Blog, Boulder Patch, Field Season, Methods, Uncategorized

Dataloggers are our science babies

20160804_100328
Arley and a temperature/conductivity/pH measuring baby
In my posts here and elsewhere, I mention dataloggers a lot. Dataloggers are the basis of many many types of science. The ones that I use are made to log data on specific environmental variables (temperature, salinity, underwater light, currents) at specific intervals throughout the year (e.g. once every hour). As you may have already guessed, dataloggers are VERY IMPORTANT to our science and we pay a lot of attention to the care and keeping of dataloggers… despite leaving them in the Arctic Ocean for a year.
20150723_162112
Light measuring quintuplets ready to be put in their housings
20160804_033231
Giving our dataloggers a nice bath before they go in the ocean
What do we want our dataloggers to do?
A) Collect accurate data the whole year
B) Let us read that data
C) Be working so they they can be redeployed to collect another year’s worth of data
Some dataloggers provide ‘real-time’ data via cables or satellite connection. Most, like ours, just store the data internally. This means that in order to successfully see that data, you need to FIND your instrument IN TACT*.
*Note:  Sometimes, dataloggers are designed so that even if it’s broken, your data might still be there. For example, one of our current meters was a casualty of ice gouging the ocean bottom. When we found it, it was broken in two:
20160729_232857
Ice is bad for dataloggers!
When we opened the sensor itself, it was damp on the inside and the electronics were fried. BUT by some miracle of Posidon, the SD card that held all the data was readable! From that data, we could see the currents measured until that ice gouge happened. Pretty cool.
In any event, we do a lot of work ensuring that we can find our dataloggers next year and that they will still be working. We have to worry about ‘normal’ stuff for ocean deployments: that they are watertight and can stay in place in strong currents. In the Arctic, we also have to worry about ice gouging pushing stuff around or putting pressure on things. So, we make sure our dataloggers are attached to something SUPER HEAVY, and that they are housed in something very sturdy.
20150719_215207
The 10 lb lead anchors for the current meters will also be clipped to heavy metal grates on the seafloor.
20160726_170455
Datalogger package ready for deployment: 5 instruments that together measure water depth, temperature, conductivity, salinity, and light. Notice how everything is inside a hard plastic container.
And after we’ve spent hours to days making sure that our dataloggers are working right, that they are nice and cozy and secure in their housing, that they are the right buoyancy, we place them in GPS marked locations, wish them well, and abandon them for 11+ months. We fret about them, but at that point their fate is out of our hands.
20160802_175552
Ken worries about abandoning the babies
So dataloggers are our science babies, but we are kinda crappy parents.
Advertisements

1 thought on “Dataloggers are our science babies”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s