Balloons have been use for some time to carry instrument packages (payloads) into the atmosphere. Hydrogen-filled meteorological balloons are the most common and they are typically released from each of the Australian Antarctic stations twice a day.
Meteorologists measure the wind speed by tracking the horizontal movement of the balloon as it moves upward. The payload also measures the
and transmits its measurements back to the ground. These balloons typically reach a height of 33 km in summer and 25 km in winter. As a result, they are used in research of the middle atmosphere as well as for weather forecasting.
Ozone can also be measured using balloon-based methods. A specialised payload can be prepared and released using a meteorological balloon. These measurements are particularly relevant to studies of the Antarctic ozone hole.
Although balloon measurements give a 'snapshot' of the atmosphere with very fine detail, they are expensive. They must therefore be used sparingly and do not have very good time coverage.