Saturday 1st March


Mountain walks and polar lows


Weather Outlook: More polar lows, but the models don’t agree where.  Which will we run out of first – polar lows or flight hours???

Flight plan for tomorrow: No flight as the Falcon needs to have its brakes replaced!




The flight today is up to Spitsbergen, through a polar low, and then landing to re-fuel.  The next flight is up to the north of Spitsbergen, coming down around the lee to map the structure of a stratospheric PV anomaly.  Take-off was set for 12, but was delayed to 12:45 due to problems.  So some of our dropsondes should go into the 12Z forecast, and some into the 18Z forecast.


With the sun shining bright this morning, Birgitte and I set off after morning briefing to climb the mountain behind the rocket range.  It’s a small mountain, so it didn’t take too long, even with me slowing things up when I got scared on the windy icy upper slopes!  Thanks to Birgitte, who helped the struggling English girl find her footing on the steep slippery parts, we made it up the mountain, and had great views from the top, to the rocket range below, and over to Andenes.  More photos will appear in due course, courtesy of Birgitte, since my camera battery gave up in the freezing conditions (-2degC without wind chill, but surprisingly warm in the sun).  Coming down the mountain was more fun, since we found some softer snow to walk in, and even tried sliding down some parts where there was ice under the snow, which would have maybe worked better if we’d had a toboggan. 


Back down to the rocket range and back to planning the flights for the next couple of days.  We were having a long debate about whether or not to fly tomorrow, when Frank came in to tell us that the Falcon needed to have its brakes replaced tomorrow, so that made our decision for us!  There is a low pressure system (polar low?) developing to our north-west that looks interesting.  It’s not going to move too far so we might be able to study it throughout its lifecycle on Monday and Tuesday. 


We had a delicious meal of salmon tonight, followed by ice cream!  With a down day tomorrow we can relax a little tonight, and Gudmund has bought supplies of ice cream and beer to help us along.  We’ve been looking at pictures of the damage that storm Emma did to Germany last night as well, with many jokes being made because it shares my name.


Weather Round-up


The conditions continue to look good for polar low formation.  The forecasts differ as to when and where though!  The Met Office global model has three polar lows in the forecast for tomorrow, one north of us, one west and one south-west.  The HIRLAM 00Z forecast doesn’t have the low to the south-west, which the UM develops and moves into mid-Norway on Tuesday.  The northern one develops and also is in the forecast until Tuesday.  In the ECMWF forecast the northerly low develops much more, and on Tuesday starts moving NW and curves up towards Svalbard.  This low then re-develops, but at this point the forecast is very long-range and may be somewhat inaccurate.


There look to be reverse-shear conditions developing on Wednesday which would increase our chances of seeing (more) polar lows.  Ian and Kent have expressed a wish via email for us to fly to Iceland at this time, and fly over the mooring (65N, 33W) they have there.  Strong winds are predicted in this region Tuesday – Thursday as a low pressure system sweeps round the tip of Greenland and up over Iceland. 


SAP Evaluation


The SV SAPs continue to put the sensitive area in the verification area and to our west, probably explained by the 500mb flow into this region.


The ETKF sensitive region has moved a little, and is now further south, extending from northern Svalbard almost down to the Norwegian coast.  There is a little overlap with the SV sensitive region, in the region that the possible polar low will be in tomorrow.  The movement further south is possibly connected to the Arctic front moving further south, as there is warmer (in a relative sense) air coming from the south, meeting much colder drier Arctic air from the direction of Franz Josef Land, in the region between