Portable Cloud 9

by Jennifer Berry, University of Michigan

Camp 9 – Plan of the day

8:45 – Roll over in sleeping bag to do morning check-in

9:30 – Actually get out of sleeping bag to make breakfast

9:45 – Eat breakfast with a topping of nutella

10:00 – Press 4 buttons to sample aerosols

10:05 – Press same 4 buttons

10:10 – Press same 4 buttons

10:15 – Press same 4 buttons

10:20 – Press same 4 buttons

10:25 – Press same 4 buttons

10:30 – Go crazy after pressing same buttons so many times. Decide to sample every half hour

11:00 – Eat chunk of frozen nutella

11:15 – Think about eating lunch

11:30 – Warm up nutella on pilot bread using the cover of the pot of boiling water

12:00 – Make and eat lunch, dessert of nutella

14:00 – Wonder what exactly happened in the past two hours. Eat more nutella

14:30 – Pick out all the M&Ms from a few bags of GORP for a nice present for the mass balance group coming in a few days

15:00 – Brainstorm GoPro ideas

15:30 – Throw GoPro tied to a rope into the bergschrund

16:00 – Eat more nutella

17:00 – Throw rocks into bergschrund

18:00 – Stare off into space

19:00 – Make and eat dinner. Wonder why you’re eating so much despite not having done anything all day

20:00 – Dessert of pilot bread and nutella

20:15 – Try melting M&Ms because Jenny admitted to really only eating fruit when it’s covered in chocolate

20:30 – Notice that M&Ms aren’t melting. End up squishing M&Ms onto apple slices

21:00 – Wonder how we ate a large container of nutella in less than 3 days

23:00 – Lights out

For those that aren’t that familiar, every day at camp the staff tells us the plan of the day so everyone can know what’s going happening. Camp 9 is slightly different though, being only one building and holding a maximum of 8 people. When I was at C-9 there wasn’t exactly much to plan and there were only 3 people at camp, so we ended up coming up with a joke “plan of the day”. The walls of C-9 have these kind of plans of the day going back decades, each one hilarious. Most of them talked about sleeping in late and discussing odd things like how many cups are in a quart (but does anyone really know that off the top of their head?). One of my favorites went something like “Initiate search for mass balance group by yelling,” followed by “observe silence in the fog.” All of these plans posted on the walls show how much free time you get at C-9, and my stay was no exception.

Camp 9 (aka Cloud 9) in a whiteout.  photo by Gillian Rooker

Camp 9 (aka Cloud 9) in a whiteout.  photo by Gillian Rooker

I was at Camp 9 to set up atmospheric sampling instruments away from the burn pits of the other camps. Sent all the way from Michigan, I had a 2B Technologies ozone monitor, an AeroTrak, and a microAeth in order to look at ozone, black carbon, and size-resolved particle counts of the atmosphere. We had a sampling line run out from the porthole window, up a metal pole that we conveniently found already at C-9, to up inlet that stuck above the roof. So far there hasn’t been much of a chance to look into the results of this study, but even just the data on the monitors shows some really interesting events going on. The first day we turned on the instruments we saw that the ozone values were around 250 ppb (around of the levels of ozone found in Mexico City) and after that it started to slowly drop down, but there were also really high particle counts in the atmosphere at the same time. Sadly, at the close of the first day things started to go wrong. One of the ozone monitor wouldn’t connect to the computer, meaning that the data was only logged onto the internal memory of the monitor. This left the chance for the loss of the data if the monitor stopped logging data, which naturally happened at the end of the first day. Just around that time, the AeroTrak stopped being able to reach the proper flow level. This mean that the only way to sample was to manually hit start every couple of minutes. I’ve been told that everything going wrong is a part of field work, but it certainly is frustrating. In the end, the generator breaking was the final nail in the coffin of my study.


Camp 9 still in a whiteout.  photo by Gillian Rooker

Camp 9 still in a whiteout.  photo by Gillian Rooker

Beyond the frustrations of field work, Camp 9 was amazing. After spending most of the time in large camps with upwards of 50 people, being in a one building camp with only 2 other people felt like a vacation. It was a very relaxing change to be able to sleep in a bit and sit outside (when the weather permitted it) while reading books and writing letters. I was able to go to Camp 9 two separate times and the first time there the weather was beautiful. It was rather windy, but if you sit behind the right corner of the building you could be blocked from the wind but still facing the sun. Camp 9 is the closest thing you can get to a vacation on the icefield. We only had to start the AeroTrak sampling every 30 minutes and fill up the generator every 5 hours. Even though my second trip was during a whiteout that included rain and snow, it was just as enjoyable. I loved my time at Camp 9 and I was really sad to leave it behind when my study came to an end.

Packing up Camp 9 after the generator died.  photo by Gillian Rooker

Packing up Camp 9 after the generator died.  photo by Gillian Rooker