Weather forecasting has obvious importance to Naval operations. Accurate weather forecasting depends on an understanding of weather as an atmospheric phenomenon and on increasing knowledge of the atmospheric conditions that affect weather patterns. In the late 1940s, NRL assumed the lead in developing instruments and techniques for making measurements of weather-related atmospheric parameters such as temperature, pressure, and humidity. NRL's axial flow vortex thermometer made possible the measurement of true air temperature from an aircraft at speeds up to 500 miles per hour.
NRL undertook an ambitious series of investigations in the late 1940s with the development of instruments and techniques for studying atmospheric conditions and wind patterns using balloons. By 1952, NRL had developed the Transosonde system, a balloon-borne meteorological station for collecting data on temperature, pressure, and humidity over remote or inaccessible ocean areas at a constant elevation of 30,000 feet. Radio tracking stations followed the balloon's trajectory and mapped out existing air mass systems and their movements. This resulted in an increased understanding of the upper air patterns defining the broader aspects of weather and long-term weather developments. Transosonde was later complemented by Transobuoy, a free-floating weather station instrumented to measure temperature, pressure, wind speed, and direction at and near the ocean surface.