Archive for October 1st, 2007

Transportation contemplation

It’s a silent night in Roche Harbor — a stark contrast to the tempest last night. Team JaMi is settled down to rest up for a big day on the water tomorrow. Team VaTo is clean and polished back at the labs, surely reveling in the broadband access at the Labs.

The highlight for me today was the afternoon class discussion of sustainability and the transportation sector. After I gave a brief motivational introduction, asking “How should sustainability scientists BE?,” Jason gave some statistics on the relative environmental impacts of different vehicles.

Here are some of the numbers Jason noted:

Mode of transport of freight within the U.S.:  trucks 32%, rail 28%, water 16% — (that’s 76% diesel!)

gCO2 produced per ton-km for different vehicles: boat 15, rail 22, bus 30, heavy truck 90, motorcycle 120, car 275, light duty vehicle 400.

The teams this year have done a much better job of tracking the resources we use and the waste we generate while aboard the Gato Verde.  I’m excited to read what sustainability improvements the students recommend  and to finally quantify with metrics like g CO2/ton-km how Gato Verde compares to other human transportation technologies.  With biodiesel emissions and production properly accounted for, will Gato Verde be close to the boat emmission rate or way below it?

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Traveling with transients

Monday, October 1, 2007

Worked our way south through Mosquito Pass after a quiet night in Roche Harbor. Headed southwards with the flood tide, intending to return on the ebb if we didn’t encounter the whales down south. As we passed Lime Kiln mid-Haro, we started hearing VHF conversations about killer whales. We nearly circumnavigated Discovery Island E of Victoria before joining a group of about 7 transients. They proceeded northward in Haro Strait on the western side and we monitored them and the surrounding whale watch fleet with the array. We didn’t hear any calls or clicks (but weren’t listening carefully all the time). The session was recorded, however, to the tune of about 1.2 Gb of data. Just north of Kelp Reef we turned and headed towards the south end of San Juan Island. We knew the southern residents were exiting the Sound around 130pm and our calculations indicated we might meet them near Salmon Bank. It was nearly dark when we finally pulled into Mackaye Harbor. Little did we know that the orcas were likely just a few miles to the south of us at that point!

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