UW research instrument returns from 22,000-mile seaward journey

A portable research lab developed by University of Wisconsin–Madison scientists and engineers recently returned home to Madison following a 22,000-mile journey to the Philippine Sea and back during the heart of monsoon season.

The lab, known as SPARCLET, traveled aboard the research vessel Thomas G. Thompson for two months to aid in a study called the Propagation of Intra-Seasonal Tropical Oscillations, or PISTON. It is aimed at better understanding how pollutants and turbulent conditions over the Philippine Sea affect the region and influence global weather.

For example, researchers want to improve regional forecasts by learning more about aerosols, such as smoke and exhaust, and how they interact with clouds to form atmospheric convection.

Aboard the vessel, a crew of international collaborators used a robust set of instruments to capture everything from oceanographic measurements to detailed atmospheric observations.

Space Science and Engineering Center (SSEC) scientists and engineers contributed to the ship’s instrument fleet by building a portable research lab called the SPARCLET,” says Bob Holz, SSEC scientist and PISTON collaborator. “Its purpose is to provide a climate-controlled and hardened portable lab that can be easily shipped and deployed anywhere in the world.”

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