Thursday, April 12, 2012

Baring Head

Baring Head is on south coast of the North Island. You get there by driving out through Wainuiomata to the coast.
Baring Head - Niwa
It is exposed to strong southerly winds that haven't been in contact with land for at least 5 days- making it a terrific location for Niwa's Clean Air Station. Niwa has been monitoring atmospheric gases here since 1972.Baring Head is an internationally recognised site that contributes to global scientific studies into climate change and our impact on the earth’s atmosphere.

NIWA's Baring Head monitoring station
Someone from the Atmospheric Research Team comes out every week to check on things and take readings. Today I was lucky to head out with Technician Matt Evans. He got me helping take an air sample, drying glass beads that had frozen up for reuse in a measuring instrument and record results off tanks.The Baring Head site has 4 buildings. One looks like an old WW2 bunker that has been sealed up. There is also a large tower with instruments mounted at the top. I was slightly relieved that we didn't need to climb up there to check on things. Pretty wild out here!
Matt Evans and air tanks.

Sample air lines are mounted high on a mast and air is pumped through the air lines to tanks. Equipment here take continuous measurements of the air.  

We also had 2 glass (almost balloon-like) flasks to take a sample of air outside in the southerly. To take the sample, we had to go outside facing south and hold the 'glass balloon' up, hold your breath, and open the valve. There was a hissing sound as the vacuum was filled and you then had to quickly close the valve- All took less than 10 seconds.
One of these is taken back to Niwa for testing. The other is sent over to the Scripps Institution of Oceanography (SIO),
University of California at San Diego.

35 knot southerly outside- relatively calm!

Here in this small video, Dr Katja Riedel, Tropospheric Chemistry, explains what they do out at Baring Head.

Atmospheric research at Baring Head from NIWA on Vimeo.

Baring Head Lighthouse (1935) Wellington Heads in background to right.

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