The time has finally come. With the second phase of the campaign dawning, we set our eyes onto the distant shores of Alaska. By the time you’re reading this the last of our team has arrived in the United States, to take on the second phase of the campaign head on. We’ll be operating from a hangar run by Atlantic Aviations and are currently setting up the equipment already here.

— Fun Fact: —

The flight to from Frankfurt to Alaska takes 10 hours. Our plane departed from Frankfurt airport around 14:12, and crossed over the Netherlands at 14:12. Our flight took us across the North Sea to island, which we passed at 14:12, and continued across the frozen wastes of the Arctic Ocean, until we reached the west-most stretches of Northern America at 14:12. In total, it took us from 14:12 on August 19th to about 14:12 of August 19th. A bit odd, is it not?

It turns out the flight from Frankfurt to Alaska follows a path of constant local time. On a flight level of about 11 kilometers altitude – and neglecting earths translation – the plane’s compensates the Earth’s rotation surprisingly well, which creates the illusion of time standing still, or rather misconception. Only the time of day remains constant, a circumstance that does not have its own word by my knowledge, but most certainly would be deserving one. Maybe something like equihora maybe?

When thinking of Alaska, one might image a land of ice and snow, of lush, nordic forests and unbridled nature. Now in the summer temperatures are much more timid, and actually match temperatures back in Germany rather well, but its stark beauty has already touched my soul. It isn’t often that romantic expectations are met this well, and while I didn’t have time to venture out into this strange and wild land, the towering Alaskan mountains and vast forests that define the silhouette land inwards are something to behold, and sometimes the Pacific Ocean rises far to the East. At the airport you are greeted by the pantheon of local wildlife, even if they seem a bit stiff at times. The people are kind and very much American in any way, as is the house we’re staying in, in equal parts familiar to Europe as it is different.

View from our base of operations. Far back the dense forests can be seen, and beyond the towering mountains of Alaska Range.

From a scientific standpoint the coming days are most interesting. Our forecast models predict an anti-cyclone moving eastwards towards the continent carrying large amounts of East Asian Air, a rather opportune situation for our campaign. This might be the opportunity to actually probe the same filament multiple times, allowing for deep insights into the occurring mixing processes, dynamics and transports . As we speak our efforts are directed towards study and prediction of this eddy, and I am positive that there will me much value in probing this situation.

And there is yet another opportunity for us. The recent wildfires in Canada have been devastating for both nature and the people of Canada, often forcing them out of their homes into safety, with little hope for an early end. It feels grim to phrase it this way, but regarding scientific probing and understanding and predicting how these fires will eventually impact either global (by transport into the Stratosphere) or local weather it is most fortunate that HALO is in the relative vicinity of this tragedy. I believe our campaign will also probe the outflow of these fires on a rather short hand notice. If given any luck our findings may be useful for predicting and reaction to the inevitable effects these wildfires will have on other regions.

HALO has left Germany today, and will arrive tomorrow here in Anchorage. While crossing the Arctic Sea our instruments will already be operational and gather data. It shows that no flight is wasted, every possible second utilized to the best of our abilities. I have high hopes for the coming phase, and as always will keep you updated on our campaign here in Alaska!

About Jan Kaumanns

Jan Kaumanns is a PhD student at the Institute for Energy and Climate (IEK-7, Stratosphere) and a HITEC fellow. During his PhD he is researching isentropic mixing processes in filaments in the middle atmosphere. He is responsible for forecasting, flight planning and data processing during the PHILEAS campaign.

3 Responses to “The PHILEAS Campaign – Flying through the Endless Day”

  1. ilmu komunikasi

    The article mentions that the flight from Frankfurt to Alaska follows a path of constant local time. Could you elaborate on this concept and how it relates to the flight’s trajectory?

    • Jan Kaumanns

      In simple terms, ‘local time’ refers to the time displayed on your local watch. Of course, when it’s say 12:00 o’clock in Frankfurt (high noon UTC +1), it is only 11:00 o’clock in London (UTC +0). Local time is related to the position of the sun locally, although the details are much more complicated. We utilize time zones to simplify this concept. If you travel along a path crossing different time zones your local time will change accordingly. If it takes 1 hour to cross from one time zone into the next westwards it took +1 hour UTC to do so, but your local time is set back 1 hour, resulting in the same local time. Think of it as running on a treadmill. You move with the same speed the ground underneath you moves in the opposite direction.
      During the flight this is what happens. It takes us 1 hour to pass into the next timezone (roughly, as time zones were defined arbitrarily). There are no physical implication for the measurements itself, as local time doesn’t affect us much.
      The classic novel ‘Around the world in Eighty Days’ addresses this effect.

  2. Jan Kaumanns

    Issues regarding visual material has been resolved. Post has been restored.


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