Scientific Insights from Four Generations of Lagrangian Smart Balloons in Atmospheric Research

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This paper provides an overview of the trials and successes in the development of an autonomous balloon instrument platform (smart balloon) and reviews scientific insights gained through its employment as a marker in a Lagrangian strategy during recent field experiments. The smart balloons are designed and constructed at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Air Resources Laboratory Field Research Division in collaboration with the University of Hawaii. In a 2004 field deployment a smart balloon carrying a miniature ozone sensor successfully crossed the Atlantic Ocean from Long Island, New York, to the African coast of Morocco. Significant progress has been made through field experiments such as this in our understanding of the relationships between the evolution of marine boundary layers and the chemistry of aerosol and gaseous constituents in clean and polluted air masses. Innovation in design and advances in instrument and communication technology have opened a dramatic new range of applications for the smart balloon in atmospheric research, including, for example, the interesting prospect of making observations very near the ocean surface in hurricanes and typhoons, which are not possible with research aircraft.

*School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology Contribution Number 6790

Department of Meteorology, University of Hawaii, Honolulu, Hawaii

NOAA, ARLFRD, Idaho Falls, Idaho

University of New Hampshire, Durham, New Hampshire

CORRESPONDING AUTHOR: S. Businger, University of Hawaii, Department of Meteorology, 2525 Correa Rd., Honolulu, HI 96822, E-mail: businger@hawaii.edu

This paper provides an overview of the trials and successes in the development of an autonomous balloon instrument platform (smart balloon) and reviews scientific insights gained through its employment as a marker in a Lagrangian strategy during recent field experiments. The smart balloons are designed and constructed at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Air Resources Laboratory Field Research Division in collaboration with the University of Hawaii. In a 2004 field deployment a smart balloon carrying a miniature ozone sensor successfully crossed the Atlantic Ocean from Long Island, New York, to the African coast of Morocco. Significant progress has been made through field experiments such as this in our understanding of the relationships between the evolution of marine boundary layers and the chemistry of aerosol and gaseous constituents in clean and polluted air masses. Innovation in design and advances in instrument and communication technology have opened a dramatic new range of applications for the smart balloon in atmospheric research, including, for example, the interesting prospect of making observations very near the ocean surface in hurricanes and typhoons, which are not possible with research aircraft.

*School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology Contribution Number 6790

Department of Meteorology, University of Hawaii, Honolulu, Hawaii

NOAA, ARLFRD, Idaho Falls, Idaho

University of New Hampshire, Durham, New Hampshire

CORRESPONDING AUTHOR: S. Businger, University of Hawaii, Department of Meteorology, 2525 Correa Rd., Honolulu, HI 96822, E-mail: businger@hawaii.edu
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