The recent availability of low-cost radiosonde systems and their implications for adaptive sounding arrays

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Wednesday, 20 January 2010: 11:30 AM
B302 (GWCC)
Michael W. Douglas, NOAA/NSSL, Norman, OK; and J. F. Mejia

The problem of establishing denser radiosonde networks for weather forecasting in many parts of the world has been associated with both the high cost of the ground stations (e.g. the electronic signal processing unit, associated software and support structures (e.g. balloon inflation shelters) and the cost of the radiosondes themselves. However, the recent development and marketing of low-cost radiosonde ground stations by several manufacturers may make it feasible to expand radiosonde networks if certain conditions can be met. If the initial cost of the network can be reduced by the purchase of inexpensive sounding units, then the feasibility of operating such a network then becomes one of reducing annual operating costs. For many regions, the need for additional soundings may be restricted to certain parts of the year, or to identifiable meteorological conditions. One clear example would be the Caribbean Sea and surrounding regions during hurricane season. Additional observations would likely improve numerical prediction efforts when storms are approaching the region; observations might only be needed during a small part of the year. Such an adaptively-operated network's operational costs are proportional to the number of observations required per year.

There are a number of issues related to labor costs, reliability, communications, and most importantly, the process of deciding when and where to make observations from an adaptive sounding array. Some of these will be discussed.