The science behind weather balloons – 3 News

3 News weather presenter Kanoa Lloyd asks Maurice Hodgson how he helps meteorologists measure weather conditions using hydrogen-filled balloons.

An excerpt (read in full and watch the video here):

Source: 3 News
Source: 3 News

Weather balloons are one of the most important tools used in forecasting. Every day, hundreds of them are released, simultaneously around the world.

But behind many of the balloons are the people who ensure they take flight.

At the same time each morning you’re likely to find Maurice Hodgson at the Whenuapai air base. For around 70 years, the MetService has been sending up balloons from stations throughout the country to help predict the weather.

For a few of those years, Mr Hodgson has been the one releasing them. He’s lost count of how many exactly, but colleagues say it’s probably more than 8000.

For each flight, he attaches a small radio transmitting device called a radiosonde to the bottom of a latex balloon. He then fills it with hydrogen and sends it thousands of metres into the atmosphere.

It’s fiddly and repetitive work, and while he makes it look easy, there’s risk involved.

Keep reading…