Understanding and accurately predicting changes
in the atmosphere requires adquate observations of the upper atmosphere.
Radiosondes are the primary source of upper-air data and will remain so into
the foreseeable future. Various space and ground-based remote sensing
systems compliment the radiosondes with more frequent measurement of portions
of the atmosphere for certain parameters. While radiosondes are only
flown twice daily (00 and 12 UTC), they are the only source for a complete
sounding of the atmosphere from the surface to 30+ kilometers. It may in
the future be possible to reduce the number of radiosondes used annually as
data from these other sources (such as satellites, profilers, and aircraft) are
integrated into NWS operations. The effort to better integrate the
various data sources is being conducted as part of the
North American Atmospheric Observing
System (NAOS) program.
Rawinsonde observations are applied to a broad
spectrum of efforts. Data applications include: