September 24, 2012

New York Times blog features UW scientist at sea

News and Information

The New York Times’ Scientist at Work blog is featuring posts from Jim Thomson, an oceanographer at the University of Washington’s Applied Physics Laboratory, as he seeks big waves in the North Pacific.

While many oceanographers set out specifically hoping to avoid rough seas, Thomson, who studies large waves, is chasing them. He and his team are preparing to visit Station P, one of the oldest oceanographic research sites, located more than 1,000 miles offshore. Instruments there have measured waves more than 33 feet high.

a photograph of the scientist throwing a long, tubular buoy with a red flag on top from a ship into the water.

UW, Eric D'Asaro

Thomson, deploying a prototype of the kind of buoy that he hopes to release at Station P.

Thomson, who is also an assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering, and his team will be deploying new buoys that measure waves and retrieving an old one — if its battery doesn’t die before they reach it. They’ll also use balloons in the air and instruments mounted to the research vessel to measure many aspects of the rough seas.

The Scientist at Work blog features researchers setting out on expeditions around the world, offering them an opportunity to give readers an inside glimpse into the life of a scientist in the field. The New York Times describes the blog as “the modern version of a field journal, a place for reports on the daily progress of scientific expeditions — adventures, misadventures, discoveries.”

Thomson’s first post appeared today and describes the last minute scramble to prepare for the expedition, which unexpectedly will depart four weeks earlier than initially planned.  Keep an eye on the blog in the coming weeks to follow along on the adventure.

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