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Studying the lower Arctic atmosphere using DataHawks

A panoramic view of the near-shore environment being sampled.
A panoramic view of the near-shore environment being sampled. On the right half of the image is a mix of sea ice and open water over which the DataHawk was flying. (Credit: Gijs de Boer, CIRES)

October 16, 2014

Gijs de Boer

Gijs de Boer, a CIRES scientist who works at NOAA/ESRL's Physical Sciences Division (PSD), is in Alaska’s Oliktok Point this month, deploying innovative instruments to study the lower Arctic atmosphere just as sea ice begins to form. The project, called Coordinated Observations of the Arctic Lower Atmosphere (COALA), is funded by the US Department of Energy Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) program, and involves flying a small DataHawk unmanned aircraft system (UAS), designed in the University of Colorado Boulder’s Aerospace Engineering department.

One of the two DataHawks sitting inside a DOE ARM Mobile Facility (AMF3) at Oliktok Point

de Boer's research interests at PSD are centered around understanding fundamental physics governing processes in the lower Arctic atmosphere. He uses and develops observational and modeling tools to improve our understanding of processes related to energy transfer between the Earth’s surface and atmosphere, clouds and precipitation, and local atmospheric motion. In particular, developing platforms from which to observe these processes in a changing Arctic environment, one that features more open water and thawed surfaces, is a primary objective at this time. Information from these studies can be used to inform numerical models and allow them to more closely simulate the Arctic atmosphere, sea ice, and more.

Follow de Boer's work in the Arctic this month through a blog at CIRES

CIRES is a partnership of NOAA and CU-Boulder