Study of Aerosol Optical Properties with Manta
Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS)

Manta UAS launch
Manta UAS launch. Photo: Hagen Telg, NOAA/CIRES

Kings Bay AS research facility
Kings Bay AS research facility. Photo: Hagen Telg, NOAA/CIRES

Manta UAS aerosol payload
Manta UAS aerosol payload: Total particle number, Aerosol light absorption (black carbon) (BC), Aerosol size distribution (calculated scattering and single scattering albedo) (POPS), Filter samples for post-flight chemical analysis, Temperature/RH, Radiant flux densities (miniSASP). Photo: NOAA PMEL

Where: Svalbard, Norway

When: April 2015

The NOAA Manta UAS successfully flew 17 mission hours from Ny-Ålesund, Svalbard, Norway as part of the international Coordinated Investigation of Climate-Cryosphere Interactions (CICCI) Study. Ny-Ålesund is a center for international Arctic scientific research and environmental monitoring, located on the island of Spitsbergen in Svalbard, Norway at 79°N. CICCI-3 is the third international field campaign in Ny-Ålesund coordinating and collecting data related to the cryosphere and climate using unmanned aircraft as well as satellite and in-situ sampling techniques. Focus is on measurements of aerosol, snow, glacier and sea-ice properties and their interaction.

For CICCI-3 in the Spring 2015, U.S. researchers from NOAA ESRL CSD, NOAA PMEL (Pacific Marine Environmental Lab), and Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory (LDEO) at Columbia University used unmanned aerial systems (UAS) and several different instrument packages to measure vertical distributions of aerosol light absorption, particle concentrations, and tracer elements able to identify sources of black carbon. Additional payloads, tested in the Arctic for the first time, measured radiative effects of aerosols over the marginal ice zone, ice age distributions, ice-surface type, and heat fluxes. In addition, snow was sampled and analyzed for light absorbing particulates, black carbon, organic carbon, and tracer elements. Black carbon deposition processes are investigated by coupling the UAS and snow measurements. International partners from Norway brought additional UAS to Svalbard equipped with radiation sensors. Partners from Italy made ground- and balloon-based measurements of aerosol properties and German scientists made remote measurements of aerosol vertical distributions, aerosol optical depth, and cloud properties. The experiment observations will be used to improve model parameterizations of transport of black carbon to the Arctic, deposition of black carbon onto snow and ice surfaces, and resulting climate effects.

The study of aerosol optical properties with a Manta Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) operated from the Kings Bay AS research facility in April 2015. CSD deployed two instruments on the Manta UAS, a recently developed miniaturized Printed Optical Particle Spectrometer (POPS) and the miniature Scanning Aerosol Sun Photometer (miniSASP; an upward-looking radiometer (ULR)). The payload measured the vertical profile from 50m up to 3000m over different sea and glacier terrains near Ny-Ålesund.