End of last year I was living and employed in Juelich and now I sit in sunny South Africa with my German ex-colleagues. This seems strange to me as for the last 3 months I have been living and working in South Africa, yet I am again working with my old colleagues from Forschungszentrum Juelich.
In the final months of my PhD I heard my colleagues were looking at doing measurements in the Southern Hemisphere. I knew I was returning to my home country and told them I would be happy to host them and collaborate on another campaign. This quickly snowballed into planning a full-fledged test campaign in South Africa.
This is a balloon campaign where we attach two 4kg payloads to a balloon of +-2m in diameter. We send these instruments up to 33km where it takes insitu measurements and captures air samples on its way down. This provides ample work and entertainment as we need to hunt down the instruments soon after it lands! Today we spent 8hours in the blistering heat, hiking 4kms where no path exists and driving approximately 300kms to get our measurements. A hard day, but totally worth it!!
After a long day of ballooning, we sit here and laugh about old memories in Germany and the new ones in Africa. We have a fire going, drinks in hand and looking at a beautiful sunset. This combined with the fresh memory of searching for lions and seeing giraffes just yesterday… And you wonder, can the day be more perfect than this?
Thanks to the German team, the South African team and everyone who partook in making this campaign happen! It feels great to be able to still collaborate and partake in the science at Forschungszentrum Juelich even after I left! I leave you with some beautiful photos to tell the stories my words can’t…
Read more about the measurements in the upper atmosphere done by Jülich atmospheric researchers’ and colleagues from the South African weather service SAWS (in German): Jülicher Wetterballons über Südafrika