tbs: Tethered Balloon System

The tethered balloon system (TBS) is composed of a variety of winches, balloons, and instrumentation. The TBS operates up to 6,000’ above ground level (AGL) within ARM’s Restricted Airspace R-2204 at AMF3. 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.

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.



  • Fixed
  • AMF1
  • AMF2
  • AMF3

Related Publications


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.

Dexheimer D, M Apple, A Bendure, D Callow, C Longbottom, D Novick, and C Wilson. 2018. Joint UAS-Balloon Activities (JUBA) Field Campaign Report. Ed. by Robert Stafford, ARM Climate Research Facility. DOE/SC-ARM-18-006.

Dexheimer D. 2018. Tethered Balloon System (TBS) Instrument Handbook. Ed. by Robert Stafford, ARM Climate Research Facility. DOE/SC-ARM-TR-206.


Matrosov S, C Schmitt, M Maahn, and G de Boer. 2017. "Atmospheric Ice Particle Shape Estimates from Polarimetric Radar Measurements and In Situ Observations." Journal of Atmospheric and Oceanic Technology, 34(12), 10.1175/JTECH-D-17-0111.1.
Research Highlight


Fuentes J, M Chamecki, R Nascimento dos Santos, C Von Randow, P Stoy, G Katul, D Fitzjarrald, A Manzi, T Gerken, A Trowbridge, L Souza Freire, J Ruiz-Plancarte, J Furtunato Maia, J Tóta, N Dias, G Fisch, C Schumacher, O Acevedo, J Rezende Mercer, and A Yañez-Serrano. 2016. "Linking meteorology, turbulence, and air chemistry in the Amazon rain forest." Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, 97(12), 10.1175/BAMS-D-15-00152.1.


Goss H. 2015. Next Generation ARM to Improve Climate Modeling and Science Fact Sheet. ARM user facility. DOE/SC-ARM-15-090.


Banta RM, LS Darby, JD Fast, JO Pinto, CD Whiteman, WJ Shaw, and BW Orr. 2004. "Nocturnal Low-Level Jet in a Mountain Basin Complex. Part I: Evolution and Effects on Local Flows." Journal of Applied Meteorology, 43(10), 10.1175/jam2142.1.


Coulter RL, MS Pekour, and TJ Martin. 2003. "Elevated stratified layers observed with sodar during VTMX." Meteorology and Atmospheric Physics, 85(1-3), 10.1007/s00703-003-0039-6.

Fast JD. 2003. "Forecasts of Valley Circulations Using the Terrain-Following and Step-Mountain Vertical Coordinates in the Meso-Eta Model." Weather and Forecasting, 18(6), 10.1175/1520-0434(2003)018<1192:fovcut>2.0.co;2.

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