Ocean Optics XXV – Quy Nhon – Day 4 and 5

Thursday evening everyone gathered at the Anya (or was it the Anya premier?) hotel for the banquet. Before dinner, we were fortunate to see a local troupe of young kids demonstrating traditional drumming and martial arts before scaring us all with a dragon! After the delicious meal it was time for dancing and partying.

After the conclusion of the conference on friday, about 30 people went sightseeing in Quy Nhon. First stop was the famous Thap Doi twin towers. They were built by the Cham people in the 12th century, with significant Khmer influence. As with all Cham towers, the only entrance faces east. Afterwards, we went to a buddhist temple and some of us continued to the beach after that.

The Bergen delegation was joined by Natalie Summers from NTNU, and she guided us to a local buffet restaurant in the evening. Quite an exotic experience, where the food was prepared by ourselves at the table.

As we were traveling home around noon on the saturday, many people from the conference met up at a bar called John&Paul, where a continuously expanding local band played a variety of western pop&rock, creating an unbelievable atmosphere. The lead singer and guitarist (left on the picture) also waited the tables in a most efficient manner.

Four separate flights awaited on saturday, taking us back to Bergen. The long one from Singapore to Copenhagen was an excruciating 13 hours. Fortunately, most of us were able to get some sleep. Even Hongbo, who sat next to a dangerous dragon.

An amazing week in Vietnam. Now we are eagerly awaiting news on where the next Ocean Optics will take place!

Ocean Optics XXV – Quy Nhon – Day 3 and 4

We are now more than halfway through the conference, and all the University of Bergen delegates have completed their talks and poster sessions, apart from Hongbo who is on poster duty tomorrow. It is a privilege to meet so many great fellow scientists here in such beautiful surroundings, and we’re thoroughly enjoying the many interesting and inspiring conversations. A huge credit also to those responsible for organizing the event!

Today’s session started with the Jerlov award, who went to the legendary Edward Fry, perhaps best known in the community for his measurements of the absorption of pure water. Remarkably, he was also very close to winning the Nobel prize in physics today, for his experimental work on the Bell inequality. We hope to see him in person at the next ocean optics!

The fruit party on tuesday started on the beach, but was (very) quickly moved to the main venue due to heavy rain. There we watched in awe as a professional coconut-chopper prepared delicious drinks for us to enjoy while drying up. At the end of the day, the Bergen delegation spent some time at the surf bar before completing a great day at a nearby restaurant with tortoise on the meny. We could not decide whether it was fortunate or unfortunate that this exotic meal was sold out.

Ocean Optics XXV – Quy Nhon – Day 1 and 2

The last ocean optics conference was cancelled due to the pandemic. Being four years since the previous on in Dubrovnik, the extended optics group decided to go to Vietnam in numbers. The delegation counted 7 traveling from Bergen on friday: Arne, Børge, Håkon, Elinor, Håvard, Camilla and Hongbo embarked on the four-flight journey to Quy Nhon, while Daniel chose a different route, planning to meet ut at the final destination. We were a bit nervous, as we only had 45 minutes in Copenhagen catching the long flight to Singapore. It did not start well. A reeboot of the SAS engine in Bergen delayed us by 45 minutes and on landing we had to accept defeat. Travel center next. Fortunately we all found new paths to our destination, but had to concede to a split-up of the party.

Børge and Camilla were re-routed via Bangkok, while the rest had to add a fifth flight to the travel plan, going via Brussels and Doha to Ho Chi Minh City. Fortunately for us, Håvard supplied us with sleeping pills to make the trip feel a bit shorter. To our pleasant surprise, everyone was finally united again in Quy Nhon, only about 6 hours behind schedule. Of course, none of the luggage made the trip with us – to Arne and Håkon’s amusement, as they were the only ones traveling with hand luggage only!

The sunday was all about relaxing and sightseeing the beautiful coastal city, and ordering food without any idea what we were actually ordering.

Monday morning at 9 am, we took a taxi to the conference venue. The scenic International Center for Interdisciplinary Science and Education (ICISE), a few km south of the city.

Håvard and Børge held their talks before lunch on monday, and did very well. Particularly Håvard, who was praised by several other attendees during the day both for his interesting results and his no-nonsense presentation.

Elinor had poster duty monday afternoon, and managed to keep her head level and form meaningful discussions with her peers in spite of the session being held in a basement with below-par acoustic properties. Combined with the heat generated by 100 people in a room already at 30 degrees we can only say well done!!

Field work and cruise at Lygra

Just a few weeks after the coast guard cruise we started to itch for some more field work. We were granted two days on the research vessel “Hans Brattstrøm” on June 20-21, and decided to visit the remarkable Lurefjorden, about an hour north of Bergen. This threshold fjord has very little water exchange with the ocean and is so dark that fish have been out-competed by jellyfish.

Deploying the LISST-package, consisting of the VSF and 200X instruments.

We measured water column profiles with the LISST instruments as well as with a CTD to a depth of 50m. Water samples were collected at the surface, near 50m and at chlorophyll max. The water temperature was 12-13 degrees Celcius, but that didn’t stop a few of the cruise-participants in going for a swim!

We ALWAYS measure the Secchi depth while on a cruise. Secchi depth varied between 7-9 meters in Lurefjorden. From left: Yi-Chun and Daniel.

The delegation was quite large this time, counting 9 people. In order to use a research vessel in Norway, the cruise leader must have a cruise leader course. Arne was supposed to take it in April, but was in Sri Lanka at the time. The next chance was in May, but mis-communication ruled that one out as well. In the end we needed to find a replacement cruise leader at short notice, and microbiologist Stefan Thiele volunteered. A big thanks to him! In addition to Arne and Stefan, Elinor Tessin, Børge Hamre, Håkon Sandven, Yi-Chun Chen, Daniel Koestner and Hongbo Liu participated from UiB. We were also joined by Mexican guest student Ximena A. Vega from University of Stirling in Scotland.

Ximena at the provisional filtration lab at the house.
Cruise leader Stefan Thiele.

The cruise started on the monday with perfect weather. Sunny and warm, and almost no wind. By the end of the day we noticed a special optical phenomenon around the sun – a halo. This is caused by ice crystals, and weather folklore has for hundreds of years interpreted halos as a precursor for rainfall. Unfortunately we could not find evidence against this, as the tuesday was dominated by heavy rain from morning to afternoon. At least we did not bring the Regatta-suits in vain!

A nice halo around the sun. A sign of rain to come?
The rain most certainly came. But the Regatta-suits kept us warm and dry. From left: Ximena, Elinor and Arne.

Since “Hans Brattstrøm” only has two cabins, we rented an old house on the island of Lygra. This island is covered in heathland, and is home to plenty of sheep, cows and numerous species of birds. Beautiful surroundings for a great field trip!

Lyngheisenteret on Lygra received UNESCOs global cultural landscape prize in 2001, and is run as farm and museum to preserve the heathland and old western Norwegian farming traditions. From left: Hongbo, Håkon, Elinor, Ximena and Daniel.

Cruise with the coast guard

Last year the EcoSens project went to Marifjøra in Sogn to investigate the green colored Gaupnefjorden. Its color comes from large amounts of meltwater from several nearby glaciers.

This year we hoped to find green colored water from an Emiliania huxleyi bloom. And the timing couldn’t have been better! We applied for cruise time with the coast guard in 2021, and were awarded 4 days from May 19-22. We got excited when satellite images showed the bloom had started a couple of weeks earlier, but were also worried it might end before we had a chance to go on the water. However, the bloom just kept increasing, and when it was time, Hardangerfjorden had “never” been greener! What luck!

Part of the team who went on the cruise with “KV Tor”. From left: Anna Mathea Skar, Børge Hamre, Elinor Tessin and Håkon Sandven.

A fast-going patrol boat (HPB) with a cruising speed of 35 knots picked up the researchers at Krokeide kai in the morning and transported them to «KV Tor», waiting at the first measuring station. The HPB and the light-boat «Sjøbjørn» were also used for deploying instruments at sub-stations for measuring scattering and absorption of light in the water.

What a beautiful sight. The boat in the picture is the fast-going patrol boat, belonging to the coast guard vessel “KV Tor”.

PI of EcoSens, Arne Skodvin Kristoffersen and PhD student Elinor Tessin enjoying life in the field.

Every day about 100 liters of water samples were collected for filtration at the lab back at the department. It will be very interesting to compare data from glacial meltwater to the algae bloom. Two very different particle types resulting in a quite similar color change of the western Norwegian fjord waters!

A satellite image of Hardangerfjorden with our measuring stations marked as yellow stars. The bloom was most intense near Rosendal, and we also measured near Austevoll for a comparison to water without a bloom.

The coast guard was very cooperative and took their “mission” very seriously. We were served delicious meals twice a day and were transported back to land in the evening. A very exciting and different week for us!

In addition to Kristoffersen and Tessin, the delegation consisted of Håkon Sandven, Børge Hamre, Yi-Chun Chen, HTEK-student Anna Mathea Skar and Espen Storheim from Nansen Environmental and Remote Sensing Center.

New PhD student

Finally, on May 1st 2021, almost a year after the start of the project, Elinor Tessin started as a PhD student on the project. She is from Bonn, Germany, but did her master’s in Bergen at the department of Biological sciences.

Elinor enjoying the green view in Marifjøra

It was a struggle for her to enter Norway because of Covid regulations, but we found a “loophole” and sent her on a two week cruise organized by Nansen Environmental and Remote Sensing Center (NERSC) with the coast guard vessel KV Svalbard – in the Svalbard area. She barely had a couple of days rest after finally arriving in Bergen before she joined the EcoSens project fieldwork in Marifjøra the following week. What a start to her PhD in Norway! Her role in the EcoSens project is mainly focused on remote sensing, and we are very excited to have her on board!