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Gary A. Wick, Terrence F. Hock, Paul J. Neiman, Holger Vömel, Michael L. Black, and J. Ryan Spackman


A new remotely controlled Airborne Vertical Atmospheric Profiling System (AVAPS) dropsonde system has been developed for and deployed on the NASA Global Hawk (GH) unmanned aircraft. Design, fabrication, and operation of the system was led by the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) with support from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Program. The system has employed the NCAR Research Dropsonde 94 (NRD94) dropsonde, a smaller and lighter version of the standard RD94 dropsonde deployed from manned aircraft but with virtually identical sensors. The dropsondes provide in situ atmospheric profiles of temperature, pressure, and humidity at a 2-Hz data rate, and wind speed and direction at 4 Hz. The system is capable of carrying up to 90 dropsondes and can support eight simultaneous soundings. Operation from the GH means that the dropsondes can be deployed from altitudes up to 19.8 km during flights in excess of 24-h duration. The dropsonde launch is commanded directly by an operator on the ground in coordination with the aircraft commander. Over 2700 total dropsondes have been deployed from the GH during four major campaigns since 2011. Data are processed in near–real time and have been employed by forecasters, for assimilation in numerical weather prediction models, and in diverse research studies. Intercomparison studies suggest the performance of the GH NRD94 dropsondes is similar to those deployed from manned aircraft. This paper describes the components and operation of the system and illustrates its unique capabilities through highlights of data application to research on the Arctic atmosphere, atmospheric rivers, and tropical cyclones.

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Dean Roemmich, Jeffrey T. Sherman, Russ E. Davis, Kyle Grindley, Michael McClune, Charles J. Parker, David N. Black, Nathalie Zilberman, Sarah G. Purkey, Philip J. H. Sutton, and John Gilson


Deployment of Deep Argo regional pilot arrays is underway as a step toward a global array of 1250 surface-to-bottom profiling floats embedded in the upper-ocean (2000 m) Argo Program. Of the 80 active Deep Argo floats as of July 2019, 55 are Deep Sounding Oceanographic Lagrangian Observer (SOLO) 6000-m instruments, and the rest are composed of three additional models profiling to either 4000 or 6000 m. Early success of the Deep SOLO is owed partly to its evolution from the Core Argo SOLO-II. Here, Deep SOLO design choices are described, including the spherical glass pressure housing, the hydraulics system, and the passive bottom detection system. Operation of Deep SOLO is flexible, with the mission parameters being adjustable from shore via Iridium communications. Long lifetime is a key element in sustaining a global array, and Deep SOLO combines a long battery life of over 200 cycles to 6000 m with robust operation and a low failure rate. The scientific value of Deep SOLO is illustrated, including examples of its ability (i) to observe large-scale spatial and temporal variability in deep ocean temperature and salinity, (ii) to sample newly formed water masses year-round and within a few meters of the sea floor, and (iii) to explore the poorly known abyssal velocity field and deep circulation of the World Ocean. Deep SOLO’s full-depth range and its potential for global coverage are critical attributes for complementing the Core Argo Program and achieving these objectives.

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