25 August 2022 | Category: CloudRoots Amazonia

Sunsets and moonrises

By Jordi Vila

Professor Meteorology and Air Quality at Wageningen University & Research

The sun is setting over CloudRoots Amazonia22. Time to leave behind an incredible, unforgettable and unique experience. We are at the top of the 325-meter tower and the quiet transition from day to night is only broken by an ensemble of sounds composed by birds, monkeys and undefined animals. Time to undo the path and descend the tower.

But first, the sunset twilight is showing us waves of moisture above the rainforest. It tells us that the rainforest is still intensively breathing and sweating. And this was the reason to be here.

Sunsets over the Amazonian forest

But we are not taking everything back to the Netherlands. One of the instruments for measuring turbulent exchange – described in the post I want one! – will stay until February to measure fluxes during the raining season. The rest of instruments will provide a very complete and comprehensive picture of how the tropical forest and clouds intercat. The radiometers from Radiation in the rainforest will soon tell us how much the clouds and the canopy have disturbed the transfer of radiation. The atmospheric soundings of Where and when is the cloud? will be analyzed by MSc students and PhDs to unravel how moisture can contribute to form more vigorous clouds. The efforts of Welcome to the jungle will pay off to provide us information on how much evaporation comes from the soil, how much from the forest and how much from the rain. All these interactions depend on whether the trees are happy (and photosynthesize) or if they have decided to take it easy (and close the stomata), as described by Daily life of trees in the jungle.

But equally important as science, we leave behind very good colleagues and friends. The short course En portunol por favor! has paved the way to future collaborations with the Amazonian PhD research community, and Grassroots – teaching in the local communities has helped kids to get first-hand information on the importance of their forest and of atmospheric sciences, science that can help them to better understand their surroundings. The long and risky trip will be still long and risky to make the way back with all the instruments safe and sound to the Netherlands. And although we have lost the primeur of Até ATTO, I am sure that the CloudRoots team will return more than happy to the campsite and feel the Daily life at the ATTO camp.

Moon rises over the Amazonian forest

The sun is indeed setting, but we are still high in the tower. In the East, the moon rises. She is playing with some lonely clouds. It is time to Cross Borders by organizing the data, raising hypotheses, confirming and refuting them and developing new models. In short, advancing in science. We will start to discuss, to meet, to share our data and ideas with colleagues from different disciplines. We will start to contrast the observations with detailed simulations of the atmospheric flow influenced by the tall rainforest canopies and clouds that grow in chaotic and unpredictable ways.

After all our quest is to answer the intriguing question: do the rainforest and clouds talk to each other?

David Bonell, a member of the CloudRoots project, made a short documentary about the expedition. The documentary shows the ATTO and the vastness of the Amazon and also introduces the team members, who explain their research and the relevance of the CloudRoots project. Watch the video on YouTube.

By Jordi Vila

Professor Meteorology and Air Quality at Wageningen University & Research

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