Uncrewed systems and other tools are gathering data at different levels of the ocean and the atmosphere that are key to understanding how storms form, build, and intensify. Together with NOAA Hurricane Hunter aircraft carrying sensors, this data paints a clearer picture for scientists of the forces that drive hurricanes. Predicting these changes in hurricanes enables communities to better prepare, which can protect lives and property and strengthen local economies.
NOAA Global Monitoring Laboratory Development of a UAS “Virtual Tower” for Gas and Ozone Measurements
Scientists from NOAA’s Global Monitoring Laboratory (GML) have undertaken novel development of an uncrewed aircraft system (UAS) “hexacopter” that will enable the lab to not only recommence a long-standing mission that was recently forced to halt, but paves the way toward enhanced operations in the future. The composition of Earth’s atmosphere is rapidly changing due to anthropogenic releases of carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4), which are powerful greenhouse gasses driving global warming. Also, human-made chemicals such as CFC-11 and CFC-12 (refrigerants) are destroying the ozone layer that filters out ultraviolet (UV) radiation. These CFCs and their counterparts destroy enough of the protective stratospheric ozone layer to produce the Antarctic “Ozone Hole”.
Scientists hope images from the research drones will improve our understanding of tornadoes and lead to better forecasts.
In clear skies over Maryland the week of January 11, NOAA scientists launched a research drone from a NOAA Hurricane Hunter plane to test its ability to gather weather data that could improve hurricane forecasts.
When it comes to data collection, uncrewed aerial systems — known as UAS or drones — are critical research tools. They’ve helped scientists take
World View Enterprises has offered to carry a miniaturized NOAA instrument on its high-altitude balloon to capture measurements of atmospheric particles on a series of flights in 2021 that will last weeks and cover thousands of miles at altitudes above 55,000 feet.
On September 12, 2019 the NOAA awarded L3 Latitude a support contract to continue development of the L3 Latitude FVR-55 hybrid Vertical Take Off and Landing (VTOL) UAS, integrate NOAA scientific payloads, and support UAS flight operations from the NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown for the NOAA UAS Program. The Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory is developing UAS payloads to make aerosol and meteorological measurements. The Physical Science Division is developing a sensor to measure atmospheric parameters such as heat flux.
The L3 Latitude FVR-55 UAS has been developed through a NOAA Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) grant. This hybrid UAS has unique capabilities which allow for autonomous launch and recovery from the deck of a ship without the need for a runway or catapult. After vertical takeoff, the UAS transitions to fixed wing flight with an endurance of up to 10 hours, a ceiling of 12,000ft and the ability to carry up to a 15 lb payload. The payload nose cone can be used to house different instrumentation dependent upon the mission.
The UAS will be operated from the NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown and during the Atlantic Tradewind Ocean–Atmosphere Mesoscale Interaction Campaign (ATOMIC), which is a field study to investigate atmospheric shallow convection and air-sea interaction in the tropical North Atlantic east of Barbados in 2020.