Sunday, 7 December 2014

There is something in the air

Today on 7 December we have launched our 10th balloon with the new system and we got as usual good data on the vertical distribution of temperature, humidity, wind and pressure up to 32 km altitude (however, it needs to be said that humidity is only reliable up to around 10 km). All launches have been good until now and we are happy that we are able to create a database of the meteorological and dynamic conditions in the higher atmosphere around Princess Elisabeth station. To launch such a weather balloon it is necessary to be with two. One prepares the radiosonde which measures and transmits the data and the other holds the with Helium filled balloon until launch. At some days the wind has been very strong and it was not always easy to hold the balloon until the sonde is ready and is fixed to the balloon. During strong winds at launch time, the balloon bounces back and forth and tries to escape …
All the instruments we have set up are used to follow the evolution of aerosol (particle) properties around Princess Elisabeth station. Most of the time the conditions are relatively constant and not much special is happening. But, yesterday – we went to check routinely our instruments – we saw that the particle concentration was increasing. From the normal baseline of 200-300 particles/cm3 during summer it went suddenly up to 6000 / cm3. It happened during strong winds from eastern directions and contamination by the station can surely be ruled out. It is more probable that this was linked to the approaching of a major cloud system. The lower cloud level was decreasing when the particle concentration went up. When the concentration reached maximum and thereafter, the cloud level was increasing and the clouds even move away. The instrument from Leipzig told us that the concentration of particles being able to form clouds has not much increased during this event. So, there are some questions for us to be answered, how clouds, the whole lot of particles and particles, which can form clouds, are linked. That’s why we are here. This morning the concentration of particles was again at the usual level around 300 / cm3. And no strong winds anymore.

And, yes, also in the far region of Antarctica, St Nicolas does not forget the well-behaved.

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