Weather forecasts seem to be a hot topic amongst engineers these days. Everyone is trying to invent the next weather measurement tool that will change the game. Hey, people love knowing what the weather is going to be, what can we say? Scientists over at Oklahoma State University are working with something vastly different to weather balloons. Drones.
Meteorologists who are working with the team say they are going to be able to produce forecasts more accurately with the new method of measuring weather patterns. The drones would source the information about the weather patterns by calculating information based on the earth's atmosphere.
Jamey Jacob, an aerospace engineer and professor of mechanical engineering at OSU is pioneering the Unmanned Systems Research Institute that is using the drones. The team claim the drones can fly for large stretches of times, recording data on several atmospheric levels.
"Oklahoma is a really good, good example, because even though we're already a very weather-dynamic state, Oklahoma only has two balloon launches a day -- one at dawn and one at dusk -- from a single location in the state, and that's where all the weather forecasting information comes from. So that data is really sparse, and it's difficult for meteorologists that are developing these forecasting models to get a very good idea about how that weather is changing from these very limited number of data points."
A professor of meteorology at OSU, Phillip Chilson thinks the drone program would be low-cost and will ensure that storms are understood better. Probably best to do it in Oklahoma since they are prone to tornadoes in their state.
Chilson told Voice of America, "Our real goal is to try to develop systems that really, I don't want to say replace but there may be that possibility of replacing weather balloons, but currently augmenting them -- so, increasing the capabilities."