By DOM GALEON
Images by NOEL PABALATE
When people say your head is up in the c l o u d s , that’s not usually a good thing. But for these four early career scientists— Manila Observatory’s Kevin Henson and Gabrielle Leung, with Rose Miller from the University of Illinois, Sean Freeman from Colorado State University—their heads have to be up in the clouds, literally. Or at least they keep their gaze up there.
That’s what happens when you are part of the Cloud, Aerosol, and Monsoon Processes Experiment or CAMPEx, organized by the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the US Naval Research Laboratory. CAMPEx is a long-term experiment that studies the various processes involved in cloud formation and how it’s affected by the presence of natural and man-made aerosols or airborne particles in the atmosphere, which in turn affects rainfall and even the formation of storms.
Its local arm, which is CAMP2 Ex— with an additional P, or P squared, to represent the Philippines—has been active in Clark, Pampanga since the end August. Because of its location, at the crossroads of typhoons and the western monsoon, the Philippines is a crucial location when it comes to studying weather patterns, which is why NASA has been working with the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services (PAGASA), and the Manila Observatory to study the skies over the country.
Part of CAMP2 Ex is an exchange of ideas between the Filipino and American scientists involved with the project. Among these are Kevin, Gabrielle, Rose, and Sean. Here’s what they have to say about the greatest lessons they learned from one another.
ROSE: In the US, it doesn’t rain as much as it does here. So just by working with Kevin and Gabrielle and their other colleagues, I have learned so much about aerosol models and climate models especially focused on the Philippine and Southeast Asian region. That really fills a huge gap in my knowledge and I’m truly grateful for it.
KEVIN: We also learned a lot, in terms of the science. Rose and Sean have been to other campaigns, and just sort of benchmarking what we have here to what they experienced in those other campaigns already gives a lot of insights into how different our tropical area is. I guess, just also learning about how they think about things, what their thought processes are when it comes to doing science has also been very informative.
SEAN: One of the things that I’ve learned from the Manila Observatory early career scientists are anecdotes about things we can’t model and things we can’t see with satellites. I was just talking to Kevin the other day, asking him where the Manila plume [air pollution over Manila] goes when the winds are going in this direction, and Kevin has modeled it with a high resolution model—and he’s experienced the Manila plume, something that I can’t say I have done!
That kind of interaction can show you things that you can’t see on a satellite. It’s one of the reasons we’re out here.
GABRIELLE: It’s really just been a great, great time to learn from the other scientists who are here, both from those who are older than us and those who are our age. It’s not just about what we do here. It’s also about life experiences, getting advice on how to really pursue a career in science.