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Processing Vaisala Radiosonde data with Python, and creating GRUAN-like NetCDF files

kinow @ Jul 12, 2016 21:18:03

One of my last projects involved parsing a few GB’s of data that was in a certain binary format, and convert it into NetCDF files. In this post I will describe what was done, what I learned about radiosonde, GRUAN and other geek stuff. Ready?

Vaisala Radiosonde data

When I was told the data was in some binary format, I thought it would be similar to parsing a flat file. That this would contain a fixed length entry, with the same kind of item repeated multiple times.

Well, not exactly.

The files had been generated by an instrument made by Vaisala, a Finnish company. This instrument is called a radiosonde. It is an instrument about the size of an old mobile phone, that is launched with a balloon into the atmosphere.

I was lucky to be given the chance to release one of these balloons carrying a newer version of this equipment.

Radiosonde balloon launch

The balloon can carry equipments for measuring different things, like air pressure, altitude, temperature, latitude, longitude, relative humidity, among others. Equipments like the radiosonde send the data back to a ground-level station via radio, normally in a short and constant interval.

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