Friday, April 27, 2007

On This Day

By Princessa

Meteorological kites have been used for various purposes since 1749, were employed consistently and competently by the U.S. Weather Bureau from 1899 until 1933, and are occasionally being called back into active duty to this day. The first recorded weather experiments with kites were carried out in Scotland in 1749 by two University of Glasgow students who wondered if the air above the ground was colder or warmer than the air on the ground. They used kites equipped with thermometers to find out. Interest in kites for scientific experiments waxed and waned for decades. Then, in 1895, Professor Charles F. Marvin, a future chief of the Weather Bureau, began experimenting with kites, perfecting his kite meteorograph in 1896. This instrument was capable of measuring and recording temperature, pressure, and humidity. On April 27, 1898, the first Weather Bureau kite was launched from Topeka, Kansas. By 1899, the Weather Bureau’s kiting system, which consisted of box kites attached to a main line at two thousand foot intervals, developed to a point where the measuring equipment was consistently lifted to altitudes exceeding 10,000 feet. Piano wire was used and flights were generally four to five hours. Such use of kites revealed many conditions in the atmosphere that were previously unknown.

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