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Atmospheric Measurement Techniques An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 10, issue 8 | Copyright
Atmos. Meas. Tech., 10, 2773-2784, 2017
https://doi.org/10.5194/amt-10-2773-2017
© Author(s) 2017. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Research article 01 Aug 2017

Research article | 01 Aug 2017

Simultaneous multicopter-based air sampling and sensing of meteorological variables

Caroline Brosy1, Karina Krampf1, Matthias Zeeman1, Benjamin Wolf1, Wolfgang Junkermann1, Klaus Schäfer1, Stefan Emeis1, and Harald Kunstmann1,2 Caroline Brosy et al.
  • 1Institute of Meteorology and Climate Research (IMK-IFU), Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, 82467 Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany
  • 2Institute of Geography, University of Augsburg, 86159 Augsburg, Germany

Abstract. The state and composition of the lowest part of the planetary boundary layer (PBL), i.e., the atmospheric surface layer (SL), reflects the interactions of external forcing, land surface, vegetation, human influence and the atmosphere. Vertical profiles of atmospheric variables in the SL at high spatial (meters) and temporal (1Hz and better) resolution increase our understanding of these interactions but are still challenging to measure appropriately. Traditional ground-based observations include towers that often cover only a few measurement heights at a fixed location. At the same time, most remote sensing techniques and aircraft measurements have limitations to achieve sufficient detail close to the ground (up to 50m). Vertical and horizontal transects of the PBL can be complemented by unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV). Our aim in this case study is to assess the use of a multicopter-type UAV for the spatial sampling of air and simultaneously the sensing of meteorological variables for the study of the surface exchange processes. To this end, a UAV was equipped with onboard air temperature and humidity sensors, while wind conditions were determined from the UAV's flight control sensors. Further, the UAV was used to systematically change the location of a sample inlet connected to a sample tube, allowing the observation of methane abundance using a ground-based analyzer. Vertical methane gradients of about 0.3ppm were found during stable atmospheric conditions. Our results showed that both methane and meteorological conditions were in agreement with other observations at the site during the ScaleX-2015 campaign. The multicopter-type UAV was capable of simultaneous in situ sensing of meteorological state variables and sampling of air up to 50m above the surface, which extended the vertical profile height of existing tower-based infrastructure by a factor of 5.

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Vertical and horizontal sounding of the planetary boundary layer can be complemented by unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV). Utilizing a multicopter-type UAV spatial sampling of air and simultaneously sensing of meteorological variables is possible for the study of surface exchange processes. During stable atmospheric conditions, vertical methane gradients of about 300 ppb were found. This approach extended the vertical profile height of existing tower-based infrastructure by a factor of five.
Vertical and horizontal sounding of the planetary boundary layer can be complemented by unmanned...
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