Articles | Volume 4, issue 1
Research article
20 Jan 2011
Research article |  | 20 Jan 2011

LITOS – a new balloon-borne instrument for fine-scale turbulence soundings in the stratosphere

A. Theuerkauf, M. Gerding, and F.-J. Lübken

Abstract. We have developed a new compact balloon payload called LITOS (Leibniz-Institute Turbulence Observations in the Stratosphere) for high resolution wind turbulence soundings in the stratosphere up to 35 km altitude. The wind measurements are performed using a constant temperature anemometer (CTA) with a vertical resolution of ~2.5 mm, i.e. 2 kHz sampling rate at 5 m/s ascent speed. Thereby, for the first time, it is possible to study the entire turbulence spectrum down to the viscous subrange in the stratosphere. Including telemetry, housekeeping, batteries and recovery unit, the payload weighs less than 5 kg and can be launched from any radiosonde station. Since autumn 2007, LITOS has been successfully launched several times from the Leibniz-Institute of Atmospheric Physics (IAP) in Kühlungsborn, Germany (54° N, 12° E). Two additional soundings were carried out in 2008 and 2009 in Kiruna, Sweden (67° N, 21° E) as part of the BEXUS program (Balloon-borne EXperiments for University Students). We describe here the basic principle of CTA measurements and prove the validity of this method in the stratosphere. A first case study allows a clear distinction between non-turbulent regions and a turbulent layer with a thickness of some tens of meters. Since our measurements cover the transition between the inertial and viscous subrange, energy dissipation rates can be calculated with high reliability.