Couldn't have done it without a little help from my friends...
Getting the Picarros up and running has been a journey in itself. As I've mentioned before, scientific equipment doesn't just up and install itself. And boy, you better get it right, or else you might as well just chuck the data or else spend the rest of your life trying to justify corrections and tweaks to the data.
My journey started in Australia, where I was lucky enough to spend a few weeks with my now co-supervisor, Dr. Peter Rayner. Peter taught me all the in's and out's of atmospheric inversion and how to go about getting one to run. This was my first experience with working on a super computer, and I think I learnt to code in about three different languages during those six weeks - IDL, Python and Fortran. As a bonus, Peter also took me on a tour of Lygon Street, Melbourne. This is a delightful place, which has restaurants of all kinds stretching from end to end. Every day we would visit a different restaurant so I got to enjoy a culinary tour of Melbourne, Australia, as well. I had possibly one of the best burgers ever at a place called Grill'd (http://www.grilld.com.au/). Unfortunately I'm not a ginger, or otherwise I would have been eligible for the special.
|A view down Lygon Street, Melbourne - http://www.melbourneplaces.com|
|The perfect movie combo|
|Atmospheric monitoring station near a geosequestration site in Otway, Australia|
When I arrived back home, it was time to start ordering the bits and pieces. If there was one thing that I had taken away from the trip, it was that it was going to be a lot harder to set everything up than I had anticipated. There are a lot of little parts that are needed to make the whole measurement system run properly. We had decided to go with the same Picarro CRDS measurement systems that our colleagues at CSIRO were using, and Picarro, although thousands of kilometres away were very helpful in getting us all the Picarro bits and pieces that we needed, and never hesitated to call if they needed to explain anything.
Once the Picarro’s arrived, it was time for me to sort out the plumbing, It was something that I had been dreading since the Australia trip because I knew that it was more complicated than I had originally thought, and that it could make or break the whole measurement system.
Fortunately, just after getting back from Australia, I had the opportunity to attend the conference for the South African Society of Atmospheric Sciences, where I met in person Ernst Brunke, of the Cape Point GAW station, run by the South African Weather Service. Instead of treating me like someone who was trespassing onto his turf, Ernst was happy to explain in any required detail what I needed to get for the plumbing system to work, and also to share and collaborate with his lab at Cape Point.
|The Robben Island and Hangklip Picarro's visiting Cape Point GAW station for a concurrent calibration|
When it came to the actual installation, I needed permission from the Port Authority, Transnet, in Cape Town. Mr. Robin Poggenpoel, regional manager, was glad to get on board with the research project, and provided permission for me to access two of the lighthouses to install the CO2 measurement instruments. With help from my family, and from the lighthouse keepers at Robben Island and Hangklip - Peter and George - I was able to finally get the instruments installed. After about a year of planning, everything finally came together.
|Peter, the Robben Island lighthouse keeper, accompanying me to Robben Island for installation|