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)
Juarez Viegas (left) and Jeff Aquilina from the US Atmospheric Radiation Measurement program prepare a radiosonde for launch. Jeff Aquilina (left), Steele Griffiths (front) and Juarez Viegas from the US Atmospheric Radiation Measurement program monitor radiosonde data during a flight. A white radiosonde, visible at the top right of the photo, after launch from the Aurora Australis.The Aurora Australis in the sea ice.

Australian and American scientists were kept busy collecting vast amounts of information on clouds, aerosols and precipitation across the Southern Ocean last summer, for the US Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) program.

The data collected during the ARM program and related projects will be used to evaluate and improve how clouds are represented in climate models.

During four voyages aboard the Aurora Australis teams:

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

Twelve US technicians came 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.

The voyage allowed scientists to collect a large and unique dataset, including 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, with early results to be available soon.

Read more about cloud research in Australian Antarctic Magazine 33: 8-9 (2017).