SUNY Oswego meteorology students participate in NASA-funded eclipse ballooning project

OSWEGO, N.Y. – SUNY Oswego meteorology students are launching weather balloons as part of a NASA-funded field campaign. 

The project, known as the Nationwide Eclipse Ballooning project, is made up of over 50 teams stationed across the United States. 

The class dedicated to the project met last semester and have been reunited to continue data collection. The 17 students working on the Nationwide Eclipse Ballooning project have been tasked with uncovering new information on the impact eclipses have on the atmosphere, wildlife and upcoming weather patterns. 

Katelyn Barber, one of the professors currently leading the field campaign, said that one of their goals is to look for gravity waves, air motions in the stratosphere theorized to move away from the path of the eclipse.

“So we can learn just beyond the stratospheric gravity waves,” Barber said. “The eclipse will influence how weather will change locally. That does not mean we’re gonna go from a perfectly clear sky to, oh my gosh there’s a supercell over Oswego. It will influence what we call the stability of the atmosphere, and that will influence how our clouds develop.”

Meteorology student Sarah Gryskewicz said the team is also investigating how the eclipse will affect the waves on Lake Ontario.

“We have our own student hypothesis that we formed last semester in our semester course and one interesting one was watching how the waves change on Lake Ontario in response to the wind so we want to see how wind affects the waves and how dynamic it gets on campus pretty much,” Gryskewicz said.

Throughout the academic year, the class has been hosting outreach events all across the state, meeting over 1,600 K-12 students. But even on eclipse day, the efforts haven’t stopped. The group had outreach events planned up until the eclipse, including crafts, telescope observation and demonstrations of the balloon releases. The group started setting up on Sunday morning and has been releasing balloons hourly since 2:00 p.m.

“Every hour sounds like there’s plenty of time to get that balloon up if the time goes really fast,” Barber said. “Actually we really only have about 20 minutes of free time where you can use the bathroom I have a snack recover and then we start the process all over again.”

The team will be in the field between the Marano Campus Center and Lake Ontario on the campus of SUNY Oswego.

“I think it’s gonna be a great day,” Gryskewicz said. “It’s going to be a very active day on campus as well. Everyone should really try to go to these eclipse events and activities happening on campus.”

The outreach events are running from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Monday.