Faculty Advisor

Dr. Bernhard Beck-Winchatz


The atmosphere is composed of several layers, each with its own distinct environment varying in temperature, pressure, and levels of UV radiation. Quantifying these varying parameters proves to be useful in understanding atmospheric composition in greater detail. Variance in the composition of the atmosphere allows for the study of the evolution of physical phenomena at different altitudes. Our group quantified this variance using a high-altitude weather balloon and designed an experimental method to observe the nature of sound propagation through varying altitudes. The goal was to develop an altitude-dependent model of the speed of sound by using an open-air, microcontroller-based payload. Using our platform, we found that the open-air payload design results in noisy readings. Additionally, our method was restricted to low altitude environments, unable to produce reliable data above 6,700 meters. We address possible improvements and constraints in developing an open-air payload design to derive an altitude-dependent model for sound propagation. Furthermore, we present our findings on the variations in pressure, temperature, and levels of UV radiation during balloon flights at altitudes of up to 30,000 meters. These variations included a proportional decrease in pressure, a temperature inversion at 15,000 meters, and an exceptional increase in both UVA and UVB radiation as altitude increases.


DePaul University sophomores met in McGowan South to research and write this article.