The MAGIC2021 campaign

Following three preparatory campaigns conducted in mainland France over the last three years, the MAGIC2021 campaign will take in place in August in Northern Scandinavia, with the main objective of studying natural and anthropogenic emissions of CH4 and CO2 at high latitudes, as well as to validate weighted columns of GHG retrieved from spaceborne observations (OCO-2, Sentinel-5P, IASI) in this particular environment. An international consortium of about 80 scientists will operate a battery of instruments deployed on the ground and aboard twenty balloons, as well as onboard three research aircrafts.

The objectives

This boreal region harbours significant sources of CH4, either caused by human activities (extraction and distribution of gas and oil) or of natural origin (wetlands, peat bogs, lakes, methane hydrates). However, these emissions are poorly quantified, since continuous measurements in the region are rare due to the low population density, the boreal winter, and the weather conditions. In addition, the high latitudes are generally considered to be a sink for atmospheric CO2, although, like natural sources of methane, the latter may be strongly impacted by the rapid warming at these latitudes.

The goal of the Magic 2021 campaign is to measure flows of greenhouse gases, and in particular natural and anthropogenic methane emissions. It also contributes to the validation of observations made by the OCO-2 (NASA), Sentinel-5P (ESA) and GOSAT (JAXA) satellites, as well as by CNES’s IASI instrument on board Metop satellites (ESA-EUMETSAT), such as the detection of methane emission hotspots, which observations from space have shown to be located over subpolar lakes.  

The team

In addition to the classical MAGIC instrument suite, the MAGIC2021 campaign sees an original combination of DLR CHARM-F CH4 and CO2 lidar together with the LIVE wind lidar from ONERA flying together onboard SAFIRE ATR42 to provide direct measurement of fluxes. It builds on CNES KLIMAT2021 annual stratospheric balloon campaign in Kiruna in order to make a combined flight between ZPD ballons and the MAGIC2021 suites of airborne and ground-based measurements.

Three research aircrafts are participating to the campaign: SAFIRE ATR42, DLR Cessna and BAS Twin Otter. Coordinated flights are organized to take advantage of the full suite of instruments onboard the planes.

All together, the campaign involves 17 teams from 7 countries.

This campaign is funded by CNES, CNRS, ESA, DLR, and EUMETSAT. Team supports also include Ecole polytechnique, Sorbonne Université, Universities of Reims-Champagne Ardennes, Lille and Orléans, FMI, King’s College London, NASA/JPL.

Campaign logbook

27 August

The campaign is now ended… but on its way back, to take advantage of their transit flight, the Cessna-Caravan will go for some last measurements over Gallivare, while the Twin Otter will go for a last round near Kiruna and perform similar measurements as in the previous days in order to analyze the evolution of the emissions between a cold and warm days. Indeed, it is under a sunny day that most of the team leaves Kiruna to go to Stockholm… where the rain catches us again!

Congratulations to the whole team for this great campaign! Even if the weather was not always on our side (!), we did perform a lot of measurements, some anticipated, some not, always in a spirit of collaboration and complementarity between the instruments – that all had their own requirements and specificities. The next months are going to be excited when we start processing together all this data to better understand greenhouse gas emissions in this beautiful region.

Views taken during the MAGIC2021 campaign of beautiful sceneries as well as methane emitters monitored during the campaign (c) T. Vergoz/MAGIC2021/CNRS Phototèque, 2021 (c) K. Gottschaldt, 2021 (c) C. Crevoisier, 2021
The MAGIC2021 team in front of SAFIRE ATR42 at Kiruna airport (c) T. Vergoz/MAGIC2021/CNRS Photothèque, 2021

26 August

With a shining morning comes our last day of measurements… And we plan to deploy our full strength with three goals: quantifying natural emissions of CH4, having our first try at measuring anthropogenic emissions, and validating OCO-2 CO2 measurements from space!

Morning: Wetland CH4 emissions and validation of OCO-2

In the morning, the target is the North-West region of Kiruna to measure emissions from wetlands between Sweden and Finland. The ATR42 makes a large raster pattern that emcompasses a smaller one made by the Cessna-Caravan and the Twin-Otter.

Views of wetlands North-West of Kiruna taken from Cessna-Caravan (c) K. Gottschaldt, 2021
Views of wetlands North-West of Kiruna, taken from the ATR42 at 600m, close to the lowest point of the profiles (c) C. Crevoisier, 2021

The mobile teams are dispatched with their EM27/SUNs over 3 points overflown by the aircrafts and that are located on the track of OCO-2 satellite that will make measurements at 12:12 above the region.

The 3 EM27/SUNs from CNES (left (c) D. Jouglet, 2021), GSMA (middle (c) B. Gouriez, 2021) and LERMA (right (c) P. Jeseck, 2021) deployed in triangle in the region overflown by the three aircrafts. The 1st and 3rd spectrometers are located on the track of OCO-2 satellite.

In the meantime, the CHRIS instrument makes measurements from the Kiruna airport.

CHRIS Fourier Transform Spectrometer making measurements at Kiruna airport in front of the ATR42 while it rolls to take-off on its second flight of the day at 14:00 (c) H. Herbin, 2021

Regarding balloons, AirCores are launched from Esrange at 9:00 and 12:00, and from Sodankylä at 9:30, under a sunny sky not seen since the first days of the campaign!

Afternoon: Anthropogenic CO2 and CH4 emissions

In the afternoon, it is time to go for one of our initial objectives: quantifying emissions from oil and gas platforms over the Norwegian Sea! The ATR42 takes-off at 14:00 for a 5h flight, which is the longest time possible for a flight with the current payload. This allows to perform during one hour small legs above six platforms: Heidrun, Asgard-A/B/C and Kristin. And during the transit flight, flying above the Norwegian fjords make for unforgettable images. With a landing at 19:00, the ATR42 closes the campaign with a huge success.

SAFIRE ATR42 takes-off for its final flight while DLR Cessna-Caravan and BAS Twin Otter wait for their own departure (c) C. Crevoisier, 2021.
ATR42 flight track over 5 oil and gas platforms (black circles) of the Norwegian Sea (c) SAFIRE/Planet, 2021


After this extensive day of measurements, and a late coming back at the base, it is time to start packing all the instruments!

25 August

After the very successful past days, it is time for a day-off for the teams… while the worst weather of the last 2 weeks hit us. All teams are grounded… but the preparation of Thursday flights goes on since it appears that we will finally get a full sunny day for our last day of measurements. And our 2 daily briefings help building the best scenario possible…

24 August

Middle and high clouds are back to the region preventing remote sensing measurements from the ATR42 or from the ground. However, in-situ airborne measurements are still possible and DLR Cessna-Caravan takes-off to perform more measurements in the boundary layer between Kiruna and Sodankyla where it lands for refueling.

DLR Cessna-Caravan at Sodenkylä airport (c) T. Ulich, 2021

On its way back, comes the occasion of performing a ‘wing-by-wing’ flight between the Cessna and the ATR42. Such a flight is extremely useful to compare the measurements made by the in-situ instruments on-board the 2 aircrafts in the same air mass. It consists in having both aircrafts fly at the same altitude during ~10 minutes, in two distinct layers: 2000 ft and 6000 ft. The pilots have to plan carefully for such a flight and to warn (and get the approval of) the ATC. It is decided that this wing-by-wing flight will happen on the last part of the flight while the Cessna comes back to Kiruna from Finland and after the ATR42 has made its 500m-7,000m profile close to the rendez-vous point.

DLR Cessna-Caravan as seen from SAFIRE ATR42 (left (c) M. Cluzeau, 2021) and SAFIRE ATR42 as seen from DLR Cessna-Caravan (right (c) M. Sedlmeir, 2021) during the ‘wing-by-wing’ flight performed at 2000ft while going to Kiruna airport

The joint flights goes smoothly and allows the crews to get an unusual view of the other aircrafts… in the air! Congratulations to the pilots for this successful planning and achievement!

Our great pilots of the ATR42 while making a profile between 500 and 7,000 m (c) C. Crevoisier, 2021

Having the three aircrafts come back at the same time gives us the possibility to go for an essential part of the campaign: the team picture!

Night of 22 August – 23 August

After cancelling the previous count-down due to too high surface winds in the afternoon, the GO for the SuperClimat ZPD flight is finally given at 21:20. Count-down of 4:00 before launch starts. The goal: to perform the central scenario of the MAGIC2021 campaign, which is to deploy our full force by making simultaneous measurements between the SuperClimat ZPD balloon, light-balloons, aircrafts and ground-based FTS!

This requires a very careful planning, which has been prepared over the last weeks. Let’s recap the day…

21:20: The GO decision.

21:30: The auxiliary balloon of the ZPD flight is inflated. Its role: to lift the gondola before the main balloon is released, in order to reduce the chock of the departure.

The auxiliary balloon of the SuperClimat ZPD balloon flight is inflated (c) C. Crevoisier, 2021

22:30: The Carmencita gondola goes out of the Cathedral building where it was stored and went through several tests. A great moment for all involved, and in particular for the CNES team in charge of this flight. Congratulations for this achievement!

Left: the CNES team in charge of preparing the gondola of the SuperClimat flight. Middle and right: the gondola goes out the hangar to the launch pad (c) C. Crevoisier, 2021

00:00: At midinight, the inflation of the main balloon starts. Its ascension in the black night, illuminated by the portable lights is an unforgettable moment. Even our friend Foxie doesn’t want to miss it!

Left: the main balloon of the SuperClimat flight. Middle: our friend Foxie pays a visit. Right: the GSMA-LMD-LSCE team after completion of the final preparation of the instruments on-board the gondola (c) C. Crevoisier, 2021.

01:00: Launch!

Launch of the SuperClimat ZPD balloon flight (c) C. Crevoisier, 2021.

03:00: In order to be able to arrive in time at their assigned locations, ground-based teams leave Kiruna for a 3 hour drive. Their goal: to go to their assigned locations and adjust their position depending on local weather and surface conditions. Final coordinates are then sent back to the aircraft teams in order to allow them to plan their flights and fly above the FTS.

The three mobile Fourier Transform Spectrometers deployed near the landing point of the SuperClimat ZPD balloon flight: CNES EM27/SUN (left (c) D. Jouglet, 2021), LOA CHRIS (middle (c) M.-T. El Kattar, 2021), LERMA EM27/SUN (right (c) P. Jeseck, 2021)

05:00: After 2 hours of heating the instruments, the ATR42 takes-off for a 4 hour flight while the sun starts to rise. Its objective is to make two profiles at the landing point of the ZPD balloon flight: one before and one after ZPD landing, as well as to scan the surroundings.

5:20: The first profile of the ATR42 is made at ZPD estimated landing point. And the confirmation that we are close comes rapidely: the ATR42 crew has the chance to see the ZPD balloon and its gondola though the upwards window at the rear of the plane!

SuperClimat ZPD balloon spotted at the rear of ATR42 through its upwards looking window (c) M. Quattrevalet, 2021

5:30: The ground-based measurements start. During the day, the ground-based teams will have the opportunity to witness the 3 aircrafts and the ZPD balloon flying above their heads several times.

Today, the FTS are joined by the LosGatos spectrometer of KCL which measures the concentration of greenhouse gases at the surface. The combination of this instrument and the gas analysers onboard DLR Cessna (making profiles between ~200m and 3km) and onboard ATR42 (making profiles between ~600m and 7km) will allow us to have the full concentration profile between the ground and 7km in order to compare it to the profiles measured by the instruments flown under the ZPD balloon!

CNES EM27/SUN is joined by KCL LosGatos instrument (c) C. Bès, 2021

06:43: After 5 hours and 43 minutes and a slow controlled descent, the gondola is cut-off from the ZPD balloon and starts its fast descent at 6-7 m/s under three parachutes. Again, the ATR42 crew and the ground-based teams witness the separation.

SuperClimat gondola under its three parachutes after separation with the main ZPD balloon seen by the LERMA ground team near Nilivaara (c) P. Jeseck, 2021

08:00: A first BLD light balloon carrying an Amulse mono-gas (CO2) instrument is launched by GSMA from Esrange. This instrument allows measuring the CO2 concentration from the ground to the burst altitude of the balloon during both ascent and descent. Launching this instrument while the SuperClimat gondola is descending will make for interesting comparisons between the profiles measured simultaneously at Esrange and at the landing point, in several part of the atmosphere.

08:05: After a 7:07 flight, the SuperClimat gondola lands in a forest. The coordinates are sent to the recovery team who will send a helicopter to carry back the gondola to Esrange SSC base. Also, the ATR42 adapts its course to go and make a second profile at the landing point. This second profiling loop starts at 9:10. It allows the crew to spot the landed gondola and its three parachutes, as well as to witness the arrival of the helicopter. Meanwhile, a mobile FTS team goes to the closest road in order to perform column measurements that will be analyzed together with the airborne profiles.

Landing point of the SuperClimat gondola in a forest as seen from the ATR42 (left (c) C. Crevoisier, 2021) and from Charm-F camera (right (c) M. Quatrevalet, 2021). The three parachutes and the recovery team helicopter are well seen.
Trajectory of the SuperClimat ZPD balloon flight (c) CNRS/LMD

09:54: After completing its second profile, SAFIRE ATR42 goes back to Kiruna airport and lands at 9:54. Time to refuel and change the crew before taking-off again to scan the area South of the landing point of the SuperClimat gondola, in a joint flight with DLR Cessna-Caravan.

10:30: DLR Cessna-Caravan takes off from Kiruna airport.

11:00: SAFIRE ATR42 takes-off for the second time of the day and joins the Cessna-Caravan South of Kiruna and the SuperClimat landing point.

ATR42 (red) and Cessna-Caravan (yellow) planned flight tracks for the afternoon around the landing point of the SuperClimat ZPD balloon flight (black pin) (c) A. Fiehn, 2021

11:30: Clouds are coming in fast and it is time for the mobile ground-based instruments to end their measurements and come back to Kiruna.

11:45: The SuperClimat gondola is brought back to Esrange SSC base. Its feets have taken most of the impact and the instruments seem OK. The teams at Esrange rush to retrieve their instruments. In particular, the air that has been sampled by the AirCores need to be analyzed as fast as possible. And three AirCores have to be processed, using the full suites of Picarro gas analyzers. It is a rare picture of having the 20kg AirCore-HTR analyzed at the same time as the 3kg AirCore-light.

The SuperClimat gondola is brought back to Esrange, the instrumengts are retrieved and the analysis of the air sampled by the 2 AirCore-light (bottom-left) and the AirCore-HR (bottom-right) can start (c) A. Guedj, 2021

12:00: An AirCore is launched by FMI from Sodenkylä, quickly followed at 12:15 by another AirCore-light launched from Esrange by GSMA. Having 2 AirCores launched from both stations at the same time will allow capturing the gradient of GHG between Sweden and Finland.

14:50: The ATR42 lands for the second time of the day… while the Cessna-Caravan takes off for its second flight. No time wasted today!

SAFIRE ATR42 comes back to Arena Arctica hangar after 2 flights while DLR Cessna-Caravan is waiting to take-off for its second flight of the day (c) C. Crevoisier, 2021
Pictures taken during Cessna-Caravan 2nd flight of the day over Abisko lake (left), Rautasjaure lake (middle) and Gallivare mine (right) (c) K. Gottschaldt, 2021

16:30: Finally, the last BLD light balloon is launched from Esrange by GSMA. It carries the Amulse instrument to make a CO2 profile. After a 3h flight it is well retrieved by the last recovery team. This completes the measurements made during this eventful day!

Last launch of a light BLD balloon carrying the Amulse instrument from Esrange (c) A. Guedj, 2021

22 August

Today, DLR Cessna and BAS Twin Otter took-off at 10:30 to study a region North-East of Kiruna and quantify wetland emissions through different methods: mass balance, lagrangian raster and eddy covariance.

At Esrange base, two AirCore-light are launched under a small balloon (BLD) by the GSMA team at 12:00 and 15:00 LT. Trajectories are in line with the predicion and both AirCores are retrieved South-East of Esrange. An additional AirCore is launched fromSodankylä by FMI.

Launch of an AirCore-light from Esrange. After balloon inflation by GSMA, the final preparation of the payload by LMD is done (left). The GSMA team takes in charge the launch (middle). And the AirCore can finally travel through the sky to sample atmospheric air (c) C. Crevoisier, 2021
Recovery of the AirCore launched from Sodankylä by FMI (c) R. Kivi, 2021

Meanwhile, count-down has started for the SuperClimat ZPD flight! Unfortunately, due to too high wind speed at the surface and a risk of rain shower at the estimated time of take-off, the count-down is stopped. The next opportunity is for a launch on Sunday 1:00 LT. The decision will be taken at the next meteo briefing at 21:00 LT. The whole planning involving all the other team has also to be remade: time of departure for our mobile teams, time of take-off for the ATR42 and, later, for the other aircrafts, time of BLD launches…

Now, everybody waits for the decision… But this gives the opportunity of the CNES team in charge of ZPD flight to witness the launch of the final AirCore-light of the day by GSMA…

GSMA preparing the launch of an AirCore-light under a light BLD balloon in front of the CNES team in charge of the next ZPD flight (c) B. Gouriez, 2021

21 August

Today, the weather slightly improved… which allowed us to start measurements again.

DLR Cessna-Caravan and BAS Twin Otter aircrafts took off at 13:00 UTC to perform a raster pattern in a box located half-way between Kiruna and Pallas. Enhanced values of methane were found on the eastern part of the box, which could be due to emissions transported by the northerly winds of 15 km/h.

Flight pattern of DLR Cessna-Caravana on Saturday 21 August and CH4 mixing ratio measured by the Picarro gas analyzer
(c) A. Fiehn, 2021
DLR Cessna-Caravan (left) and BAS Twin Otter (right) returning from their flights (c) K. Gottschaldt, 2021.

The weather improvement allowed us to launch the 2nd AirCore-light of the campaign under a BLD (weather balloon). Both the launch and the tracking were handled by GSMA. Take off occurred at 14:30 UTC, and the AirCore landed close to the forecasted landing point two hours later, 27 km east of Esrange SSC.

The launch was done during the preparation of the Zero Pressure Difference (ZPD) Balloon flight HEMERA2 of CNES KLIMAT2021 ZPD balloon campaign.

I.R.M.A. (Iridium Remote Monitoring Application), the software developed by GSMA, shows a real time prediction of the landing area thanks to a tracking device on board the payload. (c) B. Grouiez, 2021
Launch of the 2nd AirCore-light under a meteorological balloon during the preparation of KLIMAT2021 HEMERA2/GLORIA ZPD flight. Both main (middle) and auxiliary (right) balloons of the ZPD flight are seen (c) C. Crevoisier, 2021

Once again, the helicopter charted by SSC ensured a quick recovery, and the LMD-LSCE team could begin the AirCore analysis quickly. The delivery of the AirCore-light to the scientific team was assured under the supervision of our friend Foxie…

Delivery to the scientific team of the recovered AirCore-light by the helicopter pilot… under the supervision of Foxie (c) B. Gouriez, 2021

LMD and LSCE setting up the AirCore analysis by two Picarros in parallel (right) to measure CO2, CH4, CO and N2O (c) B. Grouiez, 2021

20 August

No improvement on the weather… The rain continues, as does the updating of the measurement scenarios that need to wait for the next update of the weather forecast… Next opportunities for full deployement seem to be during the night of Sunday to Monday.

Meanwhile, the 3 aircrafts wait for their next assignement in Arena Arctica hangar at Kiruna airport.

The 3 reasearch aircrafts waiting in Arena Arctica hangar at Kiruna airport (c) C. Crevoisier, 2021

19 August

Rain continues to pour over Lapland and all measurements have to be cancelled. Planning continues for the next days with two daily meetings and by regular checking of weather forecast. Several scenarios are considered but most of them end up with “well, we’ll have to wait for the update of the weather forecast”.

At Esrange, the first “meteo brieffing” for the HEMERA2/GLORIA and Super-Climat ZPD flights is nonetheless organized at 9:00. Weather is not that great (!) and the stratospheric turn-over seems to be slowly starting, which renders the simulations of balloon trajectories difficult. First flight opportunities are Saturday 15:00 for HEMERA2/GLORIA and Sunday 19:00 for SuperClimat.

To be ready for launch, the CNES and scientific teams work hard to make the gondala ready whatever the scenario is. After a final checking of the instruments, their integration is completed. The gondola legs are finally installed. And come the long awaited test of balance and weighting. Result: the gondoal weights 512.2 kg! After final communication testing, the gondola is ready for launch. Congratulations to all the teams for this achievement.

Finalizing the preparation of the Carmencita flight that will fly the 7 instruments participating to the MAGIC2021 campaign during the KLIMAT2021/SuperClimat ZPD flight. Left: Preparing the lift-off of the gondola. Middle: Blance testing. Right: Installing the legs (c) C. Crevoisier, 2021.
Weighting of the gondola: 512.2 kg (c) T. Vergoz, 2021.

In the Dôme building, it is also time to check the parachutes of the ZPD flight. Three parachutes will be deployed after separation between the balloon and the gondola to slow down the descent.

CNES engineers checking the parachute of the last ZPD flight under the amazed eyes of the BLD team (c) C. Crevoisier, 2021

And while the rain, now joined by a cold wind, continues, a local inhabitant pays us a visit…

Preparation continues under the rain and still in a good mood, thanks to the surrounding wonders… (c) C. Crevoisier, 2021

18 August

After the great success of yesterday, clouds and rain have come, grounding the aircrafts and preventing any deployement of the ground-based instruments. It is therefore the time to reflect on the first day of measurements and to start analysing the collected data! While in Kiruna, preparation for the balloon launches continue.


A spectacular view of the Pallas region taken from DLR Cessna-Caravan during their first flight of 17 August 2021 around 11:00 (c) A. Fiehn, 2021
Lake Abisko as seen from from DLR Cessna-Caravan during their second flight of 17 August 2021 around 17:00 (c) M. PeredaAlbarran, 2021

Thanks to the real-time acquisition of data by in-situ instruments located onboard DLR Cessna-Caravan, it is possible to quickly obtain a first look at the collected data on greenhouse gas concentrations. As seen in the figure below, which shows in 3D (latitude/longitude/altitude) mixing ratio of CH4 (in ppm) along the flight track, several enhancements on the leg towards Pallas are seen in the boundary layer, especially in the Northern part of the square pattern. These enhancements indicate that emissions of methane happen there (lakes, mires, etc). Additional data will allow interpretaing these concentration patterns since the 3 mobile FTS were deployed along this leg, which was also flown by the two other aircrafts.

3D distribution of CH4 (ppm) as measured by the in-situ analyser Picarro onboard DLR Cessna-Caravan on their first flight of the MAGIC2021 campaign between Kiruna and Pallas (c) A. Fiehn, 2021
Flight pattern of DLR Cessna-Caravan on 17 August 2021 with observed wind (white) and locations of the mobile ground-based FTS from LERMA, LOA and CNES as well as Pallas observation station (yellow pins) (c) A. Fiehn, 2021

Views of Kiruna from the sky

Taking-off and landing at Kiruna airport allows viewing the city of Kiruna from above, and particularly enhances the vision of the mine, which is the largest underground iron ore mine in the world. This ore deposit is part of larger province stretching West and East from Kiruna, up to the Finnish border.

Kiruna iron ore mine, as seen from DLR Cessna-Caravan (c) A. Fiehn, 2021
View of Kiruna from SAFIRE ATR42 while profiling above the city (c). M. Quatrevalet, 2021

17 August

Today, the full strength of our measurement capabilities has been engaged. The 17 teams participtating to the campaign were involved, as well as the 3 research aircrafts, the weather ballons, and 5 ground-based Fourier Transform Spectrometers (FTS). The goal: to study the West-East gradient of methane and carbon dioxide between Abisko (Sweden) and Sodankylä (Finland). The official go was given at 8:00 local time, after positive feedbacks from the ATC and final checking of the weather.

The aircrafts

The three aircrafts were first taken out of the hangar and refueled. ATR42 is planned to be the first to go at 10:00 LT, then Cessna-Caravan at 10:10 LT, and finally the Twin Otter at 10:20 LT. Sky is cloudy, but some blue can be seen…

The 3 aircrafts of the campaign, waiting for departure at Kiruna airport: SAFIRE ATR42 (left), DLR Cessna-Caravan (middle) and BAS Twin Otter (right) (c) C. Crevoisier, 2021

Final preparation is made before take-off by each aircraft teams.

Final checking before take-off (c) C. Crevoisier, 2021

Flight plans in the morning

Based on weather forecast, a lot of clouds are expected, with the exception of a ‘clear-sky’ band East of Kiruna. It is thus decided to fly over this region and cover a band between Kiruna and Sodankylä.

ATR42 and Cessna-Caravan flight trajectories on the morning of August 17th between Kiruna (West point) and Sodankylä (East point). The red points show the locations of the ground-based FTS (c) SAFIRE/Planet

After climbing to FL180 (~5 km of altitude) with a profiling loop, the ATR42 goes straight to Pallas, a supersite located in Finland, while flying above 3 ground-based FTS. It then goes to the supersite of Sodankylä (an ICOS and TCCON station) where a missed approach at Kiruna airport is planned. Due to the high amount of clouds, the descent is stopped at 4,000 ft. The aircraft then goes back by the same route, still flying at FL180. A final profile is made above Kiruna while descending in a loop, to finally land at 13:15 LT. All measurements were nominal for the CHARM-F and LIVE lidars, as well as for the in-situ instruments Picarros and SPIRIT.

After taking off at 10:10 LT, the Cessna-Caravan goes straight to Pallas. Due to their different speed, it is joined by the ATR42. But their route then differs and the Cessna-caravan turns West and start making measurements in a square pattern, while flying above each ground-based FTS. Thanks to the clear sky, the ground-based teams have quite enjoyed seeing the planes above them! The Cessna-Caravan then goes back to Kiruna and lands at 13:45.

A composite picture of the 3 aircrafts seen by the LERMA team while operating their EM27/SUN spectrometer (c) P. Jeseck, 2021

Finally, BAS Twin Otter takes-off at 10:25 LT and follows a similar pattern to the previous aircrafts, a straight flight between Kiruna and Pallas, for one hour and a half flight.

Flight plans in the afternoon

Unfortanely, clouds extend their coverage of the region in the beginning of the afternoon and the decision is made not to perform a second flight of the ATR42 near the Abisko lake, North-West of Kiruna. The cloud coverage would indeed prevent the lidars for making fruitful measurements.

Nonetheless, the DLR Cessna-Caravan and the BAS Twin Otter take off at 15:00 LT to perform a 2h45 flight above the Abisko lake, with the aim of studying methane emissions from the lake.

Ground-based FTS spanning the beautiful landscape East of Kiruna

While one EM27/SUN operated by GSMA stays at the Esrange base near Kiruna, the 3 other FTS are deployed along the aircraft planned tracks. And the locations peaked up by the teams are quite stunning… The observed weather also confirms the weather forecast on which the measurement scenario has been built!

The EM27/SUN Fourier Transform Spectrometer operated by CNES, here deployed near Muodoslompolo, 3 hours East of Kiruna, near Finnish border (c) C. Bès, 2021
The EM27/SUN operated by LERMA and deployed near Sappisadsi, one hour East from Kiruna (c) Y. Té, 2021

The teams stay at their locations until 16:00 LT when clouds start to cover the region and prevent any more measurements. In total, 812 spectra have been recorded by the 3 mobile FTS !

At the same time, the clouds move away from Sodankylä and the sun can be seen at the TCCON station.

TCCON station at Sodankylä at 17:00 LT (c) R. Kivi, 2021

First launches of balloons

In addition to aircraft and ground-based measurements, two weather balloons (BLD) have been launched today. They both carried AirCores, in order to measure atmospheric profiles of GHG concentrations. The first balloon was launched at 10:15 LT from Sodankylä. Burst of the balloon happened at 12 km and the AirCore was soon recovered, while the ATR42 was perfoming its missed approach at Sodankylä airport.

The second balloon was prepared and released by CNES at the Esrange base at 14:00 LT, while the tracking was done by GSMA. After landing 15km north from Esrange in mires at 15:30 LT, the recovery of the payload was done by helipcopter and the AirCore was delivered to LMD at the Esrange Heliport, and then quickly analyzed by the LMD-LSCE team, less than 2 hours after landing.

First AirCore-light launch from Esrange at 14:00 LT (c) L. Joly, 2021
The helicopter used to recover the AirCore after having delivered the instrument to the team (c) C. Crevoisier, 2021
Preparaing the AirCore analysis after its recovery (c) C. Crevoisier, 2021

16 August

Today is a day of preparation for the first day of measurement scheduled for Tuesday. Two meetings take place at 9:00 and 16:00 LT with all the team to study possible scenarios based on scientific objectives, air traffic control feedbacks and weather forecast. Based on the latest, it quickly appears than only two scenarios will be possible: either going East of Kiruna to focus on the region between Kiruna (Sweden) and Sodankylä (Finland), or going West to focus on Abisko lake. Both plans are submitted to Swedish and Finnish ATC, with the final decision postponed to Tuesday morning based on weather forecast update.

The teams then split up to go and prepare their instruments.

Checking the instruments onboard the ATR42: SPIRIT (left) and Live (right) (c) C. Crevoisier, 2021
Meeting of the 3 mobile ground-based Fourier Transform Spectrometer teams to find proper locations for deployement the next day (c) C. Crevoisier, 2021

Meanwhile, outside, the wild nature reminds us of its presence…

A reindeer alongside the E10 road between Esrange and Kiruna airport (c) C. Lin, 2021

15 August

Preparation continues for the balloons

Following a full day of flight to reach Kiruna, and quite an intense week of preparation to get there fully prepared, the aircraft teams took a day off. Meanwhile, at Esrange, the balloon teams continue the preparation of the flights. In particular, a full chain of calibration has been put in place by LSCE. For such a campaign as MAGIC2021, calibration is essential to be able to compare measurements made by the whole suite of instruments involved in the campaign, and to scale them to international standards. To do so, 5 bottles of artificial gas with known concentrations of greenhouse gases have been installed. They will be used to analyse the air sampled by LMD AirCores, as well to calibrate other instruments involved in the campaign (Amulse, Sample, etc.).

The three Picarro analysers that will be used during the campaign to analyse the air sampled by the AirCores (blue boxes on the shelves) as well as to perform the calibrations of the instruments (c) C. Crevoisier, 2021
Preparing AIrCore at Esrange base in the Dome building (c) C. Crevoisier, 2021

Discovering the region… and the campaign targets!

DLR Cessna-Caravan team took the opportunity of their day off to explore some wetlands around Kiruna and discover the beautiful landscape.

The DLR Cessna-Caravan team exploring the wetlands surrounding Kiruna (c) K. Gottschaldt, 2021
Wetlands near Kiruna, a source of methane emissions (c) K. Gottschaldt, 2021

The third aircraft is here!

The British Antartic Survey (BAS) Twin Otter arrived at 18:00 LT. The shining red aircraft carries the HyTES spectro-imager from NASA-JPL and the SPECIM instrument from King’s College London.

BAS Twin Otter after landing at Kiruna airport (c) C. Crevoisier, 2021

The three aircrafts are now waiting together in Arena Arctica hangar at Kiruna airport, ready to perform their first measurements!

The three aircrafts of the MAGIC2021 campaign: DLR Cessna-Caravan (left), BAS Twin Otter (middle) and SAFIRE ATR42 (right), in Arena Arctica hangar at Kiruna airport in the evening of 15 August (c) C. Crevoisier, 2021.

14 August

After quite a cloudy morning, the sun broke through the clouds and the afternnon became exceptionnaly sunny. Preparations for measurements went well and the team expended again by welcoming two of our research aircrafts.

Balloons and ground-based measurements

At the Esrange base, the GSMA-LMD-LSCE teams have taken care of preparing the instruments that will be deployed under both BLD (Ballons Légers Dilatables/weather balloons) and BSO (Ballons Stratosphériques Ouverts or Zero-Pressure Difference – ZPD) balloons: the air sampling system AirCore and the laser diode spectrometer Amulse.

Preparing the instruments and calibration chain for the future balloons launches (c) C. Crevoisier, 2021

The team is located in the Dome building and time passed quickly while opening boxes, installing instruments, checking electronics… The MAGIC team spirit is alreaydy back!

The BLD/BSO balloons team from GSMA-LMD-LSCE inside the Dome building (c) C. Crevoisier, 2021

Meanwhile outside, the EM27/sun Fourier Transform Spectrometer (FTS) operated by GSMA and that gives access to ‘weighted columns’ of atmospheric gas is put to a test… but the sun breaks through after noon only.

Installing the EM27/SUN Fourier Transform Spectrometer operated by GSMA… under a cloudy morning sky (c) C. Crevoisier, 2021

Looking for locations around Absiko lake

In the afternoon, a two-car team goes looking for the best locations to deploy the 4 FTS that will be used during the campaign around one of our first target: the Abisko lake and the Stordalen mire, located North-West of Kiruna.

Despite the hard time finding suitable locations that must match several criterias (not too close to a road, not too close to trees who would prevent the sun radiation to reach the instrument, not too populated, not too close to private properties), the team enjoys the part-hiking, part-travelling journey.

In search for suitable locations of the EM27/sun spectrometers around the Abisko lake (c) C. Crevoisier, 2021

And the scenery is purely breathtaking.

View of the Abisko lake (c) C. Crevoisier, 2021
Lapland door and the northern part of the Abisko lake (c) S. Witting, 2021

At the airport

Finally, in the evening, the two first reasearch aircrafts arrived at Kiruna aiport.

First SAFIRE ATR42 landed at 18:20 local time, after a 10 hour trip from Frankazal airport near Toulouse and 2 stops in Strasbourg and Malmö. The crew took the opportunity of this flight to test the in-situ instruments onboard. All are operating nominally and ready for the first measurements next week.

SAFIRE ATR42 (CNRS, CNES, Météo-France) after landing in Kiruna at 18:20 local time (c) C. Crevoisier, 2021.

Ten minutes later, at 18:30 local time, DLR Cessna-Caravel successfully landed and was quickly brought inside the Arena Arctica hangar, where both aircrafts will way for the final aircraft that is scheduled to arrive on Sunday.

DLR Cessna-Caravel after landing in Kiruna at 18:30 local time (c) C. Crevoisier, 2021
SAFIRE ATR42 and DLR Cessna-Caravan waiting in the Arena Arctica hangar at Kiruna aiprort for the third aircraft (c) K. Gottschaldt, 2021


After such an eventful day, it is time to relax, by enjoying the beauty of the nigh sky reflected in a sleeping lake…

Swedish sky reflected in a lake (c) C. Crevoisier, 2021.

13 August

On this Friday 13, after a long day of travel from many places (Paris, Toulouse, Munich) a large part of the team (the whole teams of DLR-lidar, GSMA, LERMA, LMD, and some more from CNES, LPC2E and LSCE) has arrived in Kiruna through regular commercial aircrafts. The sky is partly cloudy, but the Norrbottens region has already granted us with spectacular views… including some of our campaign targets: lakes and mire!

A great view of the Norrbottens region (Sweden) taken from the commercial plane before landing in Kiruna (c) C. Bès, 2021
The team has officially crossed the polar circle! (c) C. Crevoisier, 2021

12 August

Last (virtual) general assembly for the MAGIC2021 consortium before the campaign officially begins. All instruments work nominally. Flights have been approved by Swedish, Norwegian and Finnish ATCs. Now, all we need is… good weather!

Safe trip to all collegues joining us in Sweden and see you in Kiruna!

11 August

LPC2E has arrived early at SSC Esrange base to begin preparation for SPECIES on-board the Carmencita gondola. Planning for the 4 ZPD flights of the KLIMAT2021 campaign is difficult this year due to not such a good weather. First flight is taking place in the evening.

The 4 gondolas participating to the KLIMAT2021 CNES ZPD balloon campaign in the integration hall of SSC Esrange base. The Carmencita gondola that will be used in the SuperClimat flight shared between KLIMAT2021 and MAGIC2021 is seen on the bottom right with SPECIES and 3 Aircores already onboard (c) V. Catoire, 2021

9 August

After some on-ground testing, the wind lidar LIVE from ONERA has been integrated onboard SAFIRE ATR42. Behaviour is nominal!

Left: ground-based testing of ONERA wing lidar LIVE in SAFIRE facilities next to ATR42. Right: LIVE successfully installed at the rear of the ATR42. (c) N. Cézard, 2021

5 August

Over the last week, CHARM-F CH4/CO2 lidar from DLR has been installed onboard SAFIRE ATR42. Systems have been switched on for the first time on the ATR42 and everything seems to work as expected!

Left: installing DLR CHARM-F CH4/CO2 lidar on SAFIRE ATR42. Right: CHARM-F is now onboard and has been successfully tested (c) A. Fix, 2021

29-30 July

Gear departure from SAFIRE and LMD towards Kiruna. Dozens of boxes on pallets have been loaded on a large truck.

Some of the boxes sent to Kiruna (here in the storage area at Ecole polytechnique) (c) J. Pernin, 2021

29 June

After some final tests in the lab, CHARM-F CH4/CO2 lidar is packed by the DLR team in Oberpfaffenhofen and ready to be send to SAFIRE premises near Toulouse. CHARM-F is the airborne demonstrator of the Merlin space mission. During the campaign, it will fly for the first time onboard SAFIRE ATR42 and give access to weighted columns of CH4 and CO2 below the plane.

Packing CHARM-F at DLR-Oberpfaffenhofen for shipment to SAFIRE in Toulouse (c) A. Fix, 2021.

25 June

The official go is given to the campaign!!

And the ZPD flight gondola is ready for shipment from Toulouse to Kiruna.

Carmencita gondola wrapped up and ready for shipment onboard a container (c) J. Richard, 2021

9 June

In preparation of the SuperClimat ZPD flight, integration of several instruments on the gondola has started at CNES (Toulouse). The LPC2E team manages the SPECIES instrument that will be located at the center of the gondola. The LMD team manages the three AirCore instruments: AirCore-HR (big red-white box) on one side of SPECIES and 2 AirCore-lights on the over side. Final mass will be ~510 kg. These instruments will measure the concentration profiles of greenhouse gases and several other trace gases from the ground to an altitude of ~40km.

SPECIES, AirCore-HR and 2 AirCore-lights installed on a Carmencita gondola in preparation of the SuperClimat ZPD flight (c) C. Crevoisier, 2021


CNRS-CNES press release (French / English)

DLR press release On the trail of methane sources in Scandinavia (English)

INSU news and schematics (French)

Journal du CNRS : MAGIC, une expédition au cœur du ciel polaire, 

Journal du CNRS : Portfolio « grand format » dans la version papier

GEO, Issue Spéciale Science de décembre 2021 : A la poursuite du méthane (12 pages).

Ça m’intéresse, Juillet 2022 : La mission Magic, pour mieux comprendre les gaz à effet de serre.

Terre sauvage, Juin 2022 : Le méthane de la taïga.

France Bleu Orléans “Des chercheurs orléanais en mission dans les pays nordiques pour étudier les gaz à effet de serre” (French)

La République du Centre Gaz à effet de serre : mission dans les pays arctiques avec la participation d’un laboratoire d’Orléans (French)