A recent campaign on Christmas Island in the equatorial Pacific has demonstrated that, at least under some conditions, simple and relatively inexpensive kites can serve as effective platforms for continuous monitoring of the free atmosphere. Individual flights can be anticipated to last for periods of weeks and possibly months. Our results can be considered as a renewal and extension of kite-borne atmospheric researcha technique that was used extensively around the turn of the century, but which has languished in relative obscurity for the past 50 years.In the experiment described herein, we have flown kites to altitudes up to 3.5 km, and have maintained them aloft with ease for the four-day duration of the experiment. In addition, we outline the general capabilities and limitations of state-of-the-art kite platforms, and show that, under some conditions, such systems can be expected to attain much higher altitudes and remain aloft for much longer periods. We also outline the potential for using kites as long-term monitoring platforms for temperature, radiation, ozone, water vapor, ice crystal structure, atmospheric electric fields, and myriad other variables, and show that such measurements are both theoretically possible and practically feasible, at least under some restrictive conditions.
Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society – American Meteorological Society
Published: Jan 1, 1992
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