From Clouds to Ocean Floor

Latitude: 61°24′ N
Longitude: 011°06′ W
Time: 19:00 GMT
by Chris Lindemann, aboard the FS METEOR

Today we paid a visit to the meteorological station on board, operated by the German Weather Service (Deutscher Wetter Dienst, DWD). DWD releases helium-filled weather balloons to measure atmospheric temperature, humidity and pressure high above our heads.

A helium weather balloon takes around an hour and a half to reach a height of 15 km, or the edge of the troposphere. At that height, the recordings are interupted, and shortly afterwards the helium balloons burst due to the decreasing pressure.

Even thought this expedition is mainly concerned with what happens below the waves, the atmosphere is still very important, as it controls many processes in the ocean. Surface ocean mixing, for example, is mainly driven by wind and fresh water influx (a fancy word for rain).

The balloons are normally launched twice a day and data is transmitted to the Weather Service via satellite. The gathered measurements not only inform about what happens in the atmosphere directly above our heads, but also contribute to weather forecasts, as well as long term climate trends.

For aspiring young ocean explorers:
Create your own Expedition Map, and mark the weather balloons release. See how

SST 27 March 2012

Sea surface temperature around FS METEOR. Satellite imagery (7 day average) courtesy of NEODAAS/PML/NERC

Chl a 27 March 2012

Is the ocean blooming? Chlorophyll a from satellite-borne sensors (7 day average). NEODAAS/PML/NERC

'Calcite Scene' satellite imagery, a proxy for Coccolithophorid phytoplankton blooms. NEODAAS/PML/NERC

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