New York Times article: Forecasters Face Loss of Data as Weather Balloon Flights Are Cut, https://nyti.ms/3uVqeIv, published 5 April 2022.
The National Weather Service has cut back on weather balloon launches at some of its sites because of shortages of hydrogen and helium used to lift them, potentially affecting forecasts and weather and climate research.
The cutbacks, coupled with the closing of a launch site on Cape Cod last year that has yet to reopen, could especially affect forecasting in the New York-New England area, some scientists said.
“We can’t go back and get that data,” said Sandra Yuter, a professor at North Carolina State University and an expert on remote sensing of meteorological data. “We’re going to have big gaps.”
Dr. Yuter said the cutbacks showed that the weather service was not placing high enough priority on weather balloons, which have been a staple of the agency’s observations for nearly a century.
Dr. Yuter said that balloon data helps scientists understand the structure of the atmosphere and “feeds into our understanding of what will happen as the climate changes.”