Equipment deployment begins in Sodankylä with an unexpected event

25.04.2022 | Logbook

The Snow Hydrology Research Group started deploying their ground-based equipment and were surprised with a view of the northern lights.

We installed the motorized cable car platform on a transect that also covers a range of forest structures. The transect moves under the dense forest canopy, capturing both the north and south facing forest edges, and across the forest gap. The cable car will collect continuous measurements of solar and thermal radiation through the canopy to the snow surface along the transect at our study site.

In addition to the installation of the micro meteorological stations and cable car, we started snow depth and snow water equivalent (SWE) measurements. Both of these essential ground measurements will be repeated throughout the field campaign to cover the snowmelt period.

To improve our predictions of snow cover in forested regions, we need to better understand how forest structure controls snow melt patterns and these ground observations are the first step. Now that our field site is established with measurements taking place in the forest, our next step is to get the drones in the air to start collecting measurements above the forest canopy.

An unexpected event

It crossed our minds that we might see the auroras during our field campaign in the arctic but the combination of an uneventful aurora forecast, and a bright full moon with already limited darkness gave us low expectations. On Monday April 11, we saw news that a sunspot exploded that would result in a sudden geomagnetic storm which was predicted to persist through Friday April 15.

At nearly 1:00 am on Friday morning, we wandered out onto the frozen Kitinen River to get a full view of the clear Northern sky and found ourselves in the middle of this unexpected event. We watched in awe as the auroras formed in the East, shapeshifted above us as they traveled across the North, and finally fell below the canopy in the West. This was the first northern light experience for some of us, and for all of us, it was an arctic fieldwork experience we will not forget.

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