The sun is shining; bees are buzzing; your arms move through warm air; you even have to mop a thin veil of perspiration from your brow. And on the news in the morning, Geri Mitchell intones the familiar admonition: “It’s a red air quality day. Sensitive groups should avoid exercising outdoors.”
SLU students Joseph Wilkins, Patrick Walsh, Jackie Ringhausen and Tim Barbeau (standing, from left to right), and Valparaiso Univ. trainers Alex Kotsakis and Mark Spychala (crouching, left to right) stabilize the balloon as it fills with helium.
Credit (Art Chimes)
Each weather balloon carries a Styrofoam box like this one. It contains an ozonesonde, an instrument that measures ozone. The box also holds a radiosonde that measures temperature, humidity and air pressure.
Credit Art Chimes
Valparaiso University atmospheric chemist and meteorologist Gary Morris is helping to train the SLU students. Here, he tests out a parachute that will help slow the ozonesonde's fall after the balloon bursts somewhere around 100,000 feet above the ground.
Credit Art Chimes
This Google Earth map shows the trajectory of the weather balloon SLU launched on Thursday, August 8. The balloon burst north of Florissant, at an altitude of 116,447 feet. It landed in Alton, Illinois, about two and half hours after launch.
Credit Gary Morris, Valparaiso University
Data from the ozonesonde are transmitted through a large antenna to a radio receiver (right), then plotted out in real time on a laptop.
Credit Véronique LaCapra, St. Louis Public Radio
These profiles show ozone (in parts per billion by volume) with altitude. On August 8, rain washed ozone out of the air, decreasing levels near the ground. The EPA considers concentrations above 75 ppb to be hazardous to human health (red dotted line).
Starting on March 15, gas stations in Franklin, Jefferson, St. Charles and St. Louis counties and the city of St. Louis can switch from vapor-capturing nozzles (black “boot,” left) to ordinary nozzles (right).
Credit Véronique LaCapra, St. Louis Public Radio (left) and Art Chimes (right)