Image courtesy of Dione Rossiter.

From: Dione Rossiter
Iquique, Chile, November 6, 2008

My Unique Flight Experience

On November 1st I flew onboard the Twin Otter aircraft. This day was an incredibly interesting day to fly. Not only did we fly through a large stratocumulus cloud but we also flew through lots of smaller cumulus clouds. Cumulus clouds are not as common in this area because they usually form over warm water and land.

On this day, the cumulus clouds formed in their own layer below the stratocumulus cloud layer. Atmospheric scientists call this kind of boundary layer 'decoupled', meaning the layers are separate and may not be working together. All of the scientists are very excited to try to piece together how and why these clouds formed.

We noticed a few interesting things while flying through the cumulus clouds. For one, the instruments measured much more liquid water in the cumulus clouds than in the stratocumulus clouds. Also, there was much more turbulence while flying through the cumulus layer. Have you ever been on a plane ride? You might have noticed sometimes the ride gets really bumpy. This is because the air outside your plane is moving up and down and this movement is strong enough to push the plane around.

Besides flying through the stratocumulus layer and the cumulus layer, we also flew right between the two layers. This was one of the most beautiful sights I have seen during this field project and wanted to share it with you.

Postcards from the Field: Climate Science from the Southeast Pacific

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