University of Kentucky using drones to improve weather forecasting

Published: Apr. 30, 2019 at 8:05 PM EDT
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Researchers at the University of Kentucky are getting a unique look at the Earth’s atmosphere using drones.

They’re hoping to use unmanned drones to study and better predict weather about 15 miles above the Earth’s surface.

"The balloon gives you the extra energy up and the UAV, it cuts out a lot of operational costs. It also allows for enhanced sampling,” said UK PhD. Candidate Travis Schuyler.

Through his sampling, Schuyler says this data can then be used to help weather forecasting by improving the models. Most commercial airplanes fly at around 30,000 to 50,000 feet high, while Schuyler’s drone can make its way all the way up to 80,000 feet above ground.

"Right now we have ground stations and satellites that do a good job, but there is a gap where drones could fill in that data with much higher density that could improve those models,” Schuyler said.

And while this research comes with some challenges, Schuyler is hoping this type of data collection with drones, will someday become more common in the United States.

“It's a matter of time and working with organizations like NASA and The National Science Foundation as we have has really helped us move that along,” Schuyler said.

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