Scientists Utilize Drones to Study Atmosphere in Antarctica

213_antarctica_3.24.2014 Scientists Utilize Drones to Study Atmosphere in AntarcticaResearchers are using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in Antarctica to explore a region in the atmosphere that affects weather and climate.

Under the Antarctic automatic weather station program, which is led by the University of Wisconsin-Madison, scientists are employing both small and large UAVs to study the atmospheric boundary layer. According to an article by The Antarctic Sun, the atmospheric boundary layer is the lowest part of the troposphere that is key to understanding the energy exchanges between the Earth's surface and atmosphere.

The MK4.4 UAV, manufactured by Australia-based Aerosonde, has a wingspan greater than three meters, needs a pickup truck to be launched, and requires a team of pilots and engineers for operation and maintenance.

The small unmanned meteorological observer (SUMO) aircraft, meanwhile, has a wingspan of 80 centimeters and 30-minute battery endurance. These UAVs carry sensors to record temperature, pressure, humidity and wind.

Researchers will use the data collected by the SUMO drones to assess the accuracy of weather forecasts from the Antarctic Mesoscale Prediction System.

Read the full Antarctic Sun article here.

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