The response of superpressure balloons to gravity wave motions
Superpressure balloons (SPB), which float on constant density (isopycnic) surfaces, provide a unique way of measuring the properties of atmospheric gravity waves (GW) as a function of wave intrinsic frequency. Here we devise a quasi-analytic method of investigating the SPB response to GW motions. It is shown that the results agree well with more rigorous numerical simulations of balloon motions and provide a better understanding of the response of SPB to GW, especially at high frequencies. The methodology is applied to ascertain the accuracy of GW studies using 12 m diameter SPB deployed in the 2010 Concordiasi campaign in the Antarctic. In comparison with the situation in earlier campaigns, the vertical displacements of the SPB were measured directly using GPS. It is shown using a large number of Monte Carlo-type simulations with realistic instrumental noise that important wave parameters, such as momentum flux, phase speed and wavelengths, can be retrieved with good accuracy from SPB observations for intrinsic wave periods greater than ca. 10 min. The noise floor for momentum flux is estimated to be ca. 10 −4 mPa.