Freitag, 23. Juni 2017


Wednesday afternoon the PASCAL crew visited us at the airport. After we explained our instruments to them, we took one large group pictures of the PASCAL and the ACLOUD team together.

Donnerstag, 22. Juni 2017

Visit time

Yesterday Polarstern arrived in Longyearbyen. So many of us visited Polarstern in the morning and in the afternoon the Polarstern people visited our airplanes.
After meeting Polarstern many times from above, we were really happy to set foot on the ship. We had a look at the working conditions and all the instruments on board.
Also the Polarstern group was really interested in our aircraft and the installed instruments.
In the evening we all had together a nice dinner and party.

The ACLOUD campaign has still one week to go, whereas the PASCAL campaign ended yesterday.

Donnerstag, 15. Juni 2017

Rush hour at LYR

Unexpected long queue at the airport check-in at 1 AM in the middle of the "night". That's because some commercial flights to Oslo leave at 2:30 AM. Four hours later, Polar 5 / 6 took of for another combined Polarstern - A-Train mission. This morning CloudSat and the other satellites of the A-Train constellation twice pass Polarstern in close distance, once at 8:00 and after one orbit a second time at about 9:30 local time. This chance will be used to combine all three types of remote sensing, ground-based, airborne (Polar 5), and space-borne with in situ measurements by Polar 6. Just don't look into one of the lidar laser beams

No flight = time for waffles.

Today again the weather did not allow a flight. A occlusion does pass Svalbard... It is cloudy, quite dark and it rains... At the same time, these clouds are also in the area of Polarstern, where measurements would have been quite complicated. So we decided not to fly today and use the day for preparing the next days.

This free time also can be spent to make some waffles. In the hotel of our meeting room every afternoon a waffle iron is setup with all incredients needed for a good afternoon snack. Some of us like it sweet with jam, some heartly with norwegian cheese.

Mittwoch, 14. Juni 2017

Leipziger high-quality work

Polar 5 and Polar 6 are airborne again. Finally, the weather improved, no fog today,... and we again meet Polarstern at roughly 82° N. Today, boundary layer profiles will be sampled at different latitudes between Polarstern and the northern tip of Svalbard. 

Therefore, both aircraft fly legs of roughly 8 min in different altitudes. Pictures from the take off preparation are posted here:

Meanwhile some of us are still left on ground and spend the time in the Spitzbergen Hotel, formerly  known as Funken-Hotel. This is one of the older buildings in town. Walls are labelled with old construction drawings of the mining sites. Many of them were obviously build by german ingeneurs. The lorry trail, actually, by a company from Leipzig... 

Montag, 12. Juni 2017

Fog - Forecast vs. Reality

After two days when we were grounded because fog was forcasted but not present directly over the airport, today forecasts look better and no fog was predicted by the latest TAF from yesterday.

As Murphy's law predicts, of course today the fog was acutally present and again allowed ny flight activities with Polar 5/6. We used the time to drive above the fog and take some sunny pictured on top of the Advendsdalen.

Other impressions of today's fog:
Later we followed the landing approach of a commercial aircraft on FlightRadar24. Even this aircraft equiped with automatic landing systems which allow to fly in non-visual conditions did need about three approaches until it finally landed safely.

Sonntag, 11. Juni 2017

As time goes by...

...while the snow melts down.

Since the two aircrafts are grounded due to fog unfavourable for takeoff and landing at LYR airport one can take a look back in time for the last weeks. While already very valuable data could be collected on the research flights also the landscape in Longyearbyen changed quite significantly. Especially when adding two pictures from before the campaign in March and April.
Currently the snow suffers from the warm and moist air transported to the area! Arctic amplification on even shorter time scales...?, it's just spring! :-)
With the wind direction turning more to the north flying conditions are supposed to improve over the course of the week. Keep fingers crossed!

Samstag, 10. Juni 2017

Grounded due to fog

Webcam at Zeppelin Mointain
Unfortunally, we are grounded scince two days. This time the problem is the local weather. A warm and moist air mass was transportet into Svalbard producing low clouds up to the position of Polarstern. Low clouds and especially fog as predicted in the aviation weather forecast are not favorable for starting and landing an airplane under visual flight conditions. That's why had to cancel flights yesterday and to postpone this morning.

The strange situation is, that locally, no clouds or fog are present in Isfjorden while in Ny Alesund, the Kongsfjorden is completely overcasted as shown by the webcam at Zeppelin Mointain. This is certainly due to local effects of the mountains and fjords. Obviously these local conditions can not be precisely forecasted by the weather models... One reason why we are here and aim to characterize such clouds in detail. Only that these clouds now stop us from measuring. Let's hope for other winds and no clouds at the airport.

Donnerstag, 8. Juni 2017

Another joint flight toward Polarstern

After a two day break, today Polar 5 & 6 are again up in the skies. Destination: Ny Alesund -- A-Train -- Polarstern -- Ny Alesund -- and back.

As it happens, Polar 6 always takes off first, then Polar 5 follows. After 13 flights, this already became kind of a ACLOUD ritual. As Bill, our Polar 6 pilot in command, said: "P6 always goes first!".

This picture was taken during one of the last starts. So why is the Polar 5 schadow not in place? Or is it just another Polar Shark?

Dienstag, 6. Juni 2017

Second week over and spring arrived

The second week of ACLOUD flight activities ended with some spectacular clouds in the Isfjorden and spring like temperatures in Longyearbyen.
Polar 5&6 did fly for a fourth time to RV Polarstern. Yesterday it was the third time in a row we could sample the "same" clouds. At least clouds in the same air mass, which was warm air transported from south-west and sliding over the cold sea ice. The measurements worked well and we were quite surprised, that these clouds still produced a lot of ice crystals.

Also in the Isfjord a special cloud was present all the day close to the mountians. Streched like a snake along the slope of the mountaind, it reminds to the Maloja Snake in the Alps.

Here in town and sourrounding, the snow melts very quick. Also some first tiny flowers were discovered.

Sonntag, 4. Juni 2017

Fascinating Clouds in False Color

During ACLOUD we often look at satellite images to determine the coordinated of the flight pattern and have a most recent look on the weather or to analyze in which area and clouds regime the last flights have been finally flown. One instrument we like is MODIS for which a lot of images and products are available online. Looking into the detailled images you can discover a multitude of different cloud structures and phenomena. Especially when using false color images such like these:

Clouds pressing into the fjords...

Vortex like clouds at the southern tip of Svalbard...

Inhomogeneous convective clouds?

Strato cumulus in different scales...

Non-Flight Day Activities

Yesterday no flight was scheduled because the local weather was expected to show low clouds and limit the flight conditions. As it may happen, the day finally was almost completely sunny. Some of the ALCOUD Team used the time to participate in the Spitsbergen Marathon. A 10km run, the Spitsbergenmila, was the goal, In total, about 300 runner were on the track in the 10K, full and half marathon and guarded by a polar bear watch outside the town. All of the ACLOUD Team finished having a lot of fun on the scenic track down to the airport which we usually only go by car.

Freitag, 2. Juni 2017

Polly without XT

On Polarstern the TROPOS is operating a lidar system PollyXT to measure cloud and aerosol profiles with a strong laser beam ( Here in Longyearbyen we also could find some Polly although it will not last until the end of ACLOUD. 

Half an hour ago Polar 5 and 6 departed from Longyearbyen to visit the PollyXT at Polarstern. On board Polar 5 we operate a similar instrument, the AMALi (Airborne Mobile Aerosol Lidar). Let's hope for good measurements. 

Donnerstag, 1. Juni 2017

Strange holes

Any idea about these holes?

Meeting Polarstern

On Tuesday Polar 6 had the first meeting with Polarstern. One goal was measuring aerosol next to Polarstern. On Polarstern aerosol measurements are carried out as well, so comparisons are possible.
Yesterday, for further comparisons and also for detecting clouds even in low level flights, the pointing direction of the LIDAR was changed to look upward, like it is doing on Polarstern.
Terminus of the glacier close to Longyearbyen
At the beginning of the yesterday flight, a glacier on the way to Ny-Aalesund was overflown in low altitude to measure the albedo and the reflectivity. At the AWIPEV observatory in Ny-Aalesund all remote sensing instruments were running and are providing a good opportunity for comparisons.
The meeting with Polarstern and Polar 5 & 6 went really well and the measurements provided good results.

Also yesterday the pilot crew of Polar 5 changed as scheduled and a new pilot and a new copilot had control of the plane. In the next days also the new pilots of Polar 6 will arrive.

Polarstern breaking ice

Not an albedo flight

Yesterday we aimed the second time for a meeting with Polarstern. Initially planned as a clear sky flight to measure the surface albedo of sea ice in different areas and close to Polarstern, this plan did not work out in detail. Exactly in the observation area we encountered again a large field of thin low level clouds. The forecast models did predict that these clouds will disolve in the evening but they did not that fast showing that weather models still have serious ploblems in predicting clouds over sea ice.

Due to the flexibility of Polar 5 & 6 we quickly could change our plans during the flight and switched into cloud mode flying below, in, and above clouds. The meeting with Polarstern also had to be adjusted. When Polarstern hit the sea ice, the cruising speed drastically decreased and the predicted position was far from the location of Polarstern during the flight. Communication with the tower of Polarstern worked well and we finally found the ship. Again we sampled the clouds in different altitutes and added legs for remote sensing and the aerosol and trace gas profile.
Obviously people on board Polarstern were aware of our overflights and took some pictures.

Montag, 29. Mai 2017

Latest flights and outlook

This morning Polar 5 and 6 took off really early. Scheduled take off was at 7:00 local time. The plan was to fly above the clouds and also at low altitude to do amongst other things some calibration patterns, albedo, cloud remote and in-situ measuring.
Flight under the clouds and above sea ice

Clouds near Svalbard

Unfortunately Polar 5 encountered too much icing and had to return to Longyearbyen after 3 hours. Polar 6 instead had a flight of more than 4 hours and returned succesfully.

Tomorrow, Polar 6 and Polarstern, which is passing Svalbard on the West, will have a first meeting. On Wednesday a joint flight of both aircraft to Polarstern is planned.

Samstag, 27. Mai 2017

Polar 5 on a Satellite Mission

Today, Polar 5 started for a satellite mission having a date with Cloudsat and all the other satellite of the A-Train satellite constellation. Therefore, the flight plan had to be scheduled more precise then for other flights. The meeting was at 11:27 local time with about 1.5 hours flight time until the exact overpass. We aimed to follow the track for one hour having the meeting in the center of the leg. So everybody had to take the seat half an hour before start to guaranty no delay during the starting procedure. The training of the last flights helped and is morning Polar 5 needed only 20 min from starting the engines until take off.

Although we had beautiful sunny weather at the airport with high risk of getting sun burned, a lot of clouds where found on the satellite track.

First Ny Alesund Overpass

Another fish-eye photo taken from Polar 5 during the second research flight, where you might find some interesting detail. 

Freitag, 26. Mai 2017

The Polar 6 view...

...standing on the ground, a longing view to the sky... it's Polar 5 taking off while the Polar 6 scientists still need to wait for their first research flight. Due to the technical problems with the aircraft we still need to be patient to get airborne. But this can always happen and in the meanwhile the time was used to optimize and calibrate the scientific instrumentation inside of Polar 6. Of course we want to be ready as soon as the aircraft is.

Today the spare part is supposed to arrive in Longyearbyen. Being lucky, the aircraft will be ready by saturday and if weather is good the first joint flight of P5 and P6 might happen...finally :-)

Donnerstag, 25. Mai 2017

Survival Suits

During take-off and landing and also during low level flights, the survival suit has to be worn. In the case of an offshore emergency landing the suit protects the wearer from the cold and harsh sea. It is getting really warm inside these suits, therefore they aren't the first choice of clothing but they are important and necessary. Also everyone wearing it looks like an astronaut or an orange jet pilot. Some critics say you just look funny.

Second flight Polar5

Today was the second flight of Polar5. At the beginning of the flight we passed the Ny-Alesund. During the flight we had an  opportunity to observe glacier and different kind of clouds. Several dropsondes were launched during the flight providing the data. Almost everything works with the instruments on Polar5. The first flight of Polar6 is planned for Saturday.
Glacier in Arctic
Launching dropsonde

Find Polar5

Something for the C-Cluster ...

Mittwoch, 24. Mai 2017

Polar 5 in test flight - short film

One of the test flights of Polar 5 took place in Bremen in February 2017. The long training will surely pay off now!

Dienstag, 23. Mai 2017

First Flight of Polar 5

Polar 5 scientists during flight in 10,000ft (~3,000m) height
This morning was the first take-off of Polar 5. The flight took around 5 hours and provided the first promising measurements. As usual for the first flight not all measurement instruments showed the performance which is wanted. Therefore tomorrow will be used for maintenance work for getting 100% of the data out of the next flights.

Aside from the science part, the flight today was really impressing. Polar 5 flew over an hour in just 200ft height.  So there was a great opportunity to enjoy the Arctic ice and the beautiful landscape. But everyone has to wear his survival suit to be prepared for the unlikely case that an emergency landing is needed.

Montag, 22. Mai 2017

Pick the right pair

Because of snow in winter and mud in summer, Svalbard people thought it would be a good idea not to bring any of both with your boots into houses. Nobody wants to clean this mess... So in allmost all buildings you have to put off your shoes when entering the door. One of our houses at Coal Miner Cabins is now complitely filled what you can easily conclude in the evening, when everyone is in the house. In the morning you only have to remember type, color and size of your own boots.

Now you can imagine, that changing houses such as going to breakfast becomes a little effort. Boots on and off for 20 seconds. The best strategy... do not tie your shoelace.

Sonntag, 21. Mai 2017

First meeting and technical problems

Today was the first general meeting in Longyearbyen. By now we are around 35 people, so even some people had to sit in the second row of our meeting room.
After discussing our scientific goals we talked about current technical issues of the scientific equipment. Due to that problems neither Polar 5 nor Polar 6 will take off tomorrow. The first start of Polar 5 is postponed to Tuesday whereas the earliest possible start of Polar 6 is Wednesday. The weather conditions for the upcoming week look promising for the first measurements.

Samstag, 20. Mai 2017

Waiting for something........ P5&6 arrival

Today we could, for the first time during ACLOUD, practice how to wait in cold weather for an aircraft to land. One of the most frequent tasks during aircraft campaigns. Polar 6 and Polar 5 started from Tromsö in the morning and needed only about 3 hours to cross the ocean between Svalbard and Scandinavia. Polar 6 was a little faster and arrived first. Before we finished to unload the addional cargo, also Polar 5 landed and we could welcome crew and operators.

Freitag, 19. Mai 2017

New Arrivals

Today the first large group of ACLOUD scientists arrived in Longyearbyen. Surprisingly, all in the second commercial flight by SAS. Nobody took Norwegian airline, even if they provide WiFi on board...  Also nobody was lost during the stop in Oslo. So we could guide all safely to our hotel, the Coal Miner Cabins.

In the same plane also the air freight arrived in the hangar of Longyearbyen airport. That was record breaking fast as the 638 kg of cargo boxes were send just at begin of the week. We also started to unload the sea freight container searching for all the personal polar clothes. Most were quite easy to access, but not all... and moved into the hanger using such typical airport wagons. Here we could learn how airport workers must feel when they have to drag and pull all the heave luggage into planes and out again.

Polar 5 and 6 are on the way

Today was the first day of the ferry of Polar 5 and Polar 6 to Longyearbyen. Because of some custom issues we left from Bremen airport a bit later then expected, but already could finish half of the way during the last hours. Within 3.5 hours flight time we first went to Trondheim, where we had a quick stop for refuling the aircraft. About half an hour later we were already back in the air again and were heading towards Tromsoe, our final destination for the first day of ferry. Here we arrived at about 8 pm. If everything wents well and the weather stays good we will make the final jump to Longyearbyen starting by tomorrow morning.
Of course, from a scientific point of view, just a ferry of the aircraft to Longyearbyen would be wasted flight time. Therefore, we used the chance to put already a small scientific crew onboard of both aircraft. Thus, during the ferry we could once again intensively test the instruments and carry out some first measurements of nice low level clouds. The good thing is that except of some smaller issues, all instruments performed well. The bad thing is that I wanted to upload a picture of such a nice cloud field, but the internet in our hotel is not strong enough. But I guess and hope that there will be much more of such clouds and the chance of posting photos of them during the next weeks of ACLOUD. 

Donnerstag, 18. Mai 2017

Alternate Office

While waiting for appointments with airport administration, meeting room owner, rental car service, etc... we spend some time in the Coal Miners Bar. Warm air, nice furniture, WiFi, ....  and only 30 NOK for coffee or tee with unlimited refill. In addition a nice view into the valley Longyeardalen.

 Silke, our AWI logistic expert is concentrating on answering mails from home. All the local arrangements she already prepared perfectly. No surprises so far. Tomorrow it will be more crowded. The first bunch of ACLOUD participants will arrive. One day later we expect the aircrafts to ferry to LYR.

Mittwoch, 17. Mai 2017

Nice clouds and eduroam at LYR

-5°C and clouds with little snow, that's how weather should be at Svalbard. Looks like bringing warm clothes was not the worst idea. Switching on my smart phone at the airport waiting hall, I imidiately got WiFi connection via Eduroam. There is no place left to be save from Email and Co....

Donnerstag, 11. Mai 2017

Polar 5 camouflages as Polar 6 - Testflights successfull

On Wednesday, Polar 5 was supposed to have a test flight after the integration was fully completed. Even if the configuration was already certified in February, deintagrating and integrating the instruments, always can cause some unexpected trouble. Everything was set for a early flight at 11:00 and Polar 5 also did taxi to the spot where all the instruments are usually initialized. But then waiting for take-off took longer and longer. Finally, Polar 5 came back and did shut down the engines.
The reason was not one of the instruments, it was the aircraft itself. In particular, the TCAS transponder failed to work. But good to have two aircraft. Luke the Polar 5 mechanic quickly exchanged the transponder by the one of Polar 6.

Therefore, flightradar24 showed Polar 5 flying in camouflage with the Polar 6 aircraft code C-GHGF instead of C-GAWI. However, the flight was succesfull, We could perform all patterns we needed to check the instruments and even observed a nice cloud layer that was visible in the new instruments MiRAC and Eagle/Hawk.

Today on Thursday, Polar 6 was scheduled to have the certification flight. Here a lot of paper work needed to be finished until the final go was announced. So take-off was in the late afternoon. But the spring Sun is already up quite a long time in the evening. The weather conditions have been also quite suitable for a certification flight, which has to be conducted under visual flight rules, meaning cloud free conditions. Also Polar 6 could perform some calibration pattern. That's why the flight track looks similar to a roller coaster, including circles of up to 40 degree bank angle. Yeah!!!