High-frequency boundary layer profiling with reusable radiosondes
A new system for high-frequency boundary layer profiling based upon radiosondes and free balloons was tested during the field phases of the Boundary Layer Late Afternoon and Sunset Turbulence experiment (BLLAST 2011, Lannemezan, France) and of the Hydrological cycle in the Mediterranean Experiment (HyMeX, 2012). The system consists of a conventional Vaisala receiver and a GPS radiosonde (pressure, wind, humidity and temperature), that is tied to a couple of inflated balloons. The principle of the sounding system is to permit the first balloon to detach from the rawinsonde at a predetermined altitude, allowing for the rawinsonde to slowly descend with the second balloon to perform a second, new sounding. The instrumentation is then eventually recovered. The expecting landing area is anticipated before the flight by estimating the trajectory of the probe from a forecasted wind profile and by specifying both the balloon release altitude and the mean ascent and descent rates of the system. The real landing point is determined by the last transmission of the radiosonde GPS and the visual landmark provided by the second balloon. Seventy-two soundings were performed during BLLAST (62) and HyMeX (10), with a recovery rate of more than 80% during the BLLAST field campaign. Recovered radiosondes were generally reused several times, often immediately after recovery, which definitely demonstrates the high potential of this system.