Meteorological Assimilation Data Ingest System (MADIS)

MADIS WISDOM Balloon Wind Dataset

MADIS WISDOM Balloon Wind Dataset



The WISDOM program aims to improve the hurricane track prediction in the 3 to 7 day period before landfall by providing wind and atmospheric data in areas of the Atlantic basin that are poorly observed. NOAA, with major funding support from the DHS Science and Technology Directorate, conducted a successful initial feasibility test during the 2008 hurricane season with balloons reporting wind data in near real-time. WISDOM will conduct a Proof of Concept in 2009 to determine the long term hurricane track forecast improvements achieved by ingesting WISDOM data into global forecast models.

The WISDOM system is designed around the availability of small super-pressure balloons, and the availability of small (100 gram) electronics which include over the horizon Global Positioning System and satellite radio communications capabilities. The concept is that large numbers of WISDOM balloons with the GPS payload are released to optimize weather prediction at a future time for phenomena of interest.

Advanced techniques of assimilation and modeling are used to determine the release locations of the balloons to optimize their trajectories to improve future numerical weather prediction. A total of 88 WISDOM balloons were launched during the 2008 season - notably 57 balloons around Hurricane Paloma.

Overview of 2009 Operations

In 2009, with major funding support from DHS S&T, NOAA and the Air Force Weather Agency, the program will seek to quantify the forecast improvement provided by ingesting WISDOM data into numerical weather prediction models, including ESRL’s FIM model. Two major hurricanes threatening the US will be targeted for the WISDOM 2009 Proof of Concept deployments. In addition to providing wind data the 2009 WISDOM balloon system will also include termination devices and a pressure sensor. Up to 250 WISDOM balloon systems will be launched from up to ten sites in the continental US and overseas with the aim for improving numerical weather prediction. WISDOM balloons will be launched about 6-9 days in advance of the anticipated hurricane landfall at two altitudes, 12,000 ft and 26,000 ft. Two major tropical cyclones will be targeted for WISDOM launches during the operating season beginning on or about September 1, 2009 and ending on or about October 1, 2009. Data will be reported approximately every 30 minutes. The balloons will remain in the air for about 2-10 days.

MADIS users who request access to the WISDOM data will be sent an email when the launches occur. After the flights, the data will remain accessible from the MADIS archive of saved-real time data.

The long term goal is to saturate the data void for every major storm with several hundred balloons in an attempt to measurably improve the 3 to 7 day hurricane forecast. Observations from these data void areas may significantly improve the 24 hour forecast, saving lives and property, conserve energy, and potentially save millions of dollars.

WISDOM data should be considered experimental.

Geographic Coverage

Launch locations for the 2009 Hurricane Season:

Data Schedule

Data will be available in 2009 only during yet to-be-determined tropical activity periods in September. Reports will be available approximately every 30 minutes.


Data volume is expected to be low.

Variable Details

Related Links

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Last updated 24 August 2009.