Increasing long-distance balloon float times

Just brainstorming after a coworker shared an image of an internet balloon with me.

A ballast-control algorithm accounting for predicted temperatures for long-distance high altitude ballooning projects could provide additional float distance, justifying nicer sensor equipment and creating more value for weather prediction models relying on radiosonde equipment.

Long-distance balloon projects are extremely sensitive to environmental conditions. Between day and night, temperature fluctuations affect the altitude of the balloon, creating a sine-wave pattern of altitudes over a declining average height. Balloons will either rise too high and burst, or lose helium at a pretty consistent rate as helium is a difficult gas to contain even under sealed environments. To reduce the amount of altitude fluctuation (which is valuable for sensor equipment) balloons can either release ballast to rise, or release helium to descent.

Modern advancements in weather modeling software, along with increased availability (and my slow work in progress Javascript library to access it) offer us the ability to rely more on accurate atmospheric data as opposed to static weather models. Instead of a dropping a pre-determined amount of ballast (sand) on a daily basis, the algorithm can check its table of pre-programmed weather information to determine the amount of sand to drop in response to future weather events. If a low pressure event is imminent, it would be wise to reserve sand for future drops, even at the expense of losing altitude, to increase flight time and horizontal distance.