|A Visit at the Mauna Loa
Observatory in Hawaii, December 2008
All photos (unless otherwise noted): ©Ken Dewey, UNL, SNR.
The entrance to the 17.6 mile long Mauna Loa Observatory road.
The lowest 5 miles of the access road to the observatory were paved in March and
April of 2007. This repair has made the lower portion road much more drivable,
although as evidenced here, the road is far from smooth and flat.
The entire access road is surrounded by lava flows from the Mauna Loa volcano with only sparse vegetation.
Fortunately, there is no traffic on this dangerous road since it is only used by the few
staff and researchers working at the observatory (and the infrequent visitor).
After 5 miles of smooth driving the road abruptly narrows and becomes much more primitive.
The access road is only a single lane wide, but it has a white line down the middle.
Midway along the road, the condition of the road continues to deteriorate
with large cracks and no shoulder.
The elevation levels are spray painted across the road (here is the 9,000 foot level)
A more recent lava flow in black has spread across the older weathered lava.
Note the horrible condition of the road as we reach the 10,000 foot elevation level.
The road at this point has a 19% grade.
The last mile of the road is also recently paved as we cross the 11,000 foot level.
The Mauna Loa Observatory is a federal facility and gated. Any visits must be arranged well ahead of time.
Tours of the Mauna Loa Observatory mountain facility are available on selected weekdays. To schedule
a tour, contact station chief John Barnes by email or phone (808-933-6965 x222). Please try to make your request
a few weeks in advance. Please note also that Mauna Loa Observatory is not an astronomy observatory.
For those interested in astronomy, and the Mauna Kea Observatory see http://www.ifa.hawaii.edu/info/vis/
At the entrance to the research facility main building, also known as the Keeling building.
On the left is The Mauna Loa Observatory station chief, John Barnes,
A commemorative plaque at the Observatory.
In addition to the measurement of CO2, numerous other research projects are conducted at this site.
LINK to the listing of research projects at this Observatory.
LINK to a map of the facility showing the various projects.
The facility is above the clouds at the time of this photo. The mountain peak in the distance is
Mauna Kea, the other large volcano on the island. The road leading up to the observatory can be
seen behind me and heading down to the right into the clouds.
Using a telephoto lens, Mauna Kea observatory can be seen in the distance.
An array of various instruments at the Observatory.
This is tower used for the instruments used to measure Carbon Dioxide at the observatory.
This is a shielded rain gauge collecting basic climate data as part of the Climate Reference Data Network
A view looking down at the entire Observatory.
Checking on the Carbon Dioxide measurements at the observatory.
Another view looking down at the entire Observatory
Another view of the Observatory with a view of Mauna Kea in the distance past the cloud covered valley.
Although the air temperatures down at sea level were typically near 80 F in the afternoon,
the air temperature at the observatory barely made it into the 50's (here 52.7 F at 4 PM).
Just before sunset, looking across the valley from the Observatory toward Mauna Kea.
A close up view of the Mauna Kea Astronomy Observatory.
The trip back down the volcano on the observatory access road is especially dangerous after dark
and, even more dangerous as the road descends into the clouds.
Does it snow in Hawaii? Yes.
Below here is an image from January 2005 with an explanation below the image.
An elevated view of the Mauna Loa Observatory (provided by NOAA).