As part of the international Years of the Maritime Continent Experiment, I spent a month and a half (11 Nov. 2019 – 2 Jan. 2020) with Bureau of University colleagues aboard the RV Investigator research ship. Our voyage took us to the Top End of Australia to observe thunderstorms during the monsoon build-up between Darwin and Arafura radars. Using the ship's weather radar and meteorological balloon system, intensive observations were conducted to better understand the processes that support growth of tropical thunderstorms.
Furthermore, a transit voyage was conducted between Darwin and Perth. This voyage allowed for the investigation extreme atmospheric instability that weather models often predict offshore of the Kimberly and Pilbara regions. Observations verified these extremes (6000 - 8000 SBCAPE) and provided unique observations of destructive wind storms that develop in the region.
Weather radar imagery composite from Darwin and the RV Investigator showing storms inland of Darwin and over Tiwi
Preparing a radiosonde balloon
Working in the storm observation deck 'Thunder Box' on level 7 of the RVI
Weather balloon launch off the aft desk to monitor thunderstorm environments
The famous 'Hector' thunderstorm over the Tiwi Islands
RV Investigator off Stokes Wharf, Darwin