News

NOAA’s Global Monitoring Laboratory Gears up for Testing of High-Altitude sUAS and Full Scientific Payload at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center and Edwards Air Force Base

Article and Figures Provided By: Colm Sweeney and Bianca Baier

Kenneth Vierra 0 529 Article rating: No rating

NOAA’s Global Monitoring Laboratory (GML) has transformed high-altitude greenhouse gas sampling in the past decade with the AirCore balloon-borne sampler that collects air from the stratosphere (~95,000 ft Mean Sea Level (MSL) to the earth’s surface, analogous to an ice “core.”  A typical AirCore flight is facilitated by a balloon-based ascent to 95,000 ft MSL, followed by balloon cutaway and parachute recovery to the ground. Because the AirCore and its accompanying scientific payload – facilitated by small balloon technology – enables atmospheric sampling at altitudes higher than most aircraft measurement systems, this novel technique is an effective method for sampling trace gases such as carbon dioxide, methane, carbon monoxide and other meteorological state variables (temperature, relative humidity, pressure) in more than 98 percent of the earth’s atmosphere at a fraction of the cost of aircraft systems.

Advances in Monitoring Restoration of Juvenile Salmon Habitat with Drones

Article and Figures Provided By: G. Curtis Roegner (NMFS)

Kenneth Vierra 0 485 Article rating: 5.0

Juvenile Pacific salmon rely on functioning wetlands for food and shelter as they migrate to the sea. In the Pacific Northwest, most wetland habitats have been lost or severely impacted, necessitating widespread restoration programs enacted to improve connectivity between water systems and reestablish native vegetation. Programs may include varied ecological engineering solutions, but all require monitoring to assess effectiveness. Until recently, assessments have lacked spatial and temporal resolution and have been time-consuming and expensive. 

 

With funding and logistical support from the NOAA Oceanic and Atmospheric Research (OAR) Uncrewed Systems Research Transition Office (USRTO), scientists from the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) have developed integrated remote sensing protocols using Uncrewed Aerial Vehicles (drones), advanced instrumentation, and image analysis methods that together facilitate a broad habitat assessment capability. 

UAS Characterization of High Wind Damage to Vegetation and Rural Area Assessments

Article and Figures Provided By: Melissa Wagner (NSSL/CIMM)

Kenneth Vierra 0 471 Article rating: No rating

Damage assessments provide insight into the occurrence, intensity, and distribution of tornadoes and other high-wind events. Current ground survey and satellite assessments, however, are restricted by available resources (e.g., personnel, time, and cost), accessibility, technological limitations, and damage indicators used to infer storm intensity. These assessments can be especially challenging in rural areas because storm damage is frequently underestimated due to the inability to detect vegetation stress, limited vegetation damage indicators, and low population density. In these sparsely populated areas, storm damage is often underreported and consequently affects severe storm climatology and our understanding of risk. Underestimating this risk can have serious implications on hazard monitoring as well as disaster preparedness and recovery in rural areas. With the help of the NOAA Oceanic and Atmospheric Research (OAR) Uncrewed Systems Research Transition Office (USRTO), scientists from the NOAA National Severe Storms Laboratory in collaboration with the Cooperative Institute for Mesoscale Meteorological Studies are working on developing an uncrewed aircraft system (UAS)-based approach to better characterize high-wind damage to vegetation and in rural areas to improve disaster response and recovery.

NOAA GLERL Great Lakes Cyanobacteria Harmful Algal Bloom Monitoring

Article and Figures Provided By Lauren Marshall (Cherokee Nation Businesses / GLERL)

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While the pandemic has presented challenges to field operations these past few months, NOAA Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory (NOAA GLERL) has worked to continue collecting data in a safe manner. Data provides critical monitoring of cyanobacteria harmful algal blooms (cyanoHABs) in the western basin of Lake Erie. Crewed aircraft flyover operations, while delayed, continued to provide robust data sets beneath clouds and nearshore. In order to operate comfortably, crewed flyover operations are performed 3500-6500 feet with possible interference from cloud cover that is often forming as low as 1800 feet above the western basin. Next summer, with the support of UASPO funding, GLERL will operate a multi-rotor Uncrewed Aircraft System (UAS) to fly beneath the clouds and provide unprecedented imagery of areas close to shore, addressing a key information gap. The combination of these data sets will support the NOAA Lake Erie HAB Forecast.

NOAA Resumes Routine Vertical Profiling Using Small Uncrewed Aircraft Systems to Benefit Weather Forecasts

Article and Figures Provided By: Bruce Baker (ATDD Division Director)

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Since 2015, the NOAA Air Resources Laboratory (ARL) Atmospheric Turbulence and Diffusion Division (ATDD) in Oak Ridge, Tennessee has been using small Uncrewed Aircraft Systems (sUAS) to better understand processes occurring in the lowest few hundred feet of the atmosphere. Much of this work has been conducted during targeted field studies, in which scientists and engineers from ATDD have performed sUAS flights to complement measurements obtained from other weather observing platforms (surface weather monitoring instruments, weather balloons, and radars for example) deployed by ATDD and its collaborators from other NOAA laboratories and universities. 
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