Environmental impact of radiosondes

Environmental impact

Graw and our end-users are explicitly aware of the environmental impact of radiosondes. We are continuously trying to minimize these impacts by elevating the scientific and environmental benefits well above any potential ecological damage.
Our radiosondes essentially consist of the following potential pollutants. Following is our explanation and approach toward mitigating any adverse effects on the environment:

  • Styrofoam housing
    We have been testing the use of alternative biodegradable materials for many years.  Alternative biodegradable materials are a challenge as they must be suitably waterproof, thermally well insulating, and physically able to be machined with an accuracy of 0.2 mm. Currently we are unaware of any alternative materials which meet these criteria. However, we have been promised by our suppliers that suitable new materials will be available in the near future. While we still must use Styrofoam, we try to keep the volume as low as possible and to avoid any superfluous plastics in the housing.
  • Printed circuit board (PCB) with electronics
    While PCB’s with electronic components remain a necessary evil, we are using highly integrated components and continually reducing the volume further and further thereby limiting as much as possible the resulting electronic waste entering the environment. We also recycle any used radiosondes which are returned to us.
  • Battery
    The lithium batteries we use do not contain heavy metals and are environmentally compatible (after discharge). We can provide appropriate certificates on request.
  • Connection cord to the balloon (dereeler)
    The nylon cord commonly used for all commercial radiosondes can be harmful to wildlife, especially larger marine animals.  For a small fee, we offer an alternative cotton cord.

In summary, we can clearly state that we are well aware of the potential impact of radiosondes on the environment, and in cooperation with our suppliers and customers we are continually working to lessen this impact while still meeting the increasingly demanding end-user requirements for functionality, accuracy and reliability. We proudly welcome this challenge.