Dropsondes carry instruments that measure temperature, humidity, air pressure, and wind speed. They are dropped on small parachutes from aircraft.
Image courtesy of UCAR.
Instruments in the VOCALS Field Campaign
Scientists use a broad array of instruments during the VOCALS field campaign to measure various aspects of the atmosphere and the oceans. These sensors are carried on aircraft and ships, orbit overhead aboard satellites, and are stationed on buoys in the ocean.
Radar is used to determine wind speed, to detect rainfall, and to determine the sizes of water droplets in clouds and drizzle. LIDAR, which is similar to radar but uses laser light instead of radio waves, detects and measures aerosol particles and the boundaries of clouds.
Radiosondes and dropsondes are instrument packages carried aloft on balloons or dropped on parachutes from aircraft. They include instruments for measuring pressure, altitude, temperature, humidity, and wind speed and direction.
Various cameras and imaging systems on aircraft and satellites take "pictures" in visible and infrared wavelengths, of clouds and the sea surface. Radiometers measure the amount of sunlight reflected from cloud tops, infrared radiation emitted at various levels in clouds and the atmosphere, and the degree to which clouds are transparent or opaque. Spectrometers detect various chemicals in the atmosphere and in aerosols, including particles that serve as cloud condensation nuclei.
A ship-towed sensor platform carries various instruments that measure temperature, salinity, pressure, dissolved oxygen, and chlorophyll content in the ocean. A special kind of sonar collects data on the velocity and direction of ocean currents.
Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!
Our online store
includes issues of NESTA's quarterly journal, The Earth Scientist
, full of classroom activities on different topics in Earth and space science, as well as books
on science education!
You might also be interested in:
What if you wanted to learn more about the climate system of a very large area such as the Southeast Pacific Ocean? What would be involved in studying how the oceans, land, and atmosphere interact? You...more
Many types of data from satellites are used throughout the VOCALS field campaign. Satellite observations complement data gathered from airplanes and ships to provide a more detailed overall picture of...more
Rain is precipitation that falls to the Earth in drops of 5mm or greater in diameter according to the US National Weather Service. Virga is rain that evaporates before reaching the ground. Raindrops form...more
A cloud is composed of tiny water droplets or ice crystals that are suspended in the air. A series of processes have to happen in order for these water droplets or ice crystals to form into clouds in the...more
Drizzle is light precipitation that is made up of liquid water drops that are smaller than rain drops. Drizzle can be so light that only a millimeter of accumulation is measured at the Earth's surface....more
Radio waves are a type of electromagnetic radiation. A radio wave has a much longer wavelength than does visible light. We use radio waves extensively for communications. Radio waves have wavelengths as...more
Aerosols, also called particulates, are tiny bits of solid or liquid suspended in the air. Some aerosols are so small that they are made only of a few molecules – so small that they are invisible because...more