Drones Weather the Storm


We have a fleet of drones. They’re going to be flying through these, what we call cold pools, which is this cool air that’s rushing down and out along the ground. We can measure how the temperature changes, and the humidity and the winds and so we can see if that varies as a function of height.

In the past, we’ve mainly just been able to see that information at the surface. As a little kid, my mom will tell you, when I was three, I asked the question, “Why do the clouds not fall on the ground?” And I think that I was always fascinated by clouds. I’ve always taken pictures of them. To understand the theory of these storm systems is big for us, right? That’s what makes scientists tick, is to get to the why. So this will help us get to the physics behind that.

We’re ready for launching. We released a balloon here and we’ve released a balloon further south. When we release them, they give us information on the environmental characteristics. Tells us where we should place ourselves, to be in the best place for future storm development. 148 might be an option, 150 may be an option. I don’t know what the power line situation is. So this storm is really beautiful.

You can see the rain here and then, you see these stripes in this region on the right? That suggests that this is rotating, and that doesn’t always happen. This is the kind of things we’re after in this campaign. So what our plan is today is to do a, what we call our deep drone set-up. So we’ve got, we’ll have two drones 100 meters apart, at 20 meters above the ground and then we’ll have the same, two drones above them at 120 meters above the ground and then two drones above them, at about 330 meters above the ground.

It’s pioneering a new approach to measuring, or getting really fine-scale measurements of storm properties that we have never been able to do before and with the goal of improving the representation of both the updrafts and the downdrafts in models and hence, ultimately, better forecasting, and ultimately saving lives.


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