GroundWinds New Hampshire (GWNH) is currently operational and taking data on a near-weekly basis. In addition to serving as an important scientific facility for the study of atmospheric aerosols, mountain flows, turbulence, and the general climatology of the region, it is also used as a test bed for BalloonWinds development. In December 2005, the GWNH instrument will be used to quantify and validate the BalloonWinds instrument performance through side-by-side measurements. These simultaneous, co-located measurements will also provide important information on the frequency dependence of optical properties of the atmosphere.
As of the winter of 2004-2005, GroundWinds Hawaii (GWHI) is undergoing repairs but will soon be operated again on a daily basis (weather permitting) by the University of Hawaii. The wind measurements made are incorporated into the local weather models to produce improved forecasts for the world-class observatories on Mauna Kea. The potential of GroundWinds air turbulence measurements to contribute to the evaluation of “seeing” for the Mauna Kea observatories is also being determined. Additionally, the GroundWinds Hawaii measurements are being used to quantify the differences between observations at a 355-nm wavelength in clean, aerosol-free atmosphere and observations at 532 nm in the aerosol rich atmosphere typical of GWNH. A validation campaign for the GWHI instrument will take place this year.
The BalloonWinds instrument is currently in the building phase. A validation campaign is scheduled to begin December 2005. Once validated, the BalloonWinds instrument will be launched three times to collect down-looking measurements. The first flight will be the nighttime “concept demonstration”, which will be focused on measurements of cloudless conditions. The second flight will be the daytime concept demonstration, which will consist of daytime measurements with partly cloudy skies. The third and final system demonstration will incorporate nighttime and daytime measurements with some clouds. The first two flights are scheduled for May 2006, while the final flight is set for November 2006.