Spatially sampled measurements of atmospheric turbulence using unmanned aerial vehicles

Caleb A. Canter, Sean C.C. Bailey

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


This paper provides an overview of recently conducted experiments in which atmospheric boundary layer turbulence was measured by unmanned aerial vehicles. These experiments were conducted as part of the large-scale “Lower Atmospheric Process Studies at Elevation - a Remotely-piloted Aircraft Team Experiment (LAPSE-RATE)” measurement campaign held in Colorado’s San Luis Valley. Two types of measurements are examined, the first type is focused on measuring profiles of thermodynamic properties for atmospheric boundary layer investigations. Profiles of temperature, wind velocity, and turbulent kinetic energy measured during a morning transition from stable to convective conditions were examined for altitudes up to 900 m above ground level. The second measurement type utilizes long transect flights over nearly homogeneous terrain to spatially measure turbulence statistics. Energy spectra and velocity structure functions up to 10th order were examined and the scaling of the structure function exponents compared to those measured from prior studies.

Original languageEnglish
StatePublished - 2019
Event11th International Symposium on Turbulence and Shear Flow Phenomena, TSFP 2019 - Southampton, United Kingdom
Duration: Jul 30 2019Aug 2 2019


Conference11th International Symposium on Turbulence and Shear Flow Phenomena, TSFP 2019
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The results presented in this paper were supported by the US National Science Foundation through grant #CBET-1351411 and by US National Science Foundation award #1539070, Collaboration Leading Operational UAS Development for Meteorology and Atmospheric Physics (CLOUDMAP). Funding for LAPSE-RATE leveraged a variety of existing projects with limited general support for LAPSE-RATE provided by the US National Science Foundation (AGS 1807199) in the form of travel support for early career participants. Support for the planning and execution of the campaign was provided by the NOAA Physical Sciences Division and NOAA UAS Program. Finally, the support of UASColorado and local government agencies (Alamosa County, Saguache County) was critical in securing site permissions and other local logistics.

Funding Information:
Here we present results from data collected as part of the Lower Atmospheric Process Studies at Elevation -a Remotely-piloted Aircraft Team Experiment (LAPSE-RATE). LAPSE-RATE took place in Colorados San Luis Valley between 14-19 July, 2018, and was organized in conjunction with the International Society for Atmospheric Research using Remotely-piloted Aircraft (ISARRA). This activity included participation by a variety of university, government and industry teams. Over the course of six days, over 100 participants supported the coordinated deployment of 50 different unmanned aircraft to complete 1287 total flights, accumulating 262.4 flight hours. These flights were conducted under both FAA Certificates of Authorization (COAs) and FAA Part 107, with the COAs generally supporting flights up to altitudes of 3000 feet above ground level. In addition to the aerial assets, a variety of ground-based observational assets were deployed. These included the Collaborative Lower Atmospheric Mobile Profiling System (CLAMPS; Reference), two Doppler Lidar systems, numerous radiosondes, and mobile surface instrumentation associated with vehicles and small towers. Finally, forecasting and modeling support was provided by the National Weather Service forecast office in Pueblo, CO and the National Center for Atmospheric Research.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 International Symposium on Turbulence and Shear Flow Phenomena, TSFP. All rights reserved.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science
  • Aerospace Engineering


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