A visit to the weather station

A visit to the National Weather Service station in Kolonia, Pohnpei by the SC 130 Physical Science class.


The bus arrived from Palikir at almost 9:50 A.M. exactly, just in time for the 10:00 balloon launch. The launch window is 10:00 to 10:15.


The balloon uses hydrogen gas for lift. Hydrogen gas is less dense than air, so the balloon "floats" on the atmosphere


Director Skilling invited the class to participate in the balloon launch.


The weather station makes its own hydrogen on site from water.


Mr. Nanpei explains the preparation procedure. The balloon is very thin and delicate. Even the oil from fingers could weaken the balloon and reduce the performance of the balloon. Here in the western Pacific there are only a few islands from which balloons can be launched, so the work of the station is very important to providing data points for weather forecasting.


The steel table is kept perfectly clean in order to not damage the balloon.


Hydrogen is light and flammable, thus precautions and procedures are posted clearly on the wall.


The balloon lifts a small and light data recording and transmitting package that sends back information on temperature, humidity, and air pressure. The battery for the device is activated by placing the battery in water!


Temperature port.


Taylor wound up with the balloon.


Taylor walked the balloon out to the launch area.


Pamela set up to take pictures of Taylor with the balloon.


Taylor awaits instructions from NOAA Affiliate Nanpei.


When the balloon is released, the balloon rockets upwards startling fast, much faster than a helium balloon.


The packet is then pulled aloft.


The balloon and the sensors are aloft!


Inside the operations center Mr. Nanpei explains the many roles and duties the station fulfills as Wecklew listens. NOAA Affiliate and climatologist Jacobs, on the right, watches Super Typhoon Neoguri spinning on a screen.


Data flowing back from the balloon sensors. Temperature, direction, distance, humidity, air pressure.


Temperature data falling with altitude.


A satellite image on the left, METAR report on the right.


The class was all eyes and ears. Charles, Dyron, Wecklew, Correy, Maria-Asuncion, Heron, Emmy Rose


METAR data under a 24 hour clock.


Directional data for the balloon aloft. The balloon can ascend to 10000 meters, about 30000 feet. Eventually the envelope ruptures and the packet falls into the ocean.


Air pressure at the station and the altimeter setting for the station.


Real time earthquake data for rapid response tsunami warnings. The Pacific Disaster Center offers a similar but more generic capability to the public.


Real time interactive buoy querying software. The station can pull up any buoy (green dots) and look for the characteristics of the waves to determine the risk of a tsunami having developed.


The class wrapped up with a video on El Nino. The station is always seeking better ways to serve the public. A recent experimental outreach initiative example is their FaceBook page.

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