A French team will launch a new weather balloon to better understand tropical cyclones | News






Hugo Bellenger, left, and Jean Philippe Duvel, right, of the Laboratoire de Météorologie Dynamique in France, examine a new type of weather balloon in Hågat that will be used to track tropical cyclones on May 13, 2022.



Guam National Weather Service officials are working with a team of French scientists who are on the island to launch a new weather balloon that will help meteorologists and researchers track and better understand tropical cyclones.

“We get a lot of information from satellites and sensors orbiting the planet and ground sensors from the proximity of a storm, but we don’t actually see the inner atmosphere of a tropical cyclone,” said said Landon Aydlett, warning coordinating meteorologist at Guam’s National Weather Service. “So if successful, it will provide that information from inside a storm.”

Scientists from the Laboratoire de Météorologie Dynamique in France have arrived on the island with the new, more advanced balloons, which are equipped with global positioning systems and weather sensors known as AeroClippers. The equipment is designed to be sucked into a storm to help researchers learn more about the behavior of cyclones.

He said data collected on inland storm behavior will be used to create forecast models that the weather service and other agencies can use to predict tropical cyclones and their intensity.

The balloon is equipped to self-destruct and deflate if the balloon crosses another country, Aydlett explained.


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The balloon currently being tested is smaller than several larger balloons with AeroClipper trackers that were launched from Hagåtña Marina in 2017.

Aydlett said there had been some success getting the large balloons inside the storms, but noted that the larger equipment was difficult to maneuver and there were not enough balloons available to collect larger amounts of data.

Balloons in the past had to be assembled in a warehouse and launched from a boat. The new balloon brought by the visiting scientists can be carried in the back of a van and launched from the shore.

Guam is the preferred test site for these balloons due to the frequent tropical cyclones that pass through the region.

“We may be a small island, but we have a global impact on people who study cyclones and meteorology. We have a lot of attention on us because of our position in typhoon alley,” Aydlett said.

If the weather balloon test is successful, the French research team will return to release up to eight balloons from August to September.

A launch scheduled for Friday morning at Nimitz Beach in Hågat has been delayed due to equipment issues. The research team postponed the launch of the weather balloon to Monday morning.

Pacific Daily News reporter Jackson Stephens covers poverty as a member of the Report for America corps. You can reach him at

jstephens@guampdn.com.