Controlled meteorological (CMET) free balloon profiling of the Arctic atmospheric boundary layer around Spitsbergen compared to ERA-Interim and Arctic System Reanalyses
Abstract. Observations from CMET (Controlled Meteorological) balloons are analysed to provide insights into tropospheric meteorological conditions (temperature, humidity, wind) around Svalbard, European High Arctic. Five Controlled Meteorological (CMET) balloons were launched from Ny-Ålesund in Svalbard (Spitsbergen) over 5–12 May 2011 and measured vertical atmospheric profiles over coastal areas to both the east and west. One notable CMET flight achieved a suite of 18 continuous soundings that probed the Arctic marine boundary layer (ABL) over a period of more than 10 h. Profiles from two CMET flights are compared to model output from ECMWF Era-Interim reanalysis (ERA-I) and to a high-resolution (15 km) Arctic System Reanalysis (ASR) product. To the east of Svalbard over sea ice, the CMET observed a stable ABL profile with a temperature inversion that was reproduced by ASR but not captured by ERA-I. In a coastal ice-free region to the west of Svalbard, the CMET observed a stable ABL with strong wind shear. The CMET profiles document increases in ABL temperature and humidity that are broadly reproduced by both ASR and ERA-I. The ASR finds a more stably stratified ABL than observed but captured the wind shear in contrast to ERA-I. Detailed analysis of the coastal CMET-automated soundings identifies small-scale temperature and humidity variations with a low-level flow and provides an estimate of local wind fields. We demonstrate that CMET balloons are a valuable approach for profiling the free atmosphere and boundary layer in remote regions such as the Arctic, where few other in situ observations are available for model validation.