Researchers Testing Unmanned Aircraft In Weather Data Collection

Jun 28, 2017

A new way to collect weather data is being tested this week.

Dozens of researchers from four universities—Oklahoma State University, the University of Oklahoma, the University of Kentucky, and the University of Nebraska—are piloting unmanned aerial vehicles as part of a four-year, $6 million project with the National Science Foundation.

But Dr. Jamey Jacob of Oklahoma State University says they’ve been interested in this idea for some time.

“The technology wasn’t there yet. The idea was ahead of its time, and then people have had this thought all the way back to the '60s."

He says the new technology could take the place of weather balloons, which have been used to deliver data.

“It’s very cumbersome to go out and fill up a helium balloon and then launch it into the atmosphere and then not get the data back.”

Jacob says the unmanned aircraft are more effective and affordable than radar or manned aircraft.

Researchers hope to use the unmanned aircraft to measure weather and atmospheric data, in hope it will help better predict storms, contribute to climate change research, and measure pollution and pollen.