Thursday, December 28, 2006

Why Do You Feel Hot in the Sauna?

Sounds like a stupid question, but Timo Vesala, a professor at the Division of Atmospheric Sciences, University of Helsinki, performed some simple calculations and showed that your skin warms about twice as much due to latent heat flux (8300 J/s) from the humid air than it does from the sensible heat flux (4100 J/s). So, the water on your skin in the sauna isn't sweat, it's condensation from the humid air (dewpoint temperatures about 55 deg C and your skin temperature is about 40 deg C), just like the condensation on the outside of a glass of ice water in an Oklahoma summer. This is verified because the condensation isn't salty like sweat would be. All the meteorologists reading this article know that condensation releases latent heat from the water to your skin and the surrounding air. So that's why you feel hot--water is condensing on you.

T. Vesala: Phase transitions in Finnish sauna. In: M. Kulmala and P.E.
Wagner eds., Nucleation and atmospheric aerosols, The Fourteenth
International Conference on Nucleation and Atmospheric Aerosols, 1996,
Helsinki, 26-30 August, Elsevier, Oxford, 403-406.

Finnish Music I Want To Hear

I've told you about some of the concerts I've seen, but I've heard other Finnish musicians that I'm interested in hearing more of. Here's a sampling of some of the more interesting ones.

Jani and Jetsetters (pronounced "yah-knee"): Finnish surf rock. Go to the link and click on <> to hear sound clips. Their new album (translated) is called New Wave.

Erja Lyytinen: Blues guitarist, her website is in English, so you can download songs and see clips on YouTube.

Ladies First Big Band: All-woman big band (17 musicians) playing and singing "from Glenn Miller to Gloria Gaynor." They sound fun. Listen to the clip of them playing "It's Raining Men."

Does this Finnish singer (Katri Ylander) look like Dar Williams or not?

The best radio station in Helsinki: 88.6 FM Radio Helsinki, free-form radio station. You may enjoy seeing some of the past playlists or the Top songs of the past week. Note the Christmas songs (they liked the new Aimee Mann Christmas album, as well as some James Brown songs).

Christmas in Helsinki

Christmas break was wonderful. The weather was pleasant, sunny, and the city quiet. The Christmas lights throughout the city and on the boats docked in the harbor lit up the dark northern winter.

I relaxed, wrote, and read. Emailed friends and received many nice emails from people. Thank you, all!

Christmas present from my student Jenni: From Finland With Love book, written by a German immigrant to Finland who writes about why he loves and hates Finland. Apparently a controversial figure in Finland. From "
Just thoroughly hilarious, yet very truthful look at the Finnish people, thair ways and their deep rooted love of their home land. Also, the common habit of Finns complaining about the politics even they live in the country of very little corruption. "

Christmas present from my parents: handmade wooden Christmas ornaments shaped like snowflakes, appropriate for this meteorologist, especially in this snow drought we're in now, and homemade Christmas cookies.

Kat sent me friendship soup mix and cookies, too. I think I'm stocked now for sweets. :-)

Yesterday and today, I went shopping for new clothes and a winter jacket and boots. Ended up spending about 600 euro by the time the damage was done on new clothes. I'm doing better to try to dress like a Finn: black and dark clothes. (You would think they would wear colorful clothes in the winter to brighten things up, but that doesn't appear to be the case.)

Saturday night I take an overnight ferry to Stockholm, Sweden, enjoy the city on the 31st, then ferry back on New Year's Eve.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Hyvää Joulua!

The Finnish Christmas and opening presents happens Christmas Eve night. Christmas day is not as big a deal for families. Since Santa Claus comes from Finland, this makes sense because the Finnish kids get their presents first, then by the time he gets to the U.S., it's much later in the night.

This will be my last post before Christmas. I want to wish all my friends and family hyvää joulua ja onnellista iita vuotta 2007!

News You May Have Missed

I'm taking a diversion from news from the Finnish front to post some significant web pages and news stories that I came across during the last two months.

Swedish in Finland

Six percent of Finland speaks Swedish as their primary language. In some towns, the percentage can be much higher, even more than 50%. Like Canada with their two official languages of English and French, FInland's two official languages are Swedish and Finnish. Each street sign/bus stop is written in both Finnish and Swedish. In the example below, the Finnish name is on top and the Swedish name is on the bottom. This is a street sign from the street I live on.

In regions of Finland where Swedes dominate, the Swedish can be the top words on the signs.

Nearly every Finn from the younger generation (45 years old and less) knows English, Swedish, and English. To enter the university, I am told you have to know four languages.

Bag of potato snacks

More observations of Finland

  • When you ride the tram in Helsinki, you pay in one of three ways. 1. You have a travel card that provides unlimited rides for a monthly fee. (This is what I do. It's about 40 euro a month.) 2. You have an account with credit on your travel card that you debit on a machine when you get on. 3. You buy a ticket for 2 euro from the driver. If you do option #1 or #2, no one checks on you---it's the honor system. Occasionally, there will be blue-jacketed tram employees that will board the tram three or four at a time. They seem to come out of nowhere and board, just to catch you if you don't have a valid ticket or travel card. If they catch you, it's a 66 euro fine. I don't know how they collect that.
  • Question: What do you think ananas means in Finnish? Hint: You can find it in the fruit section of the grocery. Answer: pineapple. The Finnish word for banana is banaani.
  • Lots of people, even adults have these plastic shapes hanging down from their jacket on a piece of string. For the longest time I didn't know what these were. One morning a few weeks ago, each seat on the tram had one for us. It is a reflector that dangles off your jacket and rotates around, alerting drivers of your presence in the long northern nights.
  • FMI gave each of us a present for the holidays: a new backpack. The Division of Atmospheric Science at the university gave us a wooden mug for drinking shots. Based on the amount of alcohol at the division Christmas party, I understand.
  • Two nights ago was the Christmas dinner party for senior researchers at FMI. It was held in the penthouse suite with rooftop access overlooking the city and two saunas. What a great time to socialize with the other senior scientists at the institute! I must have hopped in and out of the sauna about 8 times over the course of the night, sometimes going out onto the balcony (0 deg C) to cool off. One woman shared the sauna with us, choosing to remain toweled most of the time. Many of the men chose to remain naked, even in her presence. Sauna is not a sexual thing to the Finns, so this is typical, although becoming less common. Even 15 years ago, coed sauna time was more common, including among family members. In today's politically correct world, this institution has been undergoing change, to separate sauna times for men and women.

Things I Don't Miss

OK, I answered the question of what I miss. Here's a list of things that I'm very happy I don't have to deal with.
  • my car
  • paying to heat the apartment
  • fat ugly Americans: Did I mention the Finns are an attractive people?
  • Thad Balkman

Things I Miss

As I was riding the tram to work this morning, I thought, "What do I really miss from the U.S./Oklahoma that I can't get here in Finland?" The answers lie below. . .
  • pancakes and sausage: you can buy maple syrup in the store, but not pancake mix or sausage.
  • Greek House: there are lots of kebab joints here, but none serve heaps of the melt-in-your mouth meat from Norman's Greek House at a price you can't beat.
  • cheddar cheese: sounds silly, but you can't get good sharp cheddar cheese here. If you get nachos at a "Mexican restaurant" here in Helsinki, they either use tasteless white cheese or that liquid queso stuff. (They are also pretty stingy with the chips.)
  • my king-sized pillowtop mattress
  • my comfy couches
  • good hearty belly laughs: I haven't found anyone that shares the dark, silly side of my humor here yet. I think the subtlety of the English language also is a problem for communicating my sense of humor with them.
  • my reprint file and journal collection: I find myself wanting rare scientific articles from my collection from time to time that I didn't bring with me.
And, of course, my friends! Here's hoping they visit me! (I will be in Norman Jan. 10-11 and 16-17. I'll be giving a seminar at the National Weather Center on January 10.)

If you know me, you may recognize one thing missing from the above list: Comedy Central. Surprisingly, I don't have a craving for missing The Daily Show and Colbert Report like I thought I would.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Helsinki Photo Safari

Sunday I went for a walk and took some pictures of Helsinki during the partly cloudy afternoon. The tower is the train station. The skating rink is right in front of the train station in the central square.

Warm Front Update

Here is the time series of temperature ending at about 8 a.m. today. Temperatures over the area are -2 to +2 deg C. The snow that was nicely falling as I left work late last night changed to rain at times. This morning, there are slushy, slippery spots on the sidewalk where the melting snow froze up a bit. Fortunately, not much precipitation fell.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

How Big Is the Diurnal Cycle This Time of Year?
And a Warm Front Passage!

This Thursday is the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year for much of the Northern Hemisphere. Today, Helsinki experienced about 5 hours and 47 minutes of day, with the sun rising at 9:24 a.m. and setting at 3:11 p.m.

For the last few days, we've had totally clear or partly clear skies. Today was clear all day. Here is the 24-hour temperature trace for Kaisaniemi (near city center) ending at about 9 p.m. (21 on the horizontal axis). Notice the 1 degree C rise in temperature followed by 2 degree C decrease in the early afternoon (between 12-15). This was the effect of daytime heating, superimposed on a larger-scale temperature decline due to radiative cooling dominating the anemic daytime heating.

Notice the rapid rise in temperature in the last hour (5 deg C or 9 deg F). We have a warm front approaching our area. Note the temperatures in this surface map
to the right.

The third image is a plot of the stability from the top to bottom of the masted stations in the Helsinki Testbed. [As the ex-expats mention in their comment, the top height of the masts vary from mast to mast, so although the stability is normalized by the mast height, the values may not be measured over a consistently deep layer. Buyer beware!]

If the values are large and positive as they are over most stations on the land, that indicates strong static stability, indicative of the warm front moving in. Stations over the sea have negative static stability (unstable conditions).

Misc Happenings

  • We had a dusting of snow last night. The first time the temperature has been sustained below freezing for a few weeks. I walked home through downtown amid the falling flakes last night. Very beautiful, and it is still outside.
  • I'm getting used to the sauna. I now find myself staying in for quite some time, and never finding it hot enough. Big change from the first few times in when I couldn't take it for much more than 10 minutes.
  • I gave my first presentation at FMI on Monday based on the work that we did on mammatus clouds. For the Monday before Christmas, I was impressed by the number of people that came out, even students from the university. The talk was entitled "What Causes Mammatus Clouds?" and a large poster was hung in the lobby of FMI to advertise the talk. (See photo to the right.)

Museum #3

This weekend I visited my third museum in Helsinki. It was the Ateneum, part of the Finnish National Gallery. It houses the biggest collection of Finnish art in the country.

One of the highlights of the exhibit was Hugo Simberg's The Wounded Angel (1903), voted as Finland's painting. Simberg was adamant that he not provide the interpretation of the painting to its viewers. As a result, people get to see what they want to see in it.

For an interesting discussion of some possible interpretations, see AmbivaBlog. I especially like the post and subsequent discussion:
"Oh, please, I think the answer is obvious: the boys are going to cook and eat the angel."

Cover Boy

This week I appeared on Puhuri, the FMI quarterly magazine. The title says "Research Professor David Schultz is a Mesoscale Expert." The enclosed article talks about my background, why I'm here, that I hope to collaborate with the radar group at the university, and that I have only met one person who didn't speak some English (so far).

Finnish Blog from the Washington Post

The Washington Post sent two people to FInland in summer 2005 to report on the country. Here is their blog.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

A pity to see her beheaded. . .


Saint Lucia's Day is celebrated every year on the 13th of December in Sweden, Norway and in Finland (by Swedish speaking Finns), as a Festival of Light. An annual Lucia Parade is held on Lucia's Day in most of the cities of the above mentioned Scandinavian countries. In Helsinki, the crowning of the Lucia Maiden takes place at the Helsinki Cathedral. After the crowning, the Lucia Maiden walks down the stairs of the Cathedral dressed in white and wearing a chandelier on her head leading the Lucia Parade through the city.

The original Saint Lucia was a Christian girl from Syracuse, Italy, and was one of the earliest Christian martyr saints. She was beheaded on the 13th of December in 304 A.D. during the persecutions of Christians.

See the losers who weren't selected to be Lucia 2006.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Yes, I do work, too. . .

In response to those people that think all I do is have a good time here, I keep quite busy at work, too. Here's a list of some of the things I've been up to.

I've given several talks to some of the research groups on the type of research that I've done in the past, and offered my assistance in their research projects. Already, there is interest in having me work with the air quality group and understanding the synoptic-scale processes that resulted in a 12-day-long period of Russian forest-fire smoke that reduced visibility quite significantly in Helsinki two Mays ago.

I've begun preparing for the mesoscale observing network class (on the Helsinki Testbed) I will be teaching in February, planning the syllabus and getting speakers in place. Most importantly, I've been trying to understand how the data system works here, so that we can get data from the Helsinki Testbed in the hands of students for their class projects.

I've reviewed a paper written by a research groups at the university that collected instrumented-tower measurements about 100 m away from a microburst. As far as I am aware, these are unique measurements of this type of event.

Starting discussions with students who I may advise on their degrees.

These, as well as many other tasks related to editing two journals, coauthoring papers with people back in the U.S., and answering emails, keeps me busy.

The Sauna Experience

On the Frostbite Paddle, I experienced my first true sauna. Although I had several experiences in electric-heating saunas (one being in the basement of FMI next to the gym), this was a true wood-fired stove heated sauna on an island in the sea.

In Finland, the 'au' sound is pronounced like the 'ou' sound in 'south', so it's pronounced "sow-nah."

When pioneer Finns built their homes, they would build the sauna first and live in it (because they could heat it) until they finished the rest of the home. Families would share the sauna regularly each week, if not more often. Clothes, of course, are never worn in the sauna. (The ones at FMI are separate by gender.)

One of the rituals in the sauna is to whack your skin with a bundle of short branches from birch trees (common deciduous tree in Finland), called vihta. It sounds painful, but the leaves get tender when soaked in the water. Before the era of the washcloth, there was the vihta to clean your skin.

Stones are heated on the stove, then water is poured over them to create a hot steam in the sauna. After we were sufficiently heated, we ran naked out into the sea and jumped in. Given that you've been heating your body for 10-20 minutes, it is very refreshing. (Although you do have to get back inside the sauna to avoid getting chilled toes.) You can sit outside naked for quite a while as steam evaporates off your skin. Of course, once all the moisture is gone, you start to get cold, so back into the sauna you go. This process can last an hour or so.

Although I still prefer a hot tub, I like the sauna, too.

More miscellaneous happenings. . .

I met the new CEO of Vaisala this week in the hallway of FMI. He's paying a third of my salary. We talked briefly about use of the dual-polarimetric radar that Vaisala built for the university to look at snow density.

It's been unusally warm in northern Europe ever since the second week of November (low to mid 40s F for highs) The two snowfalls that I experienced my first week have been nearly melted all over the country. See this article on the lack of snow in Lapland (northern Finland). This web site also has a nice link to the declining snowcover (replotted from the FMI web site). I've posted this graphic below. The lack of snow is really affecting the Finns in a negative way. With nearing the shortest days of the year, almost always overcast, and no snow, the city is dark and the Finns' attitude is just as dark. They love the snow as it brightens up the city, and they get to go skating on the harbor when it freezes and skiing in the many parks around town. I'm worried that things may start getting creepy if it doesn't snow around here. . .

I think the Finns could probably help themselves out a little bit by wearing some brighter color clothes. Nearly everyone is wearing dark colored clothes (even me so I don't stick out too much!). This is not good. When I go back, I should bring some Hawaiian shirts and hand them out to people to wear during the day. It's gotta help.

On the island I live, Finland maintains its icebreaker fleet. Here's a picture of the ships, still in harbor, waiting for ice to form somewhere along the Finnish coast.

Last night was bowling with the graduate students from the department. I was the only professor to go, and they kept asking me how good I was. I kept saying that although my parents were in a bowling league that I'm really not that good. Turns out I bowled probably my best three consecutive games ever, scoring 465 for three games (with a high score of 166). I scored 150 points higher than any other person. Boy was I embarrassed! This was called Fun Bowling and featured blue lights and great rock music (playing Dylan, Springsteen, Rolling Stones, 50s rock, good country music). It was a hoot of a place to be!

Happy Finnish Independence Day!

On December 6, 1917, Lenin gave Finland their independence from Russia. This year marked the 89th anniversary of Finnish Independence. Instead of wild celebrations like the U.S. Independence Day, the Finnish Independence Day is more solemn, remembering the war dead, especially those during WWII when the Russians invaded Finland again, kicking them out of the eastern region called Karelia. The relationship between Russia, Finland, and Germany is quite complex. See this link for more details.

When I was asking people what I should do on Independence Day, I got the answer "kalsarikanni," which literally translated means "sitting around in your long underwear drinking" (as if I didn't understand what that meant, they qualified it by saying, "like Homer Simpson"). Now, I ended up being invited to a small dinner party and I didn't wear my long underwear. They had prepared a sauna, but by the time we finished cooking red curry chicken and tossed salad, there was no time left.

After dinner, the Finns typically sit around and watch the Presidential Ball (very near to where I live). Most of the ball is spent watching the President shake hands with important Finns as they enter the ball and commenting on their wardrobe. Since most people are ministers or business people (very few models and rock stars), it's not exactly like watching the red carpet entrances at the Oscars or Grammies.

On the walk home, the Senate House and church were lit up very nicely. See the attached images.

Catching Up. . .

Hi all! Sorry it's been a long time since I posted, but I thought I would catch you up on what's been going on. As usual, work gets in the way of fun and fun gets in the way of work. So, at least I'm not bored despite the short days.

It gets light oustide about 8:30 a.m. and dark by 3:30 p.m. The best time to be outside is between 11 and 2.

On Monday Nov. 27, I worked another forecast shift, this time with Lea Saukkonen, formerly an on-air forecaster on the Finnish TV. (You may recall her name from a paper she did on polar lows with Mike Douglas and Mel Shapiro.) When the station decided to go with the Finnish version of Accuweather (Foreca), she left and joined FMI. She now heads the commercial forecasting branch. Even though she is in charge of that office, she still puts in a pretty substantial workload behind the desk, which was very impressive.

One feature that Finland has is a service where you can pay 3 euro to call a live forecaster (the day I worked, it was Lea) and get a personalized weather forecast. I thought that was pretty ingenious. Of course, the phone rings frequently the days you need to pay the most attention to the weather, but they seem to manage, they tell me.

On Tuesday the 28th, I played floorball again, and scored my first goal!

On Friday Dec. 1, the only other American at FMI (Gil Leppelmeier) invited me and several other expatriots (and others who had spent time in the U.S.) over to his house for pikkajoulu ("tiny Christmas," essentially a Christmas party). They served glögi, a warm spiced red wine, which is the Finnish equivalent of eggnog. You can find little shops all over town selling it on the sidewalk. That's Gil with the gray hair and tie.

That weekend I went to see the new James Bond movie. Lines to get into movies tend to be long and slow because you get assigned seats, so people get to pick their seats out while the rest of the line waits. Of course, you can buy them online ahead of time, but if you reserve seats, you need to pick them up at least an hour before the show. Ticket prices on Friday and Saturday night are 10 euro, so I don't want to hear anyone complaining about high ticket prices!

Saturday was also the first pool practice with the Sipoo Canoe Club. Clas picked me up and we went to a pool out near the airport in the suburbs to practice rolling. Clas is really good at rolling his sea kayak, which is pretty impressive if you've never seen it.

On Monday Dec. 4, I finally got my Finnish bank account, which means the university can pay me, and I can finally get a Visa card. That brings me up to Finnish Independence Day on December 6.