Here we go! Trans-European Aerosol Measurements day one.

A set of our aerosol instruments were used for  performing successful measurements at an industrial site in Northern Spain. Because we now have a mobile laboratory and the instruments were in Spain, the masterminds at the TUT Aerosol Physics lab developed a clever plan: why not bring the instruments back to Finland while they are still running? And because the only thing more fun than planning things is actually doing things, we are now on the road somewhere between San Sebastian and Montpellier.

Setting up the measurements in Bilbao

Setting up the measurements in Bilbao

Our team of 4, (Antti, Erkka, Miska, and myself) set the mobile measurements up on parking area of the airport hotel in Bilbao, and got everything ready at about noontime. After about half an hour of fine-tuning the instrument setup – we have 9 different instruments running simultaneously – we were ready to go.

Measurements are ready to go

Measurements are ready to go

Because we were still fresh and full of purpose and the spirit of adventure, we decided that the first leg should go over the mountains and to the shoreline of the Biscay Bay. The mountains proved to be an interesting place to measure, as we could for example see the emissions of heavy duty vehicles and the change they undergo when reaching the mountaintop and starting to brake with the engine: lots and lots of very small particles. At times we saw concentrations of more than 1.8 million particles per cubic centimeter of air, which is really high even on highway standards. After a few hours of happy driving we reached Getaria at the Atlantic coast and stopped to take a few photos.

Miikka looking at the Bay of Biscay

Miikka looking at the Bay of Biscay

The view was great, and refreshed by it we were ready to take on the crossing to the Mediterranean Sea. Miska took the wheel and Antti followed in the service van.

The service van is our trusted companion

The service van is our trusted companion

Except a few short stopovers for food and gasoline, we have made quite good time and distance today, and the measurements have been running nicely. The weather is warm, which caused some initial concerns  because we thought that we have to do some juggling with the cooling system to save battery, but up to now we have been slowly gaining power while driving, so all seems to go smoothly. The main setback at the beginning was the attack of some birds that soiled the beautiful outside of our mobile lab; luckily, this was easily fixed.

Cleaning the car of bird droppings

Cleaning the car of bird droppings

We’ll try to post a detailed route description later today or tomorrow, when we get the GPS data plotted. Now we have still three hours of driving to do, so I’ll sign off for now. Moro!

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