Joint Aircraft campaign observing FLUXes of energy and momentum in the cloudy boundary layer over polar sea ice and ocean (AFLUX)

AFLUX employs the research aircraft Polar 5 to measure turbulent and radiative fluxes of energy and momentum over the sea ice covered and open ocean depending on the properties of low-level clouds, aerosol particles, and trace gas concentration. To that aim both in situ measurement techniques and remote sensing instruments will be applied.

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Project type

  • field work
  • remote sensing
  • modelling


  • atmosphere
  • cryosphere

Project Keywords

  • atmosphere / atmospheric radiation / net radiation
  • atmosphere / clouds / cloud forcing
  • atmosphere / clouds / cloud microphysics
  • atmosphere / atmospheric radiation / radiative flux

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AFLUX is a joint project of different German universities and research institutes and of one French university (listed below). It is embedded in the Transregional Collaborative Research Centre TR 172 (ArctiC Amplification: Climate Relevant Atmospheric and SurfaCe Processes, and Feedback Mechanisms (AC)³). The general goal of AFLUX is to obtain a comprehensive data set of atmospheric parameters in the polar cloud-covered and cloud-free atmospheric boundary layer (ABL) over sea ice. Flights will be arranged in a way that the data can serve to improve our understanding of boundary layer processes dependent on the dominating impact factors such as clouds, sea ice cover, surface temperature and wind. The combined analysis of the measurement data and of suitable modeling results will be used to estimate the role of Arctic clouds and of surface heterogeneities for the amplified climate change in polar regions. Special emphasis is on the comparison of results during this winter/early spring campaign with the ACLOUD – (AC)3 campaign carried out during late spring/early summer in the same region in 2017 (Wendisch et al., 2018). AFLUX will employ one research aircraft, Polar 5, operated by the Alfred Wegener Institute, Germany. To reach the goals described above, the research flights aim to measure turbulent and radiative fluxes of energy and momentum depending on the properties of low-level clouds and aerosol particles, as well as on trace gas concentration. To that aim both in situ measurement techniques and remote sensing instruments will be applied. 80 flight hours are planned within about 4 weeks (15 March – 16 April 2019). Polar 5 will approach the ice-pack mainly in altitudes of 3,000 m (10,000 ft). Then, flights will be performed in different levels above and below clouds if visibility conditions are sufficient. During descend clouds will be probed under suitable conditions with only very weak icing. If conditions allow, also short horizontal flight legs are planned in clouds. Such conditions might be found in shallow stratocumulus over sea ice where humidity is lower than at the sea ice edge. The lowest possible flight level is at 60 m (200 ft) above ground, which is needed to characterize turbulent fluxes in the lower part of the atmospheric boundary layer below clouds as well as to measure the surface temperature and the surface reflectivity. The base for the aircraft operation will be Longyearbyen, (Svalbard Lufthavn, LYR) and flights will be performed in the region 75 N – 85 N and 30 W – 28 E. We strive to minimize the environmental impact of our research activities. E.g., to our best knowledge, the environmental impact of our activities will be limited to (a) aircraft noise, (b) aircraft exhaust fumes, and (c) 40 meteorological probes released from the aircraft. The airborne observations will be closely coordinated with surface-based observations at the AWIPEV station (Ny-Ålesund).

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