"We want to increase the understanding of meteorological processes"

Sonja Murto, PhD student at Stockholm University. Photo: Roxana Cremer

Weather balloons and meteorological measurements are in focus when Sonja Murto, PhD student at Stockholm University, participates in the research expedition Synoptic Arctic Survey.

‒ This is my first expedition with the icebreaker Oden, and it will be exciting!

You participate in the Arctic Climate Across Scales, ACAS, work package. What is it about?

‒ The purpose of ACAS is to increase the understanding of small-scale and large-scale meteorological processes that affect the rapid climate change in the Arctic and the melting of sea ice. Large-scale processes are, for example, the transport of hot and humid air from low latitudes to high latitudes. This is controlled by high and low pressure systems.

‒ The most critical processes for the Arctic climate are the surface energy and heat fluxes, which in turn are strongly related to clouds and aerosols. Large-scale transport of air to the north adds moisture and heat to polar regions. This affects the local cloud formation, radiation balance and surface warming and sea ice melt.

‒ It is a complex system. Different processes take place on different scales, i.e., have different distributions, and they affect each other.

Why is it important to study this?

‒ To predict climate change in the Arctic, it is important that climate models represent all processes as well as possible. Today, however, there are few observations from high latitudes. This leads to uncertainty in climate models. We want to learn more about the processes behind the rapid climate change in the Arctic to fill knowledge gaps.

Can you tell us a little about what you are going to do?

‒ During the expedition, we will, among other things, send up radiosondes, i.e., weather balloons, every six hours. They measure temperature, humidity, wind, and air pressure. We will also measure the carbon dioxide and methane fluxes between the ice, ice cracks or guards, and the atmosphere.

‒ Oden has remote analysis tools for collecting cloud data. There is also a weather mast that measures fluxes of moisture, carbon dioxide, methane, and heat. The icebreaker's weather station has instruments for measuring wind, temperature, cloud cover and incoming shortwave radiation, among other things. My most important task is to make sure everything works, send out the weather balloons and help where needed!

What does it mean for a PhD student to join an expedition with Oden?

‒ It means a lot to me. I studied on Svalbard for four months in the autumn of 2016 and have dreamed of being able to return to high latitudes.

I was happy about the offer to join the expedition, experience the Arctic environment for real, and take part in all meteorological measurements. It feels like a dream come true! It gives a different perspective to have been out in the field and is also a great advantage. Knowing how the measurements are performed and carrying them out myself is good when I, as a researcher, use other people's data. I see it as an investment in a potential future career.

You will be away from home for a long time, how do you prepare?

‒ It is a long time to be away from home, two months! Dance is a big part of my life. I am a teacher in Lindy Hop and dance other swing dances. I will miss that. But I will bring dance videos and music. Maybe I can teach some dance on Oden and film a dance or two on the deck ‒ or the ice.

What are you looking forward to the most?

‒ Everything I will get to learn and experience during the expedition. To meet new people and take a North Pole dance ‒ then it will be "the northernmost Lindy Hop"!

Sonja Murto

Title: PhD student in meteorology, fourth year

University: Department of Meteorology at Stockholm University

Role within the expedition: Participates in the work package Arctic Climate Across Scales. Among other things, will send out weather balloons, carry out meteorological measurements and ensure that all instruments work.

Most important in the packaging: Tea, vegan chocolate, music and dance videos.