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The Limitations of Wind Measurement Accuracy for Balloon Systems

James K. LuersUniversity of Dayton Research Institute, Dayton, Ohio 45469

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Charles D. MacArthurUniversity of Dayton Research Institute, Dayton, Ohio 45469

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Abstract

The error in horizontal wind field measurements as computed from the trajectory of balloons with linear and quadratic rise rates (as functions of altitude) has been derived. Balloon trajectories through light, moderate and severe wind fields have been considered. Figures are presented which show the wind error vs altitude for various rise rates in each wind field, assuming linear smoothing of the trajectory data. The rise rate profile of the Jimsphere is analyzed as a special case. The results and figures presented are useful in determining the ultimate capability of rising balloon systems in general and for the Jimsphere system in particular for measuring wind from the surface to 18 km. Using the figures presented, one can estimate the wind accuracy that can be achieved by any type of rising balloon by knowing only its rise rate behavior vs altitude. In addition, the results can be used in balloon design to determine what rise rate function is needed to achieve specified wind accuracies. A table is presented which shows the, balloon radius for smooth and roughened spheres needed to achieve 2–20 m sec−1 rise rates at 10 and 14 km altitudes. The wind-following capability for balloons of each radius is determined. Even balloons of very large diameter are shown to provide excellent response to fine-scale wind fluctuations.

Abstract

The error in horizontal wind field measurements as computed from the trajectory of balloons with linear and quadratic rise rates (as functions of altitude) has been derived. Balloon trajectories through light, moderate and severe wind fields have been considered. Figures are presented which show the wind error vs altitude for various rise rates in each wind field, assuming linear smoothing of the trajectory data. The rise rate profile of the Jimsphere is analyzed as a special case. The results and figures presented are useful in determining the ultimate capability of rising balloon systems in general and for the Jimsphere system in particular for measuring wind from the surface to 18 km. Using the figures presented, one can estimate the wind accuracy that can be achieved by any type of rising balloon by knowing only its rise rate behavior vs altitude. In addition, the results can be used in balloon design to determine what rise rate function is needed to achieve specified wind accuracies. A table is presented which shows the, balloon radius for smooth and roughened spheres needed to achieve 2–20 m sec−1 rise rates at 10 and 14 km altitudes. The wind-following capability for balloons of each radius is determined. Even balloons of very large diameter are shown to provide excellent response to fine-scale wind fluctuations.

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