Thursday 13th March


Planning the final assault(s)!


Weather Outlook: The timing of the cold air outbreak and associated polar low activity seems uncertain

Flight plan for tomorrow: Down day – Falcon brake part has arrived and will be fitted tomorrow.




Last night the entire team of scientists and DLR crew headed off to a local restaurant for our not-quite-end-of-campaign dinner.  We were served mølja, a traditional north Norwegian dish, consisting of cod fish, cod liver and cod roe.  I decided to be brave this time, and try both the liver and roe (which I passed on last time) which weren’t too bad, even if the texture of the roe was odd.  After dinner Jon Egill was called upon to give a speech, and he presented DLR with a framed photo of the northern lights, and Gudmund (our indispensible project secretary) with a book on digital photography.  DLR also wanted to acknowledge Gudmund’s contribution to making the campaign run so smoothly, and presented him with a framed photo of the white beauty herself – the DLR Falcon.  After dinner the party moved location, back to the rocket range, where our German friends provided drinks and music into the early hours.  I’ve put some photos of the meal up in a new photo album.  


The operations room seemed a little quiet first thing in the morning, with several of the younger members enjoying the fact that this is a down day.  Down day or no down day, forecast charts still have to be studied, as we try to figure out the best way of spending our remaining flight hours this weekend.  We are not being helped by the lack of predictability shown by the forecasts – every time a new forecast comes in for the weekend, it shows something different to the last one.  That, of course, is why we are here, but it’s certainly not helpful.  We have 4 flights remaining, but will there be anything to study?


This afternoon our Indian friend Muralidhar left for Bergen.  His departure may come as a relief for our Norwegian cooks, who have been struggling for the past two and a half weeks with the concept of vegetarianism.  Having never seen or eaten Italian food before he came here, Muralidhar is now an expert at eating spaghetti and pasta (our cooks idea of vegetarian food), and wants to see neither again for a month.  Our cooks are on happier territory with meat, and we had meatballs for dinner with mushy peas and of course boiled potatoes.  Tonight we are hoping for one last glimpse of the northern lights before the weather changes and the cloud rolls in.  The auroral activity looks to be low this evening, so our attempts may be in vain.  We hope to have better luck spotting whales tomorrow afternoon!


The breaking news as I’m about to post this comes from Frank at DLR, who gives us the joyful news that Alex has fitted the spare part for the brakes which arrived a couple of hours ago.  The Falcon is ready to take to the skies once again!


Weather Round-up


The 00Z forecasts looked quite different to the 12Z forecasts from yesterday.  The 12Z HIRLAM (20km) forecast has several transient features developing and decaying rapidly in the northerly flow.  The only feature which develops is a polar low which develops during Friday, to the north of Andenes.  This feature deepens and moves east into the Barents sea, and is located north of the Kola Peninsula at 00Z on Sunday, which is as far out as these forecasts go.  Given the changeability of the forecasts for the weekend, I’ll save a more detailed discussion until tomorrow.


SAP Evaluation


The ETKF SAPs highlight the region around Svalbard as sensitive.  This is probably due to the high baroclinicity in this region, with the cold air flow coming off the ice and over the warmer ocean.  The region does not change with different optimization times.


The SV SAPs show more variability with optimization time.  For 12hrs optimization time the sensitive region is in the verification region.  This is probably due to the weak upper-level flow and short optimization time.  For 24hrs optimization most of the sensitivity is also in the verification region, with a smaller region of sensitivity over a ridge north of the UK.  For an optimization time of 36hrs the sensitive region is mainly in and to the north-west of the verification region.