Tuesday 11th March


Transit to Iceland through sensitive regions


Weather Outlook: Easterly winds persist, northerly flow returning at the end of the week.

Flight plan for tomorrow: Stong winds off the coast of Norden Trondelag.




The flight plan for today had a slight change of direction this morning.  Haraldur found some clear skies north of Iceland where there were interesting flow patterns, and opportunities for LIDAR measurements.  This meant a change to the flight plan and objectives – instead of flying south through an ETKF sensitive region, we will be flying north through an SV target region.  This route is shorter than yesterday’s planned route, and means we still have time to fly up the coast of Norway and measure the winds there.  As of 10am this morning, everyone’s happy.  Half an hour later, and everyone’s still happy, although the plans have had to change.  The plan that we proposed, when Haraldur added his lower-level legs to it, had the aircraft over the Norwegian sea with no fuel left.  The solution was to cut out the study of the winds along the Norwegian coast, and make these the objective of the flight tomorrow.


Erik left us this morning and headed back to rainy Bergen.  His article on the campaign “Mindre Ekstremvær I Nord” (less extreme weather in the north), made the front page of local paper Nordlys yesterday but we only got it today (everything’s a day behind here!).  Okay, so if we’re being honest only the title made the front page, but the article took up an entire page further in.  I would love to describe it to you, but it’s in Norwegian.  From what I can gather, it’s about how there may be fewer polar lows in the future due to global warming.  It also talks about our field campaign to fly through polar lows and has some photos of the DLR Falcon in it.  Erik (Kolstad) works at the Bjerknessenteret for klimaforskning (Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research) in Bergen, and studies polar lows, so this is his area of expertise. 


Idar also did a live TV interview for NRK this afternoon, which we’ve just watched the footage of.  The wonders of modern technology mean that a Mac, a set of headphones and Skype are all that’s needed to appear live on TV.  As I speak Jon Egill is being interviewed by a reporter from a local newspaper who has joined us for a day or two.  One of the stipulations of being an International Polar Year project is that you have to do outreach, so this is all part of that.


We welcomed the Falcon and her crew back to Andenes this afternoon.  It seems that her flights to, around and back from Iceland were successful, and only minor problems were encountered.  One of these problems was having to circle around Keflavik airport for half an hour on return from a flight yesterday, as the ground staff battled to clear snow from the runways!  There is also a small problem with the water vapour LIDAR, which won’t be fixed in time for tomorrow’s flight, but should be fixed in time for polar low hunting at the weekend. 


Continuing the food diary, for dinner we had pork, sauerkraut and, wait for it, boiled potatoes.  My growing dislike of the boiled potatoes is becoming a running joke here now.  In my defence, we’ve had boiled potatoes every day for dinner except for three occasions, on two of which the potatoes were mashed.  Tomorrow we are having our campaign dinner at the restaurant which brings us our food everyday.  We are going to have a local dish called mølja, which translated means cod steak, liver and roe.


Weather Round-up


The 12Z HIRLAM 20km (12km res.on a 20km grid) first.  There is an area of low pressure moving torwards southern Norway, giving easterly winds over the Trondelag region (halfway up the coast).  This is causing strong downslope winds of 40kts, which are strongest tomorrow morning and die out through the day.  They will be the target of the flight tomorrow.


There is also easterly flow near Svalbard, with a tip jet of 25kt winds and also strong winds channeled through the Hinlopenstretet on Thursday/Friday. 


The flow is becoming more northerly through Friday.  The air starts to come off the sea ice near Svalbard and down the east coast of Greenland towards Iceland. 


The 12Z HIRLAM 10km model shows a low developing in the northerly flow late on Friday, to the west of the southern tip of Svalbard.  The ECMWF model (00Z forecast) has a development in a similar location as early as Wednesday, which doesn’t really develop, just moves north over the sea ice and dies.  This model also has a low forming Saturday morning, between Andøya and Svalbard, which moves east into the Russian sector (W of 30E).  A stronger polar low forms on Sunday, when the warmer waters return and the temperature difference between the sea surface and 500hPa reaches 46degC.  This low develops and hits the Vesteralen islands late on Sunday with 50kt winds at 925hPa.  


SAP Evaluation


The SV SAPs continue to identify the eastern edge of the low pressure system as sensitive, for all optimization times.  This region of sensitivity is mostly within the verification region.


The ETKF SAPs identify the area north of Norway up to 85N, centred on Svalbard as the most sensitive with respect to the Norwegian verification region, for all optimization times.