Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado Boulder

Unmanned Aircraft Systems

Unmanned aircraft can offer unprecedented abilities for environmental scientists to make critical measurements where manned aircraft are either not feasible or not safe. Betsy Weatherhead has been assisting in NOAA's Unmanned Aircraft Program since 2001, helping define scientific goals and enable safe, effective flights to address critical environmental data gaps.

Together with Brian Argrow, Betsy Weatherhead co-chaired the first Civilian Applications of Unmanned Aircraft Systems meeting in 2007 in Boulder, CO. The summary of that meeting highlights the value of unmanned aircraft to the civililan priorities of climate change, disaster response and homeland security.

Weatherhead's Group has been leaders in coordinating environmental monitoring with unmanned aircraft in the Arctic region. The technology is ideally suited for the little understood area. International cooperation has been strong to allow for safe flights in the Arctic. Two formal meetings were convened by the Arctic Council's Arctic Monitoring Assessment Program (AMAP0. The first, in Stockholm Sweden, outlined the scientific goals for using unmanned aircraft. The second, held in Oslo, Norway, outlined steps necessary to obtain needed airspace and promote coordination.