DISCUSSION: There is no doubt that weather forecasting has evolved quite a bit over the past 40 to 50 years (i.e., since the onset of the remote sensing era). Having said that, it is worth noting that there are still many fundamental things which have not changed all that much in the weather forecasting process and there are many profoundly valuable reasons for these long-term techniques testing the sands of time. One such tool which fits this criterion is the world-famous weather balloon.
The primary reason for why the use of weather balloons has remained to be such a key part of the regional, national, and global forecast process is the fact that weather balloons have the unique ability of measuring local and/or regional vertical profiles of temperature, moisture, wind speed, wind direction, and more pertinent details of the atmosphere. Upon measuring the vertical profiles of these meteorological parameters, they are nearly instantly transmitted back to recording devices back in National Weather Service offices and other locations across the country based on their individual launch locations. Thus, weather balloons allow atmospheric scientists to study the atmosphere to better understand and predict how the lower to middle levels of the atmosphere may influence localized and regional weather conditions over some period of time.
Also, the fundamental premise of a weather balloon is such a versatile and reliable form of atmospheric data because the primary weather balloon measuring device known as a radiosonde will always fall back down to the surface of Earth after every launch with the support of a parachute. Thus, allowing the primary atmospheric measuring device to be reused repeatedly on a routine basis. Moreover, it is one of the few forms of meteorological measurement which has not changed over many decades and will likely not change for quite some time to come. Furthermore, radiosondes (and their close twin known as a dropsonde which is dropped from hurricane reconnaissance aircraft during hurricane research missions) are often used even more often both prior to and during winter storm as well as tropical storm events in different parts of the world. Thus, weather balloons have been, are, and will continue to be a critical part of global forecast process.
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© 2018 Meteorologist Jordan Rabinowitz