Antarctica Dispatch

Journal of my Antarctic experience working to support the United States Antarctic Program.

Balloon Launch


Weather is perhaps one of the biggest scientific research at the South Pole. The South Pole Meteorology Department (MET) and the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) make atmospheric observations using balloons. Because the balloons are so big and difficult to handle by one person, volunteers are sought to help launch the balloons.

Earlier in the season I helped one of the meteorologists launch a 3000 gram balloon. Today I would assist with launching a NOAA balloon to measure the ozone depletion. When NOAA launches their balloon, the MET Department piggybacks on it since Helium is a precious commodity.

I got an in-depth explanation on the instrumentation used by both the meteorologist and NOAA tech. During the winter the ozone level is pretty stable. It's only with the coming of the sun, which activates the chlorine in the upper atmosphere that breaks down the ozone between 13,000 and 21,000 km. I remember hearing all the news stories about the ozone hole over Antarctica, and here I am! For more information on the ozone hole and NOAA's work down here, click on this link.


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