Version 57 (modified by gaew, 14 years ago) (diff)


Latest status for operational data collection

Project collection status Processing status

Please contact Gary Llewellyn (Science / operations coordinator) if you have any questions or concerns: gaew@… (01865 374 391)

20th April 2010

Scientists are still working closely with the Civil Aviation Authority and the Met Office to monitor the ash plume from Iceland's Eyjafjall volcano using NERC's research aircraft.

NERC's Airborne Research & Survey Facility Dornier 228 research aircraft took off from Cranfield airfield at 14:00 UK time on Sunday 18 April 2010. After take off, the Dornier flew south via London, Southampton and Cardiff, and then north to Prestwick before returning to Cranfield.

To sample different layers of the plume, the aircraft flew a climbing and descending pattern at heights between 6,000 feet and 20,000 feet between Cranfield, London, Southampton and and Cardiff. During the Cardiff to Prestwick leg of the mission, it climbed and descended between 1,500 and 20,000 feet.

The Dornier 228 - based at Gloucester airport - is fitted with sophisticated instruments that can measure volcanic residues like sulphur dioxide and ash particles of different sizes.

A second flight using the same aircraft took off from Cranfield at 11:30 UK time on Monday 19 April 2010. During this flight, the aircraft flew to Gloucester up to an altitude of 2,000 feet. It then turned north and flew at varying altitudes up to 20,000 feet towards Prestwick along the west coast, and across the Midland Valley before turning to fly down the east coast and across the Wash back to Cranfield.

Results from both flights revealed the presence of sulphur dioxide and a number of layers of volcanic ash of varying sizes between ground level and 20,000 feet. These discreet layers of fine material are particularly difficult to spot with the naked eye.

At the same time, the Cranfield-based Facility for Airborne Atmospheric Measurements has worked around the clock to bring another research aircraft out of refit specifically to help sample the plume. This is a modified BAe 146 large atmospheric research aircraft and can reach higher altitudes than the Dornier. It is jointly funded by NERC and the Met Office, owned by BAE Systems and operated by Directflight at Cranfield University.

The BAe 146 is fitted with a LIDAR instrument that will help scientists map the ash plume from above. By flying the Dornier below the plume and the BAe 146 above it, the research team hope to map its full extent and confirm the nature of the ash cloud.

Data obtained during these flights is being analysed by the Met Office and the Civil Aviation Authority to help inform the aviation industry.

More coordinated flights by the BAe 146 and the Dornier are planned for Wednesday 21 April and beyond, depending on the developing situation.

18th April 2010

Since the 16th of April, the ARSF have been collecting data from the volcanic ash cloud that resulted from the eruption in the Eyjafjallajoekull area of Iceland. These data are fed to the Met Office for the evaluation of air safety and for forecasting.

16th February 2010

On March the 1st (2010) the ARSF will deploy to Antigua as a base to support a survey of Monserrat. Return to the UK will be later that month (by 21 March). The time prior to departure will be spent testing the instrument fit and hopefully supporting at least one of the early season projects (GB10-07, Salisbury Plain). Other early season projects (e.g., GB09-04, Coed-y-Brenin; GB07-12. Nothumbria, FW10-02, Cumbria and CEH09-01, Salisbury Plain) should be supported at the end of March / April.

12th February 2010

On 1 March 2010 the ARSF are due to deploy to the Caribbean to survey the Soufriere Hills volcano and Belham Valley area of Montserrat. Return to the UK will be later in that month (by 21 March), when support of UK projects will resume.

4th January 2010

Active data collection is due to resume on the 15th of February. Prior to that the ARSF operations crew will prepare the aircraft and instruments, undergo training and host planning meetings for new projects.

30th November 2009

On Friday, LiDAR were collected from Abernethy forest (in support of GB09-11) data and today (Monday), at solar noon, LiDAR, photography and course resolution hyperspectral data were collected from Cumbria (in support of the current Urgency application, UR09-01). The collection of LiDAR data from Wales (in support of GB09-04) was also investigated but the area proved to be cloud covered and subject snow fall.

24th November 2009

Last night the team were able to collect LiDAR data from the channel flood areas in Cumbria (UR09-01). Minor cloud obscured some areas but the data were of a fine resolution (finer than the existing EA LiDAR datasets). Unfortunaely, cloud fully obscured the wider catchment. The aircraft landed at RAF Brize Norton (Gloucester and other local airports were closed) at ~00:30 hrs. On return to Gloucster Airport these data will be downloaded, backed up and forwarded to our data processing team.

23rd November 2009

Over the last week the ARSF have been waiting for clear conditions for several study sites. These were in London, Wales and Scotland. Support of GB08-19 (London) requires near solar noon clear condition, a preceding period of dry weather and clear, dry conditions for the following night. At this stage in the season GB09-04 (Coed-y-Brenin) and GB09-11 (Abernethy Forest) are basically LiDAR surveys (with photography if possible) and require clear condition between the ground and aircraft (night or day). These areas have not presented suitable opportunities. However, an additional data collection requirement was presented by the floods in Cumbria (UR10-01). We launched on the weekend but were unsuccessful in our attempts to collect data from this site. A second attempt to collect data from the area is being made this evening in the hope of catching a potentially cloud free window between 21:00 and 00:00 hrs.

26th October 2009

Today (26.10.09) the ARSF successfully collected data from the Northern section of the Afar study area. All North - South flight lines and one cross line were completed (800 line km surveyed). Take-off was at 08:30 hrs (local) and the survey duration was 5 hours. The conditions were judged as good, the early part of the survey was totally cloud-free and only slight cloud was present in the later parts (no line had more than 1% cloud) . Observations from the previous day indicated that the late Mornings were the best period for data collection as it was before significant cloud accumulated.

The data collected from the middle section (yesterday), has been checked and is of a comparable quality to that collected from UK surveys. The AISA Eagle has exhibited some dropped frames in a similar manner to those observed (and solved) with the AISA Hawk earlier in the season. Otherwise, the instruments are working satisfactorily.

Tomorrow (27.10.09), the intention is to complete the remaining cross lines in the Norther section and then redeploy to Addis Ababa as the base of operations for the survey of the Southern section of the Afar study site.

25th October 2009

Today (25.10.09) the ARSF successfully collected data from the central section of the Afar study area. The conditions were judged as 9/10 with slight haze and the flight was 4 hours with return at Mekele at 14:00 hrs (local). It is hoped that tomorrow data will be collected from the North section of the Afar study area.

24th October 2009

On Saturday the Dornier and crew relocated from Addis Ababa to Mekele (the ARSF's base of operations in the Afar region). Arrival in Mekele was at 16:00 hrs (local). Contact has been established with the military observer; he will be accompanying the crew throughout the project. On Sunday, the intention is to collect data from the middle section (of three sections) of the study area.

22nd October 2009

On Wednesday, at 19:00 hours (local time) the ARSF Dornier completed the 5 and a half hour last leg of its journey from the UK to Ethiopia (Addis Ababa). Ben Taylor, who will be providing on site data management and processing support, arrived safely at Adais Ababa early this morning and has met up with the aircrew. A quick, but comprehensive, ground operations check was conducted this morning and did not indicate any problems. Both crew, aircraft are well. Today the crew have a sequence of meetings with the Ethiopian CAA and airport authorities and should meet with the project’s PI later today. Tomorrow will be spent training and preparing for departure to Mekele on Saturday.

07th October 2009

Over the last week data have been collected in support of GB09-05 (Leighton Moss), GB08-15 (Eaves Wood), GB07-07 (Inverclyde), GB08-06 (Bleaklow and Black Hill) and GB08-08 (Wytham Woods). Should collected data prove good then these acquisitions will have completed these projects. During the patches of good weather forecasted for today, Thursday and Sunday we hope to be able to support GB08-02 (Delamere Forest), GB06-02 (Freiston Shore) and GB08-13 (Lake Vyrnwy). We hope to support GB08-19 (London) and GB09-04 (Coed-y-Brenin) after our return from Ethiopia.

25th September 2009

Today, data were collected in support of GB08-08 (Wytham Woods) and GB08-10 (Denny Wood). Cloud conditions are forecasted to be poor (or tide conditions unsuitable) for all UK study sites on Saturday but if conditions improve then we hope to collect data on Sunday (27.09.09). On Sunday, if conditions are suitable, we hope to support GB08-06 (Bleaklow), GB09-05 (Leighteon Moss) and GB08-15 (Eaves Wood). Research teams will be updated on Saturday afternoon if the weather forecast indicates that these flights are viable on Sunday.

24th September 2009

Following an extended period of instrument repairs and aircraft maintenance the Dornier should conduct a calibration flight on Friday morning (25.09.09). Unfortunately, the RCD105 digital camera is still not serviceable but Leica Geosystems have identified the fault and a fully functioning camera will be fitted ASAP. Fitting the RC10 analogue large format camera in the interim would have entailed additional delay and would have required the movement of the other sensors so requiring their re-survey. Other instruments are fully serviceable.

We anticipate that data may be collected on Friday after midday. At present the Met. Office forecast indicates that the best likelihood of good conditions will be found on the South coast but those sites near the calibration and boresights may also be clear. Should these sites be obscured but other clear data collected may be relocated to Cumbria and the Midlands. However, GB08-08 (Wytham Woods), GB09-00 (Oxford Parks) and GB08-10 (Denny Woods) are the most likely sites where data may be collected on Friday.

There is some disagreement between forecast sites in the following days (the weekend) but the ARSF will endeavour to collect data from any site where there is a good indication that conditions will be clear over this period. Potential projects for support over the weekend are GB08-06 (Bleaklow), GB08-02 (Delamere Forest), GB08-15 (Eaves Wood), GB09-05 (Leighton Moss), GB08-13 (Lake Vyrnwy) and GB08-10 (Denny Woods) if not supported on Friday.

In the coming two weeks (prior to the final preparations for departure to Ethiopia) the ARSF will attempt to support as many projects as possible. Potential project for support in this period include those previously identified, GB08-19 (London), GB07-07 (Inverclyde), GB09-11 (Abernethy Forest), GB08-13 (Lake Vyrnwy), GB06-02 (Frieston Shore), GB09-04 (Coed-e-Brenin), SOT09-01 (Harwood Forest and Brooms Farm) and several CEH and BGS projects. It is very unlikely that all these projects will be supported prior to the ARSF’s departure (~18.10.09). Priority will be determined by alpha grade, weather and if the project marks the final component of a sequence of acquisitions.

18th August 2009

We have continuing problems regarding the serviceability of the Leica LiDAR and RCD camera and the Specim Hawk and crew availability due to illness. Despite good conditions in the South of the UK on Wednesday and the West of the UK on Thursday it seems very unlikely that we will be able to collect data this week.

I do not expect this situation to change before the ARSF’s planned deployment to the Alps. However, I will contact the relevant field teams if the outlook improves.

ARSF Sitrep 13.08.09

The Dornier took off from Reykjavik at 10:20 hours (local time) and landed at Gloucester airport 5 hours later. The aircraft and crew are well.

Special thanks need to go to Eggert Gudmundsson, Mary McCready and Dave Stowers of the Sondrestrom Research Facility (Kangerlussuaq, Greenland) and Halldor Geirsson and Tomas Jahannesson of the Iceland Meteorology Office. Both group provided valuable GPS support for our respective deployments there.

At the start of next week instrument manufacturers are due to visit the ARSF-Ops base at Gloucester Airport to correct and repair some of the instrument failures that occurred during the Iceland/Greenland deployment. Following this it hoped that some of the remaining UK projects will be supported prior to departure to the European Alps in the week after.

ARSF Sitrep 12.08.09

At 10:00 hrs (local time) the Dornier took-off and headed to the study sites at Mýrdalsjökull and South of Vatnajökull (in support of EU09-06). Despite forecasts of clear conditions Mýrdalsjökull had extensive cloud cover. However, one large, stationary gap in the cloud allowed three lines of LiDAR to be collected before cloud cover covered the area of interest. The sites South of Vatnajökull were investigated but were also covered in cloud. The Dornier landed at Hornafjördur airport at 13:00 hrs (local time) to wait for any improvements. This airport was to the East of the study areas but was closer to the study sites than Reykjavik.

Consultation with the on-site field team, the Icelandic Meteorological Office, the tower officials at Hornafjördur airport and the viewing of satellite imagery indicated that any improvement would be slight and conditions would deteriorate later in the day (12.08.09).

At 15:00 hrs (local time) the Dornier launched from Hornafjördur airport and explored the area South of Vatnajökull and Mýrdalsjökull on its way back to Reykjavik. Attempts to collect data were once again unsuccessful due to cloud cover. At 16:30 hrs (local time) the Dornier landed at Reykjavik. The total flying time for both legs was approximately 4 hours and 30 minutes.

Further forecasts and information indicate that cloud conditions in Iceland are worsening and that Wednesday was the best opportunity for the collection of any data from these study areas. During our deployment in Iceland 7 attempts to collect data from the site South of Vatnajökull (EU09-06) have been made and two of the four study areas have been surveyed. Mýrdalsjökull (EU09-06) has had cloud over it for the whole period that the ARSF have been in Iceland. The EU09-06 sites have been the priority survey locations in Iceland. However, Langjökull (IPY09-08) has also been consistently covered by cloud and similarly does not shown any prospect of a reduction of its cloud cover.

Due a the forecasted decline in weather conditions over Iceland, and the need to rectify a series of instrument failures, the ARSF will depart Reykjavik on the 13.08.09 and return to the UK.

ARSF Sitrep 11.08.09

At 9:30 am (local time) the Dornier took off to collect data from Langjökull (IPY09-08). Localised cloud cover prevented any data collection and the Dornier returned to Reykjavik airport 2 hour later.

At 4:00 pm, with the prospect of improving conditions to the South of Vatnajökull, the Dornier launched from Reykjavik but once again cloud conditions prohibited data collection. The Dornier returned to Reykjavik at 6:00pm.

Wednesday and Thursday are forecasted to be the most promising days for the successful collection of data from the South of Iceland (EU09-06). It is planned that the Dornier transits to South Iceland and potentially waits at Hornfjördur airfield to take advantage of the forecasted conditions.

ARSF Sitrep 10.08.09

From a take-off at 11:00 am (local) the Dornier collected data from two of five locations, South of Vatnajökull, in support of EU09-06. These data acquisitions took advantage of localised gaps in the cloud cover. Despite the thin cloud, strong returns were gained for all sites from the ALS50 (LiDAR). Unfortunately, the RCD105 failed part way through the first site. Hyperspectral VIS-NIR data were collected but were subject to scattered cloud cover and cloud shadow. The acquisition took 3 hours and 40 minutes before refuelling at Hornafjördur airport.

Sufficient fuel was taken off to complete the project but cloud conditions did not allow further data to be collected. After a one hour flight the Dornier landed at Reykjavik airport.

The manufacturers of the RCD105 (Leica) have been contacted for advice regarding the failure, believed to be related to moisture due to the cold, humid conditions and changes in altitude. It is hoped that this instrument will be operational again soon.

If conditions allow, a return visit to Southern Iceland in support of EU09-06 is planned tomorrow (11.08.09). Weather conditions are forecast to be particularly good on Wednesday (12.08.09) when we hope to complete EU09-06 and IPY09-06 (Langjökull).

ARSF Sitrep 09.08.09

Today (Sunday), weather conditions did not allow any data to be collected. Instead flight planning details were reviewed and updated to include the possibilities of flying some of the sites at a lower altitude with more flight lines.

Tomorrow, there are some indications that clear weather may be found in the most Southerly study areas. A field team is on location and can provide a first hand observation of conditions at those sites. The ARSF crew remain ready to collect data should suitable conditions present themselves.

ARSF Sitrep 08.08.09

Conversations with the Icelandic Meteorological Office and investigation of web-based weather forecasts indicate Sunday to have a low probability of conditions suitable for the collection of data from any of the study sites in Iceland. However, an improvement in conditions is predicted (by the IMO and forecasting software) for Tuesday and Wednesday.

Daily communication with field teams providing dGPS support and conducting their own field work mean that any improvements in weather conditions can be exploited.

ARSF Sitrep 07.08.09

The Dornier took off from Kulusuk airport at 9:30 (local time) and completed a one hour survey of Helheim Glacier (IPY09-11). Cloud cover restricted the survey altitude but LiDAR, photography and visible-NIR hyperspectral data were collected. The LiDAR data had good signal returns and illumination levels were high. Declining weather conditions indicated this may have been the last opportunity to complete the repeat survey.

After returning to Kulusuk airport to refuel the Dornier took off for Iceland at 11:30 (local time). The flight was approximately two and a half with arrival in Reykjavik at approximately 16:00 (local time).

With poor weather conditions, Saturday (08.08.09) will be a hard down day.

ARSF Sitrep 06.08.09

At 10 am (local time) the Dornier left Kangerlussuaq for the 2 hour flight to Kulusuk (a journey from the west to the east coast of Greenland).

From Kulusuk, a one hour survey over Helheim (IPY09-11) resulted in the successful acquisition of LiDAR data and digital photography. The conditions were overcast but with high levels of illumination. Visible and NIR data were also collected using the Specim Eagle but the overlaying cloud will influence these data.

Tomorrow morning a repeat survey of Helheim is planned, followed by a return to Iceland.

ARSF Sitrep 05.08.09

We launched at 10am (local time) to support IPY09-10 collecting data from the Russell Glacier, atmospheric conditions were exceptional. The full instrument suite was operated (Leica ALS50, RCD digital camera, Specim Eagle and Specim Hawk) and post flight quality checks showed the LiDAR data to be of particularly good quality. However, the Specim Hawk failed at the start of the survey and the Eagle developed problem such that data are yet to be recovered. The duration of the flight was 3 hours and fifteen minutes.

Three of the personnel from the Kellyville Radar station (also known as the Sondrestrom Upper Atmospheric Research Facility) were given a tour of the Dornier. This facility have been collecting dGPS data to support the ARSF’s activities in the Kangerlussuaq area.

The intention for tomorrow is to relocate to Kulusuk, conduct a survey in support of IPY09-11 (Helheim Glacier), stay overnight and then repeat the survey before flying to Reykavik (Iceland).

ARSF Sitrep 04.08.09

Following our concerns yesterday, a series of test flights and post-flight quality checks showed the ALS50 to be functioning and the LiDAR data collected to be of good quality.

A firmware and software update provided by Leica did not solve the problem with the RCD105 digital camera. Therefore, it is not anticipated that RCD105 digital photography data will be collected during the surveys in Greenland.

The main requirement for the Greenland and Iceland projects are LiDAR data. Nevertheless, photographic data were also requested for these projects but discussions with PIs indicate that the collected Specim Eagle data may partially satisfy some of the roles that these data were to fill.

The forward plan for Wednesday (05.08.09) will be to fly the Greenland projects without photography as per the direction of the PI.

27th July 2009

Weather conditions over the last week have been very poor. However, last weekend (25 - 26.07.09) attempts were made to support GB08-06 (Bleaklow and Black Hill), GB09-05 (Leighton Moss) and GB08-15 (Eaves Wood). Unfortunately, when these sites were over-flown the cloud cover precluded the collection of useful data. Further attempts to collect data were made on Monday but a fault in the Leica systems (ALS50 LiDAR, RCD digital camera and IPAS) was discovered. During the continuing poor weather conditions urgent repairs in conjunction with Leica are progressing in preparation for the ARSF’s deployment to Iceland and Greenland on the coming weekend (02.08.09).

We do not expect conditions to improve for any site in the UK prior to our departure for Greenland. The week starting 17.08.09 is our next opportunity for the collection of data in the UK.

22nd July 2009

Specim are at Gloucester Airport repairing the hyperspectral instruments, ARSF-Ops are flying short test flights and ARSF-DAN are on-site, checking the data as soon as it is off the aircraft. We hope to be collecting data in support of project before the end of the week. Although, conditions for the collection of data (from any of our sites) are poor the current weather forecast indicates better conditions (for some sites) on Saturday. Subject to this forecast being proved correct we hope to collect data in support of GB08-06 (Bleaklow and Black Hill), GB08-15 (Eaves Wood), GB09-05 (Leighton Moss) and possibly SOT09-01 (Harwood Forest) on Saturday.

16th July 2009

Last week, despite continuing problems with the AISA Hawk, data were collected in support of GB08-06 (Bleaklow) and GB07-07 (Inverclyde). Due to the aforementioned instrument problems these acquisitions were conducted in close consultation with the research teams. Specim (the manufacturer of the Eagle and Hawk) are due to fit new components next week and the instrument will be tested to check the success of these measures.

Weather conditions during this week have been poor (and some field teams have been unavailable). The Dornier should be collecting atmospheric data at the end of the week (17.07.09) in support of GB09-01 and GB09-02 but we hope be able to support more of the UK science projects in the remaining weeks of July. Project awaiting our attention are: GB09-11 (Abernethy Forest), GB08-10 (Denny Woods), GB09-05) Leighton Moss, GB08-15 (Eaves Wood), GB08-08 (Wytham Woods) and a commissioned project SOT09-01 (Harwood Forest and Brooms Farm). In the event of poor weather conditions and restricted crew availability, some of these projects are likely to be rolled into the middle of August. Additionally, we will endeavour to repeat acquisitions in support of GB08-06 or GB09-00 if pre-processing indicates that key areas-of-interest were obscured by cloud cover or cloud shadow.

In early August the ARSF will be deploying to Iceland and Greenland and in late August to the European Alps. UK projects that we hope to support in the August / September period are GB08-19 (London), GB08-13 (Lake Vyrnwy), GB07-07 (Inverclyde), GB08-02 (Delamere Forest), a possible CEH project (CEH09-01, awaiting details) and any outstanding (and relevant) projects from the July list.

19th June 2009

The Leica ALS50-II is repaired and indications from the data gathered from the AISA Eagle and Hawk are that previously identified stability fault has been solved. Following a week of routine maintenance, training and attending to the requirements of the NERC and NCEO grant application process prior to the impending deadlines will be conducted. UK remote sensing should resume on the 29.06.09 when we hope to support Leighton Moss (GB09-05), Oxford Parks (GB09-00), Inverclyde (GB07-07), Abernethy Forest (GB09-11), GB08-13 (Lake Vrynwy) and GB08-06 (Bleaklow-Black Hill). The specific order in which these projects may be supported will be dependent on forecasted (and reported) local weather conditions.

15th June 2009

Following indications of good conditions in Cumbria on Friday (12.06.09) the ARSF attempted to collect data in support of GB09-05. Unfortunately, the Leica ALS50-II (LiDAR) developed a fault that prevented its operation. The identification of the problem commenced on landing and ARSF and Leica staff are working on the implementation of a quick solution this problem. Should the instruments be operational in the next few days then we hope to be able to return to Leighton Moss (GB09-05), Oxford Parks (GB09-00), Inverclyde (GB07-07) and Abernethy Forest (GB09-11), subject to field availability and training.

Next week (22.06.09), the Dornier will undergoing routine maintenance and both instrument operators will be undergoing training with Itres for the operation of the Itres TABI later in the year. Data collection should resume on the 29.06.09 when we hope to support those projects for which data were not collected this week and GB08-13 (Lake Vrynwy), GB08-06 (Bleaklow-Black Hill).

13th May 2009

At the beginning of this week instrument the hyperspectral instruments (AISA Eagle and Hawk) returned from the manufacturer and were fitted into the aircraft. Calibration data were collected and the initial tests proved hopefully; data are being assessed by our processing team to establish if problems remain. Nevertheless, in the good conditions two projects were supported (GB08-08 and GB09-07). If the instrument and data tests give positive results then we hope to return to full data collection subject to suitable weather conditions. GB0-08 is a repeat acquisition project, but if there are problems with data collected in support of GB09-07 then we will repeat the acquisition when problems are resolved. We hope to collect a second set of calibration data today to establish if the instruments are functioning correctly. Those projects that we hope to support in the coming week are: GB08-12 (Borth Bog), GB08-08 (Wytham Woods), HY05-06 (Pitlochry) and GB09-00 (Oxford Parks).

Subject to flight clearance we are also hope to collect data in support of GB08-08 (Inverclyde) and HY05-02 (Ayrshire).

Other projects with repeat acquisitions which we will consider (with consultation with the PI) are: GB08-02 (Delamere Forest), GB08-15 (Eaves Wood), GB09-05 (Cumbria).

7th April 2009

A severe fault in the AISA Eagle and Hawk required that they be returned to Specim for repair. Meanwhile, the ARSF have been able to support an atmospheric project (GB09-01). The ASIS Eagle and Hawk are due to be returned in approximatelly one week after which they will require boresight flights. Collection of data in support of remote sensing projects should follow shortly afterwards.

23rd March 2009

On 19.03.09 the ARSF collected 'leaf-off' data in support of GB08-02 (Delamere Forest) and GB08-15 (Eaves Wood). An attempt was made to support GB09-05 (Leighton Moss) but an instrument problem and failing conditions caused us to question the quality of these data and a recollection is planned. In the hope of slightly better weather at the start of this week (compared to the middle and end of the week)we hope to support GB09-04 (Coed’y’Brenin) and return to GB09-05 (Leighton Moss).

So far in the 2009 flying season we have supported GB08-02, GB08-08, GB08-10, GB08-13 and GB08-15 (and AST09-01 and GB08-01).

17th March 2009

The ARSF supported projects in Wytham Woods (GB08-08) and Denny Woods, New Forest (GB08-10) on the 16.03.09. Conditions were good and the new Leica ALS50-II performed well. Later this week we hope to support projects at Silverdale (GB08-15), Leighton Moss (GB09-05), Delamere Forest (GB08-02) and Lake Vyrnwy (GB08-13).

9th March 2009

Following a period of training and planning the ARSF hope to collect data for leaf-off conditions for the remaining dates in March culminating in the support of an atmospheric project (GB09-01) in the first week of April.

6th January 2009

From January the 11th the ARSF will be located at Glocestershire Airport. Planning meetings for the support of projects in the 2009 flying season will held held at the new site. ARSF email addresses will not change and for a short period of time the old ARSF phone number will work via automatic transfer. Nevertheless, from 11th Jan 2009 the ARSF Operations phone number will be 01452859945 (the fax number will be published on the 11th January).

The new address will be: NERC-ARSF Operations Centre, Firfax House, Meteor Business Park, Cheltenham Road East, Gloucester. GL2 9QL


You may know already that the ARSF is moving its base of operation to Gloucestershire Airport, if not you will learn about the change from our website and from the minutes of the last steering committee meeting. We are constantly reviewing our operation and looking for ways to be more efficient and cost effective.

ARSF VOCALS Sitrep 15.11.08

The ARSF’s final sortie in Arica (VA15) was on Friday (14.11.08). The science objectives were to collect aerosol data related to pollution in an area South of point alpha. Vertical profiles were flown between 15 000 and 3000 ft, take-off was at 10:00 hrs (local) and the flight lasted 3 hours and 36 minutes during which ~230GB of Eagle and Hawk data were collected.

Once landed those instruments carried on the under-wing pylons were removed, then the under-wing pylons themselves were removed and loading into a box for shipping back to the UK. There followed a swift wash and change of cloths before travelling to an excellent BBQ held at the Hotel El Paso. The campaign has been a huge success and among the congratulations and thanks the ARSF were highly praised for its contribution. It has been a long hard campaign but we feel privileged to have been a part of it. During its course we have flow approximately 43 hours of science flying and collected over 2TB of Eagle and Hawk data.

David arrived back in Arica in the early Saturday evening and the Dornier (flown by Carl and David) is planned to start the transit back to the UK at 10:00 hrs (local) on Sunday Morning (16.11.08).

ARSF VOCALS Sitrep 14.11.08

Wednesday’s sortie (VA12) was aborted after 45 minutes due to an inverter failure in the Dornier. The objective of the mission had been to provide on-board instrument comparisons between the 146 and the Dornier. The implications of the inverter failure were that 240V AC could not be provided to run most of the on-board science kit. During the rest of the day Phil implemented a safe temporary solution. A brief test flight demonstrated that the Dornier was once again operational.

The essential inter-aircraft comparisons were achieved on Thursday (13.11.08). VA13 was a low level (500ft) flight where the atmospheric instruments (excluding the Eagle, Hawk and Leosphere LiDAR) were used to collect in and out of cloud data. Take-off was at 07:05 hrs (local) and the flight lasted 1 hour and 38 minutes.

After a quick refuel the Dornier again took off in support of VA14. This followed the ‘standard’ plan where the Dornier climbed to 15, 000 ft and proceeded to point alpha (20 degrees South, 72 degrees West). From point alpha the Dornier continued to 20 degrees South, 76 degrees West and returned at 10 000ft (in the most relevant aerosol layer). This mission included an inter-aircraft instrument comparison with the US C130. Take-off was at 09:45 hrs (local), the flight lasted 4 hours and 2 minutes. 87 GB of Hawk data were collected. Problems with the downloading of the Eagle data prevent an accurate indication of its volume or quality at this time.

ARSF VOCALS Sitrep 11.11.08

Monday’s sortie (VA11) comprised of flying 72 degrees West along the coast to the South of Arica (as far as 23 degrees, 30 minutes South). This was flown in coordination with the 146. Both aircraft were measured pollution along the coast. Take-off was at 08:24 hrs (local), the flight lasted 4 hours and 234 GB of Eagle and Hawk data were collected.

Due to the prevailing weather patterns and the expectation of more useful weather and pollution events in following days we will not fly on Tuesday. The day will be spent resting and handling data.

ARSF VOCALS Sitrep 09.11.08

Sunday’s flight (VA10) was to proceed at approximately 15 000ft from point alpha (20 degrees South, 72 degrees West) to 20 degrees South, 76 degrees West or when contacted by the 146 crew, if sooner. At that point both aircraft were to fly back to point alpha, the Dornier above any cloud and the 146 within. Unfortunately, a problem starting the Dornier’s starboard engine delayed its take-off. The mission scientist on the Dornier contacted the science team at Hotel El Paso and it was decided to continue the flight despite this delay. Take-off was approximately two hours late (11:00 hrs local), the flight lasted 4 hrs and 12 minutes and 300 GB of Eagle and Hawk data were collected.

ARSF VOCALS Sitrep 08.11.08

A test flight (VA09) was conducted in the afternoon of the 06.11.08. This lasted for 1 hour and 30 minutes during which time ‘just under’ 100 GB of Eagle and Hawk data were collected and the Leosphere LiDAR was demonstrated to be in full working order.

Friday (07.11.08) was a change day for the pilots; in the morning David Davies and James Johnson departed Arica, Chile. There was no flying scheduled for the Dornier. The day was used to purchase oxygen and masks, to repair the QC computer (remount drives), to check that backed up data were complete (some files were being lost in transfer when the QC computer was hot or if a drive was near its capacity), evaluation of the storage strategy for those data to be collected during the remaining sorties in the campaign and the continuing process of quality checking data. In the evening Lance Dutton arrived in Arica.

Saturday was a hard down day. The regular evening meeting with those scientists using the Dornier identified the mission objectives for the following day. Later that evening Carl Joseph returned to Arica. Carl and Lance will fly the Dornier for the remaining campaign in Arica but David Davies will return for the Dornier’s transit back to the UK.

ARSF VOCALS Sitrep 06.11.08

The sortie yesterday (05.11.10) commenced with a 10:00 hrs (local) take-off. The flight followed the coast 250 nautical miles to the South with the aim of finding and mapping aerosol concentrations. The outward leg was flown in a saw-tooth manner with a maximum altitude of 15 000ft, the return leg was at 8500 ft. The flight lasted for 3 hrs and 11 minutes and 222.6 GB of Eagle and Hawk date were collected.

Yesterday afternoon the Leosphere LiDAR was removed from the Dornier. Today a technical expert from its makers has arrived to render repairs or at least facilitate an improved functionality. Should this be successful data are intended to be collected this afternoon. One of the drives in the QC computer has failed but a solution has been devised that will allow data to be downloaded, backed-up and quality checked for the rest of the campaign.

ARSF VOCALS Sitrep 04.11.08

On Monday the Dornier took off, flew at 10:00 hrs (local) and interception with the flight track of the 146 at 11:00 hrs. The main objective of the flight (VA06) was to map and characterise the high level aerosol concentrations (between 11 000 and 13 000ft) in order to determine the pollution gradient within the selected area. The flight lasted for 3 hrs and 26 minutes and 200 GB of Eagle and Hawk date were collected.

Other than the Leosphere LiDAR, which has improvised modifications to stabilise it, instruments and aircraft are performing well.

Take-off this morning (Tuesday) was at 08:30 hrs (local). During the sortie (VA07) the Dornier climbed to 15, 000 ft and proceeded to point alpha (20 degrees South, 72 degrees West). From point alpha the Dornier continued to 20 degrees South, 76 degrees West and returned at 10 000ft (in the most relevant aerosol layer). This is the Dornier’s standard flight configuration for the VOCALS campaign (e.g. VA03). The flight lasted for 4 hrs and 12 minutes and 278.5 GB of Eagle and Hawk date were collected.

ARSF VOCALS Sitrep 02.11.08

Take-off on Sunday the 2nd was at 09:00 hrs (local). The flight (VA05/VO05/VOC05) consisted of a ‘saw-tooth profiles’ where on four occasions the Dornier ascended to 15, 000ft and then descended to 4000ft. A fifth decent was in a spiral at 500 ft / minute over homogeneous cloud; the allowed the Berlin instrument to gain a 360 degree view angle over a range of altitudes. The objective was to monitor aerosols and the flight took 3 hours and twenty minutes during which 270 GB of Eagle and Hawk data were collected. An improvised temporary fix of the Leosphere LiDAR allowed some data to be collected but this instrument still required attention from its manufacturer. The aircraft and other instruments (GRIM, PSASP, AIMMS, Berlin polarimeter, AW spectrometer) continue to perform well.

We are aware and regularly informed of the worsening situation in Peru and this is information is included in operations planning. The availability of on board oxygen continues to be an issue and may require extra supplies later in the week. However, a very well received BBQ and social get-together was hosted at the El Paso Hotel. This provided a good opportunity to informally discuss the progress of the campaign, research interests and our future flights.

ARSF VOCALS Sitrep 01.11.08

Our third science flight (VA03) was flown on the Thursday the 30th (October). It comprised of a science flight to the Ron Brown US survey vessel and then four transects in the direction of the Ron Brown’s radar. The total flight time was 4 hour and 20 minute. This was the first of our flights with the under-wing pylons fitted. Unfortunately, the AIMMS 20 probe (fitted in one of the right pods) failed to store data; this problem was resolved soon after landing. The Leosphere LiDAR is still malfunctioning but it is hoped that discussions with the manufacturer will render it serviceable soon. The new system disks for the Specim Eagle and Hawk performed very well and 251 GB were collected.

As data are collected at 15, 000 ft oxygen usage has been high. Oxygen was therefore replenished in Iququie.

VA04 was flown yesterday (Friday). As with VA03, take off was at 08:00 hrs (local time). The Dornier was taken to 15, 000 ft and proceeded to point alpha (20 degrees South, 72 degrees West). Point alpha is the standard science start point though data are also collected during assent and decent. From point alpha the Dornier continued to 20 degrees South, 76 degrees West and returned. The flight time was four hours during which 270 GB of Specim data were collected and included minor saturation in a small section of the Eagle data (~ 530nm), thus providing important information regarding instrument settings in this environment.

ARSF VOCALS Sitrep 28.10.08

A second ARSF flight was conducted today. The Eagle and Hawk performed well but the Eagle continued to demonstrate disk instability at high altitude. We hope that this will soon be resolved once the hermetically sealed system disks (presently held by customs) are fitted. The flight was a test flight for the ‘Berlin polarometer’ and the Leosphere due to concerns regarding the laser. Contacts are being made to extract local GPS data collected as part of the IGP/DGF network and run by the Centre for Seismology at the University of Tarapaca. This will allow use to better process those data collected on the 26th and today and may mitigate the immediate deficiency in our capability to collect GPS data (this will be resolved on delivery of the GPS receiver tripod). The aircraft itself continues to operate without fault or problems.

22nd September

The new Leica ALS50 (II) was commissioned between the 15th and the 19th of September. Meanwhile, during the 2008 RSPSoc conference (in Falmouth) considerable positive interest was directed towards the ARSF with ARSF collected data being used in several of the presentations. The Dornier is now undergoing maintenance and a change in the instrument suite prior to its deployment in Arica, Chile in support of the VOCALS atmospheric campaign.

19th August

During a period of good conditions over London on the evening, night and morning of the 14th-15th of August data were collected in support of GB08-19. Following this acquisition weather condition deteriorated and have continued to be unsuitable for data collection since. The PCAP instrument was test fitted on the Monday (18.08.08), in prepration for the VOCALS deployment in October, and research teams for projects based in North Wales, the Midlands and the Peak District were primed for a possible improvement of conditions at the end of the week.

11th August

Most forecasts do not indicate suitable conditions for the collection of good quality data this week. However, conditions look encouraging for London on Thursday and Friday and some forecasts indicate that the South of England may be clear on Thursday morning; the West of Scotland may be clear on Friday morning; the East of Scotland clear on Sunday morning and the Peak district and North/West Wales on Monday morning. If conditions continue to be forecast as good for London on Thursday, this will be our primary site from which we will direct our data collection efforts.

Although most of Iceland is clear of cloud the IPY07-09 study site has a tongue of cloud across it. This is forecast to cover the whole island by the weekend.

22nd July

Although some regions in the UK have had good weather during the last few days most of the key science project sites have been in areas where cloud has been present. Nevertheless, the ARSF are not available for the collection of data, the hyperspectral instruments are undergoing calibration / validation with FSF and the Optech LiDAR continues to be in use by its owners at ULM. Remote sensing is due to resume on the 11th of August. During August (after 11.08.08) we will endeavour to collect data from the Midlands, North/West Wales, Cumbria and Scotland. However, during this period our priority sites will be London (in support of GB08-19) and Iceland (in support of IPY07-09). An emailed indication of our flying timetable based on forecasted weather conditions should be distributed in the first week of August. If any research team that anticipates having data collected from their site/sites needs further information then they should contact Gary Llewellyn on 079 1969 7851.

15th July

Yesterday (14.07.08) a failure in the AISA Eagle control system cause us to abort an attempt to collect data from the North bank of the Thames; this problem has been corrected. Unfortunately, despite the present good weather in the South and East of the UK conditions continue to be unfavourable in the Midlands, Cumbria and Scotland. We hope to be able to collect data from Wytham Woods and the Thames this week, however, the passive remote sensing instruments are due to be removed from the aircraft on Friday (18.07.08) in preparation for calibration/validation with FSF in following week. The research teams for one of the Peak District (GB08-02) projects and the project based in North Wales (GB08-13) have deferred the next collection for these projects to August when data collection (with the LiDAR fitted on DCALM) should resume on the 12th of August (12.08.08).

9th July

Weather conditions continue to be unpromising. We do not anticipate collecting any data this week and the forecasts are not encouraging for the start of the next week. The AISA Eagle and Hawk instruments are due to be removed from the aircraft on the 19th of July for transit to Edinburgh for calibration/validation with the FSF and ARSF-DAN.

3rd July 2008

Data were collected from three sites on the 1st of July and it is our intention to collect data from another two sites on Friday (04.07.08), one of which we hope will be synchronised with the collection of LiDAR data by ULM. Our intention is to support projects in Cumbria and Scotland in the coming week. However, support of science in North Wales continues to be problematic. The collection of remotely sensed data should continue until the long overdue calibration/spectral validation of the AISA Eagle and Hawk (21/06/08) and should resume with the LiDAR unified with the other instruments on the Dornier early in August (11/08/08).

25th June 2008

Minor repairs were completed and data were collected from one site in Southern England but cloudy conditions prevailed across our main project areas (Scotland, Cambria, the Midlands and Wales). Contact with research teams, RSPB shops and regular evaluations (based on webcams and a range of weather observation and forecasting websites) did not indicate that conditions would improve before dusk. We hope to be able to support these projects in the next seven days.

19th June 2008

During yesterdays flight the belly-door that protects the remote sensing instruments during take-off, landing and transit seized to the point of not opening. This problem only manifested itself when the aircraft was airborne; therefore it was not identified in the ground checks conducted after the latest sequence of maintenance work. An engineer has arrived from Germany to repair the fault and we hope to be collecting data as soon as possible.

The Optech Airborne Laser Terrain Mapper 3033 will not be available for fitting in the Dornier until the middle of August 2008 and will be returned to its owners after five weeks. Within this time period data were planned for collection from the French Alps and Iceland. Some of the most highly graded projects that require the repeat acquisition of LiDAR data will have those data collected coincidentally in another aircraft by a subcontractor. Some projects that relied on LiDAR data (especially those with multiple acquisitions or those that cannot be supported between 15/08/08 and 11/09/08) will not be supported in 2008. Those projects that had LiDAR data as a primary component and were awarded a low alpha four grade in the 2007/2008 application/review round will not be supported in 2008 and will not be rolled over for collection in 2009. Those projects awarded a mid alpha four grade or higher for which we have been unable to make special data collection arrangements for will be rolled over to 2009. Where a project retains its scientific justification without LiDAR data the ARSF will endeavour to support it as best we can.

11th June 2008

The Dornier's repaired engine has been replaced and the final items of outstanding maintenance should be completed for its return to the UK on the 13th of June. Following this the ARSF have two days of unavoidable procedural commitments. The collection of remotely sensed data should resume at the end of next week (~19th) and continue for the rest of June and most of July.

22nd May 2008

The ARSF's last flight in support of the EUCAARI IMPACT campaign (NL08-01) concluded on the 21st of May. Cloud cover contined to prevent UK remote sensing on the 22nd and the Dornier is due to transit to Germany on the 23rd for the loaned left hand engine to be replaced by our repaired engine. UK remote sensing should resume in the second week of June.

9th May 2008

Clear weather in the Netherlands prevented scientific the support of the EUCAARI IMPACT campaign (NL08-01). This resulted in greater availability of the aircraft in the support of UK remote sensing projects. However, the three days of clear, bright conditions (6th, 7th & 8th) have allowed many of the UK projects with multiple acquisitions to be started. Unfortunately this period was too late for some projects in the South of England that needed 'leaf-off' conditions. Data were collected on all of the clear three days and pre-dawn on the 9th.

22nd April 2008

Following the fitting of a loaned engine the NERC ARSF aircraft has resumed support for UK remote sensing. During the first two weeks in May data collection time will be shared between the support of UK remote sensing and participation in an International experiment in support of science (EUCAARI - NL08/01). The Cambridge LiDAR should be available in the NERC aircraft at the end of May, just after the aircraft is refitted with the repaired engine.

20th March 2008

The NERC ARSF aircraft is presently in Germany. It is undergoing maintenance on its engines and will undergo CAA certification. Following its return to the UK it will be engaged in the support of Atmospheric science. Support for UK remote sensing will resume in mid. April.

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