13 May 2022
13 May 2022
Status: this preprint is open for discussion and under review for Atmospheric Measurement Techniques (AMT).

Towards vertical wind and turbulent flux estimation with multicopter UAS

Norman Wildmann and Tamino Wetz Norman Wildmann and Tamino Wetz
  • Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt e.V., Institut für Physik der Atmosphäre, Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany

Abstract. Vertical wind velocity and its fluctuations are essential parameters in the Atmospheric Boundary Layer (ABL) to determine turbulent fluxes and scaling parameters for ABL processes. The typical instrument to measure fluxes of momentum and heat in the surface layer are sonic anemometers. Without the infrastructure of meteorological masts and above their typical heights, in-situ point measurements of the three-dimensional wind vector are hardly available. We present a method to obtain the three-dimensional wind vector from avionic data of small multicopter unmanned aerial systems (UAS). To achieve a good accuracy in both, average and fluctuating parts of the wind components, calibrated motor thrust and measured accelerations by the UAS are used. In a validation campaign, in comparison to sonic anemometers on a 99-m mast, accuracies below 0.2 m s-1 are achieved for the mean wind components and below 0.2 m2 s-2 for their variances. The spectra of variances and covariances show good agreement with the sonic anemometer up to 1 Hz temporal resolution. A case study of continuous measurements in a morning transition of a convective boundary layer with five UAS illustrates the potential of such measurements for ABL research.

Norman Wildmann and Tamino Wetz

Status: open (until 18 Jun 2022)

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Norman Wildmann and Tamino Wetz

Norman Wildmann and Tamino Wetz


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Short summary
Multicopter unmanned aerial systems (UAS, also known as: drones) are very easy to use systems to collect data in the lowest part of the atmosphere. Wind and turbulence are parameters which are particularly important to understand the dynamics in the atmosphere. Only with three-dimensional measurements of the wind, a full understanding can be achieved. In this study, we show how even the vertical wind through the UAS can be measured with good accuracy.