Sunday and Monday 16th and 17thMarch


The End. (For now?!)




Today was the last day of the campaign, and true to form the final flight planning discussions recommenced at 7:30am.  We’ve thought for a few days now that the conditions today looked great for polar low formation, but yesterday we were beginning to doubt our predictive skills and believe the models instead (bad thing to do up here).  Our reasoning was shown to be right when we looked at the satellite images this morning and saw two polar lows out in the Norwegian sea, just waiting for us to fly through them.  They were also in a sensitive region, which meant that this was also to be a targeting flight.  The models had finally caught up with reality, and were forecasting one of the polar lows to develop, move south and hit Trondheim on Monday.  The second polar low was absent from the forecast.  After a lot of discussion about the number of flights, objectives of said flights, use of LIDAR, dropsondes and in-situ measurements two flight plans were made.  The first flight was to fly through the polar low and up to Spitsbergen to refuel, and the second would sample the other polar low.  


This all done, I finished my packing, and set about trying to find people to say goodbye to.  After an exhaustive search of the operations room, kitchen and living room areas for Jon Egill, I tried the makeshift studio, where I interrupted Astrid and Frode interviewing Øyvind.  Sorry about that guys.  They didn’t seem to mind, so I said my goodbyes to them, and set off for the airport with Idar and Miguel, driven by Gudmund.  I never did find Jon Egill, who it transpired later had gone for a walk.  After a brief stop at the military base so that Idar could hand in his security clearance badge and reclaim his passport, we arrived at the airport.  We only had to arrive about half an hour before the plane took off, which is one of the perks of flying out of such a small airport.  Just like when I arrived, it was snowing as we took off, so we didn’t get any last views of the beautiful island of Andøya, our home for the past three weeks.  I won’t bore you with the rest of the journey, but three planes and three more airports later I arrived in Reading at about midnight.


Gudmund’s daily newsletter brought some sad news on Monday morning.  The flight into the polar low was cancelled by the DLR pilots, who were concerned about the deteriorating weather conditions at Andenes airport.  The snow showers increased in intensity during the day, and they were worried that after two long flights, they wouldn’t be able to land again when they arrived back in the evening.  This I am sure caused a lot of consternation in the operations room, and was a sad end to the campaign for us.  In homage to what could have been, I am including a satellite photo of a very beautiful polar low that could have been ours for the measuring.  In consolation, DLR offered to do a short flight into the polar low early on Monday, before it hit land.  I hope that this will bring some useful data, but for my purposes, I needed the measurements yesterday to influence the forecast of the polar low making landfall.  


All in all, the campaign has been a great success in terms of fulfilling the aims of the campaign.  The hard work now begins, analysing all the data that we have collected.  We all had a great time up in the snowy north, and I for one was sorry to leave it behind.  Thanks to all my colleagues at Andøya for not just teaching me a lot about Arctic weather, but also for making these three weeks so enjoyable.  To my Norwegian friends especially, thanks for making me feel so welcome, and I’m sorry that after three weeks in your country, the best Norwegian I can say is “Jeg sprakker ikke Norsk”.  I hope to come back and visit you all soon.  


A very beautiful polar low:


AVHRR image from yesterday evening showing the polar low.  From Dundee Satellite Receiving Station. (NERC)