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

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About Ian Brooks

Trained as a physicist, sidetracked into meteorology, and slowly working my way down to the oceans - I am a Professor in atmospheric science in the School of Earth and Environment, at the University of Leeds. I do research in boundary-layer processes, air-sea interaction, and Arctic meteorology & climate.

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