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!Oi de Brasil!

Hello friends!! I'm writing you from a cute rooftop deck in Niteroi, Brazil - across Guanabara Bay from Rio de Janiero. I've been here for nearly one week - and with little exception, the weather has been beautiful. It's winter here, but the temperature and humidity has been almost exactly the same as when I left Boston last week, oh the joy of the sub-tropics!!

This picture doesn't do it justice, but this is what it looks like from where I sit right now:

You're probably asking yourself, what in the world is a folk singer doing in Brazil?! Well, if you've seen some other recent posts here on my blog, you will see some pictures of me in a science lab at the University of North Texas. At UNT, I work with a geography researcher who studies how nutrients and pollutants are intorduced into environmental systems and how those nutrients and pollutants are "cycled" through a given environment.

For example, when it rains, both nutrients and pollutants are in the rain (this is called "wet deposition"). They wash through the leaves (which also have nutrients and pollutants attached to them by a process called "dry deposition") and then that water is incorporated into the soil at some point, or flows directly into a river or stream. A number of cool chemical changes happen to these nutrients and pollutants through each of these steps, too. When that stream enters a body of water where particles can again be introduced into the air by way of evaporation, that's the cycle coming full circle! (Pretty neat, right?!) Anyway, it just so happens that this scientist is currently working on a project studying these cycles in and around Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Since a lot of what she studies are the physical manifistations of these cycles, they have to be measured... and guess who gets to measure them?! That's right: me! So that's the long and short of how I ended up here in Brazil.For the last few days, we've been running around the city gathering all of the supplies we need to set up rainfall collectors and take soil samples and streamwater samples. Starting tomorrow, we head to thhe first of three field sites to set up our research plots... one of which is on an island that looks out to the Atlantic and where no cars are allowed... another is one of the largest urban forests in the world... and the last one is in a beautifully-preserved park about 100km inland of Rio. (I promise to show you pictures in a follow-up post.)

Don't worry, I haven't been working the ENTIRE time. I have had the oppotunity to have dinner in the streets of the historic area of downtown Rio... I got to see the area where all of the riots and protests had been happening over the last 5 weeks and see the boarded up windows of the legislature buildings and the banks downtown (granted these types of marches have been happening all over Brazil, but I was able to see the site of the protests that are televised in the US)... and I even watched Brazil whoop Spain at FIFA World Cup with a bunch of Brazilian college students in a plaza/park area near to where I'm staying.

Let's just say, it's been a pretty great week and I'm looking forward to the remainder of my stay here in Brazil. I promise to keep posting about it if you promise to keep reading.. which is to say, thank you for reading this long post... especially if you don't really like science. You rock.


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Bethel Steele

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