What Can You Learn from a Thermometer on a Rising Balloon?
ES1702  Soundings at Different Longitudes
National Weather Service

Balloon launches are coordinated to occur at the same time. The four graphs here display data from soundings taken at the same time (12Z) on August 20, 2001.

Click here... to find out more about universal time (e.g. 12Z)

  !   Click each graph to see a larger view.

Inspection of these graphs shows that as a balloon rises, the temperature drops consistently for some time. In each case, though, the balloon reaches a level where the pattern changes. Altitudes where the temperature patterns change mark the border between one atmospheric layer and another.

The zone of decreasing temperature nearest Earth's surface is called the troposphere. The altitude where the temperature stops decreasing is called the tropopause—this is the boundary between the troposphere and the stratosphere. The zone of increasing temperature above the tropopause is the stratosphere.

4. What is the range of altitudes for the top of the troposphere?

5. What is the range of the lowest temperatures found at the top of the troposphere?

 Step:   1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10