March 22, 2010

2010 Concordiasi campaign in Mac Murdo: the Antartic under observation

The objective of the Concordiasi mission is to understand better the enlargement of the hole in the Antarctica's ozone layer during each austral spring and to increase our knowledge on climate in those regions. To study the Earth's climate, the atmosphere has to be studied as a whole. Studying the poles is particularly important because of their specific sensitivity to climate changes and the poor frequency of the observations performed by the standard meteorological systems.

Update: 11/09/2010

Campagne Concordiasi
A balloon launch - credit: Philippe Cocquerez

From September 2nd to October 25th, 2010, nineteen 12 m stratospheric balloons were launched from the Mac Murdo American Station to fly by the Antarctic at 17 km over the ground during several months.

The first six balloons studied the atmosphere's chemistry. The objective: in situ measuring the ozone and aerosols concentrations in the lower stratosphere. Those measurements were achieved during a recurring period of destruction of the ozone layer at winter's end and austral spring's beginning. The balloons' gondolas were able to carry up to 50kg of instruments and had been significantly technologically developed during several years in the information acquisition and transmission field as well as concerning the on board electrical energy management. Using those types of renewable energies should make the information gathering possible for a few months (beyond February 2011).

Each balloon of the thirteen others carried more than 50 sensors (dropsondes) specially developed and dedicated to the climate observation. They continuously analysed the polar stratospheric cloud's formation process. In order to gather information in all the atmospheric columns between the ground and the balloon, the dropsondes, equipped with parachutes, were launched one by one on demand of the Météo-France investigators who were following the balloons' flights in real-time from Toulouse. The dropsondes measured the air temperature, pressure and relative humidity.

The scientific data gathered by the range of instruments (balloons, dropsondes) were compared to those obtained from the ground (radio sounding, land-based measurements) and with an IR spectrometer (IASI) of CNES aboard the European satellite Metop-A (Meteorological Operational Polar satellite). The results, gathered every 30 seconds aboard the balloons were sent to the different services of meteorological analysis around the world.

Those comparisons, which were crucial to precise the way the Antarctic ice sheet affects the current climate of our planet, and its evolution will enhance the way we exploit the observations performed by the space instruments over the polar regions to refine the climate patterns.


Didier Renaut
Didier Renaut

The Concordiasi campaign in short

Didier Renaut, former meteorological atmosphere program scientist explains the Concordiasi mission on video (in french)

Image d'une inondation
Image d'une inondation

The Iasi mission

The optical instrument of IASI was designed to enhance the quality of the meteorological forecasts thanks to a better knowledge of the atmosphere's temperature and humidity patterns (in french)

La Base Dumont d'Urville - crédit photo : Institut Polaire Français Paul Emile Victor
Dumont d'Urville base - credit: Institut Polaire Français Paul Emile Victor

The partner ship on CONCORDIASI

The flights piloting and monitoring of the scientific tools were taken care of in various centers:

  • The Space Center of Toulouse, France, for the flights monitoring and the data reception
  • Météo France in Toulouse, France, for the measurements by dropsondes
  • The National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder, Colorado, United States, for the dropsondes' data monitoring and reception.

The land-based measurements campaigns were performed by the Laboratory of Glaciology and Geophysical Evironment (LGGE - Laboratoire de glaciologie et de géophysique de l'environnement), in particular from the Franco-Italian base of Dumon d'Urville, logistically and technically supported by the French Polar Institute (IPEV - Institut Polaire) and the Italian Antarctic Research Program (PNRA - Programma Nazionale di Ricerche in Antartide).

Mainly financed by CNES and the National Science Foundation (NSE), and supported by the IPEV, this program was led by Météo France, the CNRS, CNES and the NCAR, with the participation of several American, European and Australian Research Institutes. The Concordiasi mission consisted in a new use of the Stratéole-Vorcore (Antarctica, 2005) and Amma-Driftsondes (Africa and Atlantic Ocean, 2006) campaigns' systems.

How did the ozone evolve in 30 years?

The chlorofluorocarbons' lifetime in the atmosphere can exceed 100 years. They triggered the destruction of the stratospheric ozone. But how did the phenomenon evolve in 30 years? The response was given by Carole Deniel, CNES's program manager in atmosphere's chemistry.


  • Atmospheric chemistry program scientist: Carole Deniel
  • Atmospheric meteorology program scientist: Philippe Veyre

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