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    Image courtesy of Steven Domonkos, University of Washington

From: Dr. Robert Wood
Seattle, Washington, September 24, 2008

Making a device to sample aerosol particles

Before we leave to carry out field work, there's much that needs to be done in preparation. There are many challenges involved with setting up a measurement site in a remote environment. Questions we have to ask are: Will we have enough electricity to power our instruments? Is there a place to sleep nearby?

Paposo is a small fishing village on the Chilean coast. In this region the Atacama Desert, one of the driest deserts in the world meets the Pacific Ocean. So little rain falls that people harvest the clouds for water!

What we are trying to do in the VOCALS project at Paposo is to learn more about what causes these clouds (which are mainly stratocumulus clouds) to form, and why they do not rain. The droplets of water in a cloud form on aerosol particles which are tiny particles 100 times thinner than a human hair. We need to measure aerosol particles to understand how they affect clouds.

The photograph above shows Duli Chand, a scientist who will work in Paposo to make aerosol measurements. He is holding a device (called an inlet) that will suck in aerosol particles from the surrounding air and allow us to measure them with specialized instruments.

Postcards from the Field: Climate Science from the Southeast Pacific

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