Science - February 8, 2010

PH-WUR 'lands' on campus

It didn't make an emergency landing at the Atlas building. The Sky Arrow 650 didn't arrive by air, but by road. Properly, along with a car. The small aircraft was being shown off briefly today on campus.

In the nose of the small aircraft are expensive devices for measuring  CO2, temperature and wind speed.
The PH-WUR was the opening act from the chair group Earth System Science and Climate Change when the Executive Board paid the group an operations visit. This small aircraft has been with ESS-CC since 2007 and is a major asset in its climate research.
It is for this reason that the Sky Arrow is well equipped with various devices, explains PhD student Olaf Vellinga. He takes painstaking care especially of the nose of the plane, in which the most expensive devices are located. 'That nose is worth more than all the rest of the plane taken together', he says.
Fly low
So, it's hands off for everyone else. In the nose, for example, carbon dioxide streams are measured. In fact, this is what it's all about. The aircraft has to gather plenty of information about CO 2 shifts between the ground and the atmosphere above the city, inland and the coast. All of which have to take place as close to the ground as possible; Vellinga explains that this is to enable CO 2 movements to be shown in as much detail as possible. The PH-WUR has therefore been given special permission to fly at a height of sixty meters.
H-index
This is the first time that the Executive Board visits the as yet new climate group within the ESG. Subsequently, in the warmth of the Forum building, Professor Pavel Kabat reveals some excellent report scores of this group: a substantial turnover (5-6 million per year, of which 70 percent are from outside sources), a few hundred publications annually and a considerable rise in the number of students. As far as quality is concerned, everything is also going well, as is evident from the h-index of 26 of the researchers.
Wings clipped
Meanwhile in the freezing cold outside, Vellinga stands guard over 'his' small aircraft. This contraption has been brought here early in the morning from its home base in Teuge Airport. On a trailer, behind a car, wings clipped and sans tail. The wings are attached again on the campus. The PH-WUR is returned to its storage place in the course of the afternoon.

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