High-flying balloons track emerging hurricanes

In 2006, U.S. and French researchers launched large, specialized balloons into the stratosphere to drop nearly 300 balloon-borne instrument packages over wide swaths of Africa and the Atlantic Ocean. The instruments, known as driftsondes, reached areas of the remote eastern tropical Atlantic, out of range for U.S. hurricane-hunter aircraft and an area where forecasters have little skill at predicting hurricane formation. This photo shows the launch of a driftsonde from Zinder, Niger.