Germany, April 1997
By: William R. Cotton

- Picture of Dr. Cotton in front of a Janus Twin glider which he flew for 1.5hrs -

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The airplane is a 777 and I have been upgraded to connoisseur class to DC. Wish I could keep this seat all the way to Hamburg! Weather in the Front Range is great! Here in Dulles it is about 47F and windy. It looks post-frontal with fair weather CU as far as I could see from the plane. Great soaring! One could do a 200km flight.

After a short night cramped in coach, we are about 40 minutes from London. It is totally overcast now. I guess I can expect that for the next week. I got a little sleep and don't feel very tired right now. I've decided to fast today since it makes the adjustment easier. This is because napping comes natural on fast day and I can go to sleep easily. I have almost a four-hour layover at Heathrow. Ugh!

This computer tells me what time it is at various cities around the world. No wonder I'm not tired it is only 11:00PM at home!

Heathrow is one of the most confusing and people-moving inefficient airports in the world. Unload to buses to other terminals that wind all over the place. I think I am in the right terminal but have no idea which gate.

I arrived in Hamburg on time, about 12:30.,Professor von Storch met me about 1:00 and then we waited for two more participants, one of whom lost his luggage. It was after 2:00 before we got underway and almost 4:00PM by the time I got to the place we are put up. That is more than 25 hrs since I left the house!

We hardly left Hamburg when I saw my firt glider in tow. Maybe I'll check that out tomorrow. I noted the name of the town where I saw the gliders on the map. It is not far from Lauenburg.

The facility we are staying at is some kind of liberal political party headquarters, which rents it out for conferences. It is actually an old match factory that has been converted to a conference center. Aside from modern windows it still looks like a factory from the outside. It is very modern on the inside though. The rooms are rather Spartan, more like dormitories. It is right along the river Elbe. From my room I can watch the barges pass by as well as occasional yachts. Evenings rowing sculls go by from a nearby rowing club. Immediately after unpacking I took a run on a trial that parallels the river. Grass is green, trees are budding out and crab apple trees are in bloom. Spring is further along than at the Fort. A brick building along the trail near the trail has bullet holes on it from the last days of World War II. The British were attempting to cross the Elbe from the south before the Russians got there and took over. Besides the ubiquitous dandelions, violets were in bloom plus a purple flower I can't remember the name of.

Later I took a little walk. If I sit down I'll fall asleep and then probably wake up in the middle of the night.

After breakfast I decided to see if I could find a way to Bergedorf where I saw the gliders. I walked up the hill to the new part of town where I suspected I could find a bus. I saw a bus parked in a circle and showed the bus driver the name of the town I wanted, to go to. He couldn't speak English and I couldn't speak German but somehow I got the idea I had to make a transfer. No problem! At Bergedorf I showed the bus driver the name segelflugplatz that I had written on a paper and he pointed that he was going by it. I soon saw some gliders in the air and after getting off the bus walked in that direction.

Arriving about 10:30, I found two rows of sailplanes lined up for a winch or aerotow. They were all attempting a 750 km cross-country as it was predicted to be the best day of the year. After introducing myself I got acquainted with Lutz Gottschalk. He took me up in a K13, but at that time no lift. It was about a 5 minute flight around the pattern. I may get a flight in a Janus twin.

It is a nice club, called Hamburger Aero club [HAC] with about 350 members. They claim it is the largest in Germany. The people are very friendly and they operate a restaurant. Birch tree forests line both sides of the runway. The runways are green so it is very pretty. The runway is only east/west oriented but it is quite wide. Four or more planes could land or take off in it. Upon arrival the cu looked just great for thermalling. But they quickly overdeveloped into snow showers. Now the sun is out again. The wind is light so when the sun is shining, the 50ish temperatures are comfortable in my windbreaker.

There are two clubs operating at the small field. I didn't visit the other club, which was on he other side of the field. HAC clearly had the best winch system as well as aerotow. In fact I saw the other club give a bad winch launch to a guy in a 17m glass ship. He released at what looked like no more than 300ft. I was told he was a national soaring champion. Well after his premature release, he immediately turned on the downwind leg and about halfway down the runway found a thermal. He then proceeded to scratch his way aloft and head off cross-country. I was very impressed!

An interesting aluminum ship landed. It is a home built plane designed and constructed by three guys that I think work for Lufthansa. The wing span looks to be about 20m. Moreover, the trailing section of the wing can retract or extend to give variable lift/drag. It must have been a major design and construction project. I heard they intended to put it in production but the glass ships came in and that was the end of those plans.

About 4:00 PM I got a chance to go up in the Janus twin. We took an aero tow to about 750 m and after releasing picked up a thermal that I climbed to 1900 m. That is the maximum altitude allowable in that area. We then flew some 15 or 20km, just touring around. Near the gliderport we hooked into another thermal identified by two other gliders. It was pretty busy with two other planes in the same thermal. The distance between us was small enough that I could often make out the pilot in the plane beneath us. With a cumulus above and three planes in the thermal, it was pretty well mapped put. After playing in that thermal for a while we moved off into other thermals in the region. These were by no means super thermals. They were soft. 2 to 3 m/s thermals. It was good practice for me.

Occasionally I would move off to the north too far and Lutz would inform me that we were straying into controlled airspace. They really have a tight playing ground with limitations to the north and west and at 4000ft above. Heading south and to the east isn't the best option as it is downwind. Moreover the landout opportunities are not that great since there is a lot of houses and lakes in the entire area. At two thousand feet ABL, one can see one of the main runways for Hamburg airport. It was always within gliding range. That is a bit scary for me! One can really appreciate the open spaces we have available in the wild west!

Aside from the soaring experience, it is a great way to see the area. To the east I could see the wind energy farm, to the west the city of Hamburg with its churches and red-roofed houses. Nearby was the river Elbe with barges making their way up-and down-stream. What better way to get acquainted with the layout of the land?

After an hour and ten minutes I decided to head back since it was late enough that I might be late for the dinner-reception. I hated to quit as the lift was still good enough that I had to work to get the plane down. As I descended at an airspeed of 130 km/hr, the thermals would still give me a good kick, slowing my descent.

It takes a while, by the way, to get used to everything being in metric. Airspeed is in kilometers per hour, altitude in meters, and various in meters per second. Being a scientist helps with my familiarity with the metric system, but I don't think in km/hr. I have to mentally convert for altitudes in meters, and have a hard time getting used to 250 m as pattern altitude. The various in m/s is not a problem as I am used to thinking of thermal and cumulus updrafts in m/s. Also one of the various in the Grob 109B is metric. Radio communication is really a problem since my Deutch is really bad. That plus the airspace familiarity is the reason that I need to go up with a local pilot even if the club didn't require it. I also found myself losing the glider port over the flat terrain with no mountains for reference.

After thanking my host I walked back to the main highway. Lutz, by the way, invited me to come visit again and stay with him and his son, who is a 14-year old pilot in training. I'll have to keep that in mind if I ever get out this way again.

My costs for the flights was about $60, which included my first non-member flight at $30 and $30 for the aerotow. The costs are pretty typical of what I have experienced at clubs in both the US and Europe for non-members.

I found the proper bus after a 30 minute wait and got back to the conference center at 7:00PM, just in time for the dinner.

Dinner was a buffet of meats, veggie tortolini, salads, breads, and deserts. Beers and wines were also available. It is all paid by our hosts and the food is quite good. After dinner we all gathered at the small bar. After about an hour of chatting, I began to fade. Jet leg, the cool air, and the stresses of busing and soaring had caught up to me.

The school began with introductory comments and lectures by Prof. Hans von Storch. He discussed GCMs and the use of statistical techniques for projecting on regional scales. He used Copeland and Pielke as an example of model evaluations of land use effects as not being very important. He also claimed that small to modest-sized mountains were of importance only regionally but not on general circulation. I pointed out they can effect momentum of GCMs via wave drag, cloud production, and through rainfall surface gradients in Bowen ratios. He said, since GCMs get climate right without seeing them, they must be important. I responded they don't get winds right and have a cold bias. I should have also mentioned that there are a number of parameters that have been tuned to get close to today’s climate. Right results for wrong reasons?

I took a long walk after lunch around old town then through the woods and along the river. Overall I must have walked about six miles. This was on top of a six mile run this morning.

They have set up a PC to check E-mail, but so far I haven't found it unoccupied.

If you are interested in nightlife Lauenburg is not the place to go. Not much here to begin with but at night they shut the place down.

I began the day with another run along the river trail. I enjoy the sounds of the birds as I run through the woods. It was foggy today and it felt very humid as I ran.

Warren Washington gave an interesting talk this morning, including several videos of coupled ocean atmospheric GCM, runs. One, which included an interactive biosphere with specified CO2 increases out to the year 2300, was particularly fascinating. This also included a dynamically active sea ice field. Changes in ocean currents, surface temperatures, precipitation, and forest coverage were all simulated. Great fiction!

Hartmut Grassl talked about greenhouse gases and presented a global satellite perspective of water vapor and precip. Then he went to CO2. Pretty much standard CO2 presentation except for some discussion of satellite-inferred "greening" of the N hemisphere. Now O3. He shows strong difference with latitude between northern and southern hemisphere of O3 at the surface. He says this is due to climate change. He shows that global warming has reached deep into ocean layers. He does not say this is human caused. Naturally he quotes the IPCC 95 report statement.

Today is said to be a free day but it is quite busy. It began with a presentation of the history of Lauenburg and introductions by the mayor. We then got a walking tour of the old city. The town was founded as a fort in the 12th century. There are many buildings dating to the middle 1400's. They are a mix of wood framing and brick. As a result they tend to be quite lopsided.

After lunch we walked to GKSS along the river trail. The distance was between 10 and 12 km. Part of the way followed my running course. The forests are just budding out so they appear pretty open and bright. Once they leaf out in full it must be pretty dark since the undergrowth is very sparse. I'll bet it is very pretty in the fall. As in my morning runs the forests are alive with the sounds of birds. Since I had already run about 6 miles, I felt very hungry by the time we got there. Fortunately I carried some snacks and water with me. I then visited Andreas Reuter of GKSS about possible cooperation. This was followed by an overview of GKSS by Earhard Raschle. Tours of their mm radar and Lidar facilities were then made.

A buffet style dinner was given to us at GKSS. It was disappointing after the dinners at the match factory. We then attended a lecture by Prof. Grassl. It was mainly on the politics of global change with a lot of focus on the 1995 IPCC report. A lot of BS! He is a very dynamic speaker and certainly believes in greenhouse warming. Fortunately, I have a chance to give a cautious view of things the next morning.

I took another run, followed by breakfast, and then gave a three-hour lecture. I think it went well. I had a lot of questions. The text of my talk is also available on this web page. My knees were killing me after standing for that length of time.

My lecture was followed after lunch by Rashke's talk on regional anthropogenic change. He didn't seem to be particularly well prepared. After leisurely dinner a guy from Vancouver, BC and I headed out to a hotel bar overlooking the river. It had a lot of character being in a 200 year old building [this was a new building in old town!]. No plywood panels and plastic-coated countertops here. Everything was dark hardwood. I tested three different beers, all of which were fine. Then we headed back along the old cobblestone streets to the old match factory for a 5:00AM rise and ride to the airport.

Back in the torture machines for home. The connection through Heathrow is a circus as usual--winding corridors, a bus ride that I swear passed by Hamburg, more walking through twisted corridors, people movers that don't work, and finally to the check-in counter. I saw a copy of USA today and I see the forecast looks like a four corners low is moving through Colorado. If it verifies, ECMWF nailed it over a week ago. I hope I get into DIA OK. Then all I have to worry about is driving home. Maybe I'll have to chain up?

I called Vollie and found out it snowed about 45 inches with over two inches of precipitation! Darn, I missed the big one. What is impressive is that the ECMWF model picked up the storm a week ago yesterday. I alerted Vollie to the possibility. I hope I can make it into the end of the driveway without chains. I know I will have to wade the 1/4 mile to the house.