Weather observations and Radio soundings at the Meteorological station.

Two very important reasons why Norway has a "Colony" on Jan Mayen is the Loran C system, and that Jan Mayen is a very important place for weather observations. In this area Cold polar air mixes with warmer air from the south. Warm Gulf stream water also meets cold water from the north in this area. These factors "make" the weather, and observations from this area is extremely important for weather forecasting in Northern Europe. Because of this the Norwegian Meteorological Institute has a station on Jan Mayen.

The Meteorological station - A view from the outside

In the picture you can see the meteorological station as it looked like on a foggy day in the summer of 1994 when an extra room for balloon filling and launching was added. I'm sorry I have no better overview of the station, but you may try this link.

Jan Mayen is located in the middle of a vast open Ocean area, far away from other inhabited places, so it is very valuable for weather forecasting and climate research to be able to have a permanent station on Jan Mayen that can provide regular weather observations over a continuous period of time. The World Meteorological Organization divides the world into two digit numbered zones, in each zone the weather observationing stations are numbered with a three digit number. Norway is zone 01 and Jan Mayen is number 001 - Station number 01001 - number one in the world! Traditionally weather observations have been made on Jan Mayen every 3rd hour and sent back to Norway. Now a semi automatic station is being used. Automatic equipment measures air pressure, temperature, humidity, wind direction and wind speed. Human observers add information about clouds, weather, visibility and precipitation. The semi automatic equipment was installed for different reasons, one was to save money - two of the 3-hourly observations are now complete automatic and one person less is required. Another reason is that the automatic equipment now makes weather observations every hour and sends the data back to Norway. A third reason may be that automatic instrument readings may eliminate human error. However, both we who work on Jan Mayen and the Meteorologists (At least in Bergen, where I work when I'm not in the Arctic) regret that manual data is missing in two observations. All data is useful, and in an area where the observations are so scattered, polar lows may form unnoticed, for sure this can be detected by the automatic measurements, but information of clouds and weather is also of big importance for traditional meteorologist, if for no other reason than to verify data and forecasts.

Twice a day we also make Upper air Observations of wind, temperature and humidity. We use Vaisala RS80 radiosondes to do upper atmosphere measurements and Vaisala Digi-Cora for ground equipment. The radiosondes are launched with hydrogen filled balloons and reach altitudes of about 90000 feet in summer and about 75000 in winter.

Filling a balloon with hydrogen

The difference is probably due to heating of the balloon rubber. In february temperatures as low as minus 80-90 degrees C (-112 to -130 degrees F) can be measured during an ascent. We produce the hydrogen gas with the equipment you can see in the lower picture. We use electrolysis of water with 25 % potassium lye as a catalytic electrolyte. This produces pure hydrogen and oxygen - the oxygen is added to the atmosphere while the hydrogen is run through a compressor and stored in a tank.

Equipment for producing Hydrogen from water by Electrolysis

After this I think we will relax with a glass of wine in the Living room of the Meteorological station.

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