Radiation Balance

Various meteorological parameters (temperature, humidity, and wind) above the surface of the earth are measured using balloons (radiosondes) twice each day at specific locations. The balloons are launched just before 12Z (6 AM in Iowa) and 00Z (6 PM). Data for 6 AM reflect conditions from the previous night; the 6 PM values represent daytime conditions.

During the fall of 1997, a narrow band of snow fell across the state of Iowa. The data in this simulation are based on this event using the snow and surrounding surface conditions. We will examine the differing effects of the various surface conditions on temperature.

You will be asked to explore and observe various environments for both day and night conditions. Then you will use your best judgement to tie your own experiences into a coherent picture.


Drag the balloon in the following picture to various heights with the mouse. The height of the balloon (in meters) will be indicated. The temperatures corresponding to the various heights will be used to produce a vertical profile of temperature in the accompanying graph. Surface conditions and time of day will change the temperature profile. Compare the different profiles and record your general results for submission. You may plot several profiles concurrently to compare differences before clearing the plot.
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