Maintenance Issues
Home Up The Radiosonde Uses of the  Data Maintenance Issues Frequency Issues


Issues in Maintaining the Current Radiosonde Systems
The mechanical portions of the ground-based system were installed in the 1950's and certain electronic components were implemented in the early 1980's.  More than 90% of the system parts are currently obsolete, making the system more difficult to maintain.  The numerous integrated circuit chips used throughout the system are particularly difficult to replace.  Due to the age of the equipment, failures have increased and will become routine if the system is not replaced.  The number of parts repaired has risen by more than 100% in the past five years (see chart below).
maintstat.gif (5113 bytes)
The supply of parts necessary to maintain the outdated IBM PC/XT computer is only sufficient to last two years, and the software must be rewritten before use on a newer computer.      microart1.jpg (4021 bytes)
At some stations, additional ground equipment (transponders) provide special tracking of the radiosondes when they are carried over the horizon in high-wind situations.  This transponder equipment uses vacuum tubes which are no longer available.  In 1990, 33 stations had transponder units.  Currently, only two stations have the equipment still functioning.  As a result high-altitude wind data are lost and the placement of the jet stream in upper level analyses can be in error.   These occasional errors degrade numerical prediction models and also degrade the application of the data for aviation users projecting aircraft fuel usage.     tdeck1.jpg (7696 bytes)

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Date Last Modified: December 6, 2001