Scientists from the National Centre for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado, have been conducting a field project entitled RICO in Antigua and Barbuda. One scientist, John Hubbert, told us that the flatness of Barbuda allows an unobstructed 360-degree view for the weather radar dish. The S-Pol, dual polarisation radar dish, near Sand Ground, has been measuring atmospheric precipitation.
The scientist, Timothy Lim, has been releasing weather balloons four times a day since 6 December, generally at Spanish Point. The radiosonde instrument, which is attached to the balloon measures different parameters of the atmosphere – humidity, temperature, pressure, wind speed, and direction.
The balloon rises to approximately 70,000 feet, where it flies with the wind for 90 minutes before it bursts. The radiosonde sends signals to the antenna on the truck roof, which are relayed to the computer inside. After every launch the data is sent to the US National Weather Service to use in its daily forecasts. The scientists are getting a snapshot of weather events to enable atmospheric models, constructed on super computers, to predict the weather better than is possible now.
Scientists Kurt Kanudson, Kyle Holden, and Erin Riepe are also with RICO in Barbuda.
More information is available at http://www.eol.ucar.edu/projects/rico/.