Posted Wednesday 14th March 2018

Drones to Help Forecast Jersey’s Weather

An innovative new drone-led technology is being tested in Jersey on 20th March which could increase the accuracy of our weather forecasting and help reduce the number of flights which take off from the UK but return unable to land, due to fog at Jersey airport.

Drones to Help Forecast Jersey’s Weather

At present our weather data, provided by Jersey Met, comes from ground level or high level (above 2km) collection points, leaving the immediate atmosphere above us un-recorded. This Planetary Boundary Layer, is where the Meteodrones fly, sourcing information and then feeding this detail into a model which uses all the weather information to come up with a high resolution local weather forecast.

This highly detailed model enables significantly improved forecasts for aviation relevant variables such as visibility, wind speed and direction. It’s also useful for other industries, giving more accurate information for energy companies and agriculture including humidity, rainfall, temperatures and thunderstorms.

Meteodrones are sophisticated miniature weather stations developed by Meteomatics that have already been engaged in successful trials involving the US weather service NOAA, the US National Severe Storms Laboratory, the UK Met Office, and MeteoSwiss. The Meteodrones are authorised to fly beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) by the Swiss Federal Office of Civil Aviation. It’s hoped that the data they gather will not only enable us to produce more accurate measurement and forecasts of Jersey’s micro-climate, but also provide data, which can be used in other ways.

 CEO of Digital Jersey, Tony Moretta, said “The data collected from these drones could provide benefits for all islanders as well as providing a rich data source for Internet of Things companies. It could be a valuable addition to our ambition to be the first whole-country sandbox testing environment, not only being a test-bed for Meteomatics themselves, but also enabling other developers to source detailed data for a variety of uses.

Ports of Jersey are particularly interested in the technology for aviation and shipping safety, but the company will also be meeting with Jersey Met, in the Department for the Environment, Jersey Water, Jersey Electricity, the Department for Infrastructure and the Jersey Royal Company, as well as presenting to the Digital Jersey IoT and Infrastructure Group.

Minister for the Environment, Deputy Steve Luce said “My department, which helped facilitate this trial, will be watching with great interest. There are so many aspects of the environment such as forecasting, farming, invasive species, and built environment, that could benefit from state of the art, real time drone technology, and I think this is a fantastic opportunity to learn about the benefits that might materialise from this new system”.

Dr Martin Fengler, CEO of Meteomatics said, “We are looking forward to showcasing the Meteodrones which can provide big benefits not only for weather forecasting, but also pollution monitoring and UVA level measurements. We have spent four years developing our sophisticated drones and there are many more uses for them. Partnering with agencies and developers as part of Sandbox Jersey could open new doors for us and for the island”.