Weather kite gets second wind

Jul 23, 2010
Weather kite gets second wind

The red kite is now a commonly-seen bird of prey in the skies of the south-east, but a specially designed artificial blue kite promises a new way to make weather measurements.

Writing in the Review of Scientific Instruments, scientists at the University of Reading's Department of Meteorology describe a high-tech kite developed to measure wind speed. Kites have long been used to transport instruments up into the lower atmosphere, but rather than just offering a convenient "sky hook", the new approach uses the kite itself to detect the wind variations.

The speed varies the kite line's tension, which can be measured conveniently at the ground, rather than by carrying a sensor up on the kite aloft.

Kieran Walesby, who developed the instrumentation as part of his postgraduate research work at Reading, said: "This technique allows above the ground to be measured without the need for a fixed instrument tower, and is therefore very portable."

The kite used in these experiments was specially built in the Department of Meteorology, and was combined with a tension-measuring system optimised to overcome during long kite flights. The kite line tension is found by measuring the small distortions generated on a metal ring used to anchor the kite, using a set of miniature strain gauges.

Professor Giles Harrison, Professor of who supervised the work, said: "Benjamin Franklin's 1752 experiment is a famous early example of using a kite to measure atmospheric properties. Our system reasserts the kite's value in , through offering an easily-implemented method for investigating lower atmosphere air flows, such as those which transport pollution."

Explore further: The Albian Gap, salt rock, and a heated debate

Related Stories

Invasive snail may damage diet of rare Everglades bird

Feb 04, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- Invasive animals often wreak havoc with their feeding habits; however, University of Florida researchers say a huge South American snail is causing problems when it’s the prey rather than ...

Students test 'space postal service' during Foton mission

May 10, 2007

How do you deliver a parcel down to Earth from space without using a rocket engine and fuel" The answer is YES2, a student experiment that was prepared, built and tested at ESA's research and technology centre, ...

Researchers fly a kite for manure recycling

Dec 01, 2008

Researchers at North Wyke Research, and Lancaster and Exeter universities, have come up with an advice system to help farmers recycle manure safely and avoid polluting watercourses.

Recommended for you

The Albian Gap, salt rock, and a heated debate

9 hours ago

Salt rock behaves as a fluid and can play a pivotal role in the large-scale, long-term collapse of the world's continental margins. However, the precise way in which this occurs is laced in controversy; nowhere ...

Satellites catch the birth of two volcanic islands

19 hours ago

The birth of a volcanic island is a potent and beautiful reminder of our dynamic planet's ability to make new land. Given the destruction we've seen following natural events like earthquakes and tsunamis in t ...

Uncovering diversity in an invisible ocean world

20 hours ago

Plankton are vital to life on Earth—they absorb carbon dioxide, generate nearly half of the oxygen we breathe, break down waste, and are a cornerstone of the marine food chain. Now, new research indicates ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.