Raindrops keep fallin’ on my head

Yesterday we changed the setup of the W Band radar to better look at the clouds I (Claudia Acquistapace) am interested in puffy clouds, like in cartoons. It is unbelievable that these small puffy clouds really matter for the climate of the entire planet. But that’s what we found, and that’s why we are here.

We did some tests, trying to coordinate with scientists on RV Meteor, the other German ship in this campaign.  Our radars are positioned on a stable table, which compensates for the ship motions. In theory, this is great, in practice, all these equipment needs continuous surveillance. In fact, the table is a complex mechanical device and sometimes it gets stuck.

For such reasons, we had to restart the table many times in these days and always check it from time to time.

But to come back to what we are interested in, we are not here only for puffy clouds, but especially for rain. Our instruments have been up and running for three days without collecting a single raindrop. Pretty sad no?

Photo: Arne Bendinger

Luckily, after dinner, we observe our first rain event! The radar showed us the complex structure of the cloud, and observed rain reaching the ground. Using the micro rain radar, a different radar which looks at precipitation, we could measure the rain rate and with a bit more of data processing, we will get information on the rain distribution of drops. What is that? It is a function that tells us how many raindrops we have in different sizes.

So, after the rain event, we went upstairs on the highest deck where the radar is, and we collected the rain samples. It was dark, and we suddenly saw some sparkles coming from the cable of the stable table. The connection was open, and the raindrops falling on it were causing the sparks!! So, all in a hurry, we unplugged the table, and we kept it off during the night until the ship electrician came to fix the cable.

Photo: Claudia Acquistapace

We are still wondering what caused the damage, maybe from the transportation but now everything is working again. And luckily, it broke after the end of the rain event, so we did not miss too many data

Claudia Acquistapace

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