Sunday, November 3, 2013

More about the trip

First, a sunrise picture from home:
 Second, someone was asking for more on the science of flying over the Arctic. We flew to Pt Lay, then turned north, dropping radiosondes as we went (turn off your Bluetooth!) The second one got stuck, so someone had to take apart the launch tube.
 Back together! The next six went without a hitch. We flew to 73 N, then turned around. The chief scientist said that if anything, we should have gone farther north. He was looking for how the atmospheric boundary layer changes as the air comes from the south and hits the sea ice. With 50 miles of pancake ice in the marginal ice zone (MIZ), the air was still seeing the water underneath. So we didn't get far enough into the solid ice. They'll get another chance this coming week.
 Once we turned south, that's when we alternately flew above the boundary layer (roughly 5000 ft) and just above the surface (200 ft), with slow transitions between for measuring the turbulence through the boundary layer. Once we got back south of the ice, they let out a few AXBT's for measuring ocean temperature profiles:
The plane has a lot of sensors and each science station has a Linux computer with access to the incoming data. The chief scientist set me up with a display with a few of his favorite inputs, including altitude, wind speed, and a radar sensor which was designed to measure surface wind speeds based on the wave state. The latter turns out to be a good way to see the ice edge even through clouds.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Sea Ice at Last

Over twenty years ago I was sucked into a sea ice modeling project. We didn't do a great job then, but nevertheless we're still in the business. I've thought maybe I should go out and see some sea ice, but it just never happened - until today. Today I got to go on a NOAA P3 flight over the Chukchi Sea, all as a day trip from Eielson Airforce base.

I took a lot of photos, most of them terrible. Here are a few that almost might pass for tolerable:
Over the Brooks Range, running away from the sunrise.

At the northern extent of the flight the ice was thin first-year ice, mostly solid with some openings and thin spots.

Fresh ice.

Flying South into more broken ice.

Farther South the ice is pancake ice with swells from the South.

Winds are strong and it shows over open water.

Swells casting shadows.

Back over land, North of the Brooks range.

Science is done so I got to sit up front for a few minutes.

An interesting river.