From Sète to the North

Seté was a sleepy-looking village on the mediterranean coast.

Seté was a sleepy-looking village on the mediterranean coast.

We arrived at Sète (close to Montpellier) around 10 p.m. last night, just in time before the hotel manager called it a day. This was good for us as the car is a bit small for 4 persons to sleep in… A bit of manoeuvring (thats maneuvering in US english, a fact that I just learned via Google) in the parking lot and a quick zero-level check, and we were ready for some food and a well-earned drink.

Except that all the restaurants near our slightly tired-looking, last-time-fashionable-in-the-80s hotel were closed. Some frantic hunting of restaurants ensued, but luckily we managed to find a place before the blame game about who chose the hotel 5 km from the city center started (it was me). Bellies full and all good, we went to sleep around midnight. Data analysis was postponed to a better time.

After a long day, even researchers need food. And it was good.

After a long day, even researchers need food. And it was good.

The lab found a cosy parking spot behind the hotel

The lab found a cosy parking spot behind the hotel

This morning we were at breakfast as soon as it started at 8. Strengthened by some crispy croissants and café au lait we headed north. The first hour we decided to travel on smaller roads to get a bit of background data, but then we hit the motorway and haven’t really left it except for (an unintentional) tour of the Lyon city centre. Now we are closing in on the Germany/Luxembourg border.

Our approximate whereabouts at the moment.

Our approximate whereabouts at the moment.

Measurements-wise we are better than expected, all instruments are running close to 100% and we are seeing all kinds of interesting phenomena. One thing that can be said directly is that there are some (mostly older) heavy duty vehicles that could well be responsible for the existence of half of the particle number that can be found on the highway; we can ‘see’ their emission from tens, even hundreds of meters away –  and this in the middle of a steady stream of other cars. Our new TSAR (TUT Secondary Aerosol Reactor) instrument is working fine and shows that at times it’s not only about the particles that come out of the tailpipe, but also the gases that can potentially produce particles when transformed by sunlight in the atmosphere. Measuring this secondary aerosol is one of our key missions on this trip.

Tomorrow we are planning to take on Germany, and visit the Jülich Research centre, one of the top research institutes on secondary atmospheric aerosols. We’ll report back with news and more pictures, and hopefully I can convince someone else from our team to share his thoughts. Au revoir!

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