The existence of enhanced aviation-based datasets in the stratosphere will be of use in the advancement of scientific understanding of several phenomena that have an impact on aircraft performance and safety when they fly between ~15 and 30 km MSL. The experimental carbon fiber partially pressurized Perlan glider will fly at the altitudes during the Perlan II Mission Flights. These elevations are above typical operational radiosonde datasets and often have little experimental data as well. Three groups of phenomena have been simulated with numerical models in this part of the mid-latitude atmosphere, however rarely has there been experimental data to validate these simulations. The Perlan Project represents a balanced effort among model – observation – theory.
Mountain Wave Breaking
Research will focus data acquisition over two complex terrain barriers, one important problem involves the structure and intensity of vertically propagating mountain/gravity waves and their amplification/breaking characteristics. While the mountains undoubtedly typically clearly “launch” these waves, a viable question remains concerning how the larger scale jet/front systems are perturbed by the terrain and subsequently create a favorable environment for wave breaking far above the complex terrain.
Impact on Avionic Systems
One of the aims of the Perlan Project is to attain an understanding of the interaction between stratospheric mountain waves and the polar vortex and their effects on the energy balance of the atmosphere. While the mountains undoubtedly typically clearly “launch” these waves, a viable question remains concerning how the larger scale jet/front systems are perturbed by the terrain and subsequently create a favorable environment for wave breaking far above the complex terrain.
Subtropical Tropopause /Jet / Frontal Structure
Research will also enable us to better understand the fundamental structure of the subtropical tropopause as well as the folding and mass transport across it. The transport of ozone and other constituents/aerosols in the stratosphere is important for aviation when the constituents may damage or adversely affect engine performance.
Impact on Cloud Formation Processes
Research will also aid in determining how and under what circulation environments very high level aerosol- nucleated ice clouds form and thrive in the upper elevations of the stratosphere. What are the vertical frontal features that can create cold/moist layers for unique microphysical processes at these levels? This will involve learning more about the dynamical and microphysical processes at work in the upper stratosphere.