Last night we sent up our first radiosonde balloon, starting our twice daily radiosonde program. We send these up for a few reasons. First, we need to have information on the thermodynamic structure of the atmosphere to complement many of our other measurements in order to derive certain cloud and atmospheric properties. Second, thermodynamic profiles over Summit Station help to place the observations that we make here in the context of the broader meteorology, helping us to better understand the synoptic, or larger-scale, influences on the local conditions. Lastly, these radiosonde profiles will be made available to the general public, and hopefully ingested into operational models to assist them in forecasting the weather.
The radiosondes are the most costly component of our project at Summit, primarily because they require a large supply of helium bottles to be transported to the station. Transport happens via aircraft, which are expensive to operate. We feel that the scientific benefits to our project and the broader scientific community are well worth the high cost.