4 September 2013
The NWS is phasing in a new type of radiosonde that comes equipped with it’s own postage paid envelope to make returning it for reconditioning easy. Note the sticker that says HARMLESS WEATHER INSTRUMENT (Just wait until the chem-trail folks see that!). More from NWS Little Rock:
New radiosonde! Today, the first test flight of a new radiosonde (instrument that goes up beneath a weather balloon) occurred at the NWS office in North Little Rock. These instruments are being phased in at NWS offices, and should be in regular use in North Little Rock in late September.
The object sticking out toward the upper left is a temperature sensor. Sitcking out to the left (and looking like an upside-down measuring spoon) is a humidity sensor. Inside the instrument are a barometer, GPS device, and a battery. By tracking which way the radiosonde goes after it is released, wind direction and speed are determined.
If you look closely at the picture, the instrument says “Harmless Weather Instrument” on the side. The plastic strip just down and to the right of the hand is a folded-up mailing bag. If the radiosonde is found after use, the person who discovers it can put it in the bag (no postage required) and give it to his/her mail carrier. The instrument is then sent to a reconditioning center so it can be reconditioned and reused. (Only about 15-20% of the instruments are ever found nationwide. Most come down in sparsely-populated areas where no one finds them.).
These instruments are launched on balloons at Noon and Midnight GMT everyday. Forecasters like me have the data very quickly and without this data, forecasting would be nearly impossible. There are also instruments on aircraft that can measure the upper atmosphere and increasingly sensors on satellites are becoming indispensable, especially in areas over the oceans where there is little or no data.
The video below is mine (shot in Jan 2010) of the Rawinsode launch at station 89007- Amundsen Scott Station South Pole. The instrument launch there requires heating the balloon because of the intense cold! It was a pleasant 5 degrees above in the building and about -20F outside.