ARO and More

Max and I helped with another balloon launch a few weeks ago. We also went on a tour of ARO (Atmospheric Research Observatory) back in August. We have learned so much about the ozone depletion and climate change, but since science talk is not my forte, here is a link to the professionals. There is a “research” tab, which tells you a lot about why NOAA is here and what they are studying. ARO is located in “the clean air sector”. This map shows the different sectors. They all have different restrictions.

Image result for south pole sectors

Dark sector- where the telescopes are located. Of course it is not always dark, but in this area we are not allowed to make radio calls. The radio frequency interferes with the data being transmitted from the telescopes. We can receive radio calls, but we have to call people back from telephones when in that sector.

Clean air sector- The NOAA employees are constantly doing air samples and looking at CO2 levels in the air since this location has the cleanest air on Earth. So, they want it to be as clean as possible, which is why we are not allowed to drive any machinery in this area without permission. I had to use equipment once during the summer to deliver gas cylinders for the winter season. They do receive cargo that is delivered with machines, but we know to make as few trips as possible.

Quiet Sector- This sector goes out many miles from the station with a lot of equipment buried along the way. They have technology that can sense earthquakes and other large scale movements happening all over the world.

Down wind sector- Not actually a science sector, but where most of the exhaust ends up.

Our visit to ARO:

One of my best friends from college’s dad works at the NOAA office in Boulder. I was told he is responsible for the hard work and concepts put into these graphs. I give him a thumbs up! It shows the banned CFCs (chlorofluorocarbon used to make refrigerants that are VERY harmful to our atmosphere) and how the atmosphere is changing for the better because of the replacement compounds.


This machine takes in air from outside and measures the CO2 in the air compared to the tanks in order to get an accurate reading of CO2 in the air.

We also collected samples of the cleanest Air on Earth to remember the specific CO2 levels that day and for unique gifts. This is the first year ever that the CO2 levels have jumped from 3 to 4.The levels fluctuate, but they are consistently rising. Hard not to accept the science when we are seeing it first hand. It is no longer just a teacher lecturing with a text book. It is amazing to get to see the science and meet the scientists who can explain our impact that we are making and show the research that supports it.  


And then the balloon launch, which I have already made a blog post about, but here are more photos from a different launch:

Here is the whole set up full of sensors and other technology that is attached to the balloon. It tells many things including temperature, GPS on the way up, CO2, Ozone pressure, Altitude, and more.

Max getting ready to launch. I took a video of the launch, but I cannot post videos on the blog, so you will have to trust that it is very cool to watch it go up.

A stacked time lapse taken by Christian from the roof of the station. You can see Max very small standing next to the building on the left after he let go of the balloon.


Unrelated to this post: Our doctor, who is from New Zealand, recently had an interview on a very popular news channel to talk about his experience here. He also spent a lot of time this winter taking videos of the auroras. Take a Look!


  1. Time lapse, what a fantastic photo/photos together. The link, thanks so much, forwarded it to Grandson who is at Uni studying Antarctica this semester, And Dr Hamish Wright, great interview and photos on a Sunday night.Clean air, a bonus no matter where we live. Great photo of you inside, with lots of cold weather gear on!!!


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