Meteor heading for Walvis Bay

28 January 2019 | International

The multidisciplinary German owned research vessel (RV) Meteor will dock in the Port of Walvis Bay on 12 February.

The Meteor has been on a research cruise doing ground-breaking maritime research, including along the Angolan-Namibian coastline, since 2013.

The vessel resembles a small self-sufficient town, with its own power plant, environmentally friendly waste treatment, biological sewage treatment, production of drinking water and air conditioning.

Four hundred square metres of lab space, research winches equipped with various wires and cables up to 11 000 m long, as well as various cranes and elevators enable the exploration of all oceanic regions on earth.

The vessel set sail from Las Palmas on 3 January for the first of seven scheduled visits to the port this year as part of a ten-stage expedition, with the South Atlantic as the region of research.

Crew changes as well as loading equipment and taking on provisions will be conducted during the visits to the Port of Walvis Bay. The 97.5 m vessel operates mainly in high seas and is an ocean-going platform for research activities in almost all oceanographic disciplines.

It costs 1 300 euros per day to operate the RV Meteor which works all over the world. The current vessel started its services in 1986 and has sailed a distance of over 1 million nautical miles since then. This means she sailed around the world more than 30 times and carried more than 9 900 scientist during 9 363 days at sea.

Thirty scientists can work round the clock in the best conditions, supported by an experienced crew on board the Meteor. The meteorological station on board the ship is staffed by a meteorologist and a meteorological radio operator of the Deutscher Wetterdienst (DWD Hamburg).

Work on-board the Meteor is immense. Scientists and crew members collaborate closely and manage approximately 30 888 scientific working stations.

They collected and analysed samples from 20 000 stations, from the air, the water column and the sediment layers. The sea floor was also charted and geophysical measurements conducted.

The RV Meteor will return to the port of Walvis Bay on March 2 and 15, and then journey to Mindelo, a port city on São Vicente, an island in the volcanic archipelago of Cape Verde. During this voyage scientists will conduct experiments as part of expedition M154/1/2, M155, M156 and M157.

The working area of cruise M153 to be conducted over a 44-day period is in the Benguela Current Upwelling Area off Namibia and South Africa. It will contribute to understanding the processes involved in forming the three different scenarios of food web structure in upwelling systems and to test four hypotheses.

Different gear will be deployed to measure CO² flux via sinking material, and to assess primary producers, zooplankton, fish and matter fluxes as well as their metabolic rates.

The results will be used to develop conceptual models of the two BUS sub systems, explaining how changes in ecosystem structure affect fisheries and the biologically mediated CO² fluxes.

The planned cruise is a joint effort of several German and Southern African institutes, and contributes to the project Traffic. Its overall objective is to enhance knowledge about processes that drive the trophic systems of the northern and southern Benguela upwelling sub-systems (nBUS, sBUS) respectively, and provide feedback to fisheries.

The RV Meteor will call again at the Port of Walvis Bay on 18 August and 16 September before setting sail for Recife, the capital of Brazil’s northeastern state of Pernambuco.

During this voyage, which will conclude in Recife, scientists will conduct experiments as part of expedition M158.

The RV Meteor will then proceed to Mindelo and conduct experiments as part of expedition M159 which will conclude research activities for 2019.

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