The MAGIC2019 campaign


The MAGIC2019 campaign takes place between 11-21 June 2019. It involves 7 laboratories (LMD, LSCE, GSMA, LOA, LERMA, LPC2E, OPGC), CNES and SAFIRE.

Tentative scenario for instrument deployment for MAGIC2019

The tentative flight plan and instrument deployment for the central day is depicted on the figure. SAFIRE Falcon20 will perform profiles at 4 locations: Aire-sur-l’Adour, Trainou, Puy-de-Dôme and over the Atlantic Ocean, in order to get vertical profiles of CO2, CH4 and CO, as well as temperature and humidity. Meteorological balloons equipped with AirCore air samplers are launched at the land stations. Additional balloons equipped with the Amulse laser-diode spectrometers are launched at Aire-sur-l’Adour. Finally, 5 portable Fourier Transform Spectrometers (EM27/sun and CHRIS) are deployed on the ground.

A specific objective for this campaign is the validation of 2 space-borne instruments: IASI launched in November 2018 onboard Metop-C and TROPOMI launched in October 2017 onboard Sentinel-5P.

This campaign is funded by CNES, CNRS as well as EUMETSAT (in the context on the cal/val activities of Metop-C) and ESA (in the context of the cal/val activities of Sentinel-5P).

MAGIC2019 logbook

Tuesday 11 June

Many clouds this week!

Weather maps for June 12nd put in place by AERIS for decision support: temperature and wind (left) and visible radiances of MSG (right). The 3 ground stations of the campaign are indicated: Aire-sur-l’Adour (purple), Trainou (green), CO-PDD (blue). Ground traces (nadir) of IASI / Metop-C (white) and TROPOMI / Sentinel5-P (gray) are also shown.

Teams at each location are preparing for better weather. The latest tests of SAFIRE’s Falcon20 instruments are being conducted. Everything is ready !

Wednesday 12 June

SAFIRE Falcon20, ready for adventures during MAGIC2019 © C. Crevoisier 2019
Instruments onboard SAFIRE Falcon20: Picarro analyzers and target gas cylinder, cloud / aerosol lidar, SPIRIT instrument © C. 2019 Crevoisier


Preparation of the 3 weather balloons carrying AirCore for simultaneous launches at Trainou © M. Ramonet 2019.

On the Trainou side, preparations for the launches of three of AirCore, atmospheric samplers under weather balloons, are made. No fewer than 5 European and one American teams are gathered to make comparisons between these instruments in the framework of the European project RINGO.

Thursday 13 June

Today is the first flight of SAFIRE Falcon20, the release of meteorological balloons at CNES balloon station at Aire-sur-l’Adour (ASA) and the measurements of several Fourier transform spectrometers: EM27 / SUN operated by CNES and CHRIS from LOA.

The day is devoted to intensive measurements around ASA: 3h30 flight in a radius of 15 knots around the station, with 4 ascents / descents of the Falcon20 between 0 and 11 km altitude. Objective: to measure the spatiotemporal variability of temperature, humidity, CO2, CH4 and CO profiles.

Left: SAFIRE Falcon20 trajectory from its base at Francazal to the CNES station at Aire-sur-l’Adour © C. Crevoisier 2019. Right: Illustration of the vertical profiles made by the Falcon20: Altitude as a function of latitude © SAFIRE 2019
View from the Falcon20 SAFIRE. Left: at highest point (10.5 km altitude) above ASA; Right: lowest point (30m) with a view of the building where balloons are prepared © C. Crevoisier 2019
Falcon20 during its low altitude fligh at ASA © D. Jouglet

The Falcon is equipped with 2 Picarro analyzers and the LPC2E SPIRIT instrument for measuring CO2, CH4, CO and NO2.  

SPIRIT instrument of the LPC2E during the flight of the Falcon20 of SAFIRE © C. Crevoisier 2019

A lidar cloud / aerosol completes the on-board instrumentation … and allows a rare view: the landscape going by under the plane through the ground porthole located at the front of the plane!  

View of the landscape under the Falcon20 of SAFIRE via the porthole under the clouds / aerosols lidar © C. Crevoisier 2019

Simultaneously, 3 LMD AirCores, 2 GSMA Amulses and 3 Radiosondes are released under meteoroligcal balloons by CNES teams at ASA. The hunt for the payloads by the integrated team CNES-GSMA-LMD is launched! The goal: to bring the AirCores back to ASA in less than 3 hours to quickly analyze the air captured by the instruments.  

Release of an Amulse under a meteorolical balloon at ASA in front of CNES EM27 / SUN © C. Bès 2019

Meanwhile, an Amulse makes his … hanging on top of a tree!  

An Amulse laser diode spectrometer … hanging in a tree © L. Joly 2019

In the end, a busy day but an extemely successful one, with 100% of the measurements performed, a perfect coordination between the teams and a lot of good mood!

Falcon20 team for the MAGIC2019 flight on June 13th © C. Crevoisier 2019

Friday 14 June

A detour on the side of Plaimpied-Givaudins near Bourges where a team from LMD operates one of the two EM27 / SUN of the LSCE since Wednesday. The team settles comfortably in the morning.

The LMD team in charge of operating LSCE EM27/SUN near Bourges © T. Delahaye 2019 / © A. Guedj 2019

The first cirrus of the day let glimpse a blue sky … but the sky is covered in the afternoon and the measures must be interrupted.  

The sky near Bourges © T. Delahaye 2019

This gives the opportunity to visit the evening Saint-Etienne Cathedral of Bourges built between the late twelfth and the end of the thirteenth century.

Cathedral of Bourges © A. Guedj 2019

Saturday 15 June

Definitely many clouds in this month of June, and too strong winds that carry the balloons too far or in unauthorized areas … The hour is at the assessment of these first days. The harvest of data is already excellent and the team keeps smiling!  

Morning Briefing at Aire-sur-l’Adour © C. Crevoisier, 2019

Sunday 16 June

Close-up today on measures at the CO-PDD, with the KIT EM27/SUN operated by the LERMA team from the roof of the OPGC in Aubière. A beautiful view of the Puy de Dome!  

EM27/SUN on the roof of the OPGC buildinng © P. Jeseck 2019

The EM27 / SUN is a portable Fourier transform spectrometer, equipped with a camera-controlled heliostat that will send solar radiation back into the spectrometer with constant direction. Its spectral resolution of 0.5 cm-1 makes it possible to resolve the lines of the minority compounds of the atmosphere and to deduce their average concentrations in the atmosphere.  

Spectrum recorded at noon by the EM27 / SUN installed at OPGC © Y. Té 2019.


Monday 17 June

Today sees the first simultaneous launches of meteorological balloons from our 3 launching sites: ASA (2 Amulse and 1 AirCore), TRN (6 AirCores, 3 at a time) and CO-PDD (1 AirCore).

It is also the first flight on the newly designed GSMA CH4/H2O Amulse that is launched together with the CO2/CH4 version of the instrument for validation. Welcome to the new member of the family!

Presentation of the 3 Amulse instruments, including the new CH4/H2O one before its very first launch from ASA © C. Bes 2019.

In the end a very bucolic day with the recovery of the payloads in forests, vineyeard, wheat and rape fields…

Recovery of an LMD AirCore payload in a field 30 km from Aire-sur-l’Adour on June 17th © A. Guedj, 2019

Tuesday 18 June

Today is ‘the’ MAGIC day with all sites connected by the ‘Tour de France’ flight of SAFIRE Falcon20. All teams are engaged in a tour de force: making coordinated measurements between Falcon20 profiling, balloon launches, column measurements from the ground and satellite overpasses!!

The first balloon launch is made at 7:30 at ASA: an AirCore scheduled to make its descend about 2 hours later when the Falcon20 arrives.

AirCore launch at Aire-sur-l’Adour on June 18th © A. Guedj, 2019.

Falcon20 take-off happens at 8:45 at Francazal towards ASA. A few clouds on the way that disperse progressively. And it is the first profiling of the day 4km-50m-11km! At 11km, 2 dropsondes are realeased from the Falcon20 to measure thermodynamic profiles below the aircraft.

Inside the Falcon20 cockpit. Ready to take off! © C. Crevoisier 2019
View from Falcon20 while arriving at Aire-sur-l’Adour © C. Crevoisier 2019

At 9:30, an Amulse is launched from ASA to make simultaneous measurements of CO2 concentration. Launches of 2 AirCores and 1 Amulse are then made at 11:15 and 14:00 to measure atmospheric profiles of CO2, CH4, temperature and humidity at the overpass time of Metop-C and Sentinel-5P.

During this time, the Falcon20 continues its course towards the ocean and leaves the land over Arcachon. A beautiful view of the Dune du Pilat… And here goes another spirale from 11 km down to 100m over the ocean! And 4 new dropsondes are realeased.

View of the Dune du Pilat from the lidar window of SAFIRE Falcon20 © C. Crevoisier 2019
Low point at 100m over the ocean © C. Crevoisier 2019
Falcon20 flight trajectory over the ocean point. Dropsondes release point are indicated with blue circles © C. Crevoisier 2019

It is time to head towards Trainou near Orléans. A 30′ flight that gives ample time to prepare the next release of dropsondes, by turning them on… and assuring that SAFIRE contact information is well written on the dropsondes in case someone finds them.

Preparation of dropsondes for future release from Falcon20 © C. Crevoisier 2019

Over Trainou, the clouds clear out again and allow us to make a new descending spirale over the military base of Bricy. A great thanks to them for allowing us to perform our scientific flight there.

View over Orléans from SAFIRE Falcon20© C. Crevoisier 2019

Next, is the stop at Chateauroux airport to refuel… both the aircraft and the crew!

Crew lunch during Falcon20 stopover at Chateauroux airport © C. Crevoisier 2019

During this stopover, 2 AirCores are launched at the station of CO-PDD in preparation for the arrival of Falcon20 2 hours laters.

At Chateauroux, after 1 hour and a half break, engines start again, and here we go for our second profiling spirale of the day over Bricy, before heading towards Clermont-Ferrand. The sky is unfortunately fully overcast, but a hole in the sky illuminates the view on the Puy-de-Dôme and the Chaîne des Puys. After the release of 4 dropsondes, the Falcon20 leaves the area, direction ASA to complete the Tour de France.

View of the Chaine des Puys after low point overpass of Falcon20 © C. Crevoisier 2019

And then, an unexpected event happens: we are ‘escorted’ by a Rafale. During a full 8 minutes, both aircrafts fly side-by-side with a lot of waving, taking pictures… and forgetting about the onboard instruments.

View from the cockpit of the Rafale ‘escorting’ SAFIRE Falcon20 © D. Duchanoy 2019
View from the back window of the Rafale ‘escorting’ SAFIRE Falcon20 © S. Chevrier 2019

After a final good-bye through a ‘wing-flapping’, the military aircraft leaves the Falcon which arrives 10 mn later at the ASA station, at the exact time the final balloon of the day is released.

Time for a final profiling spirale and the release of 4 last dropondes at the 4 compass points around the station, the Falcon20 goes home and lands at 16:45.

Meanwhile, the teams located at ASA, TRN and CO-PDD keep hunting the last AirCores and Amulses of the day.

Falcon20 trajectory on June 18th in the framework of the MAGIC2019 campaign © SAFIRE 2019

All in all, the day has been extremely successful with a full Tour de France, a perfect timing between aircraft, balloons and satellite measurements, 26 dropsondes released from the Falcon20, 14 meteorological balloons launched and more than one thousand spectra recorded by ground-based FTS!! A MAGICal day, indeed!!

Wednesday 19 June

The launches of AirCore and Amulse continue at the 3 sites.

Three LMD AirCore in the lab at Aire-sur-l’Adour before assembling the flight chain © A. Guedj, 2019.
Launch of an GSMA Amulse at Aire-sur-l’Adour on June 19th © C. Bès, 2019

Meanwhile, ground-based measurements continue. At ASA, both EM27/SUN from CNES and CHRIS form LOA are deployed.

The CNES and LOA teams in charge of the two portable FTS EM27/SUN (left) and CHRIS (right) at Aire-sur-l’Adour © C. Bès, 2019.

And near Bourges, a new LMD team arrives to take over the measurements during a sunny morning… that does not last in the afternoon.

LMD team operating LSCE EM27/SUN at Bourges on June 19th. © D. Edouart, 2019.

Thursday 20 June

Ballon launches continue at the three sites. In particular from the roof of OPGC near Clermont-Ferrand. The recovery is full of suprises… with a recovery in the middle of brambles!

LMD AirCore launch by a joint OPGC/Lamp/LMD team from the roof of OPGC © J.-L. Baray 2019.
AirCore ascending above OPGC near Clermont-Ferrand © J.-L. Baray, 2019
AirCore recovery 100km from the launching point at OPGC © J.-L. Baray 2019.

Friday 21 June

The last day is fully overcast and the MAGIC2019 campaign is thus over.

In total, 11 hours of flight with SAFIRE Falcon20 from which 26 dropsondes have been released; 53 launches of meteorological balloons carrying AirCore and Amulse; more than a thousand spectra measured by ground-based FTS; time-colocation with 4 satellites; more than 50 participants … The numbers speak for themselves.

This year was rather cloudy, even stormy, with last-minute surprises… It was also extremely bucolic (with recoveries of the balloons in the vineyards, the forests, the brambles, the fields of wheat or rapeseed); 100% of the measurements were made; and always one very good atmosphere and a remarkable friendliness that make these campaigns of moments of discovery and exciting exchanges.

Congratulations to all the teams involved in the campaign!

Part of the MAGIC2019 team located at OPGC © J.-L. Baray 2019
Part of the MAGIC2019 team located at Aire-sur-l’Adour ©  C. Bès 2019
Part of the MAGIC2019 team located at SAFIRE facilities ©  C. Crevoisier 2019