After months of planning, Team GLARE arrived in Innsbruck, Austria, from Leeds late on the 30th June, after successfully guiding two flat-packed wind towers and a bag-load of batteries through airport security in Manchester and Munich. We travelled by bus between Munich and Innsbruck, minimising costs and carbon footprints.
The next morning we assembled at Rofen with a team of scientists all interested in studying the Hintereis glacier, and all taking complementary measurements that will yield an impressive amount of data (a scheme masterminded by Lindsey Nicholson).
Tom and Josh were helicoptered up to Station Hintereis (3026 m) along with essential field supplies, including dGPS, wind towers, gas bottles, solar panels and of course, plenty of pumpernickel. The other teams, including Mark, were dropped at different locations on the ice to deploy sonic anemometer masts and meteorological stations, while the wind towers were assembled at the hut. These two instrumental set ups provide two ways of measuring the turbulent fluxes of sensible and latent heat in the atmosphere near the glacier surface, and can be used to measure aerodynamic roughness length (zo), which is the height above the glacier surface at which wind speed drops to zero. Installing both will allow results to be compared and then used to validate z0 values obtained using microtopographic surveys (a third method).
Station Hintereis is commonly used for short one or two night excursions from Innsbruck. As Josh and Tom have made the journey from Leeds and will be staying at the station for around two weeks, they will be its longest-term residents – to the knowledge of any of the crew. Perched high above the Hintereisferner, it’s not a bad place to spend a couple of weeks!
On the first day we installed the two wind towers; one will maintain position next to a sonic anemometer mast for the duration of the field campaign to ensure comparability (mast 1), and one will be left in place for three/four days at a time then moved around the glacier to collect data from different locations (mast 2). A survey of the immediate area around mast 2 was carried out using a digital camera mounted on a 6 m pole, the photos from which will be used to construct 3D digital elevation models using structure from motion photogrammetry. We carried out similar surveys of smaller plots on varied surfaces, in order to try to characterise the range of roughness characteristics present on the glacier.
With a hard and long day’s work behind us, Team GLARE made the long commute back up to the hut. Unfortunately, a convective thunderstorm made the steep climb back to the hut very interesting with rock faces turning into waterfalls!