Weather forecasts these days are hi-tech: satellites orbiting the Earth continually watch the current weather and feed this information into some of the largest supercomputers in the world. But satellites can’t give us a complete picture of the current weather and, to fill in the gaps, we use a seemingly low-tech solution: helium balloons. Thousands of them are launched from weather stations around the world every day.
Except that these balloons are anything but low-tech because dangling beneath each is a box crammed with miniaturised electronics that measures the atmosphere from the ground to 20 km or more above.
Earlier this summer the YouTuber and atmospheric scientist Simon Clark visited the atmospheric observatory here at the University of Reading to film Dr Graeme Marlton launch a weather balloon and follow its journey up through the atmosphere. Simon has since uploaded the first of three videos that he filmed at the department.
More of his videos on Simon Clark’s YouTube channel.