Monday, January 3, 2011

Some of the Unanticipated Things That Happen During a Field Project

We're at the mid point of the PCAPS field project, so here's a few oddities that have happened that we weren't planning on:
  • 3 cans of beer mysteriously appearing during the setup at one of the ISFS sites (friendly neighbors or leftovers from a night of partying?)
  • extensive field notes blowing off into the Copper Mine
  • a homeowner's wireless router being mangled when installing a camera
  • the second leak of the Chevron pipeline adjacent to our Mountain Met Lab (see above photo of Chevron cleanup crew working early on New Year's Day morning)
  • ground critters chewing up a soil temperature sensor cable at the Flight Park site
Not entirely unexpected is the harsh environment in which the weather stations are placed. Riming at the crest of the Traverse Range reflects the kinds of conditions experienced more frequently back east rather than that usually expected at low elevations in the Wasatch (6300 ft). The wind sensor at SM1UU "locked up" when the winds from the north decreased on New Year's Eve, while SM2UU (located 500 ft lower) remained rime free and exhibited a wind shift to the southeast at that time. Evident in the photo is that SM1UU then continued to experience riming so that the radio antenna and other equipment were equally rimed from both directions. And as might be expected, it is up to our able group of graduate students and staff to solve the unexpected. In this case, Chris Ander had to climb up on the tower to clear off the rime.

As IOP-5 unfolds this first week of January, we're expecting more of the unexpected. More importantly for the science goals of our field study, will we end up transitioning in the next 12-24 hours to a stratus cloud deck, ice fog, or hoar frost coating objects on Tuesday and/or Wednesday? We're now launching rawinsondes at the ISS site every 3 hours to monitor this potential evolution from a "dry" cold air pool to a "wet" one.

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