Jeremy S. Smith

Army Electronic Ground Meteorologist

The Aeronauts— The role of balloons in measuring the atmosphere

Meteorologist James Glaisher's steps to measure temperature and humidity at the highest levels of the atmosphere were some of the earliest work on measuring weather variables above the ground. At this Science on Screen event, meteorologist Jeremy S. Smith discusses:

  • Tethered balloons, kites, and the use of free-flight balloons with expendable meteorological instrument packages through the early 1900s
  • Mid-century work with balloons and attaining higher altitudes, plus the use of balloons for measuring weather in the developing world of space launches during the 1960s
  • How routine balloon launches have turned into a network of upper-air measurement sites, not only across the U.S., but much of the world, and where we are today
  • How modern data allows us to see a 3-D view of the atmosphere take shape, and how it builds not only a current real-time picture of the weather, but also feeds into the physics that run our weather and climate forecast models

Presented as part of the 2021 National Evening of Science on Screen.

Willcox Theater and Arts Willcox, AZ

Film Synopsis

Balloon pilot Amelia Wren and meteorologist James Glaisher find themselves in a fight for survival while pursuing scientific discoveries in a gas balloon in the 1860s.

In 1862, daredevil balloon pilot Amelia Wren (Felicity Jones) teams up with pioneering meteorologist James Glaisher (Eddie Redmayne) to advance human knowledge of the weather and fly higher than anyone in history. While breaking records and advancing scientific discovery, their voyage to the very edge of existence helps the unlikely pair find their place in the world they have left far below them. But they face physical and emotional challenges in the thin air, as the ascent becomes a fight for survival.

Banner image courtesy of Amazon Studios/Photofest