As the cruise draws to a close it is time to reflect on what we have achieved. The observations we have made, described in the preceding blog entries, will allow us, in the fullness of time, to describe far better than has been hitherto possible the downward flux of organic carbon through the twilight zone and the processes responsible for the attenuation of this flux in the NE Atlantic during summer.
However we are a long way from this stage. We now face a period of at least six months data synthesis and sample analysis before we can begin to understand and place in context what we have observed. This is particularly important because a recent US programme known as Vertigo completed similar analyses at two sites in the Pacific. The power of our observations here will therefore be multiplied enormously via comparisons with Vertigo, building on the novel insights they obtained.
On a personal level it has been a great pleasure to sail on this cruise. The supportive and comradely nature of the scientific party, ship's staff and technical support personnel has given me strength in my hours of need and some of the wildlife sightings have been spectacular.
As we head home through the Irish Sea it remains for me to hope that you have enjoyed the blog entries and that you have gained some insight from them into oceanography as both a career and a lifestyle. Finally many thanks to Jennifer Riley and Charlotte Marcinko who have masterminded the content of the blogs, all those people who wrote them, to Martin Bridger our software expert on the ship who made it all possible. And you would not be reading this if it were not for the Classroom@sea and Eurosites websites who are hosting them.
Richard Sanders, Chief Scientist