CloudRoots: Does the rainforest talk to the clouds?

I want one!

This was the enthusiastic reaction of a Brazilian student after her first encounter with a scintillometer at the CloudRoots campaign in Amazonia. The scintillometer is indeed a special instrument that deserves admiration. It measures the turbulent transport of heat, water vapor and CO2 through the atmosphere over a path of 50 m to 10 km depending on the type of scintillometer. It is an essential ingredient of the CloudRoots toolkit as it allows us to measure these transports over short time intervals of only 10 seconds. This makes it possible to study the influence of individual cumulus cloud shading on surface processes and how that feeds back to the formation of clouds, where the clouds effectively are rooted in the vegetation.

So much about the scintillometer technique. Let’s talk about us, the CloudRoots team. The busy days of installation of all equipment are behind us and the campaign goes well. Every day we babysit the equipment, trying not to interfere with the measurements too much and in the meantime, we started to work on the data. Also, there is now time to enjoy camp life and write a piece for the blog. I am sitting behind my laptop with a cup of coffee and eating some freshly baked banana chips.

Camp veterans

Some of us have been here for over 2 weeks and we consider ourselves camp veterans already. We mastered the art of sleeping sideways in a hammock, we look ahead when serving food knowing that the best dishes may be down the line, we bring a flashlight to nighttime restroom visits to scare away the snakes, those sorts of things. Snakes, monkeys, parrots, mutums, toucans and more, we have seen it all. There is a camp crocodile that lives in a small pond around the corner.

Today Mauricio, Antonio and James, the local technicians are converting a big cable reel into a set of outdoor tables. Some of us keep in shape by walking up and down the 325m tower a couple of times a week. Others make use of the make-shift gym. The latest exciting development is that Andre, a new cook arrived. We had not much to complain about before with regularly barbequed tambaqui (big, fatty river fish) and fresh tapioca in the morning. But with the arrival of André, we are eating Michelin star food in the middle of the jungle. Life is good, the weather cooperates, the instruments cooperate and although we sometimes feel tired (“snoring” is a theme often discussed at the 6:00 breakfast) our spirits are high.

The tower whisperer

Back to scintillometers. What I didn’t mention yet is that they consist of a transmitter and receiver and we brought two systems. Installing them was not a trivial task as we had to climb all of the towers to 60m height with heavy equipment. Here we have to mention the great help we got from “tower whisperer” Valmir Ferreira, already mentioned and hailed in a previous blog. He climbed the tower to install the laser scintillometer receiver in one long haul of 4 hours of being in the tower hanging in his harness. He is and always will be our hero. The scintillometer is a photogenic instrument. If you look well you can see a small red dot in the opposite tower marking the transmitter position. At night the other scintillometer at the ATTO tower lights up the platform where the CloudRoots team gathered most of the equipment.

That is it for today. A shower announced itself with gusts of cool winds, but it seems that the rain will fall a few kilometers away from us. Life is and remains good. Tudo está bem!