Archive for PASE


So the one commercial flight into Christmas Island picked up a half dozen PASE people yesterday and left an equal number in their place. You would think that it would be nice to have new faces to see and people to talk to, but most of us still here are actually kind of sad about it! And not for the obvious reason that we’re stuck here for another 1-4 weeks, either. The plane took away a few people who were on the ferry flight out here, and we had all bonded, in a way. I guess being deprived of oxygen really brings people together. (Some of you have heard that story already, but let’s just keep it short and say that I now know what abstract terms like “cabin depressurization” and “emergency descent” feel like in real life.) For the past couple of weeks I’ve been spending a lot of my down time with the flight crew, who provide a welcome escape from the resoundingly eggheaded atmosphere. Of course, this means that I’ve been subjected to more Kenny Chesney than ever before. Oh well.

Maybe I’m just complaining because the plane took away Kurt, who was distractingly good-looking.

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I suppose I should begin by explaining why I’m on Christmas Island in the first place! It’s not like this is a big tourist destination or anything (e.g. when I got my visa in June, it was visa number 744, indicating that I was only the 744th person to request a visa this year).

I’m here as a member of the Pacific Atmospheric Sulfur Experiment (PASE), a program funded by NSF to study marine atmospheric processes involving sulfur compounds. We’re here on Christmas precisely because it’s so remote, so the air is about as pristine as it can get. The sulfur cycle out here actually may have a significant impact on how the earth naturally cools itself by forming clouds (more clouds = more reflectance of sunlight back to space = coolness), so we’re trying to get a handle on this natural global cooling process. My group is here to measure hydrogen peroxide and methylhydrogen peroxide gas, which play a intermediary role in the chemical pathway. Other groups are measuring ozone, OH, SO2, aerosols, particulates, and cloud forming nuclei. Exciting, isn’t it? Don’t worry, I promise I’ll keep the science to a minimum!

Anyhoodle, I’ve been here for the last week and a half, and am scheduled to stay until the bitter end, AKA September 10th. Check back to read my ramblings about the people, the plane, the work, etc. And leave comments!

Please to enjoy!

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