Radiosondes are an important source of upper air data. We do have GPS occultation soundings from satellites, but as with any remote sensing instrument that uses a model, it has associated errors as well – satellite data is not a direct measurement! It’s a necessity to have both in situ and remotely sensed data that can constrain and compliment each other.
A balloon is the way to actually put a thermometer in the air. There is no better way to measure the temperature of something than to physically put a thermometer in it.
The duration of DYNAMO will be about 6 months, with the intensive phase (when all the hardware is out there) being 2 months. I don’t think it will explain Amazon drought. The MJO influences weather in many places in many ways, but tends not to cause droughts because a drought almost by definition is something that lasts longer than an MJO event.
Thanks very much Gavin and RC for this link to our blog!
A radiosonde is the way to put a thermometer in the air at high altitude. There is no better way to measure the temperature of something than to put a thermometer in it. Satellites are not more accurate, they are less accurate. The advantage they have is coverage – they see a large area at once, without a person having to be there. A radiosonde needs someone to launch it, which is why in a lot of places (like the Indian ocean) we don’t have them, unless we make a special effort – a field program like DYNAMO – to go there and launch some.
DYNAMO is occurring from 1 October 2011-31 March 2012, but the intensive phase (when all the hardware is out there) is October and November. I don’t think it will address Amazon drought. The MJO does affect weather in many places, but because a drought almost by definition is something that lasts longer than a few weeks (the duration of an MJO event), the MJO tends not to be responsible for droughts.
Your comment about the blogs showing the world how climate research is carried out is a good one.
As the communications and media person for the ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science (http://www.climatescience.org.au/index.html), I believe it can be a core part of how we get people interested and understanding what we are doing.
Someone let modelers into the field?!
That said, these blogs are great… Maybe we should let them out of the office more often :)
[Response: I’m about as theoretical as they come, but after Jule Charney helped arrange a junior faculty appointment for me at MIT, the first thing he did was insist I go flying around the Alps with ALPEX to see what fluid dynamics really looks like from the insides. –raypierre]