Monitoring the ozone hole in situ
Scientific ballooning teams from CNES and the LMD* dynamic meteorology research laboratory are currently stationed at the American McMurdo research base in Antarctica, where they are set to release up to 25 superpressure balloons with instrumented gondolas to study variations in the ozone hole inside the winter polar vortex.
The campaign teams will be enduring constantly low temperatures between –20 and –40°C, at which ozone depletion occurs inside the stratospheric polar vortex, leading to the transport of air masses low in ozone to inhabited regions at mid latitudes.
They will also be assimilated into models of chemical processes driving ozone depletion.
New type of balloon
These balloons afford high strength and very good tightness, meaning they can stay aloft for several months at a time inside the polar vortex of the lower stratosphere at an altitude of 18 to 20 km.
Long-duration balloon observations, a unique competency of the French space agency, have already been proven during test campaigns staged out of Kiruna, Sweden, and in Brazil.
CNES also has 40 years’ experience of scientific ballooning, conducting several tens of launches every year.
*LMD : Laboratoire de Météorologie Dynamique, Palaiseau, France (CNRS)