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Albert Hertzog, Philippe Cocquerez, René Guilbon, Jean-Noël Valdivia, Stéphanie Venel, Claude Basdevant, Gillian Boccara, Jérôme Bordereau, Bernard Brioit, François Vial, Alain Cardonne, Alain Ravissot, and Éric Schmitt


In September and October 2005, the Stratéole/Vorcore campaign flew 27 superpressure balloons from McMurdo, Antarctica, into the stratospheric polar vortex. Long-duration flights were successfully achieved, 16 of those flights lasting for more than 2 months. Most flights were terminated because they flew out of the authorized flight domain or because of energy shortage in the gondola. The atmospheric pressure (1-Pa precision) was measured every minute during the flights, whereas air temperature observations (0.25-K accuracy) and balloon positions (absolute GPS observations, 10-m accuracy) were obtained every 15 min. Fifteen-minute-averaged horizontal velocities of the wind were deduced from the successive balloon positions with a corresponding accuracy ≲0.1 m s−1. The collected dataset (more than 150 000 independent observations) provides a thorough high-resolution sampling of the polar lower stratosphere in the Southern Hemisphere from its wintertime state up to the establishment of the summer circulation in December–January. Most of the balloons stayed inside the vortex until its final breakdown, although a few were ejected toward the midlatitudes in November during filamention events associated with an increase in planetary wave activity. The balloons behaved as quasi-Lagrangian tracers during the first part of the campaign (quiescent vortex) and after the vortex breakdown in early December. Large-amplitude mountain gravity waves were detected over the Antarctic Peninsula and caused one flight termination associated with the sudden burst in the balloon superpressure.

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