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

Related Publications


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.

Roeder L. 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.

View All Related Publications

Campaign Data Sets

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