked particularly expensive so we didn’t dare touch it! It was humbling to see the portraits of so many bearded German legends of ocean science, looking down at us as we examined the curiosities in the display cases around the institute. Our eyes were immediately drawn to the scale model of the RV Polarstern! As we ponder the adventures and experiences to come, our excitement is almost unbearable!
We boarded the real ship together the following day, which is to be our home for the next 30 days. The North South Atlantic Training Transect (NoSoAT) starts! We found our cabins and explored the inside of RV Polarstern. At first, it was easy to get lost but now we are more familiar with the labs, the mess halls and meeting rooms. It is a good thing, the crew and instructors are always here to help in case we get lost. We are assigned to different groups to cover a variety of topics ranging from remote sensing, oceanography, science outreach, arts, meteorology, climate and ocean governance. The chief scientist and instructors exude a very positive aura and we feel the enthusiasm radiating from the participants. We love how organized things are on the ship, expecting the utmost discipline from all of us. “We are a team” and “Don’t be late” are some of our guiding principles! Ultimately, this expedition aims to train the next generation of ocean and climate scientists, to be better equipped to make ocean and atmosphere observations. Our field clothes are ready and we are preparing all the equipment as we anticipate the first sampling station. Our next task is to get our feet wet, literally and figuratively.
The North South Atlantic Training Transect (NoSoAT) is an annual training survey that brings together international participants through a collaboration between the Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI), the Strategic Marine Alliance for Research & Training (SMART), Partnership for Observation of the Global Oceans (POGO) and funded through the Nippon Foundation. The 2016 scientific programme is based on Ocean, Atmosphere and Climate interactions and is designed to provide participants with a thorough insight into the fundamental principles of our changing climate.
About the authors:
Hugh: My name is Hugh O’Sullivan and I recently completed my Masters in Marine Science at Plymouth University. I am interested in the relationship between phytoplankton and the environment and the implication this can have on fisheries management. The Scholarship onboard the Polarstern offers me the chance to learn a great deal from respected scientists.
Andrian: My name is Andrian Gajigan and I am currently completing my Masters in Marine Science at the University of the Philippines Diliman. My current research interests include the diversity of marine microbes and their role to ocean biogeochemistry. This training will help build oceanographic research capacity in the Philippines. The techniques that I will learn, especially on physical and chemical oceanography, will complement my study of marine microbes, ocean biogeochemistry and climate.