Opportunistic sensing with recreational hot-air balloon flights

Bruijn, Evert I.F. De; Bosveld, Fred C.; Haan, Siebren De; Holtslag, Albert A.M.


We report about a new third-party observation, namely, wind measurements derived from hot-air balloon (HAB) tracks. We first compare the HAB winds with wind measurements from a meteorological tower and a radio acoustic wind profiler, both situated at the topographically flat observatory near Cabauw, the Netherlands. To explore the potential of this new type of wind observation in other topographies, we present an intriguing HAB flight in Austria with a spectacular mountain–valley circulation. Subsequently, we compare the HAB data with a numerical weather prediction (NWP) model during 2011–13 and the standard deviation of the wind speed is 2.3 m s−1. Finally, we show results from a data assimilation feasibility experiment that reveals that HAB wind information can have a positive impact on a hindcasted NWP trajectory.