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BATAL – 2017 Mission Report

J.-P. Vernier, T.D. Fairlie, M. Venkat. Ratnam, H. Gadhavi, S. Kumar,
A.K. Pandit, A. Jayaraman, N. Rastogi, P.R. Sinha, A. Kesarkar, V. Singh,
J. Bhate, V. Ravikiran, M.D. Rao, S. Ravindrababu, A. Patel, H. Vernier and H. Liu.

The Asian Summer Monsoon (ASM) provides a transport pathway for polluted air in the boundary layer to reach the Upper Troposphere and Lower Stratosphere (UTLS). Enhanced levels of Carbon Monoxide have been observed in the UTLS for more than a decade during the ASM, encompassing a large region from the eastern Mediterranean Sea to Western China, including India. Recent observations from the Cloud Aerosol-Lidar and Infrared Pathfinder Satellite Observations (CALIPSO) space-borne lidar have revealed a maximum in aerosol concentration in the same region. The so-called Asian Tropopause Aerosol Layer (ATAL) refers to this enhancement of aerosol observed during the ASM between 13-18 km. Since 2014, researchers from NASA Langley and the National Atmospheric Research Laboratory (NARL) in Gadanki have worked together to obtain measurements of the optical, physical and chemical properties of the ATAL using balloon-borne scientific payloads.

This year, the Balloon measurement campaign of the Asian Tropopause Aerosol Layer (BATAL) took place between July, 31st and August, 30th at the National Atmospheric Research Laboratory in Gadanki and at the balloon facility of Tata Institute of Fundamental Research in Hyderabad. After the ratification of an agreement between NASA and ISRO, we are glad to announce that the BATAL campaign will continue each summer for the next 4 years.

The BATAL effort aims to i) characterize the optical, physical and chemical properties of the ATAL, ii) study the processes leading to ATAL’s formation and ii) assess the interactions between ozone, water vapor, cirrus clouds and the ATAL. To address these science objectives, we have selected specific balloon systems and scientific payloads.

More specifically, optical properties of aerosol populating the ATAL have been measured using light backscatter measurements from a small two-wavelength backscatter sonde, called COBALD. We had 15 balloon flights with the COBALD sonde this year. The size distribution of aerosol populating the ATAL has been inferred using an Optical Particle Counter (OPC), which was developed by NASA Langley and flown onboard 5 balloon flights this year. Enhanced particle concentrations of ~100 parts/l for particle sizes r > 0.15 micron were found near the tropopause (~17 km). Finally, the chemistry of the ATAL has been studied using an aerosol impactor system onboard medium-duration plastic balloon flights fabricated and launched at the balloon facility of Tata Institute of fundamental Research in Hyderabad. The aerosols collected onboard the zero-pressure flights were sent for Ion Chromatography analysis at the Physical Research Laboratory, in Ahmenabad.

The processes leading to ATAL’s formation are studied by compiling satellite observations of deep convection from INSAT 3 D and HIMAWARI-8 and running simulations of the GEOS-Chem chemistry transport and GEOS-5 climate models at Langley and the WRF model at NARL to be compared with balloon data. One balloon flight during BATAL 2017 on August, 2nd from Gadanki was launched at the periphery of a large Mesoscale Convective System. These unprecedented balloon measurements in convective storms will shed light on the dynamics of MCS systems and will be compared with vertical wind observations from the MST radar in Gadanki.

Finally, the relationship between the ATAL, ozone and water vapor is studied using in situ measurements from ozonesondes and Cryogenic Frost point Hygrometers flown onboard most balloon flights, and combined with aerosol measurements. NARL took care of the ozone measurements through the 2017 BATAL campaign to complement aerosol measurements from NASA Langley.

The 2017 BATAL campaign is a continuation of a successful collaboration between NASA Langley, NARL and TIFR. This year, colleagues from PRL joined and provided technical support to analyze aerosols collected on filters using Ion Chromatograph.

Launch preparation of a zero-pressure balloon flights from Hyderabad.

Launch preparation of a zero-pressure balloon flights from Hyderabad.

  • CAPABLE/CRAVE Full Site Photo from left to right site enclosures: 1196A NASA LaRC, MPLnet, Virginia DEQ
    CAPABLE/CRAVE Full Site Photo from left to right site enclosures: 1196A NASA LaRC, MPLnet, Virginia DEQ

  • NASA LaRC NAST-I and HU ASSIST side-by-side for intercomparison
    NASA LaRC NAST-I and HU ASSIST side-by-side for intercomparison

  • Virginia DEQ, NASA and Penn State-NATIVE Enclosures (from right to left)
    Virginia DEQ, NASA and Penn State-NATIVE Enclosures (from right to left)

  • Ozone-sonde away.
    Ozone-sonde away.
  • About to lift.
    About to lift.
PurpleAir PA-II-SD Air Quality Sensor
Laser Particle Counters
Type (2) PMS5003
Range of measurement 0.3, 0.5, 1.0, 2.5, 5.0, & 10 μm
Counting efficiency 50% at 0.3μm & 98% at ≥0.5μm
Effective range
(PM2.5 standard)*
0 to 500 μg/m³
Maximum range (PM2.5 standard)* ≥1000 μg/m³
Maximum consistency error (PM2.5 standard) ±10% at 100 to 500μg/m³ & ±10μg/m³ at 0 to 100μg/m³
Standard Volume 0.1 Litre
Single response time ≤1 second
Total response time ≤10 seconds
Pressure, Temperature, & Humidity Sensor
Type BME280
Temperature range -40°F to 185°F (-40°C to 85°C)
Pressure range 300 to 1100 hPa
Humidity Response time (τ63%): 1 s
Accuracy tolerance: ±3% RH
Hysteresis: ≤2% RH

Pandora capabilities










Total Column O3, NO2, HCHO, SO2, H2O, BrO

0.01 DU

0.1 DU



Virginia Department of Environment Quality in-situ instrumentation






Thermo Scientific 42C (Molybdenum converter)

60 s

NO and NOx

50 pptv


Teledyne API 200EU w/ photolytic converter
(EPA) PI-Szykman

20 s


50 pptv


Thermo Scientific 49C (VADEQ)

20 s


1 ppbv


Thermo Scientific 48i (VADEQ)

60 s


40 ppbv


Thermo Scientific 43i (VADEQ)

80 s


0.2 ppbv


Thermo Scientific 1400AB TEOM (VADEQ)

600 s

PM2.5 (continuous)


1 3%

Thermo Scientific Partisol Plus 2025 (VADEQ)

24 hr

PM2.5 (filter-based FRM)- 1/3 days



Large area view.
Latitude: 37.1038
Longitude: -76.3872
Elevation: 3 m Above sea level
Scenes: urban, marsh, bay, river and farm.


  • The inner red circle is a 20km CERES foot print centered on the BSRN-LRC site.
  • The pink circle represents a possible tangential 20km foot print.
  • The middle red circle represents the area in which a 20km foot print could fall and still see the site.
  • Yellow is a sample 40 deg off nadir foot print.
  • The outer red circle is the region which would be seen by a possible 40 deg off nadir foot print.
The BSRN-LRC sun tracker at the NASA Langley Research Center on a snowy day (02/20/2015) The BSRN-LRC sun tracker at the NASA Langley Research Center on a snowy day (02/20/2015)
CAPABLE-BSRN Google Site Location Image

Team Satellite Sensor G/L Dates Number of obs Phase angle range (°)
CMA FY-3C MERSI LEO 2013-2014 9 [43 57]
CMA FY-2D VISSR GEO 2007-2014
CMA FY-2E VISSR GEO 2010-2014
CMA FY-2F VISSR GEO 2012-2014
JMA MTSAT-2 IMAGER GEO 2010-2013 62 [-138,147]
JMA GMS5 VISSR GEO 1995-2003 50 [-94,96]
JMA Himawari-8 AHI GEO 2014- -
EUMETSAT MSG1 SEVIRI GEO 2003-2014 380/43 [-150,152]
EUMETSAT MSG2 SEVIRI GEO 2006-2014 312/54 [-147,150]
EUMETSAT MSG3 SEVIRI GEO 2013-2014 45/7 [-144,143]
EUMETSAT MET7 MVIRI GEO 1998-2014 128 [-147,144]
CNES Pleiades-1A PHR LEO 2012 10 [+/-40]
CNES Pleiades-1B PHR LEO 2013-2014 10 [+/-40]
NASA-MODIS Terra MODIS LEO 2000-2014 136 [54,56]
NASA-MODIS Aqua MODIS LEO 2002-2014 117 [-54,-56]
NASA-VIIRS NPP VIIRS LEO 2012-2014 20 [50,52]
NASA-OBPG SeaStar SeaWiFS LEO 1997-2010 204 (<10, [27-66])
NASA/USGS Landsat-8 OLI LEO 2013-2014 3 [-7]
NOAA-STAR NPP VIIRS LEO 2011-2014 19 [-52,-50]
NOAA GOES-10 IMAGER GEO 1998-2006 33 [-66, 81]
NOAA GOES-11 IMAGER GEO 2006-2007 10 [-62, 57]
NOAA GOES-12 IMAGER GEO 2003-2010 49 [-83, 66]
NOAA GOES-15 IMAGER GEO 2012-2013 28 [-52, 69]
VITO Proba-V VGT-P LEO 2013-2014 25 [-7]
KMA COMS MI GEO 2010-2014 60
AIST Terra ASTER LEO 1999-2014 1 -27.7
ISRO OceanSat2 OCM-2 LEO 2009-2014 2

The NASA Prediction Of Worldwide Energy Resources (POWER) Project improves the accessibility and usage NASA Earth Observations (EO) supporting community research in three focus areas: 1) renewable energy development, 2) building energy efficiency, and 3) agroclimatology applications. The latest POWER version enhances its distribution systems to provide the latest NASA EO source data, be more resilient, support users more effectively, and provide data more efficiently. The update will include hourly-based source Analysis Ready Data (ARD), in addition to enhanced daily, monthly, annual, and climatology ARD. The daily time-series now spans 40 years for meteorology available from 1981 and solar-based parameters start in 1984. The hourly source data are from Clouds and the Earth's Radiant Energy System (CERES) and Global Modeling and Assimilation Office (GMAO), spanning 20 years from 2001.

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