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Dropsondes carry instruments that measure temperature, humidity, air pressure, and wind speed. They are dropped on small parachutes from airplanes.
Image courtesy of UCAR.

Instruments in the VOCALS Field Campaign

Scientists use lots of instruments during the VOCALS field campaign. The instruments collect data about the atmosphere and the ocean. Some of the instruments are on satellites or airplanes. Other instruments are on ships or buoys in the ocean.

Radar is used to measure wind speed and to spot rainfall. It can also measure the sizes of water droplets in clouds and drizzle. LIDAR is like radar but uses laser light instead of radio waves. LIDAR measures aerosol particles and the "edges" of clouds.

Radiosondes and dropsondes are lifted into the sky on balloons or dropped on parachutes from aircraft. They carry instruments for measuring pressure, altitude, temperature, humidity, and wind speed and direction.

Cameras on aircraft and satellites take pictures of clouds and the sea surface. Radiometers measure the amount of sunlight reflected from the tops of clouds. They also measure infrared radiation coming from different levels in clouds and the atmosphere and how much light can pass through clouds. Spectrometers measure chemicals in the atmosphere and in aerosols.

Instruments towed by ship measure temperature, saltiness, pressure, and chlorophyll content in the ocean. A special kind of sonar collects data on the speed and direction of ocean currents.

Last modified June 17, 2010 by Becca Hatheway.

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Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part is sponsored in part through grants from federal agencies (NASA and NOAA), and partnerships with affiliated organizations, including the American Geophysical Union, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Earth System Information Partnership, the American Meteorological Society, the National Center for Science Education, and TERC. The American Geophysical Union and the American Geosciences Institute are Windows to the Universe Founding Partners. NESTA welcomes new Institutional Affiliates in support of our ongoing programs, as well as collaborations on new projects. Contact NESTA for more information. NASA ESIP NCSE HHMI AGU AGI AMS NOAA