Head in a Cloud

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A Place to Have Your Head in a Cloud!

August 10th, 2006 by ganneth · 4 Comments

This week, a friend and former grad student in my group, Gannet Hallar, sends her regards to Head in a Cloud from the Storm Peak Laboartory, and gives an overview of the facilities there… What, might you ask, does a ground-based lab have to do with cloud measurements? Well… as it turns out, the altitude of Storm Peak often means that it is IN the clouds. In other words, it’s a great place to have your “Head in a Cloud”!

Hello “Head in a Cloud” -

I have recently been hired to be the Director of the Storm Peak Laboratory. Storm Peak Laboratory is a high elevation facility, located on the west summit of Mt. Werner in the Park Range near Steamboat Springs, Colorado at an elevation of 3210 m MSL (~ 10,500 ft).

Storm Peak provides an ideal winter location for long-term research on the interactions of atmospheric aerosol and gas-phase chemistry with cloud and natural radiation environments. Storm Peak facility also has a 9 person bunk house and kitchen. The laboratory is currently equipped with many instruments including a DMT SPP-100 Droplet Sizing Probe (Vane-mounted; De-iced; Aspirated), a Dasibi Ozone Monitor, a TSI SMPS and APS Aerosol Size Distribution Monitors, and a Yankee UV Multi-Filter Rotating Shadowband Radiometer.

One current research program related to clouds that is being conducted at Stom Peak is on the aerosol “indirect” effect — the possible effect of anthropogenic cloud condensation nuclei (CCN) in the regulation of cloud albedo, due to the influence of CCN concentration on droplet formation and growth. This mechanism, described by Twomey et al. (1984), associates a decrease in droplet size with increases in number concentration. Such an inverse relationship between cloud droplet number and cloud droplet mass median diameter which has been observed at SPL (Borys et al. 2000; Lowenthal 2002). This relationship (decreasing size with increasing number concentration) has the potential to modulate the cloud optical depth, and hence act as a negative radiative forcing on climate.

Please come for a visit if you are every in the area! I look forward to expanding research collaborations within the laboratory in the future. You can check out this web-site for more information: http://stormpeak.dri.edu/

Gannet Hallar


Tags: climate · general interest · instruments

4 responses so far ↓

  • 1 seand // Aug 11, 2006 at 2:15 pm

    Gannet, how specifically do you study the indirect effect from Storm peak? Are you looking for anthropogenic aerosols, and then relating that to cloud particle size distributions? Are there any radiative measurements to go with? Just wondering….

  • 2 Gannet // Aug 11, 2006 at 10:09 pm

    Good question!

    Randy Borys, Doug Lowenthal and David Mitchell (along with several others) have studied this at Storm Peak Lab in the past. They have collected cloud water and analyzed it for major ion and trace element chemistry, while simultaneously measuring cloud droplet concentrations and size using a FSSP. The results indicated a direct relationship between sulfate concentrations in cloud water and cloud droplet concentrations… You can read more about this study in:

    R.Borys, D. Lowenthal, and D. Mitchell, Atmospheric Environ. 34 (2000) 2593-2606.

    There are radiation measurements at the lab, but the data was not included in this study.

  • 3 Eric // Sep 6, 2006 at 11:07 pm

    Gannet, any research (papers) on-line available?

  • 4 Gannet // Sep 7, 2006 at 12:56 pm

    Hi Eric –
    There are several available at

    You can also find another at:

    Please let me know if you have any additional questions or comments-


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