Thursday 19th September 2013, afternoon.

I am sure everyone who read my first post will be desperate know how my day turned out…! Well, somehow, my train arrived in Kiruna on time, despite setting off 1h45 late. And in a lucky twist, the ARA had taken off late and so landed late at 3pm local time. So James and Nicola picked me up from the station, and I got to the hangar at the same time as the aircraft. In another twist of fate, Seb who was on the afternoon’s crew list was not actually going to fly. So there was a space for me to fly! That shower and change of clothes would just have to wait…

Being the first science flight, we we all super-keen and there was an overabundance of mission scientists, meaning that as a lowly additional extra, I didn’t have anywhere to plug in my laptop from the seat that I was in. Alas, my laptop ran out of battery half way through, so I wasn’t able to monitor the measurements in real-time for the second half of the flight. As we were flying at low level for most of the flight, the seatbelt sign was on so I couldn’t even get up to charge my laptop elsewhere. Instead, I took lots of photos of the land that we were flying over, as (a) I was lucky enough to have a window seat and (b) the amount of methane coming out of the ground will depend on the vegetation cover, so it’s a useful record of that. (NB I haven’t got the time data from the flight as I write this, so I can’t link the photo times with their locations right now. If I have time, I’ll do that once I get hold of that information. It’s a bit too hectic in the middle of a campaign to get all the data in the right place – especially as I’m writing this in my hotel room late at night!)

Anyway, here’s the far-from-comprehensive story of the flight in pictures…

Our nominal flight plan, to give you an idea of where we were flying.

Our nominal flight plan, to give you an idea of where we were flying. We started and finished at Kiruna.

5pm (all times are Swedish local time). It's too cloudy to descend to minimum safe altitude. Just waiting for a break in the clouds so we can get down to near the ground.

1700 (all times are Swedish local time). It’s too cloudy to descend to minimum safe altitude. Just waiting for a break in the clouds so we can get down to near the ground.

1709: A mixture of forest and wetland areas.

1709: We managed to find a break in the clouds and fly down near the surface at minimum safe altitude. A mixture of forest and wetland areas.

1723: The seasons are changing near Abisko.

1723: The seasons are changing near Pallas, Finland. The orangey blobs are deciduous leaves changing colour. Beautiful!

1739: north of Pallas there are quite a lot of lakes.

1739: north of Pallas there are quite a lot of lakes.

1812: Much of the land further north was like this. Not sure what this beige coloured stuff is, but I shall ask around to find out!

1812: Much of the land further north was like this. Not sure what this beige coloured stuff is, but I shall ask around to find out!

1812: taken right after the previous photo, this darker wetland area was also widespread.

1812: taken right after the previous photo, this darker wetland area was also widespread. I wonder if more methanogens are present in one land type or another?

1834: After sampling the wetlands, we have ascended to above the cloud layer. Time to head home!

1834: After sampling the wetlands, we have ascended to above the cloud layer. Time to head home!

–Dr Michelle Cain, University of Cambridge

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