Image courtesy of Dione Rossiter

From: Dione Rossiter
Iquique, Chile, October 22, 2008


The flights out of Iquique have been extremely successful. We have been trying different flight paths in order to find the most interesting science and get the most insightful data.

We had two flights before my instrument, the PDI, was delivered. As soon as it was, the Twin Otter crew installed it on the airplane and, by the next day, we were ready to test it out. This is the 4th cloud mission I have been a part of and I was FINALLY able to fly with the PDI onboard the Twin Otter.

I had a lot of fun and, of course, I saw lots of clouds! We flew below, inside, and above a layer of stratocumulus cloud that seemed to go on forever. All of the instruments on board are being used to understand (in extremely great detail) not only the clouds but the boundary layer as well. The boundary layer is the lowest layer of the atmosphere; it’s the layer where stratocumulus clouds form and it’s the layer you live in!

Now that I’ve gotten some data back, I hope to find something interesting to share with you in my next postcard. Until then, go outside and see what kind of clouds form around where you live. Did you know there’s actually a word for the act of watching clouds? It’s called ‘nephelococcygia’ (ne-fê-lê-kak-'si-jee-yê… a tough word, I know). ;)


Postcards from the Field: Climate Science from the Southeast Pacific

You might also be interested in:

Traveling Nitrogen Classroom Activity Kit

Check out our online store - minerals, fossils, books, activities, jewelry, and household items!...more


Stratocumulus (weather symbol - Sc) clouds consist of water droplets and belong to the Low Cloud (surface-2000m) group. These clouds are low, lumpy, and gray. These clouds can look like cells under a microscope...more

Rhea George

Many students in atmospheric science were motivated to enter the field by some fascinating extreme weather event experienced as a child. This was not the case with me. When I was an undergraduate I was...more

Dr. Boris Dewitte

I'm a physical oceanographer interested in climate variability and especially the El Niño phenomenon. Other than the annual cyle of the seasons, El Niño is the largest pulsation of the climate. I'm interested...more

Dr. Paquita Zuidema

Hola! I am originally from the Netherlands and thereafter spent 3 years as a child in the Peruvian Andes, but I have lived most of my life in the United States. I received my bachelor's degree in physics...more

Lelia Hawkins

I am starting my fourth year of graduate school at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, studying atmospheric chemistry and climate science. I love earth science and have always wanted to do something...more

Dr. Jeff Snider

I am a university professor involved in studies of the concentration and type of particles contained within clouds. It is important to know these things in order to say how often clouds produce precipitation...more

Dr. Chris Zappa

I am a specialist in ocean-atmosphere interactions. My interests include wave dynamics and wave breaking, the effect of near-surface turbulence on heat, gas, and momentum transport, airborne infrared...more

Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part is sponsored in part through grants from federal agencies (NASA and NOAA), and partnerships with affiliated organizations, including the American Geophysical Union, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Earth System Information Partnership, the American Meteorological Society, the National Center for Science Education, and TERC. The American Geophysical Union and the American Geosciences Institute are Windows to the Universe Founding Partners. NESTA welcomes new Institutional Affiliates in support of our ongoing programs, as well as collaborations on new projects. Contact NESTA for more information. NASA ESIP NCSE HHMI AGU AGI AMS NOAA