CAMP LEMONNIER, DJIBOUTI- U.S. Special Operations Airman launch a weather balloon to demonstrate weather data collection techniques to Djibouti officials at Camp Lemonnier, Dec. 8, 2016.
The Upper Air Sounding Project is a joint venture between the Horn of Africa (HOA) and the special operation forces on behalf of Special Operations Command Africa (SOCAF.)
“The purpose of the weather balloon launch is to upload the upper atmosphere data into the computer weather models to increase the accuracy for all the parties involved,” said U.S. Navy Cmdr. Jean Dietz, Joint Meteorology and Oceanography Officer for Combine Joint Force Task Force Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA.) “As the joint officer of HOA, I am doing the liaison work with Air Operations and the Djiboutians to make sure the airspace is clear for launch as well as coordinating for supplies for on going operations.”
U.S. Military Officials and a Djibouti airspace manager where there to observe the launching of the weather balloon.
“Part of the launch is to help the Djiboutians understand what it means to launch a weather balloon in Djibouti airspace,” Cmdr. Dietz said. “The balloon launches will have zero impact on aviation operations because they shoot straight into the atmosphere taking very little time.”
When the weather balloon is launched into the atmosphere it rises approximately 500 feet per min avg.
“Once it launches, it takes roughly an hour to collect all the data,” said a Special Operations Weather Technician. “We performed a preliminary launch of the Tactical Air Sounding Kit in order to enable future launches to help improve the weather models here in Africa.”
Sounding is how atmospheric conditions such as humidity, temperature, pressure and wind speed are measured. The air balloon will take readings of this data and it will be uploaded to computer models to enhance the models accuracy, improving weather prediction for the U.S. and partner nations. A computer weather model is a computer program used to help us forecast future weather patterns.
“Currently there are not many upper air soundings on this continent,” the Special Operations Weather Technician said. “The more data that goes into the models, the more accurate our forecasts will be, which in return will help improve safety of flight for both commercial and military aircraft.”