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Services to Support Oceanography – Near and Far

Services to Support Oceanography – Near and Far

Conducting oceanography always involves lots of preparation, especially if going to sea, and lots of analysis once back ashore. The School of Oceanography operates a number of ‘cost-centers’ to aid in those processes for all faculty and staff. These are listed (and linked) on the School’s website under “Technical Services”. And these services are not only available to UW folks, but also to outside users so they help facilitate oceanography on a much wider scale than just here.  I believe all of these ‘cost-centers’ have had customers from around the country, and some from around the world, giving UW a prominent position in the field of sea-going oceanography.

Perhaps the two most well known centers are Pooled Equipment, where you can rent gear for sample or data collection at a very reasonable day-rate so you don’t have to buy it just for one experiment. Jim Postel runs this unit along with Brandi Murphy and they’re expert at matching your needs to the instruments available. The other very popular center is the Marine Chem Lab, known worldwide for its phenomenal quality and good service. Kathy Krogslund operates that center with able assistance from Aaron Morrello.  They process hundreds of seawater samples a day for nutrient concentrations, dissolved organic carbon, oxygen, and many more. It’s a very busy place on the 3rd floor of OSB.

There are two water-filled facilities for testing your gear either in salt-water or at high-pressure before sending it to the real ocean. The Test Tank and Pressure Test Vessel are both located on the ground floor of OSB, and in fact the building was constructed around the PTV. It’s capable of taking instruments up to 10,000 psi (~7000m depth) and is used quite regularly by outside customers such as Teledyne BlueView who put all their sonars through it before delivery to customers. The saltwater Test Tank is particularly helpful to the Argo Float group and Seaglider groups for testing their buoyancy-driven vehicles, but has also been used for testing of all manner of other things, including all the OOI cabled observatory instruments. Those two facilities are scheduled and operated by Loren Tuttle who makes sure that no one tries to put too many things into either one at a time, and the if the PTV is being pressurized to over 6000psi, the building is evacuated for safety.

One of the longest standing groups is that which combines a multitude of skills, and is known as Engineering Services. This group includes the machine shops (both large and small), electronics assembly, cable potting, and just about any other expertise you can think of. At present, this group is small in number – just Tor Bjorklund and Dave Thoreson – but they’re mighty in ability and can take on a multitude of projects.

The most recent center to join this group is the Seaglider Fabrication Center, operated in OSB by Fritz Stahr, Karl Kunkle, and Mike Johnson. It provides full Seagliders, and now Deepgliders that are capable to 6000m deep, along with service, maintenance, and training. This group is the primary connection to our outside licensee, Kongsberg Underwater Technology in Lynnwood, for the original 1000m capable Seaglider. They produce and service Seagliders for all customers outside UW under license from us. SFC is also located on the 3rd floor of OSB, though one of its best customers, Prof. Charlie Eriksen, inventor of the Seaglider, has a nice large lab on the first floor full of pink Seagliders and Deepgliders. SFC recently passed its 10-year anniversary so perhaps it’s not so new, but it still feels that way.

For graphics, webpages, and amazing visualizations, there’s nothing like the Center for Environmental Visualization (CEV) run by Mark Stoermer, Hunter Hadaway and Shawn Thomas.  This team provides many folks, both inside and outside UW, with high-quality graphics for presentations, curricula, etc. They are probably best known for visualizations of the undersea portions of NSF’s Ocean Observing Initiative, especially the cabled observatory part of that, but have also participated in a number of oceanographic research papers and reports. The CEV Team continually improve the School’s own webpage and instructional data systems as well as create tools for administration of the School.  

So if you’re stuck on a question of technology, or techniques, for your experiment, please don’t hesitate to come chat with any of us. We’re all interested in making sure the School continues to be excellent in oceanographic research, analysis, and instrumentation, and, moreover, that your needs in those areas are supported by our services.

-- by Fritz Stahr