Unmanned Aircraft Flights Along the North Slope of Alaska to Measure Lower Atmospheric Properties

August 13, 2015
By Jessica Rohde

Preparing to launch the DataHawk 2 UAS at Oliktok Point are (from left) Dale Lawrence, Nathan Curry, and William Finamore (photo: Gijs de Boer).

A team of University of Colorado (CIRES and Aerospace Engineering) scientists including IARPC Collaborations member Gijs de Boer will be at Oliktok Point, Alaska on August 2-16 operating the DataHawk 2 unmanned aircraft system (UAS).  This small (1 meter), lightweight (1 kg) and inexpensive ($1000) UAS makes measurements in the lower Arctic atmosphere including temperature, humidity and winds. The data collected during these flights will aid in understanding the lifecycle of Arctic cloud properties, small scale wind patterns, and the vertical mixing of air between the surface and cloud height, all of which are critical components of improving the predictability of the Arctic atmosphere and sea-ice.

These flights are part of the "Evaluating Routine Atmospheric Sounding Measurements using Unmanned Systems" (ERASMUS) campaign supported by the US Department of Energy Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) and Atmospheric System Research (ASR) programs. The DataHawk2 aircraft being used was developed and designed by Professor Dale Lawrence of CU's department of Aerospace Engineering. Interested parties can follow the project on CIRES ERASMUS Blog.

The DataHawk 2 UAS preparing for launch on the Oliktok Point runway (photo: Will Finamore)

UAS’ are opening doors for new sampling and measurement techniques that help to advance our understanding of the Arctic. They can be readily deployed to regions where manned aircraft may not be willing to fly, e.g. ~100 m off of the surface over the Arctic Ocean. Many IARPC members employ UAS’ in their research: if you can contribute, please request an account on our member space.

Posted by Jessica Rohde on behalf of Gijs de Boer, CIRES

Request an account

Join scientists from Federal, State, academic, NGO, and industry organizations working to accelerate the progress of Arctic research.

Membership in IARPC Collaborations is subject to approval and adherence to the codes of conduct.


Sara Bowden, IARPC Executive Secretary
(703) 447-7828

Please direct website questions to Jessica Rohde, Web Manager, at jrohde@arcus.org.