Hyvää huomenta Suomi!

The last measurement day on the road is just starting. We had a successful sea trip from Travemünde to Helsinki. It took 28 hours but the day on board was sunny and nice. On the deck it was also possible to have a look on the chimneys of the ship and since it was sunny day, the emissions were easily seen.

As you can see from the picture, there is quite a huge aerosol concentration while the emission cloud can be seen by naked eye.

The fuel, heavy oil, used by many ships aren’t the cleanest one either while it contains a lot of sulfur and different metallic compounds. When it is burned the compounds are emitted to atmosphere. This time we didn’t measure the ship emissions since there would be enough work for a whole another measurement campaign. Maybe it would have been interesting to measure at the docks while the engines of several ships were running. But now we just concentrated on the road pollution.

At the moment we are on the highway from Helsinki to Tampere and this will be the last leg for us and our measurements for now. The concentrations seem to be quite low since there isn’t that much of traffic and we have some wind to blow them away.

Thanks for reading and being with us this week. Hopefully there would be some activity on this blog following the adventures of the mobile lab a bit sooner than next year.


Across Germany

It’s rainy day now that we drive through Germany. The night and morning were pretty cold so it took some time for the CPCs (Condensation Particle Counter) to warm up. CPC optically counts the number of particles in the sample.

There is moderately traffic on the way and quite a many trucks that we were are to chase. Concentrations on the highway are basically from 10000 to 40000 #/cm3 peaking at 400000 to 10 million #/cm3 when driving behind trucks and chasing them uphills.


Chasing a truck uphills

Now we are having a stop at Göttingen and the sun is slitgly showing up.



Grüß gott Österreich und Gute Nacht Deutschland!

So third measurement day is over and we found ourselves in an old German town called Rothenberg ob der Tauber. Just ate Schnitzels and had a walk around the town.

The day was really interesting since we drove over the Alps. The air was pretty clean on the mountains except for the tunnels and driving behind trucks that are climbing the hills.

It was also perfect sunny day to take pictures but apparently my phone just lost most of my nice pictures of Innsbruck and Zugspitze… So I don’t have that great ones to show you.


Three aerosol scientists wearing glasses enter the Alps.

Otherwise the day went pretty well if we don’t care that all the measurement devices were shut down on the way because of battery overfill. That was quite annoying but we fixed that pretty fast and got on the road again.

Tomorrow we are heading to Travemunde where the ship to Finland awaits us.



Buonasera Italia!

After hours of wait in Igoumenitsa the ship arrived to the port about an hour late. Then the cargo was unloaded which meant that about 100 trucks drove one by one to the docks. That was a sight and took like 45 minutes before the boat was empty and we were able to drive on-board.

This morning we started the next leg at the port of Brindisi in Italy. After several passport checks we found a nice gas station to fire up the measurement devices to get ready for a whole new road measuring day. Now was time to head to Modeno in North Italy. Plan was to use the highway on the East coast. First the day was sunny and warm but later on we got some clouds and rain.
At the beginning we had to take over some trucks that were on the same boat with us before. Also decided to chase some of them to see what kind of emissions they got. Mostly we drove by the Italian countryside without too much of traffic. But later on the traffic increased and we got plenty of tunnels ahead.

Particle concentrations in the tunnels peaked at 1 to 2,5 million #/cm3 while normally on the road they were around 250 000 #/cm3. Keep in mind that these  numbers are just really rough estimations. In the longer tunnels it was possible for the pollutants to gather and cause higher concentrations but the short tunnels were well ventilated by wind so the concentrations there weren’t that high ~400 000 #/cm3.


We were also able to see the sea and the coastline. There were some wind and waves with whitecaps but it wasn’t too extreme weather. There was one interesting occasion when we saw high concentrations and found out that it was a single black audi. We started to chase it and got concentrations like 400000 #/cm3 peaking at a million #/cm3. Later on the traffic increased but we were already near Modena.

After all it was quiet Sunday to drive through Italy. Now we start to be familiar with the measurement routines and the trip can continue.

Eurotour vol. 2

Hi people, it’s some time since last post on this page. Now it is time for you to sit down, read and enjoy new stories during the coming week.

So a few weeks ago started a new Eurotour to Greece. Group of three aerosol scientists from TUT drove the mobile lab from Tampere to Thessaloniki measuring on the way. Some stayed there to do some more measurements and some left home. Now after a two-week measurement campaign it’s time to drive back.

Our story started a few days ago when we arrived one by one to Thessaloniki which by the way is an old harbour town founded already 315 BC. We finished the measurements there and packed the van ready for the roadtrip just yesterday.

Having coffee break in the middle of packing:20160311_162449[1].jpg

In the morning during the breakfast we had only three doubts… If we were able to access the parking lot, to start the car and get out of the tight parking lot blocked by a gate by our big van. Everything went great and we started the way to Igoumenitsa. Measurements were running, Antti driving, Anssi keeping the measurement book and myself keeping eyes on the devices and laptops for intresting happenings and aerosol concentrations.

The Greek highways are surprisingly in really good shape and there weren’t too much traffic on the way either. So basicly we just measured background concentrations of Greek countryside on a rainy day. Still there was something to measure. The cleanest air was on the mountains about 4000 #/cm3 and the dirtiest chasing an old truck emitting god knows how much of pollutants.

Some mountains we drove by with a lot of tunnels:20160312_134529[1].jpg

It was just about 350 km trip today so we were early at the port. So now we are just waiting for the boat to Brindisi, ready to go to bed on-board. Someone else is also tired…


BeNeLux and further

Yesterday ended in slightly rainy weather in Luxemburg, but nice hamburgers followed by a good night sleep turned the weather and the mood bright again.

Puff puff

Hiding behind a smoke screen.

Somewhere near the three border crossing of Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg Germany we witnessed and measured a true outlier in the emission spectrum, with concentrations off the chart – very exciting! Even the view was obstructed by the “smoker”:

The mobile laboratory passes the border(s).

The mobile laboratory passes the border(s).

After the point of three border crossing we had the opportunity to visit colleagues at the Jülich Research Institute, (and top up the car battery, thanks!). One of the instruments of the troposphere group is the SAPHIR -chamber, which is used to study atmospheric photochemistry.

Today’s route has had plenty of different roads, from forest site and rural roads to highways and after some more “fahren fahren fahren auf der Autobahn”, we would like to rest in Hamburg.

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!