allow us to launch a fourth balloon later in the experiment. Position, altitude and ozone
data were recorded and stored every ten seconds over the full period of time. Altitude
control worked very well except for a short period of time north of Boston when the balloon
encountered a rain storm. The sudden afternoon rain caused the balloon to descend from
around 600 meters ASL level to below 100 meters ASL.
On July 20th, Balloon 2 was launched and tracked for 49 hours. The balloon flight was
terminated five miles north of Prince Edward Island, Canada, when a rapid decrease in helium
pressure was detected. A possible cause for the sudden decrease in helium pressure could
have been a substantial leak in the cut down valve at the top of the balloon. The NOAA P-3
aircraft was able to return three times to the air parcel marked by Balloon 2 over its
Balloon 3 ended its atmospheric research mission after a 12-day journey across the
Atlantic Ocean and traveled a total distance of over 5,000 miles. The transatlantic flight
marks the first time a low-level balloon has drifted in air masses from one continent to
another while continuously measuring ozone and meteorological conditions.
Balloon 4 traveled a similar path to that of Balloon 3 but its flight was terminated
after 85 hours. A leak in the ballast portion of the balloon caused the balloon to use
almost all onboard battery power in a vain attempt to maintain altitude. Therefore, the
decision was made to ditch the balloon in the ocean while sufficient power remained to do
Path of the 4 smart balloons launched from Long Island, NY during ICARTT.
Results and Conclusions:
One of the balloons set what is believed to be both a time aloft and a distance
world record for neutrally buoyant scientifically instrumented balloons. Quoting Dr.
Robert Talbot, Chief Scientist of the NOAA funded Atmospheric Investigation, Regional
Modeling, Analysis and Prediction (AIRMAP) Cooperative Institute, “Balloon flights
were more successful than we ever imagined several months ago during the initial
planning stages. It’s not only a question of understanding the intricacy of the
chemistry, but the transport as well. These balloon measurements will not only
improve our understanding of ozone distribution over the ocean, but will improve
our ability to model and forecast it.”
The balloon flights indicate that ozone concentrations over the North Atlantic may be
much higher than have previously been thought. It will take additional flights over
the Atlantic during the next few years to determine the persistence of the high ozone
New England Air Quality Study website:
Richard Eckman, Ph.D
1750 Foote Dr.
Idaho Falls, ID 83402