ESRL Global Systems Division

ESRL Takes Leadership Role in UAS International Arctic Workshop

Dr. Betsy Weatherhead, co-lead of the NOAA Arctic Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) program, co-chaired the Unmanned Aircraft for Environmental Monitoring in the Arctic workshop, March 27-28, 2008 in Stockholm, Sweden. Dr. Weatherhead and Justyna Nicinska, from NOAA UAS International Affairs, traveled to Sweden to participate in the workshop sponsored by the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP). The strong history of circum-arctic collaboration among the eight Arctic countries sets the stage for them to lead the way in developing appropriate best practices for environmental use of UAS across the Arctic. AMAP is helping lead this effort to allow the international community to come to an agreement on critical issues regarding this valuable technology for environmental measurements. The workshop will focus on requirements for cross-boundary collaborations in the area of climate, weather, the cryosphere, and the biosphere in the Arctic.

Unmanned Aircraft are emerging as a capability to serve a number of important societal functions including facilitating communications and monitoring the environment. The Arctic is a key place for the use of unmanned vehicles because the remote nature of the Arctic makes manned flights dangerous, or at times, impossible. Because of special geographic properties of the Arctic, satellite imagery is difficult to receive and highly uncertain. Unmanned vehicles can provide critical environmental data to fill the gap between Earth and space. Researchers are now developing new and original ways for adapting this tool for environmental needs.

NOAA's UAS program and involvement in this workshop supports and promotes the Arctic countries in leading the way in developing appropriate best practices for environmental use of UAS across the Arctic. In doing so we are fulfilling NOAA's Cross-cutting Priority to integrate global environmental observation and data management systems.

Contact information
Name: Betsy Weatherhead
Tel: 303-497-6653