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  1. Abstract. A novel fiber-optic distributed temperature sensing instrument, the Fiber-optic Laser Operated Atmospheric Temperature Sensor (FLOATS), was developed for continuous in situ profiling of the atmosphere up to 2 km below constant-altitude scientific balloons. The temperature-sensingsystem uses a suspended fiber-optic cable and temperature-dependent scattering of pulsed laser light in the Raman regime to retrieve continuous3 m vertical-resolution profiles at a minimum sampling period of 20 s.FLOATS was designed for operation aboard drifting super-pressure balloons inthe tropical tropopause layer at altitudes around 18 km as part of theStratéole 2 campaign. A short test flight of the system was conductedfrom Laramie, Wyoming, in January 2021 to check the optical, electrical, andmechanical systems at altitude and to validate a four-reference temperaturecalibration procedure with a fiber-optic deployment length of 1170 m. During the 4 h flight aboard a vented balloon, FLOATS retrieved temperatureprofiles during ascent and while at a float altitude of about 19 km. TheFLOATS retrievals provided differences of less than 1.0 ∘Ccompared to a commercial radiosonde aboard the flight payload during ascent.At float altitude, a comparison of optical length and GPS position at thebottom of the fiber-optic revealed little to no curvature in the fiber-opticcable, suggesting that the position of any distributed temperaturemeasurement can be effectively modeled. Comparisons of the distributed temperature retrievals to the reference temperature sensors show strongagreement with root-mean-square-error values less than 0.4 ∘C. Theinstrument also demonstrated good agreement with nearby meteorologicalobservations and COSMIC-2 satellite profiles. Observations of temperatureand wind perturbations compared to the nearby radiosounding profiles provide evidence of inertial gravity wave activity during the test flight. Spectral analysis of the observed temperature perturbations shows that FLOATS is an effective and pioneering tool for the investigation of small-scale gravity waves in the upper troposphere and lower stratosphere. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available January 1, 2024
  2. Abstract. The tropical tropopause layer (TTL; 14–18.5 km) is the gateway formost air entering the stratosphere, and therefore processes within thislayer have an outsized influence in determining global stratospheric ozoneand water vapor concentrations. Despite the importance of this layer thereare few in situ measurements with the necessary detail to resolve the fine-scale processes within this region. Here, we introduce a novel platform forhigh-resolution in situ profiling that lowers and retracts a suspendedinstrument package beneath drifting long-duration balloons in the tropics.During a 100 d circumtropical flight, the instrument collected over a hundred 2 km profiles of temperature, water vapor, and aerosol at 1 m resolution, yielding unprecedented geographic sampling and verticalresolution. The instrument system integrates proven sensors for water vapor,temperature, pressure, and cloud and aerosol particles with an innovativemechanical reeling and control system. A technical evaluation of the systemperformance demonstrated the feasibility of this new measurement platformfor future missions with minor modifications. Six instruments planned fortwo upcoming field campaigns are expected to provide over 4000 profilesthrough the TTL, quadrupling the number of high-resolution aircraft andballoon profiles collected to date. These and future measurements willprovide the necessary resolution to diagnose the importance of competingmechanisms for the transport of water vapor across the TTL. 
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  3. Over the past 15 years, numerous studies have suggested that the sinking branches of Earth’s Hadley circulation and the associated subtropical dry zones have shifted poleward over the late 20 th century and early 21 st century. Early estimates of this tropical widening from satellite observations and reanalyses varied from 0.25° to 3° latitude per decade, while estimates from global climate models show widening at the lower end of the observed range. In 2016, two working groups, the US Climate Variability and Predictability (CLIVAR) working group on the Changing Width of the Tropical Belt and the International Space Science Institute (ISSI) Tropical Width Diagnostics Intercomparison Project, were formed to synthesize current understanding of the magnitude, causes, and impacts of the recent tropical widening evident in observations. These working groups concluded that the large rates of observed tropical widening noted by earlier studies resulted from their use of metrics that poorly capture changes in the Hadley circulation, or from the use of reanalyses that contained spurious trends. Accounting for these issues reduces the range of observed expansion rates to 0.25°–0.5° latitude decade -1 —within the range from model simulations. Models indicate that most of the recent Northern Hemisphere tropical widening is consistent with natural variability, whereas increasing greenhouse gases and decreasing stratospheric ozone likely played an important role in Southern Hemisphere widening. Whatever the cause or rate of expansion, understanding the regional impacts of tropical widening requires additional work, as different forcings can produce different regional patterns of widening. 
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  4. null (Ed.)
    Abstract Previous studies have documented a poleward shift in the subsiding branches of Earth’s Hadley circulation since 1979 but have disagreed on the causes of these observed changes and the ability of global climate models to capture them. This synthesis paper reexamines a number of contradictory claims in the past literature and finds that the tropical expansion indicated by modern reanalyses is within the bounds of models’ historical simulations for the period 1979–2005. Earlier conclusions that models were underestimating the observed trends relied on defining the Hadley circulation using the mass streamfunction from older reanalyses. The recent observed tropical expansion has similar magnitudes in the annual mean in the Northern Hemisphere (NH) and Southern Hemisphere (SH), but models suggest that the factors driving the expansion differ between the hemispheres. In the SH, increasing greenhouse gases (GHGs) and stratospheric ozone depletion contributed to tropical expansion over the late twentieth century, and if GHGs continue increasing, the SH tropical edge is projected to shift further poleward over the twenty-first century, even as stratospheric ozone concentrations recover. In the NH, the contribution of GHGs to tropical expansion is much smaller and will remain difficult to detect in a background of large natural variability, even by the end of the twenty-first century. To explain similar recent tropical expansion rates in the two hemispheres, natural variability must be taken into account. Recent coupled atmosphere–ocean variability, including the Pacific decadal oscillation, has contributed to tropical expansion. However, in models forced with observed sea surface temperatures, tropical expansion rates still vary widely because of internal atmospheric variability. 
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  5. null (Ed.)
  6. Dunn, Robert J. ; Stanitski, Diane M. ; Gobron, Nadine ; Willett, Kate M. (Ed.)