A meteorological campaign in the tropics for the BOREAL UAV!

By BOREAL | February 17, 2021

Almost 8 hours of flight over one day: here is one of the performances achieved by the BOREAL UAV during this meteorological campaign carried out from the island of Barbados (Caribbean) at the beginning of the year 2020. The EUREC4A project (Elucidating the role of clouds-circulation coupling in climate), co-directed by the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry in Hamburg (Germany) and the Dynamic Meteorology Laboratory (Laboratoire de Météorologie Dynamique: LMD) in Paris, has involved more than a hundred European and American scientists in understanding current climate issues.

A Campaign with Unprecedented Resources
Understanding the effects of climate change on the tropical zone, and more particularly at the level of trade wind clouds, is a major challenge. Indeed, detecting property changes (even tiny ones) around these phenomena is essential as they illustrate the imbalances in heat exchanges that control the climate.

This meteorological campaign is one of the most important of the last ten years, mobilising more than ten international laboratories specialising in the study of the climate, among which are the Max Planck Institute in Hamburg, the LMD in Paris and the Meteorological Research Centre (Centre de Recherches Météorologiques: CNRM) of Météo France. From 20 January to 20 February 2020, there were no less than 5 oceanographic vessels, numerous instrumented floats, land-based observation means (aerosols, balloon releases), 4 meteorological research aircraft and, as a great novelty, UAVs, including the BOREAL of Météo-France, operating from the coasts of Barbados.

A New Feature in This Campaign: UAVs
Various UAVs were deployed during the campaign. The BOREAL is the only one which flew in long range (over 100 km), in coordination with several meteorological aircraft, to collect measurements of radiometry, aerosols, temperature, humidity and turbulence in the lower layers of the atmosphere. The use of UAVs in a meteorological collection campaign is a first. Indeed, the layers very close to the surface are poorly known because they are under-instrumented by scientists, even though they are precisely where the energy exchanges between the ocean and the atmosphere take place. This lack of data is due to the danger for scientific aircraft to fly so low (10 to 50 m above the surface).

The Key Qualities of the BOREAL
The campaign showed the interest of using a UAV like the BOREAL as a complement to the measurements of scientific aircraft. The BOREAL is capable of taking measurements very close to the surface thanks to its on-board radar, and has been able to take trajectories less than 50m from the surface of the Atlantic Ocean for several hours at a distance of more than 100 km from the open sea.

This campaign is the result of a close collaboration between the BOREAL and CNRM teams of Météo France. The expertise of the CNRM in the meteorological field made it possible to develop and integrate innovative and tailor-made sensors for the UAV in order to meet the objectives of the project.

The BOREAL UAV demonstrated once again that its range and endurance were its strong points by carrying out flights lasting several hours in sustained winds, sometimes in stormy weather, with the instrumentation of Météo France and the CNRM on board, while at the same time making it take off at its maximum load (nearly 25 kg). The UAV also proved its ability to land on poorly accessible ground due to the steep terrain in the east of the island.

Finally, the EUREC4A project has demonstrated that it is possible to deploy long-range UAVs such as the BOREAL among other aircraft in a coordinated manner, thanks to its satellite positioning and communication system shared with all the operators on the ground, making it visible in real time to all other aircraft.

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The BOREAL Company
BOREAL was created in 2011. As a manufacturer of high elongation UAVs, its name was given to its flagship product: the BOREAL UAV, the first specimens of which were intended for the scientific experimentation market. Thanks to its payload carrying capacity (from 5 to 8 kg), its remarkable stability and its high modularity, this UAV is perfectly adapted to the needs of scientists. This is why our long-term customers such as Météo France, the ONERA, the Aerology Laboratory or the CEA have used the BOREAL UAV for very targeted experiments. In 2019, for example, the TERRISCOPE project co-financed by the Région Occitanie, in which BOREAL participated, enabled the ONERA to develop an Earth observation platform using very advanced optical sensors.

A UAV for Every Field of Application!
Historically focused on science, BOREAL is diversifying into other markets. For example, maritime surveillance or Earth observation applications such as visible imaging or LiDAR have now been added to the BOREAL range. The company currently offers 3 versions of the UAV for several civilian applications. Its modularity, wingspan, 8-hour autonomy and long range makes it an ideal UAV for demanding reconnaissance, surveillance or data collection missions. Besides this, BOREAL also offers a support service to help remote pilots get started and provides training in the use of the system.

Operational on All Grounds
The BOREAL UAV takes off thanks to a catapult and does not require prepared ground. In addition, the BOREAL can adapt to difficult flying conditions. It can be operated in rainy weather and with winds of up to 70 km/hour.

A "Made in Toulouse" Product
UAVs are designed and manufactured in the company's factory in Castanet-Tolosan (31), south-east of Toulouse. Together with its sister companies, M3 Systems France and M3 Systems Belgium, BOREAL is part of the MISTRAL group in which a synergy has naturally been created. As a matter of fact, BOREAL benefits from the GNSS test & measurement solutions offered by M3 Systems France as well as from the expertise in the field of Air Traffic Management: (ATM) developed by M3 Systems Belgium on behalf of EUROCONTROL (European Organisation for the Safety of Air Navigation).

More information on www.boreal-uas.com