Atmospheric Measurements Using Unmanned Systems

A special issue of Atmosphere (ISSN 2073-4433). This special issue belongs to the section "Atmospheric Techniques, Instruments, and Modeling".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (12 February 2022) | Viewed by 23363

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Geophysical Institute, 903 Koyukuk Drive, University of Alaska, Fairbanks, AK 99775-7320, USA
Interests: remote sensing natural hazard assessment; aerosol dispersion modeling; advanced visualization of natural hazards; scenario planning for potential impact from volcanic events; uncertainty analysis applied to natural hazards; real-time event detection methodologies from satellite remote sensing
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Black Swift Technologies LLC, Boulder, CO 80301, USA
Interests: unmanned aircraft; control systems; meteorology
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Guest Editor
Department of Engineering Cybernetics, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, 7491 Trondheim, Norway
Interests: icing; ice protection systems; icing wind tunnels; advanced air mobility; urban air mobility; UAV
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Cartographic and Land Engineering Department, Higher Polytechnic School of Avila, University of Salamanca, Hornos Caleros, 50 05003 Avila, Spain
Interests: photogrammetry; laser scanning; 3D modeling; topography; cartography
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Department of Mining Technology, Topography and Structures, University of León, Avda. Astorga, s/n, 24401 Ponferrada, Spain
Interests: photogrammetry; drones; laser scanning; radiometric calibration; remote sensing; RGB-D sensors; 3D modeling; mobile mapping; metrology; verification; inspection; quality control
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Guest Editor
Unmanned Systems Research Institute, School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OK 74078, USA
Interests: aerodynamics; UAV design & flight testing; vortex dynamics; flow control; bio-fluid flow; plasma physics; inflatable aerostructures
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Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The opportunities that unmanned systems provide to collect real-time observations of the atmosphere are growing. Both small and large unmanned systems have been developed to support atmospheric scientific research as well as operational monitoring for decision support systems. Large-scale systems can provide critical timely observations of the atmosphere during significant events such as hurricanes and severe storms, while small innovative unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) can be adapted to include high-precision sensors to collect high-frequency measurements of the atmosphere, which was not possible with previous sensor systems.

This Special Issue is addressed to the two communities of Atmosphere and Drones. We are interested in papers that focus on all aspects of the application of unmanned systems for atmospheric measurements. These include, but are not limited to, experimental campaigns highlighting the testing and evaluation of new sensors, the development of new aircraft to specifically support collected atmospheric observations, new data-processing and collection methodologies using large and/or small unmanned systems, and lessons learned/best practices to integrate unmanned systems into atmospheric-monitoring decision support systems.

We look forward to your submissions and to achieving a Special Issue representing the growing community of scientists involved in atmospheric science measurements and observations using these innovative unmanned systems.

You may choose our Joint Special Issue in Drones.

Yours,

Dr. Peter Webley
Dr. Jack Elston
Dr. Richard Hann
Prof. Dr. Diego González-Aguilera
Dr. Pablo Rodríguez-Gonzálvez
Prof. Jamey Jacob
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Atmosphere is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Unmanned Aircraft System(s) (UAS)
  • Unmanned Aerial Vehicle(s) (UAV)
  • Drones
  • Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS)
  • Emerging Technologies
  • Remote Sensing
  • Environmental Intelligence
  • Atmospheric Observations
  • Field Measurements

Related Special Issue

Published Papers (6 papers)

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Research

19 pages, 28473 KiB  
Article
A Study of a Miniature TDLAS System Onboard Two Unmanned Aircraft to Independently Quantify Methane Emissions from Oil and Gas Production Assets and Other Industrial Emitters
by Abigail Corbett and Brendan Smith
Atmosphere 2022, 13(5), 804; https://doi.org/10.3390/atmos13050804 - 14 May 2022
Cited by 19 | Viewed by 4737
Abstract
In recent years, industries such as oil and gas production, waste management, and renewable natural gas/biogas have made a concerted effort to limit and offset anthropogenic sources of methane emissions. However, the state of emissions, what is emitting and at what rate, is [...] Read more.
In recent years, industries such as oil and gas production, waste management, and renewable natural gas/biogas have made a concerted effort to limit and offset anthropogenic sources of methane emissions. However, the state of emissions, what is emitting and at what rate, is highly variable and depends strongly on the micro-scale emissions that have large impacts on the macro-scale aggregates. Bottom-up emissions estimates are better verified using additional independent facility-level measurements, which has led to industry-wide efforts such as the Oil and Gas Methane Partnership (OGMP) push for more accurate measurements. Robust measurement techniques are needed to accurately quantify and mitigate these greenhouse gas emissions. Deployed on both fixed-wing and multi-rotor unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), a miniature tunable diode laser absorption spectroscopy (TDLAS) sensor has accurately quantified methane emissions from oil and gas assets all over the world since 2017. To compare bottom-up and top-down measurements, it is essential that both values are accompanied with a defensible estimate of measurement uncertainty. In this study, uncertainty has been determined through controlled release experiments as well as statistically using real field data. Two independent deployment methods for quantifying methane emissions utilizing the in situ TDLAS sensor are introduced: fixed-wing and multi-rotor. The fixed-wing, long-endurance UAV method accurately measured emissions with an absolute percentage difference between emitted and mass flux measurement of less than 16% and an average error of 6%, confirming its suitability for offshore applications. For the quadcopter rotary drone surveys, two flight patterns were performed: perimeter polygons and downwind flux planes. Flying perimeter polygons resulted in an absolute error less than 36% difference and average error of 16.2%, and downwind flux planes less than 32% absolute difference and average difference of 24.8% when flying downwind flux planes. This work demonstrates the applicability of ultra-sensitive miniature spectrometers for industrial methane emission quantification at facility level with many potential applications. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Atmospheric Measurements Using Unmanned Systems)
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17 pages, 3913 KiB  
Article
In Situ Observations of Wind Turbines Wakes with Unmanned Aerial Vehicle BOREAL within the MOMEMTA Project
by Sara Alaoui-Sosse, Pierre Durand and Patrice Médina
Atmosphere 2022, 13(5), 775; https://doi.org/10.3390/atmos13050775 - 10 May 2022
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 2544
Abstract
The MOMENTA project combines in situ and remote sensing observations, wind tunnel experiments, and numerical modeling to improve the knowledge of wake structure in wind farms in order to model its impact on the wind turbines and to optimize wind farm layout. In [...] Read more.
The MOMENTA project combines in situ and remote sensing observations, wind tunnel experiments, and numerical modeling to improve the knowledge of wake structure in wind farms in order to model its impact on the wind turbines and to optimize wind farm layout. In this context, we present the results of a first campaign conducted with a BOREAL unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) designed to measure the three wind components with a horizontal resolution as fine as 3 m. The observations were performed at a wind farm where six turbines were installed. Despite the strong restrictions imposed by air traffic control authorities, we were able to document the wake area of two turbines during two flights in April 2021. The flight patterns consisted of horizontal racetracks with various orientations performed at different distances from the wind turbines; thus, horizontal wind speed fields were built in which the wind reduction area in the wake is clearly displayed. On a specific day, we observed an overspeed area between the individual wakes of two wind turbines, likely resulting from the cumulative effect of the wakes generated behind two successive rows of turbines. This study demonstrates the potential of BOREAL to document turbine wakes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Atmospheric Measurements Using Unmanned Systems)
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27 pages, 3288 KiB  
Article
MesSBAR—Multicopter and Instrumentation for Air Quality Research
by Lutz Bretschneider, Andreas Schlerf, Anja Baum, Henning Bohlius, Marcel Buchholz, Sebastian Düsing, Volker Ebert, Hassnae Erraji, Paul Frost, Ralf Käthner, Thomas Krüger, Anne Caroline Lange, Marcel Langner, Andreas Nowak, Falk Pätzold, Julian Rüdiger, Jorge Saturno, Hendrik Scholz, Tobias Schuldt, Rickmar Seldschopf, Andre Sobotta, Ralf Tillmann, Birgit Wehner, Christian Wesolek, Katharina Wolf and Astrid Lampertadd Show full author list remove Hide full author list
Atmosphere 2022, 13(4), 629; https://doi.org/10.3390/atmos13040629 - 15 Apr 2022
Cited by 9 | Viewed by 3066
Abstract
Air quality measurements usually consist of ground-based instrumentation at fixed locations. However, vertical profiles of pollutants are of interest for understanding processes, distribution, dilution and concentration. Therefore, a multicopter system has been developed to investigate the vertical distribution of the concentration of aerosol [...] Read more.
Air quality measurements usually consist of ground-based instrumentation at fixed locations. However, vertical profiles of pollutants are of interest for understanding processes, distribution, dilution and concentration. Therefore, a multicopter system has been developed to investigate the vertical distribution of the concentration of aerosol particles, black carbon, ozone, nitrogen oxides (NOx) and carbon monoxide and the meteorological parameters of temperature and humidity. This article presents the requirements by different users, the setup of the quadrocopter system, the instrumentation and the results of first applications. The vertical distribution of particulate matter next to a highway was strongly related to atmospheric stratification, with different concentrations below and above the temperature inversion present in the morning. After the qualification phase described in this article, two identically equipped multicopters will be used upwind and downwind of line or diffuse sources such as highways or urban areas to quantify the influence of their emissions on the local air quality. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Atmospheric Measurements Using Unmanned Systems)
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23 pages, 15790 KiB  
Article
Wind Estimation with Multirotor UAVs
by Kilian Meier, Richard Hann, Jan Skaloud and Arthur Garreau
Atmosphere 2022, 13(4), 551; https://doi.org/10.3390/atmos13040551 - 29 Mar 2022
Cited by 17 | Viewed by 5310
Abstract
Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) have benefited from a tremendous increase in popularity over the past decade, which has inspired their application toward many novel and unique use cases. One of them is the use of UAVs in meteorological research, in particular for wind [...] Read more.
Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) have benefited from a tremendous increase in popularity over the past decade, which has inspired their application toward many novel and unique use cases. One of them is the use of UAVs in meteorological research, in particular for wind measurement. Research in this field using quadcopter UAVs has shown promising results. However, most of the results in the literature suffer from three main drawbacks. First, experiments are performed as numerical simulations or in wind tunnels. Such results are limited in their validity in real-life conditions. Second, it is almost always assumed that the drone is stationary, which limits measurements spatially. Third, no attempts at estimating vertical wind are made. Overcoming these limitations offer an opportunity to gain significant value from using UAVs for meteorological measurements. We address these shortcomings by proposing a new dynamic model-based approach, that relies on the assumption that thrust can be measured or estimated, while drag can be related to air speed. Moreover, the proposed method is tested on empirical data gathered on a DJI Phantom 4 drone. During hovering, our method leads to precision and accuracy comparable to existing methods that use tilt to estimate the wind. At the same time, the method is able to estimate wind while the drone is moving. This paves the way for new uses of UAVs, such as the measurement of shear wind profiles, knowledge of which is relevant in Atmospheric Boundary Layer (ABL) meteorology. Additionally, since a commercial off-the-shelf drone is used, the methodology can be replicated by others without any need for custom hardware development or modifications. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Atmospheric Measurements Using Unmanned Systems)
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19 pages, 5751 KiB  
Article
Concept and Feasibility Evaluation of Distributed Sensor-Based Measurement Systems Using Formation Flying Multicopters
by Juntang Yang, Yogesh Khedar, Mohamed Khalil Ben-Larbi, Jan Backhaus, Astrid Lampert, Ulf Bestmann and Enrico Stoll
Atmosphere 2021, 12(7), 874; https://doi.org/10.3390/atmos12070874 - 6 Jul 2021
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 2209
Abstract
Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) have been used for increasing research applications in atmospheric measurements. However, most current solutions for these applications are based on a single UAV with limited payload capacity. In order to address the limitations of the single UAV-based approach, this [...] Read more.
Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) have been used for increasing research applications in atmospheric measurements. However, most current solutions for these applications are based on a single UAV with limited payload capacity. In order to address the limitations of the single UAV-based approach, this paper proposes a new concept of measurements using tandem flying multicopters as a distributed sensor platform. Key challenges of the proposed concept are identified including the relative position estimation and control in wind-perturbed outdoor environment and the precise alignment of payloads. In the proposed concept, sliding mode control is chosen as the relative position controller and a gimbal stabilization system is introduced to achieve fine payload alignment. The characterization of the position estimation sensors (including global navigation satellite system and real-time kinematics) and flight controller is carried out using different UAVs (a DJI Matrice M600 Pro Hexacopter and Tarot X4 frame based Quadcopter) under different wind levels. Based on the experimental data, the performance of the sliding mode controller and the performance of the gimbal stabilization system are evaluated in a hardware-in-the-loop simulation environment (called ELISSA). Preliminary achievable control accuracies of the relative position and attitude of subsystems in the proposed concept are estimated based on experimental results. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Atmospheric Measurements Using Unmanned Systems)
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12 pages, 2079 KiB  
Article
Vertical Profiles of Atmospheric Species Concentrations and Nighttime Boundary Layer Structure in the Dry Season over an Urban Environment in Central Amazon Collected by an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle
by Patrícia Guimarães, Jianhuai Ye, Carla Batista, Rafael Barbosa, Igor Ribeiro, Adan Medeiros, Tianning Zhao, Wei-Chun Hwang, Hui-Ming Hung, Rodrigo Souza and Scot T. Martin
Atmosphere 2020, 11(12), 1371; https://doi.org/10.3390/atmos11121371 - 18 Dec 2020
Cited by 18 | Viewed by 3248
Abstract
Nighttime vertical profiles of ozone, PM2.5 and PM10 particulate matter, carbon monoxide, temperature, and humidity were collected by a copter-type unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) over the city of Manaus, Brazil, in central Amazon during the dry season of 2018. The vertical [...] Read more.
Nighttime vertical profiles of ozone, PM2.5 and PM10 particulate matter, carbon monoxide, temperature, and humidity were collected by a copter-type unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) over the city of Manaus, Brazil, in central Amazon during the dry season of 2018. The vertical profiles were analyzed to understand the structure of the urban nighttime boundary layer (NBL) and pollution within it. The ozone concentration, temperature, and humidity had an inflection between 225 and 350 m on most nights, representing the top of the urban NBL. The profile of carbon monoxide concentration correlated well with the local evening vehicular congestion of a modern transportation fleet, providing insight into the surface-atmosphere dynamics. In contrast, events of elevated PM2.5 and PM10 concentrations were not explained well by local urban emissions, but rather by back trajectories that intersected regional biomass burning. These results highlight the potential of the emerging technologies of sensor payloads on UAVs to provide new constraints and insights for understanding the pollution dynamics in nighttime boundary layers in urban regions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Atmospheric Measurements Using Unmanned Systems)
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