Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home
  • Print publication year: 2003
  • Online publication date: July 2014

16 - The upper atmosphere

Summary

At the place where we slept water necessarily boiled, from the diminished pressure of the atmosphere, at a lower temperature than it does in a less lofty country … Hence the potatoes, after remaining for some hours in the boiling water, were nearly as hard as ever. The pot was left on the fire all night, and next morning it was boiled again, but yet the potatoes were not cooked.

Charles Darwin Voyage of the Beagle (high in the Andes).

The variables and their history

For use in numerical weather prediction models, for climate change and pollution studies, to predict radio propagation behaviour, for aviation and for the launch of space vehicles, it is necessary to know how conditions change with altitude, in particular temperature, humidity, pressure and wind.

Upper air measurements started around 1650 when Pascal and Perrier carried barometers up a mountain (see Chapter 6). But because of the lack of suitable platforms to carry instruments aloft, there was no further progress until about 1749 when Alexander Wilson made one of the first attempts using a kite, this being followed in 1784 by a balloon flight over Paris, giving the first observation of temperature lapse rate. Balloons and kites developed alongside into the nineteenth century when Gay-Lussac made a balloon ascent to 23 000 feet while in 1865 Glaisher flew to 11 km in a coal gas balloon, almost dying in the process.

Angevine, W. M. (1994) Improved radio acoustic sounding techniques. J. Atmos. Ocean. Technology., 11, No. 142–9.
Bradley, S. & Nerbein, S. von H. (2001) Multi-frequency acoustic sounding of the turbulent boundary-layer properties. Book of Abstracts. Royal Meteorological Society, 2nd National Conference, Manchester, September 2001. p. 111.
Brown, E. H. & Hall, F. F. (1978) Advances in atmospheric acoustics. Rev. Geophys. Space Phys., 16, 47–109.
Dommasch, D. O., Sherby, S. S. & Connolly, T. F. (1958) Aircraft Aerodynamics. Pitman, New York, pp. 560.
Fleming, R. J. & Hills, A. J. (1993) Humidity profiles via commercial aircraft. Proceedings of the Eighth Symposium on Meteorological Observations and Instrumentation. Anaheim, California, September 1993, J125–J129.
Foot, J. (2002) The history of Snoopy. Proceedings of the RMS Specialist Group Meeting, 13 March 2002, Science Museum, London.
Gaffard, C. (2000) Initial evaluation of signal power characteristics of a boundary layer profiler in the UK. Proceedings of the 9th International Workshop on Technical and Scientific Aspects of MST Radar (Combined with COST76 Final Profiler Workshop). Toulouse, March 2000, pp. 431–3.
Gaffard, C., Caddedu, M. & Nash, J. (2001) Development of operational multi sensor ground-based remote station within UK. Book of Abstracts. Royal Meteorological Society, 2nd National Conference, Manchester, September 2001. p. 111.
Gaynor, J. E. (1990) The International Sodar Intercomparison Experiment. Acoustic Remote Sensing. McGraw Hill, New York.
Gossard, E. E. & Strauch, R. G. (1983) Radar Observations of Clear Air and Clouds. Elsevier, Amsterdam.
Hall, M. P. M. (1984) A review of the application of multi-parameter radar measurements of precipitation. Radio Sci., 19, 37–43.
Hall, M. P. M., Cherry, S. M., Goddard, J. W. F. & Kennedy, G. R. (1980) Rain drop size and rainfall rate measured by dual-polarization radar. Nature, 285, 195–8.
Hinkley, E. D. (1976) Laser Monitoring of the Atmosphere. Topics in Applied Physics. Springer Verlag, New York.
Hogan, R. F. & Illingworth, A. J. (1999) Analysis of radar and lidar returns from clouds: implications for the proposed Earth Radiation Mission. CLARE'98 Final Report, ESTEC International Workshop Proceedings WPP-170, ESA/ESTEC. Noordwijk, The Netherlands, Sept. 1999 75–82
Hogg, D. C. (1983) An automatic profiler of temperature, wind and humidity in the troposphere. J. Climate Appl. Meteorol., 22, 807–31.
Holland, G. J., Mc Geer, T. & Youngren, H. (1992) The autonomous aerosonde for economical atmospheric soundings anywhere on the globe. Bull. Am. Met. Soc., 73, 1987–8.
Kaisti, K. (1995) New low cost GPS solution for upper air windfinding. Ninth AMS Symposium on Meteorological Observations and Instrumentation. Charlotte, N. Carolina, pp. 16–20.
Kilburn, C. D. D., Price, J. D., Hardaker, P. J. & Pilditch, A. (1999) Turbulent clear air boundary observations with Chilbolton radar and a tethered instrumented balloon. Proceedings of the 29th International Conference on Radar Meteorology. Montreal, Canada, pp. 476–9.
Kilburn, C. D. D., Chapman, D., Illingworth, A. J. & Hogan, R. J. (2000) Weather observations from the Chilbolton Advanced Meteorological Radar. Weather, 55, 352–6.
Lataitis, R. J. (1992) Signal power from radio acoustic sounding of temperature: the effects of horizontal winds, turbulence and vertical temperature gradients. Radio Sci., 27, 369–85.
Lataitis, R. J. (1993) Theory and application of a radio acoustic sounding system (RASS). NOAA Technical Memo ERL. WPL-230.
Lawson, R. P. & Cooper, W. A. (1990) Performance of some airborne thermometers in clouds. J. Atmos. Ocean Tech., 7, 480–94.
May, P. T. (1990) Temperature sounding by RASS with wind profiler radars: a preliminary study. IEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing, 28, 19–28.
Nash, J. (1994) Upper wind observing systems used for met. operations. Ann. Geophys., 12, 691–710.
Nash, J., Elms, J. B. & Oakley, T. J. (1995) Relative humidity sensor performance observed in recent international radiosonde comparisons. Ninth AMS Symposium on Meteorological Observations and Instrumentation. Charlotte, N. Carolina, pp. 43–8.
Oakley, T., Smout, R. & Nash, J. (2001) Automation of the upper-air observing network in the UK. Book of Abstracts. Royal Meteorological Society, 2nd National Conference, Manchester, September 2001, p. 108.
Painting, D. (2001) Accuracy of AMDAR measurements. Book of Abstracts. Royal Meteorological Society, 2nd National Conference, Manchester, September 2001, p. 111.
Pearson, G. N. & Collier, C. G. (1999) A compact pulsed coherent CO2 laser radar for boundary layer meteorology. Q. J. R. Meteorol. Soc., 125, 2703–21.
Pettifer, R. (2002) The history of radiosondes. Proceedings of the RMS Specialist Group Meeting, 13 March 2002. Science Museum, London.
Plaezek, F. & Teller, E. (1933) The rotational structure of the Raman bands of a polyatomic molecule [Translated by A. J. Gibson from Die Rotationstruktur der Ramanbanden mehratomiger molekule]. F. Phys., 81, 209–58.
Raman, C. V. & Krishnan, K. S. (1928) A new type of Secondary Radiation. Nature, 501, 121.
Sandiford, K. J. & Collier, C. G. (2001) A proposal for the measurement of boundary layer temperature gradients using Doppler lidar. Atmos. Sci. Lett., 1, 1–6.
Smyth, T. J., Blackman, T. M. & Illingworth, A. J. (1999) Observations of oblate hail using dual polarization radar and implications for hail-detection schemes. Q. J. R. Meteorol. Soc., 126 (N0 555, Part a), 993.
Thomas, L. (1991) Lidar probing of the atmosphere. Ind. J. Radio Space Phy., 20, 368–80.
Truscott, B. (2001) EUMETNET AMDAR – The European aircraft data project. Book of Abstracts. Royal Meteorological Society, 2nd National Conference, Manchester, September 2001. p. 111.
Vaughn, G. (2002) The UK MST radar. Weather, 57, 69–73.
Wade, C. G. (1995) Calibration and data reduction problems affecting National Weather Service radiosonde humidity measurements. Ninth AMS Symposium on Meteorological Observation and Instrumentation. Charlotte, N. Carolina, pp. 60–4.
Weber, B. L. & Wuertz, D. B. (1990) Comparison of rawinsonde and wind profiler radar measurements. J. Atmos. Ocean. Tech., 7, 157–74.
Westwater, E. R. (1990) Ground-based radiometric observations of atmospheric emission and attenuation at 20.6, 31.65 and 90.0 GHz: a comparison of measurements and theory. IEEE Transactions on Antennas and Propagation, 38, 1569–80.
WMO (1985) Meteorological observations using navaid methods [A. A. Lange]. Technical Note No. 185, WMO-No 641. Geneva.
WMO (1987) WMO International radiosonde comparison (UK 1984, USA 1985): final report [J. Nash & F. J. Schmidlin]. Instruments and Observing Methods Report No. 30, WMO/TD-No 195., Geneva.
WMO (1991) WMO International radiosonde comparison – Phase III – Dzhambul, USSR, 1989: Final report [A. Ivanov et al.]. Instruments and Observing Methods Report No 40, WMO/TD-No 451. Geneva.
WMO (1994) A new GPS rawinsonde system [D. B. Call]. Papers presented at the WMO Technical Conference on Instrumentation and Methods of Observation (TECO-94), 28 February–2 March 1994, Instruments and Observing Methods Report No. 57, WMO/TD 588. Geneva, pp. 159–63.
WMO (1996a) Guide to Meteorological Instrumentation and Methods of Observation, sixth edition. WMO No. 8.
WMO (1996b) WMO International radiosonde comparison – Phase IV – Tsukuba, Japan, 1993: Final report [S. Yagi, A. Mita and N. Inoue]. Instruments and Observing Methods Report No. 59, WMO/TD-No 742. Geneva.