Unmanned aircraft systems (UASs) offer innovative capabilities for providing new perspectives on the atmosphere, and therefore atmospheric scientists are rapidly expanding their use, particularly for studying the planetary boundary layer. In support of this expansion, from 14 to 20 July 2018 the International Society for Atmospheric Research using Remotely piloted Aircraft (ISARRA) hosted a community flight week, dubbed the Lower Atmospheric Profiling Studies at Elevation – a Remotely-piloted Aircraft Team Experiment (LAPSE-RATE; de Boer et al., 2020a). This field campaign spanned a 1-week deployment to Colorado's San Luis Valley, involving over 100 students, scientists, engineers, pilots, and outreach coordinators. These groups conducted intensive field operations using unmanned aircraft and ground-based assets to develop comprehensive datasets spanning a variety of scientific objectives, including a total of nearly 1300 research flights totaling over 250 flight hours. This article introduces this campaign and lays the groundwork for a special issue on the LAPSE-RATE project. The remainder of the special issue provides detailed overviews of the datasets collected and the platforms used to collect them. All of the datasets covered by this special issue have been uploaded to a LAPSE-RATE community set up at the Zenodo data archive (https://zenodo.org/communities/lapse-rate/, last access: 3 December 2020).

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Published in Earth System Science Data, v. 12, issue 4.

© Author(s) 2020

This work is distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

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This research has been supported by the National Science Foundation (grant nos. AGS 1807199, 1539070, and CBET-1351411) and the US Department of Energy (grant nos. DE-SC0018985 and DE-AC36-08GO28308).

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Files from all teams are archived under individual DOIs at the Zenodo data archive (https://www.zenodo.org/, last access: 3 December 2020), where a dedicated community has been established for LAPSE-RATE (https://zenodo.org/communities/lapse-rate/, last access: 3 December 2020). This community houses the data files along with additional metadata on the datasets. In total, these files cover nearly 1300 flights and 250 flight hours, along with data from related ground-based observing systems, radiosondes, and numerical model output.