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The First Operational Day

Congratulations everyone on the first fully operational COPE day! Thursday proved to be a great case. Forecasts for the day suggested the idea of warmer moist air moving in from the east to the south west peninsula. The quite stagnant high pressure sitting over the UK, giving us all the sunny weather, moved slightly north causing winds in the southern part of the country to shift to an easterly direction. Combined with a sea breeze at the ground, this meant the possibility some smaller isolated areas of convective storms could appear which indeed they did. From the ground at Davidstow we could see lines of clouds forming, one looked as if it was producing rain at some point. Using the radar we tracked the clouds and watched their life-cycles as they propagated westward. The maximum value we saw of reflectivity was around 62dBZ at about 14:15Z, an high value for clouds over the UK (definitely grapuel).

2013071814150600dBZ main cell2

For the rest of the day we kept on searching for the first echoes of clouds so we could watch the whole development stage, and inform the aircraft of where the best locations would be to see 'first ice'. Aerosol filters on the ground and above were running to examine the properties of the first-ice nuclei. As much as the clouds were looking great from the ground, especially using the radar, flying around them must have been very neat. All three aircraft were flying for some time during the case on Thursday. The MOCCA aircraft flew back to Exeter after sampling the pre-cloud boundary layer, but the other two kept going through the whole IOP. From what we know it sounds like they collected some good data. To wrap up this rather exciting and hectic day, as the FAAM was heading back to Exeter it made a low pass over Davidstow and we didn't miss it this time. Although we didn't have enough time to get our cameras out for the best of photos, we managed to get one on a phone. Hopefully there'll be more opportunities.

radar faam

The past few days have pretty much continued the trend this July seems to be sticking to, sunny and hot. However, in the next few days our luck could change, to the disapproval of some locals, because rain is forecast for tomorrow (the next potential IOP day). A low pressure system currently over the Atlantic is making it's way closer to the UK today. It will bring with it the potential of some showers for the majority of the country due to some upper level troughs initially tomorrow sparking some instability. In the south west, because the winds will have shifted to a south-westerly direction, showers could form due to convergence along the peninsula. The UKV model for tomorrow shows both long lines of precipitation running north-south along England and some smaller storms in Cornwall/Devon.

surface pressure fcast 23.07.2013 12Z UKV precip 23.07.2013 12Z

Hopefully the models are correct and we will get some heavy showers out of this system, and not just for tomorrow. It is quite possible that the rest of the week could see more showers, which means there could be a few more IOPs. We'll stay optimistic. Not that the summer weather isn't lovely, it's just that after a while one really wants some rain. It is way too dry down here.

While waiting for the rain to come though we have had a chance to explore the natural beauty of the area. On Saturday a few of us got the chance to climb to the highest point in Cornwall, excuse the name please, Brown Willy. There were spectacular panoramic views of the area from the top (see images below). If anybody is into long walks I would definitely recommend going there.

brown willy1

brown willy2

The weather is going to start cooperating again with the hopes that on Thursday (18/7) we will have a good day with some convective activity. At least that is what we thought a few days ago as we were planning tomorrow’s IOP (intensive operating period). Forecast models were showing the possibility of a long line of convergence running along the spine of the country down into the southwest peninsula. As of today that is no longer the case. Most models were not showing such widespread convergence and rain like they were previously. Model runs later in the day today however did indicate some convective storms forming over northern Devon tomorrow afternoon and into the early evening. With this slightly diminished chance of getting good COPE weather we are still going to go through with a full operational day. All three aircraft will be flying over the area tomorrow (unless told otherwise) and the radar will be out, of course. The aerosol instruments located at the war museum will be running too. In addition, radiosondes are going to be released throughout the day in various locations along the peninsula, one location supposedly on the airfield. Thursday sounds like it will be an exciting day full of good data collection.

Today we saw quite an interesting example of flying. A huge Chinook flew near our portacabin. We were told it was going to land somewhere close to us to switch pilots, but instead it just did a bit of a pass over. It was quite neat to see up close as it was flying quite low to the ground. Maybe it will be back tomorrow seeing as there might be some military operations happening on or around the airfiled, at least that is what we have heard. Must be some sort of training. Who knows?

Chinook resized

The Chinook flying close by this afternoon and going back down into the valley near the airfield.

Anyway, good luck to everyone tomorrow. Hopefully everything runs smoothly!

St Swithin’s Day if thou dost rain
For forty days it will remain
St Swithin’s Day if thou be fair
For forty days twill rain nae mair

In other words, for the next forty days there isn’t going to be any rain which, for COPE, is not good in the slightest.  Hopefully that is not the case, but we are certainly starting to believe it might be. We haven’t really had a drop of rain here since June! I find this highly ironic and not the sort of English weather we Americans are lead to believe.  Oh well. I guess I’ll get the sun cream out and enjoy this while it lasts, which if you believe in the poem above might last for some time.

st swithins resized

Taken today (15/07). Nothing of use for COPE in the sky

Tuesday 9th July: The sun is beating down here in Davidstow and across much of the UK like it has been now for the past few days. Wednesday saw some widespread clouds due to an upper level cold front, but no precipitation. Today there is a chance for some storms in the Midlands and the north. However, here there is currently not one cloud in the sky. At least the country is getting a real summer this year. (Maybe COPE should have occurred last year?) Model forecasts are not showing this high pressure moving any time soon, which means our project has been slightly slower as of late.  It also means the coasts are bustling. This past weekend the beach in St. Ives was hopping. It is definitely a great day trip for those of us in Cornwall who happen to have a little time off.

Surface pressure fcast 16.07.2013 12Z

 

As this lovely, yet incorrect-for-COPE summer weather arrived on Friday we had a good day of data collection. There was predicted to be some sea breeze and convergence line development that day. We had the radar out in the morning scanning the area while we waited for the convergence line to form, checking new images as they came in. Evidence of convergence started around midday; the radar was picking up signals from insects, which generally move with the wind, so we could see the line starting to organise. The images show reflectivity (intensity of backscatter i.e. larger concentration of insects equals larger reflectivity) and radial velocity. Note the region to the south east of the radar where air moving away from the radar (positive radial velocity) meets air moving towards the radar (negative radial velocity). This region indicates the convergence line and there is an enhancement of the reflectivity due to the accumulation of insects!

2013070513311403dBZ.ppi

2013070513311404V.ppi

  The Doppler lidar, situated at the war museum, confirmed what we thought we saw, a low level sea breeze coming inland off the north coast.


Lidar 05.07.2013 14Z RHI

All the while, a line of clouds did start to form as a result in the early afternoon along the spine of the peninsula, and the FAAM just so happened to be flying around. Good timing I would say.  We also had some visitors on Friday; Sonia from Purdue and Jeff and Dave both from Wyoming. They are all based in Exeter working with the Wyoming King Air aircraft.

On Wednesday (10/07) that same aircraft flew over Wales examining some cloud activity over there. It will be interesting to see if those clouds are similar to what we are looking for in COPE.

In other news, Alan and Lindsay were interviewed by Richard Hollingham for Planet Earth Online (NERC) on Wednesday about the project, and specifically what we are doing in Davidstow. Look out for the podcast in a couple weeks on their website (link below).  Also, there is a COPE Twitter feed via the FGAM account, the link is below. Go check it out for more updates throughout the project.


interview

Some exciting things have been happening around the farm where Lindsay, Alan and I are staying. Last night one of the cows gave birth to a calf. By the sounds of what was coming out of the barn it sounded like quite an ordeal.

130713 new calf3
Another fun thing to do is the airfield tours run by Steve from the war museum. We had the pleasure of attending one on Thursday. There is quite a lot of interesting history about the war in this area. I would definitely recommend going if anyone is interested.

Planet Earth Online website http://planetearth.nerc.ac.uk/
COPE Twitter Page @FGAM  https://twitter.com/FGAM

 

Normal 0 false false false EN-GB X-NONE X-NONE As this lovely, yet incorrect-for-COPE summer weather arrived on Friday we had a good day of data collection. There was predicted to be some sea breeze and convergence line development that day. We had the radar out in the morning scanning the area while we waited for the convergence line to form, checking new images as they came in. Evidence of convergence started around midday; the radar was picking up signals from insects, which generally move with the wind, so we could see the line starting to organise. The images show reflectivity (intensity of backscatter i.e. high concentration of insects equals higher reflectivity) and radial velocity. Note the region to the south east of the radar where air moving away from the radar (positive values) meets air moving towards the radar (negative values). This region indicates the convergence line and there is an enhancement of the reflectivity due to the accumulation of insects!


Hello again from Davidstow airfield! My name is Colin and I will be taking over some of the blogging for the next month. I am the lowly Purdue undergrad who arrived from my year abroad in Leeds last Thursday. Word of warning:  that train ride is excessively long; make sure you bring something to entertain yourself with. The views, on the other hand, around Devon and Cornwall are fantastic.   

Anyway, more importantly, for the past couple of weeks we have been smoothing out issues with the radar. Everything seemed to be in working order as Lindsay ran some tests on Monday morning. She also did some refractivity scans throughout the day for John. Monday’s forecast did not see anything of good use for radar data, hence why we just ran some tests. Despite not having any good convective weather, Lindsay did find some rather interesting radar reflectivity images that we thought might have been showing the inversion layer. Tuesday looked more promising as a weak front moved across the southwest bringing with it some rain. It was raining on and off all day with strong gusts of wind, so we collected some radar data for a few good hours. Forecasts for the rest of the week are not showing significant convective weather as a high pressure system is expected to move in by the weekend. Before it arrives, however, there is a chance for some scattered showers on Thursday morning due to frictional convergence along the peninsula. There is another low pressure system currently moving over the Atlantic that will be the causing factor behind the convergence tomorrow (due to south-westerly winds in the warm sector). By mid-afternoon Thursday the cold front of that system is forecasted to have crossed the region and the aforementioned high pressure ridge will build behind it.  For Friday, the high pressure will continue to strengthen and we expect to see some sea breeze development that day.  The radar will hopefully be able to observe insects again (insects like warm weather!) and see the convergence along the sea-breeze fronts. The radar should observe a stronger line of echo where the insects are forced together by the converging winds.  A lot of models are showing the high to persist throughout the weekend. This is perfect for the locals down here who are hoping for a few days of nice weather. Our fingers are crossed for some convective rain to come.

surface pressure fcsat 04.07.2013 0000Z

Surface pressure chart from the Met Office issued today showing a forecast for 00:00Z Thursday 4/7 (0100BST). The low pressure mentioned above is shown in the middle of the northern Atlantic moving eastward. The high pressure, coming for Friday, is coming in from the southwest off the coast of Spain.

Setting everything up on Monday was a bit of a laugh. First, we had to dodge potholes left right and centre on the airfield with the radar in tow. It’s a bit like a really strenuous driving test trying to save the car’s suspension by swerving around giant potholes! Seriously, these roads look as if they were laid down during the war and in the 70 years or so since no one has done anything to maintain them.

 DSCN0643

A small sample of the kinds of potholes that we have to avoid.

Second, was getting the radar into position, a rather entertaining process which included reversing it over a small hole into an alcove-like natural structure. Let’s just say it took a lot of backwards and forwards and yelling directions, but we finally got it. It was much quicker today I might add.

DSCN0624

The small hole and somewhat awkward orientation of land to get the radar into position.

Finally, as Lindsay and I were finishing set-up, we found a huge lorry parked outside the portacabin. The driver had gotten lost on his way to a delivery, which coincidentally he was very close to.

Yesterday’s set-up did not have all the entertaining values as yesterday. The rain and the wind battering down on us quickened the process.

Steve, a rather humorous character from the war museum, will be running tours of the airfield starting on Thursday in a similarly humorous light blue minibus that somewhat resembles an oyster card. We might have some visitors around the site asking questions about our project. As a matter of fact we did have one of the locals stop by yesterday. In the meantime, we have submitted a handout to the museum for tourists to read if they are interested.  

DSCN0620

The tour mini-bus from the war museum

Aircraft are expected to be flying over in the near future for data collection. The FAAM will be in a transit flight today (Wednesday, 3/7) from Cranfield to Exeter. Today the Wyoming King Air is running a test flight. We were told the aircraft was circling over Davidstow this morning. There is also a science meeting in the Met Office in Exeter for pilots to meet and coordinate with the scientists involved in the project.

Meanwhile, we are hoping for more convective rain to head our way.

 panoramic

                Panoramic view of Davidstow airfield on Monday 1 July.