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.
Yesterday we had our last StratoClim measurement flight here in Kathmandu. Currently no follow up project with the Geophysica is planned. During the preparation phase on the apron it was raining, matching the mood of seeing the Geophysica taking off for the last measurement flight.
Problems with the exact coordinates of the planned flight track appeared and communication with the airport tower led to a take-off delay of 1,5h with running instruments. Even though it was not really warm outside, some instruments running so long on the ground had problems with overheating.
Altogether, the campaign was a huge success with 8 measurement flights in the Asian monsoon. After the cancelled test campaign in Kiruna, Sweden due to political issues and the replacement phase 1 campaign in Kalamata, Greece with flooding issues and challenging conditions in the hangar, the well organized and smoothly running campaign here in Kathmandu is a pleasant surprise. A meeting to present measurement results is planned for November in Rome.
Personally, I experienced this campaign as easy going, especially compared to the last campaign in Kalamata. The instrument I am working with operated throughout all 8 measurement flights, without any complications.
As a highlight ending, a Mt. Everest sightseeing flight with Buddha Air happened this morning for everyone from StratoClim, who wanted to join for a fair price. Because we work in their hangar, the organization of the flight with Buddha Air was easy.
Since the StratoClim campaign has now finished, this is the last blog entry from me. However, another atmospheric campaign is starting soon in Shannon, Ireland with the German research aircraft HALO, which you will be informed about in this blog.
Yesterday we had a measurement flight going over India to the Bay of Bengal region. The whole flight procedure was according to schedule (i.e. the take-off was planned for 1 pm and also actually happened at 1 pm). It was a successful flight and the data look promising.
It is a fairly calm day today and the preparations on the instruments for the next flight have started.
An engine inspection at the aircraft was done during the last night so that the next measurement flight can happen tomorrow either in the morning or afternoon (which is still point of discussion).
It seems that the last possible flight day is the 10th of August. At the moment 6 out of the planned 9 measurement flights took place. Hence, in order to have 9 flights at the end of this campaign, we have to fly Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, so three days in a row. This gives the scientists little time to download the data and prepare their instruments in between flights.
If a flight is planned, the day can start very early (i.e. waking up at 3 am might be necessary for some people). Breakfast at the hotel starts at 6 am and we have the choice between curry and western breakfast. The people at the hotel are extremely nice, even the decoration during breakfast is made for us (picture) and they plan a traditional Nepalese evening for us with live music.
From the hotel there are a 2-3 shuttle busses going in the morning to the hangar (between 3:45 am and 6:30 am). For our standards, the traffic is extremely chaotic and the air on the streets is very dusty and polluted. Before entering the airport to get to the hangar we show our passports.
At the hangar there are offices, but the scientists working with measurement instruments stay close to the aircraft and their instruments inside the hangar.
For flight Geophysica is rolled out 2.5 hours before take-off, yesterday that was at 5:45 am. The scientists follow, equipped with air conditioning and tools for their instruments. The aircraft is fueled, the pilot arrives, takes his seat and we wait for the tower confirmation that the Geophysica can take its position for take off. Yesterday the take-off was delayed by almost an hour and took off at 9 am. It is incredible how close we are allowed to the runway!
For some scientists the time during flight is the only time they can explore the region and have a look at some temples around.
As soon as the Geophysica comes back, data from the instruments are downloaded. This is also the moment, when we discover whether our instruments worked during flight or whether some problem(s) appeared. Most instruments are dismounted again. Quick looks are prepared (visualization of the data) and are made visible for everyone. Then the instruments are prepared for the next flight and integrated back onto the aircraft. This preparation phase takes 1-2 days.
2 busses go back to the hotel between 3 pm and 9 pm. Yesterday evening we had our campaign party. A party that is usually organized once per campaign to celebrate the success and spend some time together away of work. Those parties are usually pretty fancy and at nice locations. Yesterday for example, we had dinner with drinks at the ‘garden of dreams’, a tourist attraction, partly reserved for us.
Every day a flight planning group sits together and discusses the current and forecast meteorological situation in and around Nepal (in the Asian monsoon region). The position and development of the Asian monsoon anticyclone, incoming typhoons, temperature at different heights and enhancement of different substances are looked at.
Additionally, the planned flight track is determined by the flight clearances. We don’t have any flight permission to go over Tibet and have to apply for flight permission over India and Bangladesh each time prior to flight. This limits the flight track for some flights only to Nepal. However, prior to the campaign some possible, preliminary scientific flights have been planned (that include flight tracks over India to the Bay of Bengal) and flight clearances for those flight tracks were requested for random days (each flight clearance is permitted for three days) during the campaign.
The Geophysica tank enables a flight duration of usually around 4 hours, which limits the area that can be reached.
All those components determine which route is chosen for a scientific flight. Listening to the flight planning team is very interesting.
As an example I added the following picture from yesterday’s flight planning meeting for a flight planned for Sunday (August 6th ). The purple and especially white areas on the picture present regions with a very fast transport of air masses from the ground to around 16.5 km height. This fast transport happens in the Asian monsoon, but also and even faster in occurring typhoons. The white area on the picture shows the air approaching Bangladesh from a typhoon near Japan and its predicted development for Sunday. The flight track that is planned is indicated with red dots and connecting blue lines, from Kathmandu to India and Bangladesh close to the typhoon air. This means that during this flight we could be able to measure the strong convection in the Asian monsoon but also the influence of the typhoon coming in.
Yesterday, the fourth flight of this campaign took place and the next one is planned for tomorrow (Friday) in the morning. Both those flights are restricted over Nepal. In Nepal we are currently pretty much in the center of the Asian monsoon anticyclone and can therefore probe the anticyclone well. Besides investigation the inside of the Asian monsoon anticyclone, the edge and outflow region are also of high interest during this campaign, however until now the edge has not been reached with the aircraft.
Yesterday after the flight we took a group picture of everyone in the StratoClim community, who is here.
After what seemed to be a slow beginning (delay of the research aircraft arrival, delay of EMC tests and also delay of equipment shipping to the campaign site), the campaign is now running at full speed and already three successful measurement flights took place (July 27th, 29th and 31st )! During those flights measurements in the Asian monsoon anticyclone were made. In total 9 flights are planned, so there are still 6 to go. The last flight is currently scheduled for the 12th of August. Hence, every other day a research flight is planned. The next one is scheduled for tomorrow afternoon.
25 instruments are implemented on the Geophysica and almost all of them worked during those flights. However, prior to take off for the first flight, the aircraft had to wait in the sun for around 1.5 hours and some instruments overheated and did not perform measurements during this flight..
Together with a few colleges I just arrived in Kathmandu and can therefore write about on-site impressions from now on..
Prior to the first measurement flight an EMC-test is scheduled to ensure e.g. that no measurement instrument on the aircraft interferes with the aircraft electronics. For this purpose the Geophysica is rolled out together with all measurement instruments, engines of the aircraft and the instruments are switched on and the electromagnetic field around the aircraft and at the cockpit control is measured. During flight and the actual EMC test, only with running engines the instruments can draw current for operation. For yesterday, this EMC test was scheduled, and the aircraft together with all instruments were ready to be tested (see picture), but the airport tower did not approve the start of the engines. Today the EMC-test was also not possible so that it is now planned to be carried out tomorrow (July 26th).
Some equipment did not reach the campaign site on time and is still missing. The earliest arrival of this equipment is estimated to be tomorrow (July 26th). Before the equipment arrives, no measurement flight can take place. This (but also the delayed EMC-test) delays the campaign phase. The official campaign ending is scheduled for August 14th, but a possible shift of this date by a few days is currently discussed.
However, the biggest step for the startof the campaign was the arrival of the research aircraft Geophysica. Here are some spectacular pictures of the Geophysica landing in Kathmandu from July 20th at 6:13 a.m. local time:
The colleagues in Kathmandu found some time to explore the region
… and the view from the hotel is also not bad
Finally after years of challenges and struggles the main campaign of StratoClim to investigate the asian monsoon has started!!
The research aircraft, M55 Geophysica, landed at the campaign site in Nepal, Kathmandu today (see picture) and is now ready to carry our atmospheric instruments into the upper troposphere and stratosphere during the asian monsoon.
But why is the investigation of the asian monsoon so important?
The asian monsoon is seen as a major pathway for tropospheric gases into the stratosphere, bringing large air masses quickly from the ground into high altitudes. In the stratosphere, atmospheric gases have a more direct impact on the climate, as they directly interact with solar radiation. The investigation of the asian monsoon transport mechanisms is the main goal of this measurement campaign. The improved understanding of these processes in and around the asian monsoon from this campaign will contribute to global climate models, which will, as a result, give more accurate predictions of the climate development, providing important information for climate change policy making. The M55 Geophysica reaches altitudes of 20 km and is therefore suitable to bring our instruments in the area of interest.
Personally, I am not yet in Kathmandu, but will be there to give on-site information in August.
Last night Kalamata was hit by a flood and most of us were affected by it. Already yesterday and during the night we had several storms and strong rain here. We woke up from water streaming in our rooms and had to rescue ourselves one level up. Everyone is fine and we found another hotel to spend the last days in. However, the demage at the hotel is huge. Our rental cars were flushed away and clothes from our luggage are soaked in or at least smell like dirt. One dog that we saw every day going to breakfast was on a leash and and couldn’t rescue himself.
For the campaign that means that todays measurement flight was cancelled, the option for another one tomorrow is currently discussed. Everyone scheduled to leave today cannot.
One thing is for sure.. This was an event/adventure that we won’t ever forget..
Here are some impressions: