Current and Future Uses of UAS for Improved Forecasts/Warnings and Scientific Studies


Unmanned aircraft systems (UASs) provide unique observations not readily available from piloted aircraft or ground- and satellite-based remote sensors. For example, they can reach difficult to observe areas in the Arctic (Reuder et al. 2011; de Boer et al. 2018a), in tropical cyclones (Cione et al. 2019), and within the atmospheric boundary layer (Jacob et al. 2018), and provide more routine measurements over a longer time range with repetitive vertical and horizontal profiles than piloted aircraft can. Furthermore, there are many scientific applications of UAS that go beyond weather research, which can aid weather applications and, in some instances, draw from weather applications. Although recent efforts have accelerated the development of UAS platforms and instruments (e.g., Wildmann et al. 2014; de Boer 2016a, Barbieri et al. 2019; Bell et al. 2019), there is still considerable uncertainty in how to best acquire and use these observations for improving forecasts, how to integrate them with other observations currently being obtained, and to enable process studies to improve conceptual and numerical modeling of the atmosphere and its constituent gases, aerosols and hydrometeors. In order to initiate a community effort for addressing such issues and to build upon the efforts of other community groups, such as the International Society for Atmospheric Research using with Remotely-piloted Aircraft (ISARRA,, a workshop emphasizing the scientific applications of UAS was held at the National Weather Center (NWC) in Norman, Oklahoma from 29 to 31 October 2019.

The local hosts for the workshop included the Cooperative Institute for Mesoscale Meteorological Studies (CIMMS), University of Oklahoma Center for Autonomous Sensing and Sampling (CASS), Center for the Analysis and Prediction of Storms (CAPS), Advanced Radar Research Center (ARRC), School of Meteorology, NOAA’s National Severe Storms Laboratory (NSSL) and Air Resources Laboratory (ARL), and other entities within the NWC. The workshop brought together diverse communities actively working on various aspects of UAS-based atmospheric science.

Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society