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Drone-based observations complement radiosonde measurements

Drone-based observations complement radiosonde measurements

Drone-based measurements can be used operationally to complement the radiosonde measurements of temperature and humidity.

The capability of drones as a platform for temperature and humidity measurements was investigated as part of a master's thesis. The study shows that the measurements taken during the descending leg of the flight agree better with the radiosonde than measurements taken during the ascending leg. This is caused by the location of the sensor beneath the drone and the heat from the motors, which is convected more efficiently to the sensor during the ascending leg. The temperature inversions were detected at slightly different altitudes during the ascending and descending legs.

The measurements were taken at a site in Jokioinen, where radio soundings are also conducted four times a day. The measurements taken with the drone were compared against these radiosonde measurements. As the uncertainties of the drone-borne measurements are now better known, drones can be confidently used operatively to complement the radio soundings.

Usually the temperature and humidity profiles are measured using radiosondes, which are expensive and often limited to only few profiles per day. Especially for the atmospheric boundary layer, which varies strongly through the day, this is not enough. With drones it is possible to get continuous profile measurements, especially in the lower part of the atmosphere.

Further information:

Project specialist Antti Laitinen, Finnish Meteorological Institute, tel. +358 50 571 2839,

Laitinen, A: Utilization of drones in vertical profile measurements of the atmosphere, Tampere University, Tampere, 2019

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