Today was a nail biting experience – University of Copenhagen

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04 June 2009

Today was a nail biting experience

Jakob launches a weather balloon  to determine the cloud base.

Jakob launches a weather balloon to determine the cloud base.

It was last chance to get 9 people out in order for them to reach the plane back to Europe without re-booking and buying new tickets. In Kangerlussuaq 17 people were anxiously waiting to go to camp; but weather this morning was just as yesterday: Total cloud cover and heavy snow fall with winds from WNW, a most unusual direction. Sometimes visibility was reduced to 400m due to falling snow.
On days with total cloud cover, it is necessary to have at least 2000 feet up to the bottom of the clouds in order for the planes to land safely. When seen from a cockpit, there is no difference between the white color of cloud and the ice sheet surface. But there is a lot of difference between flying in a cloud and flying into the ice sheet surface.
At 9.45 we launched a weather balloon and measured the cloud base to 2,300 feet. At the same time the snow fall was easing, and the wind began to turn. We asked the plane to start from Kangerlussuaq at 10.30. We had committed ourselves. It takes approx one hour to start, and the flying time is 2.5 hours. When the plane was en-route to NEEM, the snow fall began again, reducing the visibility from the necessary 3 miles to 400 m. Nails were bit. 30 minutes before the plane arrived, the snow stopped and the clouds broke to allow for shafts of sun light to penetrate. The plane landed at 15.08, and people could disembark and embark in sunshine. As the plane pulled forward for take-off at 17.00, the snow started again, and we could hardly see the plane disappear. Everything became grey and snowy again, and the weather did not lift until 19.00. Just how lucky can you be! A flight with a LC-130 is no cheap affair, and we pay whether the plane makes it or not.

What we have done today:

  1. Drilling with the NEEM long drill.
  2. Logging.
  3. Building in CFA lab.
  4. Groomed skiway in preparation of flight in bad weather.
  5. Setting up equipment for Physical properties studies.
  6. Received Skier 78. We are now 32 in camp.
  7. Unpacking arriving cargo.

Ad.1: This is how the drillers report looks today: “Tests with the narrow booster did not help bring chips into the upper half of the chips chamber. Only 2 m cores possible with packed pump and spirals and high current at the end. Other boosters will be tried tomorrow.
Drillers depth 225.83 m; total drilling 3.99 m.”

Weather: Overcast and snow most of the day. After 18.00 clearing. Wind turned to SE and temperature dropped: -9 °C to -22 °C, calm - 14 knots from WSW, later SE.
Visibility: ½ km to unrestricted.

FL, J.P. Steffensen

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