Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Department of


Date of this Version



Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society Volume 93, Issue 1 (January 2012) pp. 39-54


Copyright 2012 American Meteorological Society


Unmanned aircraft (UA) can provide observations of atmospheric phenomena that are either difficult or impossible to obtain with existing platforms. It is for this reason that facilitating the maturation of this relatively new technology has become a high priority in the atmospheric sciences. This position is reflected in the 2007 National Research Council Decadal Survey, which states that unmanned aircraft technology “should be increasingly factored into the nation’s strategic plan for Earth science” (National Research Council 2007, p. 14). Moreover, the fiscal year 2008 budget for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) featured an increased investment in unmanned aircraft systems (UAS1— that is, the aircraft along with the communications and logistics infrastructure required for their operation) to “evaluate the benefits and potential of using UAS” (NOAA 2008, p vi).