The Sounding Club is a student-lead organization overseen by professors within the Atmospheric Science department at NC State, allowing students to gain valuable hands-on experience with radiosonde equipment. Data obtained by weather balloon launches are used for graduate research and real time forecasting applications within the meteorological community before and during significant weather events.
The Sounding Club utilizes GRAWMET software provided by GRAW, along with other materials such as radiosondes, balloons, and other hardware. The radiosondes that the club uses are DFM-09 sondes, packaged in a styrofoam casing. Each sonde consists of a lithium battery, transmitter, and various sensors to relay humidity, temperature, wind speed, and pressure data back to the receiver every few seconds.
Once this data is fully collected, Skew-T plots, such as the ones shown above, can be generated using the SHARPpy program. This is a software specifically designed to utilize python coding in generating skew-T plots based on collected atmospheric data. This allows for quick visual interpretation of the data and gives a better understanding of the state of the atmospheric environment.
What are We Currently Doing?
Sounding Club will be taking a hiatus through the end of January aiding research done by Dr. Joseph Zambon for a research cruise studying atmospheric impacts to the Gulf stream. The goal of this research is to study the effects from coastal storm systems during the month of January, commonly referred to as nor'easters, on the Gulf stream in respect to position, orientation, and width. Part of this research involves sampling atmospheric data, for which the Sounding Club has given its equipment for, until the end of January to conduct balloon launches. We are more than happy to have been given the opportunity to help further this research and look forward to its outcome. For more information and regular updates on the project itself, visit the Ocean Observing and Modeling Group (OOMG) blog page.
What Have We Done?
Sounding Club has participated in many things, ranging from aiding in High Shear Low Cape (HSLC) research with Keith Sherburn and now Dr. Joseph Zambon's Gulf stream project, to doing outreach events with grade-school and home-school students in conjunction with Wolfpack Meteorology. We have also conducted balloon launches for winter weather and severe weather episodes, coordinating the data we collect with news stations like WRAL and with the National Weather Service (NWS) in Raleigh. In collaboration with the North Carolina State Climate Office (SCO), we have also conducted launches for a school group and the Solar Eclipse.
Video of a balloon launch from the Jordan Hall roof in March 2016