Oral Presentation Only

Using Thermocouple, Thermistor, and Digital Sensors to Characterize the Thermal Wake Below Ascending Weather Balloons

  • Erick Paul Agrimson (St. Catherine University)
  • Kaye Smith (St. Catherine University)
  • James Flaten (University of Minnesota Twin Cities)
  • Rachel Newman (St. Catherine University)
  • Kassandra Surma (St. Catherine University)
  • Maggie Singerhouse (St. Catherine University)
  • Emily Anderson (St. Catherine University)
  • Brittany Craig (St. Catherine University)
  • Marilyn McNamara (St. Catherine University)
  • Stephanie Wegner (University of Minnesota Twin Cities)
  • Alex Pratt (University of Minnesota Twin Cities)
  • Joe Dillon (University of Minnesota Twin Cities)


In this paper we present additional results from our on-going research effort to characterize the thermal wake that trails below ascending latex weather balloons on flights into the stratosphere; a wake which interferes with the ability of temperature sensors in payload boxes hanging from the balloon (and hence enveloped by the wake) to correctly measure the ambient temperature of the atmosphere through which the balloon is ascending. A “wake boom” is used to measure temperature variations up to 1.5m horizontally from varying distance directly below the neck of the balloon. Results to date agree with the literature that especially above the tropopause the thermal wake is warmer than the ambient air during daytime ascents, due to solar radiation warming the balloon skin, but colder than ambient air during night-time ascents, due to adiabatic cooling of the gas inside the balloon (which also occurs in the daytime, but is smaller than the daytime warming effect). In particular, we report on thermal wake characterization using (Neulog) thermocouple sensors, as compared to (HOBO) thermistors and (Arduino-logged) DS18B20 digital temperature sensors. We also present additional results from X-shaped 2-dimensional wake booms or “X-Booms” which allow us to compare wake temperatures on the sun side versus the shade side of the balloon, looking for asymmetries in the horizontal temperature profile.

How to Cite:

Agrimson, E. P., Smith, K., Flaten, J., Newman, R., Surma, K., Singerhouse, M., Anderson, E., Craig, B., McNamara, M., Wegner, S., Pratt, A. & Dillon, J., (2015) “Using Thermocouple, Thermistor, and Digital Sensors to Characterize the Thermal Wake Below Ascending Weather Balloons”, Academic High Altitude Conference 2015(1). doi: https://doi.org/10.31274/ahac.5571



Published on
20 Jun 2015
Peer Reviewed