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Need pollution data? Go fly a kite.

If interest in kite flying soars among atmospheric scientists, it will stem largely from the efforts of Ben Balsley, a researcher at the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences in Boulder, Colo. In the last several years, Balsley has pursued the idea that kites can lift meteorological instruments to high altitudes for long spans of time, thereby filling a unique niche in the arsenal of tools used by atmospheric scientists (SN: 4/4/92, p.216). He tested that idea last summer in Nova Scotia, where he used kites to measure ozone concentrations in the troposphere.

Balsley and his crew worked with a high-tech parafoil kite, constructed from mylar fabric strengthened with threads of kevlar. The flew the kite at a height of 2,600 meters for periods of up to 12 hours. While the kite remained in the air, a wind-powered tram carried ozone-measuring instruments up and down the line, taking readings at different levels in the atmosphere. Their results tracked the spread of pollution from industrialized regions in North America. Balsley says that although balloon experiments could make similar measurements, the kite technique is much cheaper because scientists often cannot recover ozone meters carried by balloons.

Balsley and his colleagues plan to test their kites next year as part of research project to be staged in the Azores. If they receive funding, they hope to build a much larger parafoil that could, in theory, carry scientific payloads up to 19,000 meters, far above the reach of most research aircraft.
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Title Annotation:parafoil kites used to place meteorological instruments at high altitudes
Publication:Science News
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:Jan 1, 1994
Words:253
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