Thursday 6th March


Day of Rest (sort of, anyway)


Weather Outlook:  Barrier winds and tip jets around Greenland at the weekend, all is quiet on the northern front for now.

Flight plan for tomorrow: Down day.




Seeing as I stopped my blog rather early yesterday (it was a rest day, so I thought I could get away with a short blog) I thought I’d finish it off here.  I’ve also been told-off for missing out the food blog the last few days, so I will reinstate it here:  for dinner we had boiled potatoes for the seventh or eighth day in a row – the chef doesn’t seem to know any other ways to cook a potato except boil it - with carrots, fresh cod, cod roe (or similar?) and cod livers.  Needless to say I passed on the roe and liver.  The chef did redeem herself by cooking us waffles as dessert, so no-one went hungry in the end.  I went for a walk to see the northern lights with Trude and Frode, all wearing the bright fluorescent jackets that you have to wear when you walk in the dark here, unless you want to get hit by a car.  We did see the ‘polar lights’ as the Norwegians call them, although they were very faint and a whitish colour, as we were being blown along by the wind.  We ended the day by watching a thriller about a haunted hotel room, before retiring to our own ‘hotel’ rooms to sleep.  Sensible people, us scientists.


On to Thursday then: We started the day by saying goodbye to Vanda, who began her long journey back to Colorado this morning, after helping Idar to finalise the plans for today’s flight.  The take-off time was set for 1:30pm local time, and the objective was to study the Finnmark and Nordland outflow.  The airflow was coming from a southerly direction over the mountains and down the fjords out over the ocean, creating interesting flow structures that they planned to fly through (without shaking the LIDAR to death we hope) at low, mid and upper levels and also drop sondes through.  The sondes today are being dropped over land, so we had to calculate where the sondes would land to make sure that none of them would hit a road!  This was a stipulation from the Norwegian authorities when they granted us permission to release sondes over land.  At least they didn’t want us to go in and retrieve the sondes afterwards.


After lunch we were glad to welcome back Gudmund.  Not only is he the project secretary but he has also become our taxi driver, informal campaign blog writer, provider of snacks and newspapers and does a great job of looking after everyone involved in the campaign.  We don’t know how we survived without him.  Other personnel changes were Idar leaving for a short break in Bergen, and Miguel Nogueira, a PhD student from Lisbon, who arrived and was promptly hauled up the nearby mountain by myself and Ivan.  When we say we’ll show someone around up here, we’re very thorough!  When we asked him if he’d like to join us in a hike I think we forgot to mention that it involved walking up a steep road in the snow and ice.  We had great views of Andenes and the small fishing village of Bleik which is the other side of the mountain.


Tomorrow is going to be a down day, as we’ve lost our northerly flow and thus our supply of polar lows for the time being.  Instead, we’re heading back up the mountain to a LIDAR observatory, but I’ll write more about that tomorrow.  The plane will be heading to Iceland to do a flight for Haraldur, who has some EUFAR flight hours at the weekend.  Our in-depth analysis of the forecast this morning was dominated by discussions on whether we would be able to do any targeting to improve the forecast of a storm which will hit the UK on Monday during the day.  It’s a long range forecast at the moment, but the low will reach 934mb (that’s really low!) and have 50mph winds and heavy precipitation.  Have fun guys!  And keep a watch on the forecasts.


We had a relaxing evening again.  After a dinner of meatballs (yummy), what were possibly mushy peas and boiled potatoes (for how many days in a row now?) we sat and watched the Simpsons movie.  The speed that the characters talk at was a problem for some of the Norwegians, who had decided not to put the Norwegian subtitles on.  Only a few hardy souls kept watch over the forecasts, being rudely reminded by others in the late evening, that if they waited a few hours until the next day then there would be more new forecasts to look at, so what was the point in studying them now?


(The following is really a note for myself, so can be ignored unless you actually enjoy reading about dropsondes).  The dropsonde saga continued today with a kind message from ECMWF who have been monitoring the data that we’ve sent them.  Apparently a lot of our data is being rejected above 500mb, and they were concerned about this.  We think this could be due to a problem with the dropsondes that we’ve spotted already, but not realized that it was causing a problem.  The dropsonde instruments are working too soon after release from the aircraft.  When a dropsonde is released from an aircraft travelling at 200kts (for example) its initial speed is that of the aircraft, e.g. also 200kts.  The dropsonde decelerates dramatically because it has no way of maintaining that speed, and it’s after it has decelerated that you want the instruments to start working, otherwise the wind speed that they’re measuring is the aircraft speed, not the wind speed.  So essentially we’ve been transmitting sonde data to the GTS with 200kt winds at upper levels, which might be the cause of our problems.  The solution is to remove this data from the raw sonde data before transmitting it to the GTS.  Also note that the dropsonde data was sent to MSS (?) today, not Met Norway.


Weather Round-up


We have lost our northerly flow and supply of cold air from the Arctic so our attention has been turned towards Greenland.  I spent so long discussing whether or not we could target from Iceland at the weekend to improve the forecast of the storm that will hit the UK on Monday that I don’t have time to write it down now.  It will be updated later. 


SAP Evaluation


The ETKF SAPs show a sensitive region on the SW side of the synoptic-scale low over Greenland for 24 and 36hrs optimization times.   The SAPs for 12hrs optimization have the sensitive region on the NW side of the low, extending into the verification region.


The SV SAPs for 12hrs verification highlight the Z500 ridge over southern Norway.  The region of maximum sensitivity for the SV SAPs for 24hrs verification is fragmented into 3 areas, but the general area of sensitivity is on the eastern edge of the low pressure system over Iceland.  For the 36hr SAPs the sensitive regions are on the northern side of the low, and in the jet area south of Greenland.