Sunday, February 11, 2007

Los Angeles Rain and "CARB" car

California Air Resource Board and its CARB car

It rained last night. Finally! Yesterday was sunny, warm and beautiful. My friend and I had lunch at the Port of Los Angeles, outside, under an umbrella. After we finished around 5 p.m., a huge Tsunami of clouds enveloped the Port community and the Peninsula and 'splashed' against the bridges and container hoists.

At 7 am I met my friend at USC. She was prepping the Toyota EV and checking all the air quality devices. There were at least two computers manning diesel particulates (both newly emitted and ones older, larger, and stuck together in clumps), NOx, CO, CO2, NO, NO2, weather conditions, video and sound, and our global position. About 500 lbs of stuff whirring, clicking, and humming made noise even though the car did not.

When we left USC, the CO2 levels were fairly normal. When we got on the freeway we found the CO2 levels to be double the normal ambient amounts. It stayed that way until the weather changed....

When we got on the road, I watched the laptop and looked at what the instruments were detecting. When a truck passed us there were spikes in the number of minute diesel particles - the ones that contribute to cardiopulmonary disease - and from cars and SUVs as well.

We had stops where we monitored intersections and residential areas for spikes in particulates and other combustion by-products. We video taped the areas to identify sources and recorded our voices for particular issues that we may experience during the drive. We didn't talk exclusively of science matters, my friend and the other people will have a good time listening to our stories.

At the end of the run, our beautiful weather turned peculiar. Not far from us was an oncoming rainstorm. On the west, where all of the cranes and containers for miles, high dark clouds started forming. Then, a bank of low clouds poured over the peninsula north-east of the Port, covering the community with a thick layer of cold moist clouds. It then pushed forward towards the Port litteraly splashing into the container cranes and hoists. Then the world turned very dark and it was time to be home.

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