Cloud cover: our enemy

Most marine-optics scientists dislike cloud cover. Thick clouds hiding the water surface in the visible and near-infrared spectral region prevent them to get nice ocean color remote sensing images. Thin clouds may lead to inaccuracies in the atmospheric correction when retrieving water reflectance from the sensor, which measures top-of atmosphere reflectance. On field, cloudy skies makes it often hard to adequately retrieve some water optical properties, namely those affected by the environment, the so-called apparent optical properties. Clouds also alter the diffuse and direct sunlight making it more challenging to interpret the water, ice and snow surface reflectance. But in addition to prevent some good sciences, cloud cover also triggers some unexpected GreenEdge (mis)adventures.

It all started the last day of Leg1A . Getting out of the Amundsen appeared to be uncertain. The last night onboard, beers were gambled over the L1A scientific team being trapped on the ship because of the heavy cloud cover and fog. Next morning, while part of the relief team still desperately waited for some sky clearings to reach Qikiqtarjuak, the L1A team was quickly dropped with the helicopter at the ice camp before fog, clouds and precipitation will give a chance to the gamblers to earn some extra beers. Gambling should have been done regarding the delivery of the skippy boat which is still waiting on the CCGS Amundsen for a ride to the ice camp.

Reaching Qikiqtarjuaq did not mean an easy way home. The next three days, due to our enemy, flights were delayed, canceled, rebooked and re-canceled at the same rate as the Scientific Schedule on the Amundsen. We were forced to invade the GreenEdge ice-camp with hopeless faces and to empty their internet quota by refreshing several times a day flight status, delay and arrival webpages. The cooking classes with Yannick sharing his delicious recipes of bread, cookies, and banana and carrots cakes and his amazing Arctic char delicacies helped us watching the time pass.

Our soreness was suddenly released by a miraculous pilot who defied the enemy with its turbo prop and landed smoothly in Qikiqtarjuaq exceeding all expectations! Thanks to some missing passengers, standby colleagues were also allowed to get on the plane. Lying back in our seats, we all smiled looking through the porthole to the blue sky we hadn’t seen for a while and the thick cloud cover below us that finally failed to keep us in Qikiqtarjuaq.

Arrival in Iqaluit was celebrated with a midnight hotel-room club sandwich-french-fries dinner with jazzy-folk music in the background and followed by a 10 minutes motionless ride in a broken elevator for two of us. Elevator relief was rather fast relative to our back-home journey… though we have learned that emergency elevator buttons may be fake sometimes (can’t blame the cloud cover for it but wanted to inform you in case)!

Next morning, likewise on the CCGS Amundsen when checking the Scientific Time Schedule, first action of the day, check the flight status webpage. Horror… flights have been changed without notification, canceled and eventually rebooked 3 days later or just disappeared without alternatives (did happen with the Scientific schedule too actually ;)). Leap down the stairs (remember elevator is out-of-order), run to the airport and then started an operetta of angry phone calls, lament and pleas for help. After a verdict of guilty, we understood that the bad-weather cancelation-rebooking procedures have been changed recently and that the online system as well as the French and English speaking Customer Contact Center received distinctive cancelation-re-booking modus operandi restrictions. Each of them could modify our flight tickets at his/her convenience. After the miraculous pilot, we met the miraculous airport ground officer! Finally home… I hope that the 32 degrees blue sky sunny days reported for the next few days in Québec will reconcile us with our enemy, the cloud cover!

Clémence Goyens


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