Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Amazon scanning II

So far so good. We've been scanning for four days and have managed to capture the whole of the drought plot, plus 1/6th of the control plot. This is a major achievement I'd say - 72 scans, from 36 locations in the drought plot. 130GB of data, comprising around 700 million points, and 360 photos. This is an unprecedented dataset from this sort of forest, and we're all really excited to see what it brings in the way of science.
The scanner in action next to one of the runnels in the drought plot.
We've got things working fairly smoothly, operating two teams - one person manning the scanner, and then 3 people moving and placing the reflecting targets in a grid pattern. This can get complicated, and is the key to making sure we can register all the scans together. Lucy has taken charge of this aspect as it needs one person to have an overview of the process - it can get so confusing, particularly late in the afternoon when everyone's overheating and really tired. It's easy to make mistakes which can cost time and good data. Ed has arrived (after an epic 3 day journey!) and is now working with Lucy and Andy to place the targets. This is a much harder job in the control plot, where the understory is so much denser - unsurprisingly, having not been dried out for 10 years. But we seem to have got a system fairly smoothly. We were very lucky to be able to get the workmen to knock up some makeshift tripods for us to raise the targets to 3 or 4m, making them much more visible above the understory. We scanned 6 locations in 3 hours this afternoon. A couple more good days like that and barring any technical mishaps and we'll have cracked it. Oh, and Andy's laptops have both recovered, so he's a very relieved man.
Panorama of the drought plot - panels removed, but runnels still in place.
The scale of the operation to remove and replace the panels is pretty impressive. The local workmen are now replacing the panels since we've finished scanning the drought plot, and now we move on to the control plot. Days are long, hot and very very humid - every pore is dripping after a couple of hours, and it becomes an effort to drag yourself up and down after a while. But the thought of this is pretty enticing after a long day .....
Not a bad way to end a day. Or start one for that matter.