The VOCALS field campaign is studying the ocean, atmosphere, clouds, and land in the Southeast Pacific region to better understand climate.
Windows to the Universe / Lisa Gardiner

What is VOCALS?

What if you wanted to learn more about the climate system of a very large area such as the Southeast Pacific Ocean? What would be involved in studying how the oceans, land, and atmosphere interact? You would need to assemble a team of experts from around the world and have them plan a field experiment that would collect lots of data to be analyzed.

This is exactly what the VAMOS Ocean-Cloud-Atmosphere-Land Study Regional Experiment (VOCALS) field campaign intends to do! VAMOS stands for Variability of the American Monsoon System. VOCALS is a month long international field experiment focused on learning more about the interactions between the South American Continent and the Southeast Pacific (SEP) Ocean. If you think that experiments only take place in laboratories, you will be interested to learn that the VOCALS team plans to work in the “big outdoors!” The SEP area includes the land of subequatorial Peru down to about 35 degrees South in Chile and the Southeast Pacific Ocean out to about 110W. Although slightly outside of this area, Easter Island is also considered to be part of the study area. This climate system of this very large area has not been nearly as well studied as the Northern Pacific or Atlantic Oceans. The VOCALS campaign will change that!

You can learn more about climate of the Southeast Pacific with our Flash interactive.

VOCALS will need the expertise of over 150 scientists, engineers, and technicians from 40 universities and nine countries. New observational technologies will be used to collect much-needed information about the SEP. They will utilize four aircraft and two research ships containing scientific instruments. Buoys in the ocean and land-based observation stations in Chile will also collect and contribute data to VOCALS research.

Although it will take place in October 2008, a field campaign of this magnitude requires considerable planning and coordination to prepare. And once the data has been collected, the researchers will be involved for several years in the analysis. They will use this information to improve their models of the Earth system.

The VOCALS researchers have partnered with Windows to the Universe to share their exciting activities and adventures with the public, students, and educators. Come back often to this web site to learn more about their investigation and discoveries.

Last modified October 10, 2008 by Julia Genyuk.

You might also be interested in:

Traveling Nitrogen Classroom Activity Kit

Check out our online store - minerals, fossils, books, activities, jewelry, and household items!...more

Clouds and Precipitation in the Southeast Pacific

The cold sea surface temperatures and warm, dry air of the Southeast Pacific region create the perfect conditions for the formation of the low stratocumulus clouds that are found in this region. These...more

Human Impacts in the Southeast Pacific Region

How do the people living along the west coasts of Chile and Peru impact the Southeast Pacific climate system? This is one of the many questions that will be explored during the VOCALS field campaign. Although...more

Ocean-Atmosphere Coupling in the Southeast Pacific

The ocean and the atmosphere in the Southeast Pacific Ocean are connected in many ways. Strong trade winds blow northward along the west coast of South America. These winds stir up the ocean, bringing...more

What are the results of VOCALS?

Long after the VOCALS campaign is completed, the scientists’ work will continue. They must process, review, and study the data to determine what has been learned. Many model runs will be made and analyzed....more

Introduction to VOCALS Science

How big of a 'laboratory' would you need to conduct experiments on a climate system? Well, that probably depends on which part of Earth's climate system you want to study. In the case of the VOCALS, the...more

Southeast Pacific Climate

There are several regions in the world where low-lying stratus and stratocumulus clouds are frequently present and an important part of climates. It turns out that these regions also play an important...more

Satellites in the VOCALS Field Campaign

Many types of data from satellites are used throughout the VOCALS field campaign. Satellite observations complement data gathered from airplanes and ships to provide a more detailed overall picture of...more

Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part is sponsored in part through grants from federal agencies (NASA and NOAA), and partnerships with affiliated organizations, including the American Geophysical Union, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Earth System Information Partnership, the American Meteorological Society, the National Center for Science Education, and TERC. The American Geophysical Union and the American Geosciences Institute are Windows to the Universe Founding Partners. NESTA welcomes new Institutional Affiliates in support of our ongoing programs, as well as collaborations on new projects. Contact NESTA for more information. NASA ESIP NCSE HHMI AGU AGI AMS NOAA