Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/gi-2021-26
https://doi.org/10.5194/gi-2021-26

  27 Sep 2021

27 Sep 2021

Review status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal GI.

Measuring electrical properties of the lower troposphere using enhanced meteorological radiosondes

R. Giles Harrison R. Giles Harrison
  • Department of Meteorology, University of Reading, Reading, RG6 6BB, UK

Abstract. In atmospheric science, measurements above the surface have long been obtained by carrying instrument packages, radiosondes, aloft using balloons. Whilst occasionally used for research, most radiosondes – around one thousand are released daily – only generate data for routine weather forecasting. If meteorological radiosondes are modified to carry additional sensors, of either mass-produced commercial heritage or designed for a specific scientific application, a wide range of new measurements becomes possible. Development of add-on devices for standard radiosondes, whilst retaining the core meteorological use, is described here. Combining diverse sensors on a single radiosonde helps interpretation of findings, and yields economy of equipment, consumables and effort. A self-configuring system has been developed to allow different sensors to be easily combined, enhancing existing weather balloons and providing an emergency monitoring capability for airborne hazards. This research programme was originally pursued to investigate electrical properties of extensive layer clouds, and has expanded to include a wide range of balloon-carried sensors for solar radiation, cloud, turbulence, volcanic ash, radioactivity and space weather. For the layer cloud charge application, multiple soundings in both hemispheres have established that charging of extensive layer clouds is widespread, and likely to be a global phenomenon. This paper summarises the Christiaan Huygens medal lecture given at the 2021 European Geoscience Union meeting.

R. Giles Harrison

Status: open (until 24 Nov 2021)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse

R. Giles Harrison

R. Giles Harrison

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Short summary
Weather balloons are released every day around the world, to obtain up to date atmospheric data for weather forecasting. Expanding the range of sensors they carry can make measurements of additional quantities available, such as for atmospheric turbulence, cloud electricity, energetic particles from space and, in emergency situations, volcanic ash or radioactivity. An adaptable system has been developed to provide these and other measurements, without interfering with the core weather data.