What lies ahead?

By Seth Travis and Natalie Freeman

We are currently in transit to our first station (scheduled to be near the Antarctic ice edge). You can find us playing cribbage, sleeping (and others NOT sleeping!), reading, working, attempting to use the internet, snacking, listening to or sharing stories, etc. During this time, we often wonder what the weather will be like over the next few days (i.e., how sick we’ll feel). So, Alison and Phil download updated wind and wave forecast images (.png files) every day, showing forecasted wind speed and direction and wave height and direction over the next several days. Additionally, in order to get a sense of where we are and where we’re heading relative to any possible storms, we (Seth and Natalie) have worked out a way to recreate these forecasted images with our current path/position and our expected track overlain.

Smooth and successful coding + snacks and tea = smiling, happy scientists! (Photo courtesy of Joseph Gum)
Through the wonder and magic of Matlab, the forecast images/maps are converted into a format where a latitude/longitude grid is projected onto the image. We then use this conversion to pinpoint and plot our current and future cruise track.

When can we expect bad weather? Do we need to adjust our station locations or sampling/transit times? The ability to quickly and efficiently produce updated tracked forecast images every day will be extremely useful, when planning future stations and sampling. Current forecasts are suggesting that things are going to whip up over the next day or so, with winds up to 40 knots! Hopefully these forecasts prove wrong! Still, in these rough seas, it’s better to not be caught unprepared!
Wind forecasts look like this. The red diamond shows our current position, and the grey circle shows our expected position at the time of the forecast (always subject to change). The black solid line shows where we’ve been and the dashed line shows where we’re going (again, subject to change).

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