A reel-down instrument system for profile measurements of water vapor, temperature, clouds, and aerosol beneath constant-altitude scientific balloons

Kalnajs, Lars E.; Davis, Sean M.; Goetz, J. Douglas; Deshler, Terry; Khaykin, Sergey; St. Clair, Alex; Hertzog, Albert; Bordereau, Jerome; Lykov, Alexey

The tropical tropopause layer (TTL; 14–18.5 km) is the gateway for most air entering the stratosphere, and therefore processes within this layer have an outsized influence in determining global stratospheric ozone and water vapor concentrations. Despite the importance of this layer there are few in situ measurements with the necessary detail to resolve the fine-scale processes within this region. Here, we introduce a novel platform for high-resolution in situ profiling that lowers and retracts a suspended instrument package beneath drifting long-duration balloons in the tropics. During a 100 d circumtropical flight, the instrument collected over a hundred 2 km profiles of temperature, water vapor, and aerosol at 1 m resolution, yielding unprecedented geographic sampling and vertical resolution. The instrument system integrates proven sensors for water vapor, temperature, pressure, and cloud and aerosol particles with an innovative mechanical reeling and control system. A technical evaluation of the system performance demonstrated the feasibility of this new measurement platform for future missions with minor modifications. Six instruments planned for two upcoming field campaigns are expected to provide over 4000 profiles through the TTL, quadrupling the number of high-resolution aircraft and balloon profiles collected to date. These and future measurements will provide the necessary resolution to diagnose the importance of competing mechanisms for the transport of water vapor across the TTL.

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Kalnajs, Lars E. / Davis, Sean M. / Goetz, J. Douglas / et al: A reel-down instrument system for profile measurements of water vapor, temperature, clouds, and aerosol beneath constant-altitude scientific balloons. 2021. Copernicus Publications.

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Rechteinhaber: Lars E. Kalnajs et al.

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