A productive few days…..

Well, if I say so myself, everything went pretty well the instrument integration in Elizabeth City. We did all the work in the workshop as the gondola that we will be using for the trip was being worked on in the big hangar. There is an advantage on this, the workshop has facilities for cutting, grinding, bending and drilling the assorted pieces of aluminium which inevitably are added to the rack to support pumps, provide extra shelves for the smaller items.

Greg’s rack was already there when we arrived on Wednesday along with the pallet of instrument cases. It is much safer to send more lighter boxes than to fill up a rack and make it more difficult to handle. We set to work putting everything together and it wasn’t too long before the first of several trips were made to buy tools and other parts. The workshop had been pretty much cleared out of tools which had gone over to the hangar for the gondola refurbishment.
I set to work fabricating the sample port plates, the gondola has a number of holes in it and this is will be where the sample inlets will stick out into the free air flow*. Once finished these are left with the team from SkyShip Services who will fit them to the gondola ready for our return.
Once we were happy with the plan the instruments were removed from the rack ready for shipping to Florida. Unfortunately the client before us needs everything removing before their work starts.

The folks from Ocean Optics really pulled the stops out too as the two specially made fibres arrived before we left on Friday. So these were left with the engineers who are installing one of them right on the top of the envelope, there will be one underneath too. From this we can detect changes in cloud cover overhead and the levels of UV radiation from the sun. the underside one will tell us the amount of upwelling radiation. The optical system measures from about UV-B up to the edge o the visible region. So we don’t measure outgoing long wave (infrared) radiation from the surface but we can measure how much sunlight is reflected back by the clouds.

After departing a very sunny Norfolk (reported as being 88 Fahrenheit), we landed back into Manchester to blue skies with only a few clouds to be seen. Reports from home during this trip told me that this weather is definitely a considerable improvement to what they had a couple of days ago.

Less than three weeks now until the final trip across the Atlantic for the real deal, we are expecting Orlando to be hot, very hot and humid. This means that we’ll probably end up starting early in the morning before it gets too hot. Watch this space…..

* When sampling from any moving platform it is important to sample from outside of the platform’s “boundary layer”. This is akin to the turbulent wash around a boat, exactly the same happens with an aircraft. Lest we forget that air is also a fluid just like water afterall!


About Jim McQuaid

Atmospheric scientist (chemist by birth). Working in the Institute for Climate and Atmospheric Science (School of Earth and Environment at the University of Leeds). Often found in close proximity to the FAAM146 research aircraft. Previously found urrently providing some science (and weighing clouds!) to the BBC Cloud Lab project as well as making clouds for BBC Wild Weather series.... (more... http://www.see.leeds.ac.uk/people/j.mcquaid) @jimmcquaid
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