May 10, 2019
(This is Part 2 of a series on my summer 2019 dust devil fieldwork. See previous post Part 1.)
Today my colleague Steve Metzger and I drove out to a playa in Nevada to test some of our field equipment. The “real” field campaign will happen in June. But first, we want to work out some of the kinks in our planned study. There’s a lot of new equipment to test out, calibrate, and make work, and we don’t want to waste precious time in June on silly mistakes that we could learn from now (fortunately our proposal panel reviewers seemed to agree with this, as they were happy to fund this part of the work).
Yesterday I drove out to Nevada from California, carrying my ceilometer in the flat bed of a rental truck. Today we set it up, and tested out a nice Canon camera and some little Kestrel weather stations. Together, these sensors make up about 35% of the planned equipment. Tomorrow we plan to add in eddy correlation instruments, so that we can measure momentum and heat fluxes (if that sounds like garbled jargon to you, it just means we want to measure the fine details of what the atmosphere is doing).
Here are a couple of photos from earlier today:
Setting up the ceilometer
Steve getting photos of a dust devil
It was a beautiful day. A little cold for me – I don’t think it broke 70F, and it was pretty windy. But it was sunny and clear, which is typical for dust devil weather.
We weren’t sure if we’d see any dust devils at our site today. Dust devils are fickle things. I’ve known people to spend their entire field campaigns waiting for a dust devil sighting, only to waste a lot of time. But right around 10:30, we started to see some dust plumes in the distance (it’s a typical time in the morning for dust devil activity to pick up). I hope it’s this good for our field campaign in June.
Here’s a nice one.
Look at that blue sky! 😍 At home in the Bay Area of California, I really miss desert skies.
The dust devils we saw were a bit off in the distance mostly, being blown westward across a northern stretch of the playa. I’ve got a few short movies of them swirling and moving, like this one (that’s Steve talking in the background):
So we have our plans for the next few days. Next week we’ll pile up our stuff in our truck and head out to some other sites, to see if we can find an even better place to monitor dust devils in June. I’ll post about that when we get there.