Notes from the Field

Down Days

June 11th, 2012 by Brian Campbell

Eni Njoku

We’ve been rained out for four straight days Friday through Monday due to unstable weather conditions in the area – not exactly what we expected! On the other hand we should certainly observe some pretty wet fields when we make our next PALS flights.

On Saturday things looked good in the early morning despite some low-lying fog and expectations that a weather front to the East might move into the area by early afternoon. So we gave the “Go” signal for the sampling teams to head for the fields. Meanwhile at the airport the fog thickened, so take-off was put on hold. Seth and Ian took advantage of the delay to work on some instrument troubleshooting.

By the time the fog at the airport lifted Rich determined that the weather front was moving in much faster than expected and would probably reach the edge of our sampling domain by mid-morning. So we reluctantly aborted the Twin Otter flight for the day and notified the field crew (who were no doubt also anxious not to get caught in the storm). When the storm hit it was a big one! The tornado chasers were out in force, we heard, but none were sighted according to the news (tornados, that is).

Rachel and Paul starting to take vegetation data

Eni in a soybean field, on a day off

To see what else the SMAPVEX12 team does in their downtime, visit SMAP Blogs from the Field

PALS Data First Look

June 8th, 2012 by Brian Campbell

Andreas Colliander

Below are quick-look images from yesterday’s first science flights (June 7). A single polarization each of the radiometer and radar are shown. The data are from high-altitude lines 3 through 8 (lines 1 and 2 were not acquired). For reference, the study site map is also shown (at right).

The radiometer brightness temperature (Tb) and normalized radar cross-section (sigma-0) images are uncalibrated – default parameters were used to convert instrument counts to the respective Tb and sigma-0 quantities. No external calibration has been done at this stage using the lake reference data, however the lake data were used to check that the data levels were approximately correct.

Map of Study Area

PALS v-pol brightness temperature (Tb-v).

PALS vv-pol radar cross-section (sigma-0-vv).


To read more about these images, visit SMAP Blogs from the field.

Field Sampling

June 7th, 2012 by Brian Campbell

Mike Cosh

June 7th was our first day of soil moisture sampling in the SMAPVEX12 experiment after two days of training and rehearsal. Beginning at 6:45am, 13 soil moisture teams set out to record surface soil moisture at 59 fields. By 2pm, the teams had returned successfully measuring moisture at 53 fields.

Installing a temporary network station

Justin and Marco sampling near a temporary network station in a spring wheat field.


For more information, visit SMAP Blogs from the Field

First Science Flights

June 7th, 2012 by Brian Campbell

Eni Njoku

Today was planned as the first full day of science flights and soil moisture sampling. The morning Go/No-Go telecon confirmed our “Go” decision of yesterday evening, so the ground sampling crews were given the signal to head for the fields (an hour or more drive from Winnipeg) and the PALS folk headed for the airport.

Narendra Das on the soybean field #123. We should see a big difference in a few weeks!


For more information and to read a news release, visit SMAP Blogs from the Field.

Test Day

June 6th, 2012 by Brian Campbell

Eni Njoku

Today was a test day, to go through the PALS/Twin Otter flight operations, and for the ground teams to get familiar with the soil and vegetation sampling equipment and the field site locations.

Richard (pilot) and Andreas getting the Twin Otter and PALS instrumentation ready.

Test Flight

We were at the airport by 8 am. The plane was outside being prepared by Richard and Dave (pilots). Andreas worked on the antenna external calibration target while Seth and Ian checked out the PALS electronics.

After the pre-flight briefing, take-off occurred as planned at about 10 am. The plane climbed and headed northwest towards Lake Manitoba for high and low altitude calibrations over water, and then turned southward to test maneuvers and data collection over a few of the designated field site flight lines. At 11:30 am the plane landed back at Winnipeg and we went through the debrief. Andreas checked the data back at the hotel (downloaded onto a thumb drive).

To read more, please visit SMAP Blogs from the Field.