Using Remote Control Aerial Vehicles to Study Variability of Airborne Particulates
Airborne particulates play a significant role in the atmospheric radiative balance and impact human health. To characterize this impact, global-scale observations and data products are needed. Satellite products allow for this global coverage but require in situ validations. This study used a remote-controlled aerial vehicle to look at the horizontal, vertical, and temporal variability of airborne particulates within the first 150 m of the atmosphere. Four flights were conducted on December 4, 2014, between 12:00 pm and 5:00 pm local time. The first three flights flew a pattern of increasing altitude up to 140 m. The fourth flight was conducted at a near-constant altitude of 60 m. The mean PM2.5 concentration for the three flights with varying altitude was 36.3 μg/m³, with the highest concentration occurring below 10 m altitude. The overall vertical variation was very small with a standard deviation of only 3.6 μg/m³. PM2.5 concentration also did not change much throughout the day with mean concentrations for the altitude-varying flights of 35.1, 37.2, and 36.8 μg/m³. The fourth flight, flown at a near-constant altitude, had a lower concentration of 23.5 μg/m³.
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