Our research aircraft Geophysica and most of the Scientists arrived Monday 22nd of August. We are all in the process of integrating our instruments now.

The hangar here is small, very ‘basic’ and due to some holes in the roof, not every instrument is protected from rain, which we already experienced yesterday. We struggled with the electricity supply and internet connection. It is warm and humid, but we are lucky that we don’t have any dress code like the officers around us with their thick overalls.

The campaign is planned to continue until Sep 9th. In total 4 measurement flights are planned. The first EMC test is scheduled for tomorrow morning 7 a.m. to test if any instrument is disturbing the aircraft electronics.



Panorama view from the top of Geophysica

Big holes in the hangar roof above Geophysica.

Big holes in the hangar roof above Geophysica.



After the Kiruna Test campaign did not happen as planned, the main StratoClim campaign in India during the Asian Monsoon phase this year has been shifted to next year. Those news were unexpected as we visited an India training course, got medical advice for the journey and already sent one container with equipment to India, which is now slowly on its way back. As a PhD student and new to the community I still have to get used to disappointing, unexpected and sudden cancellations of campaigns/events that already have been planned in small detail.

For this year an alternative was found: Another campaign will take place in Kalamata, Greece from 22nd of August to 9th of September.

From Forschungszentrum Jülich, the container is packed with all the equipment and instruments and is now on its way to Kalamata. The last pieces were packed yesterday 11 pm.


Over the weekend we discussed some options, plans and schedules for the main campaign in India this summer. Before and During the India Campaign I will keep you updated about the activities and also the motivation of StratoClim.

Now (here in Kiruna) the containers are packed, the hangar is empty and we are all on our way back home.

Empty Arena Arctica

Empty Arena Arctica


Packing the container

Packing the container

Geophyisca left this morning at around 10:30 am and is now on the way back to its main base in Russia.

Yesterday most people already started packing their equipment and will go back home in the beginning of next week. This weekend we still have a Campaign Group Meeting here in Kiruna.

Group picture, picture by Ivanov Pavel

Group picture in front of Geophysica, picture by Ivanov Pavel



Group picture in front of Arena Arctica, the pilot in the middle, picture by Ivanov Pavel



Geophysica leaving, picture taken by Ralf Weigel


Geophysica before take off, picture taken by Ralf Weigel

Geophysica just before take off, picture taken by Ralf Weigel

Geophysica take off, picture taken by Nicole Spelten

Geophysica take off, picture taken by Nicole Spelten


During a walk around the ice hotel

During a walk around the ice hotel yesterday evening.


Two smart Scientists pretending to be a bird

Two scientists pretending to be a bird.


At the ice hotel, one igloo already broke down

At the ice hotel, one igloo already broke down.



During a necessary engine test of the research aircraft, we hoped to test our instruments. So today we worked on preparing the instruments. However, the Swedish authorities decided at a meeting this afternoon that Geophysica needs to leave immediately. The Russian embassy contacted the engineers of Geophysica requesting to follow this demand, due to the risk of being impounded. Until now there were potential plans and hopes (i.e., transfer flights to a different country and having test flights there), now we have to interrupt our work and dismount all instruments during the next hours. Geophysica must leave the country tomorrow morning. Everyone is shocked and very disappointed…

in the process of dismounting the instruments

In the process of dismounting the instruments

Earlier today: Working in the labs in the hanger

Earlier today: Working in the labs in the hanger

Due to the current status, Geophysica is not able to leave Sweden before Friday. The Swedish ministry of defense has called the airport several times today to make sure that Geophysica is leaving.

We have been informed that the Swedish authorities are working on new flight permissions. It is unclear whether these flight permissions are for the purpose of our research (which would be great) or for the Geophysica flight to leave the country. Either way, the German-, Italian- and Swiss embassies will ask for new permissions for the research flights. We are hoping for the best…

To get an overview of the airport in Kiruna and where we are located:

[googlemaps https://www.google.com/maps/embed?pb=!1m18!1m12!1m3!1d7265.300171434745!2d20.332044788074988!3d67.82389636220601!2m3!1f0!2f0!3f0!3m2!1i1024!2i768!4f13.1!3m3!1m2!1s0x0%3A0x0!2zNjfCsDQ5JzE5LjYiTiAyMMKwMTknMzUuNSJF!5e1!3m2!1sde!2sde!4v1460994084964&w=600&h=450]

At the pin: Arena Arctica, location of our work

Even though it is already mid-April, some of us (not me…) saw some nice polar lights yesterday night.

polar lights, picture taken by Brian Leen

Polar lights, picture taken by Brian Leen

On it’s way into the country on Friday, Geophysica was mistaken as a Russian state aircraft by the Swedish Defense Ministry with ‘no obvious motivation’. The flight permissions for the Swedish airspace were withdrawn. Quick note: Geophysica has already been here in Kiruna for campaigns several times and did more than 30 research flights since 2003. The purpose of the campaign and the flight has been communicated to the authorities again. Still, the Swedish Defense Ministry insists: Geophysica has to leave the country by tomorrow morning 8 a.m..



Yesterday we integrating our instruments onto Geophysica for the first time. On the picture you see the instrument AMICA that I work on, carried by a crane to the top of the plane, to test all mountings and connections.

On the picture you see the instrument AMICA that I work on, carried by a crane to the top of the plane, to test all mountings and connections.

This is the M-55 Geophysica, a Russian high altitude research aircraft. It reaches altitudes up to 21 km and has a flight duration of up to 5 hours. It was built as a Russian spy plane in the 1970s and was reconstructed to an atmospheric research aircraft in the 1990s.

The M-55 Geophysica

The M-55 Geophysica on its way into the Arena Arctica

It arrived yesterday shortly after us and is now sitting in the huge Arena Arctica here in Kiruna.
The plan is to have two test flights during the next two weeks. The first one Thursday 21st of April and the second on Monday 25th. Until then we still need to test the integration onto the aircraft, do lab tests with the instruments and some other preparations.

The Arena Arctica from the top of Geophysica

The Arena Arctica: View from the top of the aircraft

IMG_4185 IMG_4186

Greetings from Stockholm!
The container with all the equipment and our instruments is already at the Arena Arctica in Kiruna now we have to get there.
We just landed in Stockholm and will continue our journey to Kiruna in two hours. Most of us got up at 3 am this morning to catch the flight, our collegues from the U.S. have a longer way and took off already yesterday afternoon (german time).

Now that POLSTRACC found a successful ending it is time for some of us at IEK-7 to pack our bags and instruments (again) to start the next campaign. Marc and I (Corinna) will take over and try our best to keep you updated and informed about the coming events concerning the new project StratoClim.

For those of you, who followed Isabell’s blog entries:

What stays the same? The first campaign base will also be in Kiruna (Sweden), the project involves again instruments taking measurements on a research aircraft, some faces ..

What is different? Everything else… 😉

StratoClim in a nutshell

StratoClim is an EU-funded project and short for ‘Stratospheric and upper tropospheric processes for better climate predictions’ involving 28 partners from 11 countries with a total cost of about 12 million Euros. It started in December 2013 and has a duration of 52 months. Short: It is big! There are two aircraft campaigns that we are involved in, the test campaign in Kiruna and the main campaign in India, during the Asian monsoon season.

In case you became more curious about StratoClim you are welcome to visit the web-site: http://www.aerosols-climate.org/


The Test Campaign: Sooo soon!

Why do we need a test campaign? Many instruments in StratoClim are new on the research aircraft Geophysica, so it is important to test and optimize them before taking them to the main campaign in India. This campaign starts on the 15th of April with a duration of two weeks..

To have all of our instruments, tools and necessary lab equipment in Kiruna on time, we already packed a container and shipped it to Kiruna last Friday.


picture by Anne Richter