Weather balloons better watch their backs. A new weather forecasting tool could soon find itself part of the day-to-day operations of the National Weather Service (NWS).

The instrument, called Atmospheric Emitted Radiance Interferometer, or AERI, measures temperature, water vapor and trace gases (like ozone, carbon monoxide and methane) in the lowest layer of Earth’s atmosphere, the troposphere. Now, an AERI project led by Tim Wagner, a scientist with the Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies (CIMSS) at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, has been chosen for funding by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Joint Technology Transfer Program.

The program is an effort to accelerate technological advances into application.

With AERI “we can monitor the evolution of the atmospheric boundary layer and see how stability is changing over time,” says Wagner. “But what we haven’t done, up to this point, is see what happens if we actually take those observations and put them into the forecast models—would that improve the accuracy of the models? We think it will.” Read the full story here.