FOLLOWUP: More On Oregon State Oceanographers Studying 3 Tree Point
[EDITOR’S NOTE: Inspired by a posting in one of our Forums, Photographer Michael Brunk posted a story about the R/V Wecoma, a research ship that has been stationed off Burien’s Three Tree Point, on Friday, Oct. 29th. Resident and local Author Doug Shadel did some more investigating, which he shares with us below:]
by Doug Shadel
Residents of Three Tree Point may be wondering why a rather large ship has been cruising back and forth in front of the point since Oct. 24th. The R/V Wecoma is a research vessel owned by the National Science Foundation and operated by Oregon State University’s College of Oceanic & Atmospheric Sciences.
Drs. Jim Moum and Jonathan Nash are principal investigators on this project and they are assisted onboard by a team of professors, engineers, post-docs and graduate students. The team is conducting research for the National Science Foundation on the effects of Three Tree Point’s unique landscape on the movement of water in and around the point.
In an interview from the ship, Dr. Jonathan Nash said Three Tree Point is an excellent place to conduct this type of research.
“Three Tree Point is ideal for a number of reasons. One is that the tides and weather are relatively predictable and constant and so there are not as many unknown variables to deal with,” Nash said. “A second reason is you have a rather dramatic ridge protruding out from the point beneath the surface that creates what we call ‘form drag.’ This is the same kind of effect you see when wind comes into contact with a mountain, only it is occurring beneath the surface of the water. We want to better understand how such interactions impact the ocean,” says Nash.
According to their website:
Our objective is to relate this force to other variables we can easily measure, such as the tidal strength and the density structure in Puget Sound. Three Tree Point represents an ideal natural geophysical laboratory for us to conduct these important experiments because the tidal currents are predictable and deviations from them can be associated with form drag.
Another reason Nash and his colleagues are studying Three Tree Point is because colleagues from the University of Washington have already done significant work in and around the Point.
“Three Tree Point has been well modeled by other researchers, notably Parker MacCready from the University of Washington. So the data we are collecting will build on the work that has been done before,” Nash added.
The R/V Wecoma will continue its’ round the clock data collection off Three Tree Point until Wednesday, Nov. 3rd. Then they will pack up and travel back to the vessel’s home port of Newport, Oregon.
For more information on this project, click here.