Sunday, 23 January 2011

Up there in the air

The days of last week passed by with a very cloudy sky and with strong winds. The strong winds and dynamics in the upper troposphere can nicely be observed in the cloud formations. Over the nearby Sor Rondane mountains, there are now most of the time quasi-stationary mountain wave clouds. It is interesting to watch that other cloud layers move with the general wind directions, but these mountain wave clouds stay more or less always at the same place, i.e., that the advected air masses are lifted up at this region, cool down, form clouds, and then they are, like in a wave, transported downwards where they warm and do not form a cloud anymore. However, this region in the lee of the mountains where it is cool enough for cloud formation, stays more or less stationary, and the air masses are transported through it. So the cloud forms steadily new, but it seems as if it is not changing. A very similar cloud type are the lenticularis clouds, which form in a similar way and which we can observe here now every day. The image above gives a nice example of such clouds. In addition, the sun is now longer times hidden behind the mountains during midnight hours and the horizon then shows violet to red glow. Saturday night when there were less clouds, the moon could be seen.

The Brewer ozone spectrophotometer is now finally installed and fixed to the roof. The first good measurements were possible this Sunday, as we had finally a sunny day and the instruments makes best measurements when there are no clouds before the sun.

Since a few days the Princess Elisabeth station has been the base for some scientific flights with the Polar-5 in order to investigate the magnetic field of the Earth. Detleff from the German Bundesanstalt fuer Geowissenschaften und Rohstoffe and Daniel from the German Alfred Wegener Institut (AWI) and the pilot crew of the Polar-5 have been flying with this aircraft of AWI over the mountains and adjacent glaciers of the Sor Rondane mountains. With the maps of the magnetic field of the Earth made with the instruments installed in the Polar-5, they can derive informations on the tectonics of the Earth’s crust mantle and on the directions of cracks in the tectonic plates. The Polar-5 is a transformed DC3, adapted to the conditions in polar regions.

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