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Historical Weather Service

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Weather at the surface of our planet is profoundly affected by conditions in thetwo men with weather balloon atmosphere hundreds to tens of thousands of feet above its surface. Although the first use of kites for meteorological experiments occurred over 250 years ago, the systematic use of balloons and kites for atmospheric observations did not begin in earnest until the early Twentieth Century.

In the United States, Harvard's Blue Hill Observatory and the United States Weather Bureau were pioneers in the use of kites and balloons for upper atmospheric observations including temperature, pressure, wind velocity, and wind direction. Soon instruments such as the meteorograph were invented that recorded various parameters while aloft.

The advent of the airplane accelerated the need for this information and kite stations were established at strategic locations around the country. With the airplane also came a new means to make observations at altitude. However, the airplanes could only fly in good weather somewhat negating the early value of aircraft observations.

By the mid-1930's balloon observations with transmitting radio-meteorographs made kite observations obsolete. The remote sensing of the atmosphere by radar began as an outgrowth of World War II radar development when it was noticed early on that clouds and various forms of precipitation would generate echoes that could be correlated with various weather phenomena.

Visit "Exploring the Atmosphere" and learn about the evolution of these systems....

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Historical National Weather Service ~ Exploring the
Atmosphere Albums

women with balloon
Kites and Balloons


women with early radar device
Radar & Other
Electronic Methods

Radar Detection - a glimpse
into the history and
philosophy of radar use
by the National Weather Service.

Publication of the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA),
NOAA Central Library

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Last Updated:
September 30, 2009