FAAM aircraft flies past the BoBBLE cruise

posted in: Blog, News

It was a truly extraordinary rendezvous, combining a very ambitious flight and some great observations from the ship. A BAe 146-301 four-engine jet, the UK Facility for Airborne Atmospheric Measurements (FAAM), flew past the ORV Sindhu Sadhana yesterday, just 100 ft above the waves, with other fly-bys at 300 ft, 1000 ft and 5,500 ft to get a profile through the lower atmosphere. Unfortunately, we have no photos yet, but I’m sure you can imagine how exciting this was for scientists on both the ship and the plane!

The UK Facility for Airborne Atmospheric Measurements (FAAM)
The UK Facility for Airborne Atmospheric Measurements (FAAM). Image credit FAAM.ac.uk

The aircraft is being operated as part of the INCOMPASS project, which is studying the interaction between monsoon rainfall and convective organisation depending on surface conditions over land and sea. The INCOMPASS project is a sister project of BoBBLE, as both are funded by the NERC-MoES collaboration to study Drivers of Variability in the South Asian Monsoon, along with the SWAAMI project which is investigating the impact of aerosols on monsoon precipitation.

The scientific aims of this were to get profiles of atmospheric conditions and heat fluxes around the ship location, where simultaneous measurements were made of surface heat fluxes, wind, temperature and ocean conditions, including the sub-surface radiation and temperature. The opportunity to compare atmospheric and ocean conditions in such detail is rare, and unprecedented during the Indian Monsoon.

The ORV Sindhu Sadhana
The ORV Sindhu Sadhana. Image credit NIOT

Mission scientist Doug Parker aboard the FAAM said

“In summary, the flight was conducted almost exactly as planned, and the weather conditions smiled on us, to give us the opportunity to get exactly the datasets we had been aiming for. A great deal of effort by a lot of people went into the planning of this flight: I think it’s been an important milestone in the MONSOON programme, and I am very grateful for having had the chance to fly on it.”

We look forward to collaborating with scientists from the INCOMPASS project on analysing the results!