Versatile 4D drones for observations of deep-south key earth system processes

  • Project Duration: 1 year
  • Project Budget: $299,000

This project will develop and test the use of Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS), or drones, to complement and validate satellite observations of the least understood processes regarding clouds and snow in the least accessible region of the world.  The challenging polar environment still restricts our ability to effectively measure distributions of aerosols and sea ice thickness.  Improved observational systems designed to operate in the Southern Ocean are therefore essential for enhancing our knowledge of the processes underlying climate change.

This application of new smart technologies will provide an exciting new development in the data collection of cloud related processes in the Southern Ocean. This will enhance greater understanding of cloud formation to enable more realistic simulations of regional and global climate scenarios. 

Once developed, the systems will be used in further Deep South Challenge research for data collection and validation of satellite observations. They will be easily deployable by field parties from sea ice or from ships, thereby increasing the observational capacity of the Deep South programmes.  This project works toward the overarching Deep South mission to develop an international standard Earth Systems Model that adequately reflects the unique dynamics of the Southern Ocean and informs the decision making of New Zealanders in a changing climate.


Contact Principle Investigator

Dr Wolfgang Rack, University of Canterbury, Gateway Antarctica, Email:


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