Cloud study success

Juarez Viegas from the US Atmospheric Radiation Measurement program launches a radiosonde from the deck of the Aurora Australis.
Juarez Viegas from the US Atmospheric Radiation Measurement program launches a radiosonde from the deck of the Aurora Australis. (Photo: Doug Thost)

Australian and American scientists collected vast amounts of information on clouds, aerosols and precipitation across the Southern Ocean last summer, for the US Atmospheric Radiation Measurement program.

During four voyages aboard the Aurora Australis teams:

  • installed and operated 64 ship-based instruments;
  • deployed some 600 radiosondes (weather balloons), with launches occurring four times every day; and
  • collected more than 100 terabytes of atmospheric data.

Twelve US technicians came out to Hobart to install and commission the instruments in October 2017 and eight returned to decommission the instruments in March 2018. Three technicians travelled on each voyage to keep the ‘ones and zeroes’ flowing.

Despite the harsh maritime environment, a unique dataset was obtained, with a particular highlight being the quantity of data collected as the ship traversed the sea ice. Australian Antarctic Division scientists, along with those from numerous national and international research institutes and universities have begun the data analyses. We expect early results to be published soon.

This research was supported by Australian Antarctic Science Project 4292 and previously featured in Australian Antarctic Magazine 33: 8-9 (2017).

Simon Alexander
Science Branch, Australian Antarctic Division