Finished our packing and inventory-ing then met with Carsten from the Danish Meterological Institute in Kangerlussuaq. A couple members of our group met Carsten last week through the folks at the logistics station. Among other things Carsten told them about the presence of the odd sea tomatoes, so he certainly made the rankings of knowledgeable locals before we’d even gotten to know him. Kangerlussuaq, or at least the part of it we got to know, is a very transitory town. Carsten, who’s lived there for 5 years now, is an experienced and old time resident compared to the average. His experience is probably multiplied beyond those five years as well by the fact that he does 13 hour shifts watching the weather and creating the aviation forecasts for all of Greenland.
We arrive and our first impression is definitely that the office where he works is super clean and modern. Racks of computer monitors display the latest meteorological information from ground stations around Greenland, satellite images, and computer forecast models. The walls are covered with amazingly detailed maps of Greenland and the surrounding Arctic from floor to ceiling. On one wall are current intricately hand drawn maps of the pressure fronts and precipitation areas every 6 hours over Greenland. Between taking observations and handling a few phone calls he explained how he combines the different pieces of information at his disposal with observations he gets from the airports and stations to create written forecasts for each scheduled flight plan in Greenland. He also, as we get to listen in on, gives custom forecasts and discusses the uncertainty in his forecasts with pilots over the phone – a personal weather forecaster! The information he provides us about the climate, snowfall, and extremes in Kangerlussuaq is very useful – historical weather data is not free and publicly accessible in much of the rest of the world like it is in the USA.