Evaluation of Routine Atmospheric Sounding Measurements using Unmanned Systems (ERASMUS)

2 August 2015 - 31 October 2016

Lead Scientist: Gijs de Boer

Observatory: amf, oli

The use of unmanned aerial systems (UAS) is becoming increasingly popular for a variety of applications. One way in which these systems can provide revolutionary scientific information is through the routine measurement of atmospheric conditions, particularly properties related to clouds, aerosols, and radiation. Improved understanding of these topics at high latitudes, in particular, has become extremely relevant due to observed decreases in ice and snow in polar regions.

The Evaluation of Routine Atmospheric Sounding Measurements using Unmanned Systems (ERASMUS) campaign operated a variety of instrumented UAS during two-week campaign periods in 2015 and 2016 at Oliktok Point, Alaska, the current deployment for the third ARM Mobile Facility (AMF3). This campaign supported the collection of a detailed set of atmospheric measurements designed to complement those concurrently obtained by AMF3. This set of measurements has provided researchers with a focused case‐study period for future observational and modeling studies pertaining to Arctic atmospheric processes.

In particular, researchers aimed to collect data for addressing the following scientific questions:

  • How do profiles of temperature and humidity evolve during transitions between clear and cloudy atmospheric states?
  • How do aerosol properties vary with height at high-latitude locations?
  • What role do moisture inversions play in the life cycle of Arctic mixed-phase clouds, and how does their structure evolve in space and time?
  • How well do current remote-sensing retrievals perform in the Arctic environment?
  • What is the spatial variability of heat and moisture fluxes over ice and land surfaces?

Another purpose of ERASMUS was to evaluate the potential for future routine atmospheric measurements using UAS at Oliktok Point. The ability for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to activate restricted airspace around Oliktok Point makes it a valuable resource for UAS-based measurements, and ERASMUS provided feedback on the ability to complete routine atmospheric sounding using these platforms. Information on environmental constraints, site‐induced operational limitations, and general operational strategies will be provided in the form of a final report. This information should be helpful in the planning and execution of future UAS-based measurement campaigns at Oliktok Point.

The types of UAS-­based measurements obtained will facilitate improved understanding of the lower Arctic atmosphere, including aerosols and clouds, by providing vital data for analysis and model studies. These studies will subsequently foster the advancement of predictive understanding of the Earth's climate and environmental systems through improvement of global climate models (GCMs), thereby aiding in addressing the DOE Biological and Environmental Research (BER) Climate and Environmental Science Division (CESD) mission to improve climate data and models for policymakers.

Planned DataHawk operations: 2015.08.02–2015.08.16

Planned Pilatus operations: 2016.04.02—2016.04.18


Brian Argrow Dale Lawrence Mark Tschudi
Geoffrey Bland James Maslanik
Jack Elston Scott Palo



Butterworth B, G de Boer, and D Lawrence. 2024. "A Study of Intermittent Turbulence in Stable Arctic Boundary Layers." Boundary-Layer Meteorology, 190(1), 2, 10.1007/s10546-023-00847-5.


Hamilton J, G de Boer, A Doddi, and D Lawrence. 2022. "The DataHawk2 uncrewed aircraft system for atmospheric research." Atmospheric Measurement Techniques, 15(22), 10.5194/amt-15-6789-2022.


Dexheimer D, M Airey, E Roesler, C Longbottom, K Nicoll, S Kneifel, F Mei, R Harrison, G Marlton, and P Williams. 2019. "Evaluation of ARM tethered-balloon system instrumentation for supercooled liquid water and distributed temperature sensing in mixed-phase Arctic clouds." Atmospheric Measurement Techniques, 12(12), 10.5194/amt-12-6845-2019.


de Boer G, M Ivey, B Schmid, D Lawrence, D Dexheimer, F Mei, J Hubbe, A Bendure, J Hardesty, M Shupe, A McComiskey, H Telg, C Schmitt, S Matrosov, I Brooks, J Creamean, A Solomon, D Turner, C Williams, M Maahn, B Argrow, S Palo, C Long, R Gao, and J Mather. 2018. "A Bird’s Eye View: Development of an Operational ARM Unmanned Aerial Capability for Atmospheric Research in Arctic Alaska." Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, 99(6), 10.1175/BAMS-D-17-0156.1.


de Boer G, S Palo, B Argrow, G LoDolce, N Curry, D Weibel, W Finnamore, P D'Amore, S Borenstein, T Nichols, J Elston, M Ivey, A Bendure, B Schmid, C Long, H Telg, R Gao, T Hock, and G Bland. 2017. ERASMUS Field Campaign Report. Ed. by Robert Stafford, ARM Climate Research Facility. DOE/SC-ARM-17-009.


de Boer G, S Palo, B Argrow, G LoDolce, J Mack, R Gao, H Telg, C Trussel, J Fromm, CN Long, G Bland, J Maslanik, B Schmid, and T Hock. 2016. "The Pilatus unmanned aircraft system for lower atmospheric research." Atmospheric Measurement Techniques, 9(4), 10.5194/amt-9-1845-2016.

de Boer G, MD Ivey, B Schmid, S McFarlane, and R Petty. 2016. "Unmanned Platforms Monitor the Arctic Atmosphere." Eos, 97, 10.1029/2016eo046441.
Research Highlight


de Boer G, B Argrow, G Bland, J Elston, D Lawrence, J Maslanik, S Palo, and M Tschudi. 2015. Evaluation of Routine Atmospheric Sounding Measurements using Unmanned Systems (ERASMUS) Science Plan. Ed. by Robert Stafford, DOE ARM Climate Research Facility. DOE/SC-ARM-15-048.

Westcott K. 2015. ARM Aerial Facility Fact Sheet. ARM user facility. DOE/SC-ARM-15-086.

Goss H. 2015. Evaluation of Routine Atmospheric Sounding Measurements Using Unmanned Systems (ERASMUS) Backgrounder. Ed. by Dana DuPont, ARM Climate Research Facility. DOE/SC-ARM-15-017.

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Campaign Data Sets

IOP Participant Data Source Name Final Data
Carl Schmitt Video Ice Particle Sampler Probe Order Data
Gijs de Boer Video Order Data

OLI Data Sources

Name Full Name Browse Data
AERI Atmospheric Emitted Radiance Interferometer Browse Data
AERINF AERI Noise Filtered Browse Data
AMC Ameriflux Measurement Component Browse Data
AOD-MFRSR Aerosol Optical Depth (AOD) derived from MFRSR measurements Browse Data
AOP Aerosol Optical Properties Browse Data
AOS Aerosol Observing System Browse Data
AOSMET Meteorological Measurements associated with the Aerosol Observing System Browse Data
ARMBE ARM Best Estimate Data Products Browse Data
CAMSITE camera that monitors a site area Browse Data
CAPS-PMEX Cavity Attenuated Phase Shift Extinction Monitor Browse Data
CCN Cloud Condensation Nuclei Particle Counter Browse Data
CEIL Ceilometer Browse Data
CEILPBLHT Boundary-layer height data with CEIL Browse Data
CO-ANALYZER Carbon Monoxide Analyzer Browse Data
CPC Condensation Particle Counter Browse Data
CPC-AIR Condensation particle counter aboard aircraft Browse Data
CSPHOT Sunphotometer Browse Data
DL Doppler Lidar Browse Data
DLPROF-WIND Doppler Lidar Horizontal Wind Profiles Browse Data
DLPROF-WSTATS Doppler Lidar Wind Statistics Profiles Browse Data
ECMWFDIAG European Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasts Diagnostic Analyses Browse Data
ECOR Eddy Correlation Flux Measurement System Browse Data
GHG Greenhouse Gas Monitor Browse Data
GNDRAD Ground Radiometers on Stand for Upwelling Radiation Browse Data
HTDMA Humidified Tandem Differential Mobility Analyzer Browse Data
INTERPSONDE Interpolated Sonde Browse Data
IRT Infrared Thermometer Browse Data
KASACR Ka-Band Scanning ARM Cloud Radar Browse Data
KAZR Ka ARM Zenith Radar Browse Data
KAZRARSCL Active Remote Sensing of CLouds (ARSCL) product using Ka-band ARM Zenith Radars Browse Data
KAZRARSCLCLOUDSAT KAZR-ARSCL, reflectivities aligned with CloudSat Cloud Profiling Radar Browse Data
KAZRCOR KAZR Corrected Data Browse Data
LDIS Laser Disdrometer Browse Data
MASC Multi-Angle Snowflake Camera Browse Data
MASCPARTICLES Multi-Angle Snowflake Camera Particle Analysis Browse Data
MAWS Automatic Weather Station Browse Data
MET Surface Meteorological Instrumentation Browse Data
MET-AIR Meteorological Instrumentation aboard Aircraft Browse Data
MFR Multifilter Radiometer Browse Data
MFRSR Multifilter Rotating Shadowband Radiometer Browse Data
MPL Micropulse Lidar Browse Data
MPLCMASK Cloud mask from Micropulse Lidar Browse Data
MPLCMASKML Micropulse Lidar Cloud Mask Machine Learning VAP Browse Data
MWR3C Microwave Radiometer, 3 Channel Browse Data
MWRRETV2 MWR Retrievals with MWRRET Version 2 Browse Data
NEPHELOMETER Nephelometer Browse Data
OZONE Ozone Monitor Browse Data
PBLHT Planetary Boundary Layer Height Browse Data
PSAP Particle Soot Absorption Photometer Browse Data
QCECOR Quality Controlled Eddy Correlation Flux Measurement Browse Data
QCRAD Data Quality Assessment for ARM Radiation Data Browse Data
RADARCFAD Radar Contoured Frequency by Altitude Diagram Browse Data
RADFLUXANAL Radiative Flux Analysis Browse Data
RL Raman Lidar Browse Data
RLPROF Raman LIDAR Vertical Profiles Browse Data
RLPROF-FEX Raman Lidar Vertical Profiles Feature Detection and Extinction Browse Data
RLPROFMR Raman Lidar Mixing Ratio Browse Data
RLPROFTEMP Raman Lidar Temperature VAP Browse Data
RWP Radar Wind Profiler Browse Data
SACRADVQVP SACR Advance Quasi-Vertical Profile Browse Data
SACRADVVAD SACR Advance Velocity Azimuth Display Browse Data
SEBS Surface Energy Balance System Browse Data
SKYRAD Sky Radiometers on Stand for Downwelling Radiation Browse Data
SONDE Balloon-Borne Sounding System Browse Data
SONDEGRID Gridded Sonde VAP Product Browse Data
TBS Tethered Balloon System Browse Data
THERMOCLOUDPHASE Thermodynamic cloud phase Browse Data
TSI Total Sky Imager Browse Data
UHSAS Ultra-High Sensitivity Aerosol Spectrometer Browse Data
WSACR W-band Scanning ARM Cloud Radar Browse Data