The last day of flight operations for the NOAA UAV. Unfortunately the weather did not cooperate at all. Overcast skies with occasional snow made for serious icing conditions so no flights today. We were, however, able to accomplish one of the goals set for the day: a picture with all 3 planes and the crews.
Lots happening today. The German plane, the Polar 5, is in town and the plan is for them to make a series of passes to compare with all the ground sites. After the plane leaves the airspace, all 3 UAVs will attempt to fly over as many of the same sites as they can. At the same time, Flexpart is predicting the polluted airmass moving up from Europe will hit the area sometime during the day.
After the morning meeting the ground teams headed off to the peninsula to catch the plane which would be in the area at 9:30am and stay for about 4 hours. The plane flew at an altitude of 300′ over the sampling sites on the peninsula, the CNR site and CCT and then headed to Kongsvegen to attempt the same.
Towards the end of the Polar 5 visit the UAV teams made ready to launch but the weather started to turn and continued to get worse for much of the afternoon. The coordinated 3 UAV flights did not work out but the NOAA UAV managed to get in a 2 hour flight over the Kongsvegen.
The other bit of news for the day involves the aerosol instruments at Gruvebadet. We stopped sampling this evening in order to pack everyting up in time to make it on the ship next week. We will leave the Hi-Vol sampler running until Monday afternoon to try and catch the pollution event from Europe.
Another cloudy day but the UAV was able to find a bit of a clearing and launch. The flight path took the plane over Kongsvegen and lasted 4 hours.
Conditions for snow sampling are rapidly deteriorating. No fresh snow and becoming more and more difficult to get very far out on a snowmobile. I tried to get out towards the traverse to Kongsvegen but turned back before I got there due to slushy conditions and no desire to get myself stuck. I did make a couple of surface samples on the way back. At one of the locations I came across some tracks . They seemed too small to be polar bear tracks but they were also too big for anything else on the island. In the end I found out that they were probably old reindeer tracks that had enlarged with the rain and melt. They got my attention, though.
The plan for the day was to have multiple ground teams out on the peninsula set up and ready compare with the both the Norwegian and NOAA UAVs. Unfortunately, the weather did not cooperate. The day was overcast with periods of snow and rain so no flights today.
All the ground teams still made it out with the cryo-sled and NPI starting on the first triangle site south of town and working their way down the peninsula. We decided to head straight out and around the end of the peninsula . Dirk, Drew and I dug a snow pit near the site established by NPI and CNR last week.
Temperatures are back down around freezing but still not the greatest for snow sampling. The melt and refreeze cycle has left a crusty layer on top of the snow but I sampled a couple of the regular sites anyway. I went back to the ground team’s triangle south of town and to the CNR site.
The UAV had a four hour flight over Kongsfjorden. The layer of absorbing aerosol that was seen yesterday was gone.
The rain has stopped but it is still quite warm compared to a week ago. Above freezing temperatures along with the rain of the past two days have really degraded the snow conditions for both travel and sampling. There were plans to try and sample on the Kongsvegen glacier but unsafe trail conditions changed those plans.
The warm weather also forced the cancellation of the transport flights from Longyearbyen today due runway conditions. As this was the first day back from the Easter break and a large number of people needing to come and go it was decided that they would use helicopters to make the scheduled flights. These last minute changes interrupted the UAV flight plans but it did allow another member of the flight team, Dirk, to arrive on time and with his bag of spare parts.
After the last helicopter was gone the UAV had a very successful flight. During a spiraling ascent they flight team saw a jump in absorption at 4500′ while the CN concentrations remained in the same range for throughout the profile.
Here are the plots from the flight today.
More rain and another day of catching up on data and maintenance. No snow sampling and no UAV flights. At Gruvebadet, we had elevated aerosol concentrations until the afternoon when then started to decrease. This was consistent with the Flexpart predictions for the day which showed a plume of anthropogenic aerosol being transported from Europe. So maybe it wasn’t local pollution.
Rainy day in Ny-Ålesund
Rain! It appears that Spring is coming to the Arctic. The sunny days of a week and a half ago that had everybody outside as much as possible gave way to more snow, wind and cold last week. Last night, the temperature started to rise and it’s above freezing for the first time since we’ve been here. And it’s raining. That means no flights and no snow sampling today. While the UAV is certainly capable of flying in the rain, the relatively warm and wet surface layer is topped by a sub-freezing layer above the clouds which makes icing a serious possibility so all of the flight crews made the decision not to fly today.
filters from snow samples
I spent most of the morning and early afternoon at the Marine Lab catching up on the snow filtering that was backed up. Once that was done I was able to do the same with some of the data we’ve been collecting. I made the trip up to Gruvebadet as well and all of the signals were elevated. It was most likely local contamination from town but we’ll have to verify that.
It’s the weekend in the middle of the Easter holiday week in Ny-Ålesund which means it’s pretty quiet around town today. Many of the people that live here year-round have headed out of town one way or another. Many flew out on Tuesday while others headed out of town on scooters to spend time in one of the huts around the island. And it’s Saturday which is also a little special. It is the one day a week where dinner is a bit more formal and everyone dresses a bit nicer. Tough to pack a suit and tie and stay under the 20kg you are allowed for luggage on the flight here but some clean, non-work clothes will do. It is a nice way to end the week and show some appreciation for the staff that works very hard to make us food every day.
The view from the snow pit
Just because it’s the weekend doesn’t mean there isn’t work being done here. The flight team successfully tested the longer range UAV today after fixing a problem in the fuel system. The plane flew over the airport for over 4 hours which roughly doubles the the endurance of our other UAV.
The snow samples were starting to pile up so I spent much of the morning catching up on the filtering which included finishing the intercomparison of the samples we took on the glacier the other day. Later in the afternoon I headed out of town to the northwest dug a snow pit about 5 miles out of town. The prevailing winds put this area upwind of town more often than not.
Rafael and Scott monitoring the UAV from the tower
The UAV flew over Kongsfjorden again today. The flight track went up the fjord to Kvadehuken and profiled up to 9000′. An aerosol layer was encountered near 8000′ and showed increased particle concentrations but little or no absorption.
Jim working on UAV payload during intercomparison
Prior to the flight, the UAV payload containing all of the aerosol instruments was taken to Gruvebadet to compare with the instruments there.
Group at the CNR site.
Snow sampling was done closer to town today. I started out by following the rest of the ground teams out the the CNR site for a sampling party and then hit a couple of other areas that we’d sampled earlier in the week.
NPI team looking at radiative properties of the snow at the CNR site.