NOAA Using Balloons To Capture Wind Data From Texas Wind Farm

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The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Air Resources Laboratory (ARL) has announced that it is planning a new wind data measurement initiative.

From Sept. 12-20, the ARL will launch weather balloons carrying small instruments that collect and transmit wind speed, wind direction, temperature and relative humidity data from the Duke Energy Ocotillo Wind Farm, located near Forsan, Texas.

The balloons – the same type launched daily by the National Weather Service – are slated to be launched every two hours between 4 a.m. and 8 p.m. The balloons will rise to about 30,000 to 35,000 feet before bursting and falling to the earth generally within 50 miles of the launch site.

"We want to get a better picture of what the vertical atmosphere looks like near a wind farm," says Will Pendergrass, a physical scientist at NOAA's ARL Atmospheric Turbulence and Diffusion Division in Oak Ridge, Tenn. "The information we collect will be used by the weather forecast models to help wind farms estimate how much power they can produce and when they can schedule maintenance."

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