New weather station of the University of Tartu will be opened with global balloon challenge
This week, thousands self-designed aerological balloons equipped with cameras will be sent to the sky all over the world. These allow getting a bird’s-eye view of the Earth. Estonians participate in the global balloon challenge for the first time. The team of the University of Tartu will send their balloon up on 24 April, opening the new weather station located on the roof of the Institute of Physics.
According to the words of an associate professor of meteorology and climatology of UT Piia Post, the team of the University of Tartu participates in the global balloon challenge with the intention to introduce meteorology to school students. „We have included university students, school students as well as employees of the Institute of Physics into the action. University students will prepare the balloon for launching, while schoolchildren will send it to the air and will also later monitor the data received from the balloon and analyse them,“ Post described the educational aspect of the challenge.
The plan is to send the balloon to the height of 25-30 km, which is normal altitude of such balloons, according to the words of the assistant of physical didactics of the School Physics Centre of UT Kristel Uiboupin. „After launching, when the balloon has been lost from sight, we will not unfortunately see it any more. Weather forecast shows that the remains of this balloon, together with instruments, is rather improbable to find afterwards,“ said Uiboupin, because landing site will be somewhere on the other shore of Lake Peipsi.
„However, we cannot wait for better time, because the challenge is valid only in a limited period. But this also shows, how variable is our atmosphere, and how we would need more data to ensure more precise weather forecasting,“ she added.
The new weather station of the Institute of Physics of UT will be opened with the action. The first instruments, which data reached also the Internet, were installed on the roof of the former physics building at Tähe 4 by the researcher of aerosol physics of the Institute of Physics Sander Mirme at the end of 1999. By now, the sensors have been repeatedly replaced in 15 years, because the original equipment was very cheap and not intended for outdoor use.
„In connection with moving to the new building we got completely new, professional sensors. These have the same preciseness class as used in weather service,“ said Mirme.
„We only hope that the sensors of such class are much more reliable. For example, the anemometer and pluviometer have heating function, which ensures precise automatic metering also in case of lower temperatures. Such improvements in instruments increase much their price. Thus, our current equipment is approximately 100 times more expensive than in the beginning. We are especially happy for precise precipitation sensor and radiation sensor,“ said Mirme.
Weather station of the Institute of Physics is open for all interested people at the address meteo.physic.ut.ee.
In the universities all over the world, which are dealing with environmental measurements, it is rather normal that own weather stations are used, because meteorological data provide necessary background information for several other researches.
„We also use these data as the background information for aerosol measurements. The station is also used for meteorology practices, in order to obtain data for comparison. In the subject of computer controlled measurements, students have completed independent tasks, in order to connect various sensors to the station,“ said associate professor of meteorology and climatology Piia Post.
On 24 April at 14 the participants will gather on the roof of Physicum (Ravila 14c) for opening ceremony and speeches. At 14.30 the balloon will be launched and monitored from the roof and on screen. After this, all interested people are welcome to a tour in the building.
Participation in the global balloon challenge and opening of the new weather station are the events belonging into the programme for celebrating 150th anniversary of the weather observatory of UT. Participation in the global balloon challenge is supported by the Estonian Physical Society.
Further information: Piia Post, associate professor of meteorology and climatology of the University of Tartu, tel: 5216807, e-mail: piia.post [ät] ut.ee.