A New Upper Air Data System—The Transosonde

Albert D. Anderson U. S. Naval Research Laboratory

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Henry J. Mastenbrook U. S. Naval Research Laboratory

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A new concept of upper-air data collection utilizes instrumented balloons controlled to float along given constant-pressure surfaces in the atmosphere. A system of instrumentation, named the transosonde (trans-oceanic-sonde) has been developed for implementing this concept. Field tests have established the technical and meteorological feasibility of the system. In the course of the tests, transosonde balloons were tracked over distances of thousands of miles using a network of shore-based high-frequency radio-direction-finder stations. Emphasis has been placed upon the trajectory of the balloon as the primary source of meteorological data. Wind velocities and accelerations can be derived directly from constant-pressure surface trajectories, providing valuable synoptic and research data. Balloon trajectories in passing through major troughs and ridges define these features, giving information of importance for synoptic analysis and long-range forecasting. In addition, a sequence of trajectories provides a measure of the acceleration and deceleration of these entities. The transosonde system has additional data-gathering potentials for temperature, lapse rate, wind shear and other parameters. It is concluded that the system can be employed over those regions of the globe where upper-air data are lacking at a cost competitive with present-day systems.

1 Present Address: U. S. Naval Radiological Defense Laboratory, San Francisco, California.

2 This report was prepared in connection with work performed under U. S. Navy Bureau of Aeronautics Project Number TED-NRL-MA-505.

A new concept of upper-air data collection utilizes instrumented balloons controlled to float along given constant-pressure surfaces in the atmosphere. A system of instrumentation, named the transosonde (trans-oceanic-sonde) has been developed for implementing this concept. Field tests have established the technical and meteorological feasibility of the system. In the course of the tests, transosonde balloons were tracked over distances of thousands of miles using a network of shore-based high-frequency radio-direction-finder stations. Emphasis has been placed upon the trajectory of the balloon as the primary source of meteorological data. Wind velocities and accelerations can be derived directly from constant-pressure surface trajectories, providing valuable synoptic and research data. Balloon trajectories in passing through major troughs and ridges define these features, giving information of importance for synoptic analysis and long-range forecasting. In addition, a sequence of trajectories provides a measure of the acceleration and deceleration of these entities. The transosonde system has additional data-gathering potentials for temperature, lapse rate, wind shear and other parameters. It is concluded that the system can be employed over those regions of the globe where upper-air data are lacking at a cost competitive with present-day systems.

1 Present Address: U. S. Naval Radiological Defense Laboratory, San Francisco, California.

2 This report was prepared in connection with work performed under U. S. Navy Bureau of Aeronautics Project Number TED-NRL-MA-505.

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