Investigating the vertical structure of the atmosphere using dronesInvestigating the vertical structure of the atmosphere using drones

This project will seek to use an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV, also known as a drone) to characterize vertical profiles of temperature, wind speed, and wind direction near the earth's surface. The data will be collected from ground level to an altitude of 100 meters, and will be used as inputs to a large eddy simulation (LES) model of wind profiles in an environment with steep hillsides and deep valleys.

Using a drone to collect data will allow us to characterize vertical profiles on multiple days in multiple locations without investing in expensive equipment such as a meteorological tower or SODAR. However, our planned approach includes a significant technical challenge: characterizing wind speed and direction when the drone itself generates air flow in order to fly.

This project will require a student to (1) design a system or mechanism for suspending the meteorological equipment (a 3D anemometer) from the drone  in a configuration that minimizes  interference from the drone's wake, (2) characterize potential interference in both a laboratory and outdoor setting, and (3) collect temperature, wind speed, and wind direction data in the outdoor environment.