NCAR/NOAA Global Hawk Dropsonde System
The Global Hawk dropsonde system was developed by the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) with funding support from the Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) program within NOAA. The system, also known as the Airborne Vertical Atmospheric Profiling System (AVAPS), takes advantage of NCAR's extensive experience in the development, operation, and analysis of aircraft dropsonde systems and their data. Integration onto the Global Hawk aircraft was done in collaboration with NASA.
The system can carry up to 88 dropsondes for deployment at altitudes up to 65,000 ft from the unmanned Global Hawk aircraft. The dropsondes collect high vertical resolution measurements of the temperature, pressure, relative humidity, and wind speed and direction in the atmosphere. Coupled with the long 30+ hour endurance of the aircraft, the system provides a revolutionary capability for the monitoring of high-impact weather events.
The Global Hawk dropsonde system was first deployed scientifically during the NOAA-led Winter Storms and Pacific Atmospheric Rivers (WISPAR) experiment in 2011. Currently the system is being employed in the multi-year NASA Hurricane and Severe Storm Sentinel (HS3) experiment.