Capturing clues from the wind. A solar eclipse provides a unique opportunity to observe the response of the atmospheric turbulence to an approximate step change in solar radiation.
To assess the unsteady changes to the atmospheric surface layer introduced by a solar eclipse, a flight campaign was conducted by the University of Kentucky at the Russellville, Kentucky Regional Airport on August 21, 2017.
Several measurement systems were deployed, including two fixed-wing unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and one quadrotor UAV, complemented by ground-based sensors. Instrumentation on the quadrotor UAV included a Trisonica Mini 3D ultrasonic anemometer manufactured by Anemoment LLC. The TriSonica Mini was mounted to the top of a 3DR SOLO quadcopter. The tower was used to ensure that wind measurements were not contaminated by the rotor wash (Figure 1).
This system was used to capture the profile of the boundary layer by flying a repeated vertical flight path between 10 m and 100 m. The results of this study revealed the formation of a nocturnal layer shortly after totality, characterized by a vertical wind shear, as illustrated in the images below which show profiles of potential temperature and wind speed from the start to the end of the eclipse.
Figure 1: TriSonica Mini mounted to the top of a quadcopter.
Profiles captured of the boundary layer by flying repeated vertical flight paths.
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