Development of Community, Capabilities and Understanding Through Unmanned Aircraft-Based Atmospheric Research: The LAPSE-RATE Campaign

Julie Lundquist, Gijs Boer, Constantin Diehl, Jamey Jacob, Adam Houston, Suzanne Smith, Phillip Chilson, David Schmale III, Janet Intrieri, James Pinto, Jack Elston, David Brus, Osku Kemppinen, Alex Clark, Dale Lawrence, Sean Bailey, Michael Sama, Amy Frazier, Christopher Crick, Victoria NatalieElizabeth Pillar-Little, Petra Klein, Sean Waugh, Lindsay Barbieri, Stephan Kral, Anders Jensen, Cory Dixon, Steven Borenstein, Daniel Hesselius, Kathleen Human, Phillip Hall, Brian Argrow, Troy Thornberry, Ru-Shan Gao, Randy Wright, Jason Kelly

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus Citations


Members of the international community developing unmanned aircraft for atmospheric research conducted a highly-successful coordinated flight week in Colorado during summer 2018 to collect measurements, develop capabilities, and enhance community in the field. Because unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) offer new perspectives on the atmosphere, their use in atmospheric science is expanding rapidly. In support of this growth, the International Society for Atmospheric Research using Remotely-piloted Aircraft (ISARRA) has been developed and have convened annual meetings and 'flight weeks'. The 2018 flight week, dubbed the Lower Atmospheric Profiling Studies at Elevation - a Remotely-piloted Aircraft Team Experiment (LAPSE-RATE), involved a one-week deployment to Colorado's San Luis Valley. Between 14-20 July 2018 over 100 students, scientists, engineers, pilots and outreach coordinators conducted an intensive field operation using unmanned aircraft and ground-based assets to develop datasets, community, and capabilities. In addition to a coordinated 'community day' which offered a chance for groups to share their aircraft and science with the San Luis Valley community, LAPSE-RATE participants conducted nearly 1300 research flights totaling over 250 flight hours. The measurements collected have been used to advance capabilities (instrumentation, platforms, sampling techniques and modeling tools), conduct a detailed system intercomparison study, develop new collaborations, and foster community support for the use of UAS in atmospheric science.
Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)E684-E699
JournalBulletin of the American Meteorological Society
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2019

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5000-74200


  • atmosphere
  • PBL
  • planetary boundary layer
  • UAS
  • unmanned aircraft systems
  • wind energy


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