Become an Oceanographer - see the world!

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Well, I thought that I could get away with it, but I was wrong. I've been here since the end of March, and I've avoided writing in the EML blog. Not intentionally, I hasten to add... well, maybe a bit. Doesn't mean I haven't been reading it though!

I've been here on a short term contract, working on the sea surface photogrammetry project. But it's not the project that I decided to write about. Based on a comment made by Andy in my presentation yesterday, I wanted to write a bit more about the size of oceans. Andy (here) and Pete (here) both recently wrote about sizes, and what they compared to, so I figured that I'd join in.

I've been lucky enough to travel to most corners of the world for my work. I started in Bangor (North Wales, not Maine) where I did my undergrad, and then headed to Dunedin, New Zealand for my Masters. Total separation: 11889 miles, or in keeping with weird comparative measurements from previous posts, 382662 Olympic Swimming Pools (OSPs), 174369 American Football Fields (AFFs), or my favourite, 1.12415 x 10^7 Smoots, plus or minus one ear. If you think that is the longest distance travelled by an oceanographer, keep reading!

After New Zealand, I headed to Bermuda (a mere 9411 miles, 302902 OSPs, 138024 AFFs, or 8.89842 x 10^6 Smoots) where I worked on the BATS project for several years. That's the Bermuda Atlantic Time-series Study. Nothing to do with flying, squeaking furry mammals. That was a multi-disciplinary project that studied the full ocean depth just off Bermuda. Full ocean depth was 4200m, or 2 and a bit miles, or half the height of Mt Everest. The project had run for over 20 years, and in that time the various ships had travelled the equivalent distance of once round the world at the equator, or about 25,500 miles!

The coolest thing about studying there was when I found out that water can be given an age depending on its depth. At 4200m, the water hasn't been on the surface for nearly 1000 years! It just gives you an idea of how much information the deep ocean can give us. BATS was only one point in the ocean. We actually know more about the far side of the moon than we know about the deep ocean.

Anyway, enough digressing to small distances. Not satisfied with 3 continents, I moved on to my fourth. I worked for a year in Brazil, which was 4046 miles, 130219 OSPs, 59337 AFFs or 3.82547 x 10^6 Smoots from Bermuda. The work there was for an oil company, and we used scientific equipment to look at currents and density changes, helping to plan the locations of pipelines. Not quite as deep as BATS; we only studied to 2200m.

Staying with oil, but moving to just the surface, I came to the EMLab at GMRI (4916 miles, 158238 OSPs, 72105 AFFs, or 4.64860 x 10^6 Smoots), which brings us back to the beginning of the blog post. There's still one more step for me though. I leave here tomorrow, 11 June, and I'll be heading cross country to Alaska to start my Ph.D. I've got a 12 day drive to look forward to, where I'll be covering at least 103072 OSPs, 46967 AFFs, 3.02798 x 10^6 Smoots, or in plain English, about 3202 miles as the crow flies.

I got in to oceanography for the chance to travel. In the ten years since I started at University, I've been to 4 continents and travelled the equivalent distance of 1.1 million Olympic swimming pools, nearly half a million American Football Fields, or 31.6 million times the height of poor Oliver Smoot. Hm? In English? I've gone about 33,500 miles in ten years, which is half as much again as the BATS ships managed in 20 years.

Become an oceanographer. See the world. No really, you will.

The Smoot -

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A humbling distance! 585,695 times the distance to Pesky Pole.

Enough with the Fenway references! (Yes, I had to go look it up. Sad, I know.)

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This page contains a single entry by jwhitefield published on June 10, 2010 4:10 PM.

Oil Spill--Big or Small? was the previous entry in this blog.

EML goes Arctic! is the next entry in this blog.

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