Preparing for the next POLAR6 campaign

Preparations for the upcoming NETCARE aircraft campaign have been under way in Toronto for the last few months. Late last week we packed up our instruments and sent them on their way to Bremerhaven, Germany, where we will spend about two weeks integrating them into the Polar 6 starting on March 9th. Unlike our last campaign, which was based entirely in Resolute, NU, this project involves moving between several stations in conjunction with the AWI PAMARCMiP campaign on the Polar 5. Our first station is Longyearbyen, and from there we will go to Nord, Alert, Eureka and finally to Innuvik, spending several days at each point and conducting science flights from all locations between March 28th and April 22nd.  Our goals for this campaign include characterization of black carbon aerosol and its removal processes during Arctic springtime, investigation of pollution transport processes, and characterization of ice clouds and mixed-phase clouds.

My role in this campaign is again to operate the soot-particle aerosol mass spectrometer (SP-AMS) aboard the Polar 6. I learned a lot from running the instrument on the Polar 6 last year, and I hope I can put this experience to work on our upcoming campaign. This campaign will come with a whole new set of challenges, not the least of which is keeping the mass spectrometer happy and running in extremely cold conditions. We hope to make this happen using an insulated instrument blanket and heaters, which we will carry on the plane with us. 

Preparation for this campaign has involved a large team of dedicated people from AWI, Environment Canada, UBC, UQAM, UofMainz and UofT. Here in the chemistry department John and Dave, from our machine shop, have helped out a lot by providing some creative solutions to challenges I experienced last year. These were some things I had never thought about, like protecting my instrument from the aircraft heating system that pulls in heat directly off the engines, resulting is rapid temperature changes. We are lucky to have John and Dave around, before the last NETCARE campaign they re-racked my instrument for use in the aircraft. It was a big job, but they came up with a really functional design. 


Preparations this time weren't without their own challenges and surprises. The SP-AMS was working really well up until two weeks before our ship-out date, when we had a hardware failure that put a hold on the tests I was doing with the instrument. We had great support from the company that makes the SP-AMS, Aerodyne, and they manufactured a new part for us and had it shipped all within about five days. It was a great relief to be able to test the new part before everything was shipped to Germany!

Once February 13th rolled around the only thing left to do was pack everything up and hope for the best. Here’s hoping for a successful campaign!

-Megan Willis, NETCARE Graduate Student

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