Written by Chris Webster Metservice Meteorologist
On Thursday 19 April 2012, New Zealand was completely surrounded by a very large High (or anticyclone). The air pressure at sea level was above 1030 hPa everywhere over New Zealand at midday on that day. Highest pressures were over inland Otago and Canterbury, peaking at 1039 hPa. Christchurch Airport was reporting 1038.2 hPa ... that's very high indeed.
Up, up and away in my beautiful, my beautiful balloon… So the song goes, but what’s it actually like way up high in the atmosphere? Could we humans live up there if we wanted to, or had to? I recall David Attenborough doing a great documentary in the series “The Living Planet” (“The Sky Above” episode, BBC) where he ascended beneath a very large hot-air balloon, complete with oxygen mask and equipment for sampling for life specimens. It was surprising to discover that small insects could be whisked up there and freeze, before descending again and reviving.