2022-2023 Science Planning Summary
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2022-2023 USAP Field Season
Project Detail

Project Title

Measurement of stratospheric aerosol to altitudes above 35 km in Austral autumn

Photo by Hailaeos Troy. Image courtesy of NSF/USAP Photo Library. Creative Commons CC BY-NC-ND 4.0
O-241-M Research Location(s): McMurdo Station


Event Number:
NSF/OPP Award 1745008

Program Director:
Dr. David Porter

ASC POC/Implementer:
John Rand / Randolph Jones

Principal Investigator(s)

Dr. Terry Deshler
University of Colorado Boulder
Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics


Supporting Stations: McMurdo Station
Research Locations: McMurdo Station


Particles in the atmosphere play key roles in controlling the earth's hydrologic, chemical, and radiation balances. In the troposphere, aerosols provide surfaces for cloud formation, for the absorption of trace gas pollutants, and they either warm or cool the earth depending on their optical properties. In the stratosphere, they provide surfaces for the conversion of chlorine from a passive to an active state, which will catalytically destroy ozone, crucial as a filter against damaging UV radiation. Stratospheric aerosols also contribute to increasing the solar albedo and to the absorption of terrestrial infrared radiation. Particles are self-limiting through the formation of new particles, growth through diffusion, coagulation, condensation of trace gases, and ultimately sedimentation and deposition or capture by clouds. This project obtains in-situ measurements of the total aerosol concentration and volatility from the surface to above 35km over McMurdo Station in April and May by flying six balloon-borne condensation nuclei (CN) counters from the station.

Field Season Overview

A two person field team will deploy to McMurdo Station to launch medium-sized sounding balloons during austral fall 2023. They will launch up to nine large balloons and up to two smaller pathfinder balloons. The duration and timing of the field deployment is dependent on the winter flight schedule. During November/December 2023, a two person team will deploy to recover the payloads flown in austral fall by helicopter. Experience and training are required to operate the VHF radios tuned to the VHF locating beacons on the gondolas. The recovery sites will be on the permanent ice shelf to the south, south east, of the station and within 120 nautical miles of the station.

Deploying Team Members

  • Terry Deshler (PI)