tbs: Tethered Balloon System

The tethered balloon system (TBS) is composed of a variety of winches, balloons, and instrumentation. The TBS operates up to 7,000’ above ground level (AGL) within ARM’s Restricted Airspace R-2204 at AMF3, sited at Oliktok Point, North Slope of Alaska. The typical balloons used are Skydoc Model #28 aerostats and 35 m3 Allsops helikites. The TBS is operated intermittently between April and November and the instrumentation deployed varies with conditions. ARM began TBS activities at the Southern Great Plains site in 2019.

The TBS operates within clouds at AMF3 and collects in situ data related to horizontal wind, ice microphysics, turbulence, thermodynamic state, aerosols, and the cloud top environment. Typical sensors deployed on the TBS are tethersondes that provide thermodynamic and wind-speed measurements, wetness sensors that indicate the presence of water and its state, supercooled liquid water content sensors, and radiosondes and a fiber-optic-based, distributed temperature-sensing system that provide thermodynamic measurements. The TBS also includes a continuously operated ground station that measures surface pressure, temperature, relative humidity, and 1-minute average and gust wind speeds.


Active Instrument Locations

Facility Name Instrument Start Date
Oliktok Point, Alaska; AMF3 2016-04-18
Marshall, OK (Extended) 2018-09-30
Central Facility, Lamont, OK 2018-09-30
Ashton, KS (Extended) 2018-09-30
Oliktok Point, Alaska; Supplemental Site 2016-06-11


Mather J, S Burrows, D Chand, N Hess, A Laskin, A McComiskey, N Sharma, and J Shilling. 2020. "An Atmospheric Aerosol Short Course for Early Career Scientists." Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, preprint(2020), 10.1175/BAMS-D-19-0326.1. ONLINE.

Kuang C. 2020. Vertically Resolved New Particle Formation Study – Southern Great Plains Field Campaign Report. Ed. by Robert Stafford, ARM user facility. DOE/SC-ARM-20-009.

Goss HB, KS Dorsey, CB Ireland, MR Wasem, RA Stafford, and R Jundt. 2020. 2019 Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) Annual Report. Ed. by Kathryn Dorsey, ARM user facility. DOE/SC-ARM-19-032.


Dexheimer D, M Airey, E Roesler, C Longbottom, K Nicoll, S Kneifel, F Mei, R Harrison, G Marlton, and P Williams. 2019. "Evaluation of ARM tethered-balloon system instrumentation for supercooled liquid water and distributed temperature sensing in mixed-phase Arctic clouds." Atmospheric Measurement Techniques, 12(12), 10.5194/amt-12-6845-2019.

Bendure AO, G Fadel, J Ray, and PJ Washburn. 2019. ARM-Related Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) and Tethered Balloon System (TBS) Operational Requirements and Approval. Ed. by Robert Stafford, ARM user facility. DOE/SC-ARM-19-022.

de Boer G, D Dexheimer, F Mei, J Hubbe, C Longbottom, P Carroll, M Apple, L Goldberger, D Oaks, J Lapierre, M Crume, N Bernard, M Shupe, A Solomon, J Intrieri, D Lawrence, A Doddi, D Holdridge, M Hubbell, M Ivey, and B Schmid. 2019. "Atmospheric observations made at Oliktok Point, Alaska, as part of the Profiling at Oliktok Point to Enhance YOPP Experiments (POPEYE) campaign." Earth System Science Data, 11(3), 10.5194/essd-11-1349-2019.
Research Highlight

de Boer G, M Shupe, A Solomon, and J Intrieri. 2019. Profiling at Oliktok Point to Enhance Year of Polar Prediction (YOPP) Experiments (POPEYE) Field Campaign Report. Ed. by Robert Stafford, ARM user facility. DOE/SC-ARM-19-010.


Creamean J, D Dexheimer, and F Mei. 2018. Aerosol Vertical Profiling at Oliktok Point (AVPOP) Field Campaign Report. Ed. by Robert Stafford, ARM user facility. DOE/SC-ARM-18-032.

Roesler EL, D Dexheimer, C Longbottom, F Helsel, M Apple, B Hillman, J Hardesty, and M Ivey. 2018. Aerial Assessment of Liquid in Clouds at Oliktok Field Campaign Report. Ed. by Robert Stafford, Atmospheric Radiation Measurement user facility. DOE/SC-ARM-18-024.

de Boer G, M Ivey, B Schmid, D Lawrence, D Dexheimer, F Mei, J Hubbe, A Bendure, J Hardesty, M Shupe, A McComiskey, H Telg, C Schmitt, S Matrosov, I Brooks, J Creamean, A Solomon, D Turner, C Williams, M Maahn, B Argrow, S Palo, C Long, R Gao, and J Mather. 2018. "A Bird’s Eye View: Development of an Operational ARM Unmanned Aerial Capability for Atmospheric Research in Arctic Alaska." Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, 99(6), 10.1175/BAMS-D-17-0156.1.

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