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Intercomparison of Unmanned Aircraftborne and Mobile Mesonet Atmospheric Sensors

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  • 1 Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, University of Nebraska–Lincoln, Nebraska
  • | 2 Department of Aerospace Engineering Sciences, University of Colorado Boulder, Boulder, Colorado
  • | 3 Cooperative Institute for Mesoscale Meteorological Studies, University of Oklahoma, and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration/National Severe Storms Laboratory, Norman, Oklahoma
  • | 4 Department of Aerospace Engineering Sciences, University of Colorado Boulder, Boulder, Colorado
  • | 5 National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration/National Severe Storms Laboratory, Norman, Oklahoma
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Abstract

Results are presented from an intercomparison of temperature, humidity, and wind velocity sensors of the Tempest unmanned aircraft system (UAS) and the National Severe Storms Laboratory (NSSL) mobile mesonet (NSSL-MM). Contemporaneous evaluation of sensor performance was facilitated by mounting the Tempest wing with attached sensors to the NSSL-MM instrument rack such that the Tempest and NSSL-MM sensors could collect observations within a nearly identical airstream. This intercomparison was complemented by wind tunnel simulations designed to evaluate the impact of the mobile mesonet vehicle on the observed wind velocity.

The intercomparison revealed strong correspondence between the temperature and relative humidity (RH) data collected by the Tempest and the NSSL-MM with differences generally within sensor accuracies. Larger RH differences were noted in the presence of heavy precipitation; however, despite the exposure of the Tempest temperature and humidity sensor to the airstream, there was no evidence of wet bulbing within precipitation. Wind tunnel simulations revealed that the simulated winds at the location of the NSSL-MM wind monitor were ~4% larger than the expected winds due to the acceleration of the flow over the vehicle. Simulated vertical velocity exceeded 1 m s−1 for tunnel inlet speeds typical of a vehicle moving at highway speeds. However, the theoretical noncosine reduction in winds that should result from the impact of vertical velocity on the laterally mounted wind monitor was found to be negligible across the simulations. Comparison of the simulated and observed results indicates a close correspondence, provided the crosswind component of the flow is small.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Adam L. Houston, Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, University of Nebraska–Lincoln, 214 Bessey Hall, Lincoln, NE 68588. E-mail: ahouston2@unl.edu

Abstract

Results are presented from an intercomparison of temperature, humidity, and wind velocity sensors of the Tempest unmanned aircraft system (UAS) and the National Severe Storms Laboratory (NSSL) mobile mesonet (NSSL-MM). Contemporaneous evaluation of sensor performance was facilitated by mounting the Tempest wing with attached sensors to the NSSL-MM instrument rack such that the Tempest and NSSL-MM sensors could collect observations within a nearly identical airstream. This intercomparison was complemented by wind tunnel simulations designed to evaluate the impact of the mobile mesonet vehicle on the observed wind velocity.

The intercomparison revealed strong correspondence between the temperature and relative humidity (RH) data collected by the Tempest and the NSSL-MM with differences generally within sensor accuracies. Larger RH differences were noted in the presence of heavy precipitation; however, despite the exposure of the Tempest temperature and humidity sensor to the airstream, there was no evidence of wet bulbing within precipitation. Wind tunnel simulations revealed that the simulated winds at the location of the NSSL-MM wind monitor were ~4% larger than the expected winds due to the acceleration of the flow over the vehicle. Simulated vertical velocity exceeded 1 m s−1 for tunnel inlet speeds typical of a vehicle moving at highway speeds. However, the theoretical noncosine reduction in winds that should result from the impact of vertical velocity on the laterally mounted wind monitor was found to be negligible across the simulations. Comparison of the simulated and observed results indicates a close correspondence, provided the crosswind component of the flow is small.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Adam L. Houston, Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, University of Nebraska–Lincoln, 214 Bessey Hall, Lincoln, NE 68588. E-mail: ahouston2@unl.edu
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