Friday 29th February


Touring AndÝya


Weather Outlook: Polar lows popping up everywhere!Working out where one will be so we can fly through it could be the problem.

Flight plan for tomorrow: Polar low near Spitsbergen!Keep your fingers crossed for this one.




We woke up to snow falling, supplementing what was already on the ground.We are off to tour AndÝya today, but we just have time before we leave to look at the latest weather forecasts.Gudmund has accompanied Astrid and Frode (our documentary crew) to the military airport to meet the General and clear up some misunderstandings that nearly got Astrid and Frode arrested there yesterday!They were trying to film the DLR landing when some soldiers converged on them and threatened to arrest them if they filmed where they were!Unclear communications between them and the military meant that they thought they had permission to film there but the military thought they should have stayed in a different area.All was sorted this morning.


Our dropsonde data we collected yesterday once again failed to make it to the GTS and so didnít get into the forecasts.The problem is that once Met Norway get the data, they have to send it to Sweden, who then send it on to Germany.Too many links which can break!After much discussion this morning (I suggested sending it straight to Exeter from the plane, this worked well for us last year and Andreas said itís been reliable in the past for DLR) Met Norway agreed to try to route the data directly to Exeter, rather than to Sweden etc.Later we found out that they canít do this until Monday, which has prompted frantic emails to the Met Office (whoíve probably gone home for the weekend now) and the FAAM crew out in Alaska (who were so efficient at getting the data onto the GTS via the Met Office last year).Will we manage to get the dropsonde data onto the GTS tomorrow?Watch this space!


As today was a down day not a lot of work was done by the scientists.As the LIDAR broke yesterday, the DLR crew unfortunately had to work all day to fix it and so couldnít partake in our trip.At 11am 11 of us piled into a small minibus and set off down the east coast of Andenes, down to the island of HinÝy, where we stopped at an outdoor centre for a lunch of Elk (moose) soup.We kept our eyes peeled for elk as we drove along, but the only wildlife we saw were eagles, of which there are a lot on these islands.We then drove up the west side of the island, through the nearby fishing village of Bleik (pronounced Blake) and back to HQ for our afternoon meeting.The scenery really was stunning, and Iíve added photos from today to the photo album.


As I write this there is much excitement at HQ, with not one, not two, but three polar lows visible in the latest satellite image!Itís like buses; you wait ages for one and then three come along at once.One wasnít predicted at all well, and is lying just of the coast of Andenes!One is in Russian territory (where weíve been refused permission to fly by the Russians) and one is in Norwegian territory moving towards Svalbard, that we are planning to fly through tomorrow.We are now planning a detour to fly through the polar low on our doorstep on the way up to sample the polar low near Svalbard.


Today was a special day for one of the DLR crew. Christian was able to celebrate his birthday for the first time in 4 years (if youíre confused about this, the clue is in the date) and so we had a little party in the Germanís kitchen. The Northern Lights even put on a special show, and really were amazing, although we have yet to see a really strong aurora with red colours Ė so far we have only see bright green. The lasers from the ALOMAR LIDAR observatory were also visible for a short time from the mountains above us. A great end to the day!


Weather Round-up


A polar low, which appeared in some of the 12Z forecasts yesterday for 01st March has already formed south-east of Svalbard and is visible in the satellite images from 05:41 this morning.The 00Z forecasts (HIRLAM 12km) show the polar low moving towards Svalbard and intensifying.The storm is forecast to be east of Svalbard at 12UTC tomorrow and die 12hrs later.The 12Z ECMWF forecasts from yesterday donít have the polar low developing until this afternoon, and have a track which intercepts southern Spitsbergen rather than skirting to its east.A flight is being planned to intercept it, but the DLR canít stay overnight at Longyearbyen because they donít have space in their hangar at the moment due to renovations.The PV anomaly has moved further south over Svalbard, and may help to spin-up a polar low to the west of it, where there is a trough at upper levels now.


Another polar low may hit Bergen on Sunday morning, according to the same 00Z HIRLAM forecasts.The difference in temperature between the sea surface and 500mb is 47degrees Celsius here.The northerly airstream, advecting cold air over warmer seas, coupled with an upper-level PV anomaly from a tropopause fold is providing ideal polar low conditions.The cold air outbreak is forecast to last for a few days yet, so we may get more chances yet to fly through polar lows.


SAP Evaluation


The ETKF SAPs again highlight the area to the north of us, near Svalbard as most sensitive for our verification region.This is the region where several polar lows are developing, although in the models none as yet have shown any inclination to move towards Norway.†† This region will be targeted during the flight tomorrow.


The SV SAPs have highlighted the north and western part of the verification region itself, and the area to the west of it, where a polar low is expected to spin-up and move into the verification region at optimization time at 12Z on Sunday.