A few flights in…

We got a couple of science flights into our first week in Longyearbyen, and then had to spend the weekend on the ground as a low pressure system moved northwards over Svalbard, accompanied by a fair bit of rain fall. Not the conditions of nice undisturbed Arctic stratocumulus or clear skies that we really want.

The last flight before the weekend nearly didn’t happen – there was fog filling the fjord and over the airport. Fortunately, that receded sufficiently for a takeoff late in the morning.

MASIN take off

MASIN taking off over a fog bank

We kept a close eye on it during the day as it pushed up across the airfield and then receded again, and called up the aircraft a couple of times to let them know it was still clear enough to land. If Longyearbyen gets fogged in, the only other place for them to go and land is Ny Alesund. In the event, by the time they came in to land, the fog had cleared from the airport, though there was still plenty in the fjord.

MASIN above fog

MASIN approaching Longyearbyen above fog in the fjord

We’ve had another two flights since the weekend, all reasonably successful. All the flights have been made pretty much due north of Longyearbyen, over the sea ice north of Svalbard at around 81N, 15E. Most flights have focused on the cloud properties, with one focusing more on the turbulent fluxes between the surface and atmosphere over broken sea ice.

sea ice

Broken sea ice with melt ponds on the surface


News from the high seas

While we’ve been focused primarily on clouds, the other half of the ACCACIA field campaign is going on at sea, on the RRS James Clark Ross. The latest news from the JCR is that everything is working well. The ICE-ACCACIA team from Leeds have made 5 deployments of the surface micro-layer sampler, and are seeing interesting results on ice nucleating material collected from ocean surface. The aerosol team from Manchester are doing OK, but lacking very much to measure – the marine BL around the ice edge is very clean. Only the biologists are not getting much – there’s not much going on in the ocean surface layer so far.

There has been some larger-scale biology though – to the delight of all on the ship (and the envy of all of us in Longyearbyen) they had a close encounter with a polar bear. Lucy sent the photo below.

polar bear

Polar bear about 50m from the James Clark Ross. Off the SE coast of Greenland

First science flight

We got our first science flight in yesterday, flying north of Svalbard across the edge of the sea ice. At low level the air was fairly clear over open water, but a radiation fog over the ice prevented the aircraft from descending below 500ft. There were several think decks of cloud above however, and we worked in those after doing as much as possible at low level.


A Brocken Spectre – rings of scattered light around the shadow of the aircraft.

As I write the aircraft is back up in the same area conducting our second science flight. Take off was delayed by fog at the airport this morning – it’s still hanging around in the fjord, and washing up against the end of the runway. I’m on watch to call the aircraft if conditions deteriorate at all and they need to come back early.

The approach in to Longyearbyen airport

The approach in to Longyearbyen airport

Back in the field

The ACCACIA team – or at least a subset of them – are back in the field. We don’t have the FAAM 146 aircraft on this campaign, but the BAS Twin Otter is back in Longyearbyen, and the BAS research ship the James Clark Ross is on its way north to make surface measurements.

The aircraft team in Longyearbyen this time round consists of Tom Lachlan-Cope, Russ Ladkin, Amelié Kirchgaessner, Alex Weiss, and Vicky Hamilton-Morris, all from BAS along with Al Howland the pilot, and Robert Metcalf the aircraft mechanic; also Ian Brooks, Barbara Brooks (Leeds) and James Dorsey (Manchester). We arrived late on Friday night, and spent the weekend settling in, unpacking, and installing instrumentation on the aircraft.

Russ installing the turbulence probe on the aircraft

Russ installing the turbulence probe on the aircraft

This morning (Wednesday) we conducted a shake-down flight to makes sure all the instruments are working – most of them are, though there are a few issues that need sorting out.Tomorrow is looking good for a first science flight.

view from cockpit and turbulent probe

The view from the cockpit – the boom sticking out in front is the turbulence measurement probe

Above is a view from the cockpit showing the turbulence probe mounted over the windows. This measures the turbulent airflow in the atmosphere, which coupled with measurements to temperature and humidity fluctuations, allows the vertical turbulent transport of heat, moisture, and momentum to be measured.



Barbara sat in the back of the Twin Otter with laptop to control her aerosol instruments (in yellow rack at left)