(Ex-)Hurricane Ophelia kept us busy the last days. IEK-7 campaign seem to attract natural catastrophies. Or is it that we are going wherever the weather is exceptional? No-one knows… However, we found ourselfs in the middle of national weather warnings from Sunday midday onwards. According to the NOAA Hurricane Center, Ophelia was the easternmost hurricane in the Northern Atlantic on record. Of course, being the dedicated climate researchers we are, we had to take the chance to probe the hurricane in front of our doorstep.
Research aircrafts do not usually fly straight to a point and back, as you would expect for instance a passenger plane to go. Observing flight tracks of such a plane give very funny patterns, hence. See for yourself.
One major goal in the WISE campaign is to follow the time evolution of air masses in the UTLS (upper troposphere-lower stratosphere) and to see how they are affected by tropopheric-stratospheric exchange. The latest (and upcoming) research flights are planned to provide an idea of exacty this time evolution. Flight 10 last Saturday was targeting a feature in the West-Atlantic with the plan to probe the same air again in later flights. At the moment, HALO is on its way to catch it now, two days later close to the Norwegian border.
There are some very nice things you can spot from a plane. Not only clouds and the ant farms that actually are cities but also atmospheric phenomena. I have seen for the first time a “Glory” on my way to Ireland. On top, a colleague (Peter Hoor from the Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz) took a very nice picture of so-called “Kelvin-Helmholtz instabilities” on a research flight with HALO last week. So I just wanted to show you the pictures here and give you a short explanation on what it is.
To prepare for a research flight takes quite some time and involves many people. It starts in general 3-4 days in advance when some scientist sit together over the forecasts and think about the most interesting atmospheric situations to probe. Two days in advance they hand over a preliminary flight plan to the HALO flight operations team. These colleagues from the German Aerospace Center (DLR) talk to Air Traffic Control (ATC). A day in advance this preliminary flight plan is updated with the recent forecast.
Today was research flight number 5 of the WISE campaign. This flight went from Shannon to Iceland and its aim was to study an atmospheric gravity wave. The wave was excited by wind over the Icelandic mountains and propagates vertically to the flight altitude of 14km and even higher. A similar wave was already observed during a previous campaign in January 2016 over the same location.
Yesterday evening at 19:28 (German time), HALO with the WISE instruments onboard landed at Shannon airport. The flight from the DLR site in Oberpfaffenhofen was used not only as a transfer but to investigate some of the WISE scientific goals on the way. Therefore instead of going to Shannon directly, the transfer was enlonged to a 10-hour research flight passing by Southern Norway, up north beyond the polar circle and coming down over Iceland. Eventually, a hexagonal flight pattern for tomographic evaluation was added above the North Atlantic crossing over from Iceland to Ireland.
Just about a month after the successful StratoClim campaign is over, there is the next measurement campaign with IEK-7 participation “taking off” at the moment… so welcome to WISE! During the next 5 weeks, Irene, Isabell, Lukas and me (Conny) will keep you posted here in the blog about what is going on with our instruments on-board of HALO.