Tuesday 6th - Barrier Winds

The strongest winds in the entire Northeast Atlantic (that's the North Atlantic north of Iceland) are the winds between Greenland and Iceland, in the fearsome Denmark Strait. During winter the winds are predominantly from the north, and channeling down the fjords of Greenland, the sharp temperature differences along the edge of the sea ice, and the huge barrier that is the Greenland mountains, all work together to make these unpleasant waters by any standard. In a terrible northeasterly storm during the Easter of 1952, seven Norwegian sealing vessels went down. Five of these were never found, and a total of 79 sailors lost their lives. Furthermore, on 9 April 1933, a wind gust of 163 knots was recorded on the island of Jan Mayen, one of the strongest winds ever measured by conventional means.


Sea Ice


After a successful barrier-winds flight on Monday, the team of scientists flew into a northerly jet on Tuesday with a wind speed of 45 m/s (around 90 knots). The winds near the sea surface are rarely that strong, mainly due to frictional effects.

Upon entering the sea-ice sheet, the cabin came alive with clicking and gasping. The fresh ice is spectacular, as you can see from the picture. No polar bears were spotted, though. Perhaps even more clicking was heard when the skies cleared as we flew over Greenland on this second day of barrier wind flights. The fjords, glaciers and Nunataks (tops of mountains shooting up through the ice) are picturesque in the extreme.

Not forgetting the science, we had a very successful flight. The aim of both Mondays and Tuesdays flights was to get horizontal and vertical profiles of the jet, and we ended up with lots of good data. On Monday, turbulence data was flawlessly collected during the low-level flight, but the probe broke down due to icing on the Tuesday. To sum up, it was a great experience for all involved.