Today was our last day flying at Oliktok. Before I get into the day’s activities, here’s a bit of information on ERASMUS, “by the numbers”:
- Number of days spent on site at Oliktok: 13.5
- Total number of flights: 163
- Total number of flight hours: 23.2
- Highest altitude flown: 850 meters
- Lowest altitude flown (not during take off/landing): 1 meter
- Number of aircraft lost: 0
- Number of times the ground station was started: 348
- Number of weather balloons launched by ERASMUS team members: 2
- Number of bears seen: 2 (both grizzlies)
- Number of radars we would really have preferred not to have had to deal with: 2
In order to have a bit of fun on our last day, we changed things up from the repeated profiling that we’ve focused on over the last week or so, and flew some more unique patterns. First, we timed some flights especially to coincide with both the 0930 and 1530 weather balloon launches that happen from the site so that we can compare the measurements that we get from the DataHawk2 with those coming from the radiosonde launches. In addition, we did quite a bit of low-altitude (and I mean really, really low altitude — down to 1 m above the surface) flying over a variety of surfaces, including the tundra, lakes, the ocean, the runway, and the beach, in order to look at fine scale temperature variability over these different surface types. These patterns provided us with an opportunity to explore the capabilities of the planes, while also giving our necks a bit of a break — it gets tiring looking up over your head for days at a time!
It’s crazy to think that we’ve already been up here for two weeks — it doesn’t seem nearly as long, although thinking back, the last time I was in Boulder seems like forever ago. I’m half expecting the weather back home to be totally different when I return on Monday, but based on the reports I’ve been getting, it’s still just plain hot there. It’s going to take some adjustment to go from 30s today back to 90s on Monday! Before heading back to the AMF to pack things up, we did take the time to get one quick team photograph (below). It’s been great working with Dale, Nathan and Will (as well as Al and Wessley). Though we faced some challenges, I’m heading home feeling optimistic and looking forward to digging into the measurements we obtained in greater detail. We set off from Oliktok tomorrow morning — let’s hope for no rig moves or other unforeseen issues in our journey back to Deadhorse to catch our flight back to Denver (by way of Barrow and Anchorage).