Using UAS for Environmental Studies


At Event 38, part of our goal of offering low-cost, ready to fly UAS is to promote their adoption into a variety of alternate uses. We recently partnered with the physics and engineering departments of Universidad de Chile to explore the viability using an E382 to study low altitude atmospheric effects.

As a preliminary study, we set out to measure the size of the boundary layer over Santiago, Chile as it grows over the morning hours. In the graphs below, you can see the edge of the boundary layer as the area where the temperature starts to increase at about 910-925 hPa.


It’s only visible in the first two graphs because after that time it had grown beyond the altitude we were testing.

The flights were spaced 20-25 minutes apart and lasted about 15 minutes each. For these missions we used guided mode and simply reset the altitude after a few minutes at each altitude break.


The advantage of using UAS in this scenario is the ability to reach both low and high altitudes quickly and repeatably. Logistically it is much more portable and cheaper per flight than weather balloons or tethered balloons.

Hopefully this is part of the future of small UAS once they’re completely integrated into the airspace worldwide!

E-mail me when people leave their comments –

You need to be a member of diydrones to add comments!

Join diydrones


  • These measurements were made using a sensor package from a high altitude balloon. No doubt the APM's sensors would have worked just as well in this case. In the future, we'll integrate humidity and maybe droplet size sensors for measurements in clouds and fog.

  • Nice work. Were you using the pressure and temp readings from the APM itself or a separate sensor ?

This reply was deleted.