Development and testing of instrumentation for UAV-based flux measurements within terrestrial and marine atmospheric boundary layers

TitleDevelopment and testing of instrumentation for UAV-based flux measurements within terrestrial and marine atmospheric boundary layers
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2013
AuthorsReineman B.D, Lenain L., Statom N.M, Melville W.K
JournalJournal of Atmospheric and Oceanic Technology
Date Published2013/07
Type of ArticleArticle
ISBN Number0739-0572
Accession NumberWOS:000322126100004
Keywordsair-sea fluxes; Aircraft observations; Atmosphere-ocean interaction; Boundary layer; flow distortion; In; momentum flux; ocean surface; profiles; research aircraft; situ atmospheric observations; system; turbulent fluxes; unmanned aerial vehicle; wind stress

Instrumentation packages have been developed for small (18-28 kg) unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to measure momentum fluxes as well as latent, sensible, and radiative heat fluxes in the atmospheric boundary layer (ABL) and the topography below. Fast-response turbulence, hygrometer, and temperature probes permit turbulent momentum and heat flux measurements, and shortwave and longwave radiometers allow the determination of net radiation, surface temperature, and albedo. UAVs flying in vertical formation allow the direct measurement of fluxes within the ABL and, with onboard high-resolution visible and infrared video and laser altimetry, simultaneous observation of surface topography or ocean surface waves. The low altitude required for accurate flux measurements (typically assumed to be 30 m) is below the typical safety limit of manned research aircraft; however, with advances in laser altimeters, small-aircraft flight control, and real-time kinematic differential GPS, low-altitude flight is now within the capability of small UAV platforms. Flight tests of instrumented BAE Systems Manta C1 UAVs over land were conducted in January 2011 at McMillan Airfield (Camp Roberts, California). Flight tests of similarly instrumented Boeing Insitu ScanEagle UAVs were conducted in April 2012 at the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Dahlgren Division (Dahlgren, Virginia), where the first known measurements of water vapor, heat, and momentum fluxes were made from low-altitude (down to 30 m) UAV flights over water (Potomac River). This study presents a description of the instrumentation, summarizes results from flight tests, and discusses potential applications of these UAVs for (marine) atmospheric boundary layer studies.

Short TitleJ. Atmos. Ocean. Technol.