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

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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:


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

Every great scientific campaign has to come to an end. The POLSTRACC/GW-LCYCLE/GWEX/SALSA campaign as well. Today HALO took off for the last time in Kiruna and is on its way home to Oberpfaffenhofen. And of course HALO also has to say goodbye to Kangerlussuaq, where it refueled so many times during this campaign phase. So right now they are approaching Greenland again for a last stop over. As always you can follow HALO on Gloria Watch.
Don’t be sad now, it is not the very last flight of this campaign. There will be one or two more flights heading from Oberpfaffenhofen to the South (or at least towards subtropic air masses – let’s see where that will be), before the campaign finally finishes next Sunday.

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After yesterdays 11 hours flight with refuelling stop in Kangerlussuaq in Greenland, today we are already preparing for take-off again. And we are going to – try a guess – Greenland. There are already jokes going on, that we should have taken the base in Iceland, as many flights brought us to the Canadian coast and over Greenland. Luckily HALO has such a long range – it could fly till San Francisco without refuelling.

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Combining different scientific goals into one flight is a very complex process. The flight planning for the 15th scientific flight of the POLSTRACC/GW-LCycle Campaign started three days in advance. Different Teams presented their ideas about where to fly. Fast (that means after just 3 hours of discussion) a conclusion was made that a complex tropopause structure approaching over the Atlantic was a very interesting scientific goal and that could be combined with sampling a gravity wave structure over Northern Scandinavia. Two days before the flight, the plans got more detailed and everyone concluded on probeing the structure the moment it hits the Norwegian coast. A preliminary flight plan was made and handed over to the airtraffic control of the different countries. One day in advance another flightplanning meeting was set at 10:30am to finalise the flightpath according to the latest meteorological forecasts. Just when everything was finalised the info arrived that there will be a big military excersise in Norway exactly when and where we wanted to fly and the airspace will be closed. The planned flight was not possible anymore.

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Today I will mainly show you the advantages of being close to the Artic Circle. Every few days you can see an Aurora. For those of you who have never seen one my colleagues made an awesome video, which you can see below. There you can see how they move across the sky. Another advantage of the location of Kiruna in the far North are the low temperatures throughout the whole winter season. That makes the Icehotel possible, which is built every winter since 1989.

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Today a flight with both planes HALO and Falcon to southern Scandinavia was planned. On that flight we want to measure gravity waves. Gravity waves are periodic movements of the air, which lead to temperature and wind fluctuations. Gravity waves are excited in the troposphere for example through wind blowing over a mountain ridge. They transport energy from the troposphere into the higher stratosphere. The breaking waves deposit energy and drive global atmospheric circulations. Over southern Scandinava the polar jet is today blowing over the Norwegian Alps, where then mountain waves (one kind of gravity waves) are excited. The wave fronts are oriented parallel to the mountains and therefore in North-South direction. The flight pattern crosses the wave fronts on different altitudes several times to get a full picture of the wave.

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