What are weather balloons?

A weather balloon with radiosonde attached.
A weather balloon with radiosonde attached. Contributed

IN AUSTRALIA there are weather stations that are playing with balloons. Not your party variety balloon but huge, 1.5m monsters.

It takes more then 8.5 cubic meters of helium gas to fill these balloons. Helium is a gas that is lighter than our atmosphere and allows the balloon to rise. Technical weather instruments, stored in a lightweight, cardboard box known as a radiosonde are attached to the bottom of the balloon and the balloon is released into the atmosphere.

It speeds away from the Earth, carrying the radiosonde, which is already hard at work sending information back to the weather station.

It takes almost an hour for the balloon to reach its goal height in the stratosphere at almost 30000m. The stratosphere is the second-to-last layer before reaching outer space.

If you were in a basket at the bottom of the balloon you would be witnessing an awesome sight. You would see the blackness of outer space above you and the green/blue sphere of the earth below but you wouldn't be there for long. While the balloon ascends it also expands.

The cause of this is atmospheric pressure. The higher the balloon goes the less pressure it encounters. Now, at about 29km above the ground the balloon reaches its maximum expansion, about the size of a large truck, and it is stretched to its limit.

The rubber splits and bursts sending the radiosonde plummeting back towards the ground. Within seconds, the wind catches a small, orange parachute and slows the device's descent until it reaches the ground, sometimes 100s of km from where it was released.

This process is repeated up to four times a day, and has done for the last 70 years since scientists first discovered the balloons and the advantages of atmospheric conditions in forecasting.

Topics:  radiosonde, weather, weather balloons, weather stations, westys weather



Local Real Estate

Featured Real Estate
D.I.Y. OR INSTALLED HOME... $9500.00 From
Mobile Home Fully self contained granny flat or mod homes.  D.I.Y $9.5k or $12.5K ...
Hale Haven Drive $420,000
House 3 2 4
Look- $175,000 in... $175,000
House 2 1 1

Featured Jobs

Warwick jobs listed daily

Featured Jobs
GIS ANALYST Ballina Full Time
ENVIRONMENT... $63900.00
 Position Number HR/0455 This position is based in Stanthorpe Stanthorpe and offers ...
OFFICE PERSON Warwick Full Time
Control and Instrument... Control and Instrument Technician 2 year fixed term | Mount Isa Qld ...


Local Partners

LATEST DEALS AND OFFERS

View today's ePaper!

Read the digital edition
Learn More

Cars For Sale

Find cars for sale online now.
Learn More

Subscription Sale

Subscribe now for $1 for 14 days.
Learn More

Local Profile

Stay Connected

Get the news as it happens, in your inbox

You can change the newsletters you are subscribed to when you edit your profile

Edit Profile


Special Offers

Latest deals and offers

Horoscopes

Cancer

Your partner may be feeling that your career directives have temporarily pulled you away from the relationship.  You may have limited time...

read more

Marketplace

Special Offers & Promotions

Compare & Save