92nd American Meteorological Society Annual Meeting (January 22-26, 2012)

Sunday, 22 January 2012
PIBAL: Still a Cost-Effective Research and Learning Tool
Hall E (New Orleans Convention Center )
Erik R. Nielsen, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX; and D. T. Conlee and M. T. Crawford

Texas A&M University's Student Operational ADRAD Project (SOAP), an undergraduate research and enrichment class, examined the modern viability and operational effectiveness of pilot balloons (pibals) for obtaining vertical wind profiles. The streamlining of the upper air observations network across the United States has led to a lack of upper air wind data over large areas, some of which are vulnerable to severe storms. The student group located and refurbished pibal equipment including optical theodolites and inflation weights. They then reviewed the relevant publications (some quite old) and learned the procedures and techniques for pibal observation. Comparisons were performed between winds obtained by A&M's rawindsonde system and those obtained by optical theodolite tracking. The results were very promising, and will be presented in the poster along with suggestions for usage of supplemental pibal observations in education, research and operational forecasting.

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