PS102 - Weekly Report No. 3 | 21. November - 4. December 2016

Saharan dust and atmospheric smoke in Neptunes´ realm.

[05. December 2016] 

The week began with dust in the atmosphere and ended with Neptune's arrival on our ship.



The atmospheric scientists and Scholars were hoping to measure Saharan dust in the atmosphere since we left Las Palmas.

At the beginning of the week we then finally saw dust signals in the instruments. Our atmospheric scientists were very enthusiastic and studied the instrument output intensely. It was clearly dust which they were now seeing. Up until then we had been travelling through the north eastern Trade Wind zone with the typical cumulus and stratus clouds alternating with the otherwise clear blue sky.

Actually one regularly sees extensive dust clouds resulting from dust storms in the Sahara which reach the Americas, but each time it’s a little different. We measured the vertical distribution of the dust in the atmosphere. Different radiometers were used to measure the dimming of the sunlight by the dust. A microwave radiometer was used to measure the amount of water which was in the clouds of the atmosphere, and the temperature measured.

We have many questions which need answers. These include: Does the dust affect the characteristics of the clouds? Does the dust absorb sunlight and thus, heat up the middle troposphere? Was it desert dust or are soot particles from all the wood-fired stoves in the Sahel zone mixed through it? (Fig 1).

Now at the end of the week we have crossed the Equator and measured the distribution of the deep water masses. Neptune, Lord of the ocean, sea, rivulets and puddles arrived for a visit of RV Polarstern on board accompanied by his dear wife Thetis (Fig. 2& 3).

All unbaptised on Board were subjected to the baptismal ceremony and 41 Poems and new names were allocated to the newly baptized. The names reflected the diversity of life in the ocean, ranging from “Coelacanth” through “Humboldt-Penguin” to “Cleaning Wrasse”. Good fun was had by all and when Neptune finally left the ship we could have a barbeque in the evening at which the wonderfully artistic baptismal certificates were ceremoniously handed over to all of the oceans´ “newcomers”.

Today is 2nd Advent  and  we greet all of you across all the miles of water from the Atlantic Ocean.


                                                                       Karen Wiltshire

(with the help of Rene, Moritz und Peter)



Scientific Coordination

Rainer Knust
Rainer Knust


Sanne Bochert
Sanne Bochert