Weather forecasting and reports began within early civilizations by observing recurring events associated with astronomy and meteorology to allow mankind to monitor the changes in weather patterns and conditions for each season. The Babylonians in 650 B.C. used the appearance of specific cloud patterns and haloes to determine short changes in weather conditions.
The Chinese astronomers in 300 B.C. had already developed a specific calendar used by their astronomers to divide the months of the year into twenty four selective festivals each characteristically determined by it’s existing weather pattern.
The Greek philosopher Aristotle in his Meteorologica wrote a philosophical treatise which theorized the development of clouds, rain, wind, hail, thunder, and lightning including topics based on geography, chemistry and astronomy. Although he had made some accurate discoveries in his observations, some of his theories were filled with inaccurate assumptions based on inconclusive facts as many of his erroneous claims were discarded by the 17th century.
For centuries mankind has made numerous attempts to produce accurate weather forecasts through personal observation and weather lore and by the end of the Renaissance philosophers were simply observed as inadequate. This spawned a greater need for scientific information based in weather forecasting through which several instruments specifically designed to measure atmospheric pressure, temperatures and moisture.
In the mid-15th century the first known device to successfully measure humidity was realized by a scientist known as Nicholas Cusa followed by Galileo invention of the early thermometer, and the invention of the barometer used in measuring atmospheric pressure by the Italian Evangelista Torricelli in 1643.
Specific refinements to these devices were done between the 17th to 19th centuries during which several other devices were discovered capable of measuring similar atmospheric, temperature and humidity conditions. By the mid-19th century the invention of the telegraph enabled speedy transmissions of data relative to weather conditions to be transmitted to and from weather observers and compilers. This data was used to successfully draft crude weather maps indicating specific weather patterns an systems to be studied and monitored.
By the 20th century regional and global observation networks ware formed sharing huge amounts of accessible data for weather forecasting and system tracking. The invention of the radiosonde in 1920 made possible the effective monitoring of weather conditions at excessively high altitudes.
Lightweight boxes containing devices such as these radiosondes, a radio transmitter and other weather monitoring services were launched into the atmosphere by the use of a helium filled balloon which would typically ascent to a minimum of 30 kilometers before bursting. During the balloon’s climb into the atmosphere, specific readings were taken relative to atmospheric pressure, temperature and moisture and transmitted and received by a weather station on the ground for analysis. This data would then be processed for the construction of weather maps to be inserted within weather models for accurate forecasting.
Currently radiosondes are launched on a 12 hour basis from hundreds of ground stations located within the world.