Friday 20th September, morning.
After yesterday’s transit to Kiruna and late afternoon wetland flight, today saw the first full day of MAMM ‘Science’ flying for the September 2013 campaign. The two teams of mission scientists once more split up into the ‘red’ and ‘azure’ teams, with the azure team drawing the short straw and getting the morning flight. This was a particularly exciting flight for me, as it was my first in the ‘hot seat’ as Mission Scientist 1. Unfortunately, the first thing that became apparent was that my legs were about 3” too long to afford me anything resembling comfort, although for any instrument scientists that may be reading this is proof positive that us mission scientists do occasionally suffer for our art as well.
The basic premise of today’s flight was to do some low level flying over northern Swedish and Finnish wetlands, and (as with the August 2013 flights) hoping to observe a methane gradient in the East-West legs with Southerly prevailing winds. Unfortunately a low cloud layer meant that we had to fly at around 5000 feet, but there was still a reasonably strong methane gradient that will be interesting to look at during the analysis. After this we flew North to the South Arctic Ocean, where we sampled what looked like methane emissions being blown from the northern Scandinavian wetlands. There were also some interesting methane enhancements at about 7000 feet that we observed when we were profiling, and we were able to make some bag measurements of these for isotopic analysis.
All in all it was a very successful flight, in which all of the intended targets were met, and I can safely report that view from the front of the cockpit was absolutely stunning, and almost entirely made up for the fact that I spent the rest of the day feeling like the male lead from ‘Misery’.
–Dr Sam Illingworth, University of Manchester