This paper discusses results of the CLOUD-MAP (Collaboration Leading Operational UAS Development for Meteorology and Atmospheric Physics) project dedicated to developing, fielding, and evaluating integrated small unmanned aircraft systems (sUAS) for enhanced atmospheric physics measurements. The project team includes atmospheric scientists, meteorologists, engineers, computer scientists, geographers, and chemists necessary to evaluate the needs and develop the advanced sensing and imaging, robust autonomous navigation, enhanced data communication, and data management capabilities required to use sUAS in atmospheric physics. Annual integrated evaluation of the systems in coordinated field tests are being used to validate sensor performance while integrated into various sUAS platforms. This paper focuses on aspects related to atmospheric sampling of thermodynamic parameters with sUAS, specifically sensor integration and calibration/validation, particularly as it relates to boundary layer profiling. Validation of sensor output is performed by comparing measurements with known values, including instrumented towers, radiosondes, and other validated sUAS platforms. Experiments to determine the impact of sensor location and vehicle operation have been performed, with sensor aspiration a major factor. Measurements are robust provided that instrument packages are properly mounted in locations that provide adequate air flow and proper solar shielding.

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Published in Atmosphere, v. 9, issue 7, 252, p. 1-16.

© 2018 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.

This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).

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This work is supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 1539070, Collaboration Leading Operational UAS Development for Meteorology and Atmospheric Physics to Oklahoma State University and the Universities of Oklahoma, Nebraska-Lincoln and Kentucky.