3.4 Development of a Transition Roadmap for Weather Observing Strategies using Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS)

Wednesday, 13 January 2016: 2:15 PM
Room 338/339 ( New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center)
Robbie E. Hood, NOAA Unmanned Aircraft Systems Program, Silver Spring, MD; and G. A. Wick, M. L. Black, J. P. Dunion, and J. R. Walker

The Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Program of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is assessing the feasibility of civilian applications of UAS to address critical gaps in the broad NOAA observing system. A key focus area of the NOAA UAS Program is evaluating how unmanned aircraft observing technologies may augment observations needed by the National Weather Service (NWS) to improve prediction and warning of high impact weather events. The NOAA UAS Program is employing field demonstrations of UAS concept of operations, data impact studies including observing system simulation experiments, and cost and operational feasibility studies to conduct comprehensive evaluations of UAS weather observing strategies. Development of a transition roadmap to mature viable UAS observing strategies for transition into operations has been a key goal of the UAS Program since its inception.

A high altitude, long endurance UAS observing strategy using a Global Hawk is making significant progress thanks to partnerships with NOAA's operational stakeholders, other Federal agencies, academia, and private industry. The NOAA UAS Program is also beginning to explore UAS observing strategies using small, low altitude UAS to obtain boundary layer meteorological information that could be useful for convective initiation predictions as well as situational awareness and damage assessment of severe storms and flooding.

During the last seven years, the UAS Program has experienced both steady success and key challenges in advancing UAS observing strategies toward application. The level of success or challenge experienced during transition appears to be related to four key factors: (1) a common understanding of technology readiness, (2) a well-defined transition process with clear key decision points, (3) joint participation by both research and operational stakeholders in the transition planning, and (4) a very basic level of trust between researchers and their operational counterparts. This presentation will discuss how these four factors are related to examples of both steadily successful and challenging transitions experienced during the development of UAS observing strategies by the UAS Program.

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