NOAA’s National Weather Service and Grand Sky Airfield Operations, LLC, signed a two-year Cooperative Research and Development Agreement to deploy Uncrewed Aircraft Systems (UAS) to gather and evaluate the upper air data to determine how it could aid in weather forecasting. The research project will take place at the GrandSKY Airfield in Grand Forks, North Dakota and gather weather data up to an altitude of 16,900 feet.

“Additional observations in the atmospheric boundary layer, at many vertical points above Earth’s surface, are key to improving the skill of National Weather Service forecasts and warnings,'' said Curtis Marshall, Ph.D., Lead for the Commercial Data Program at NOAA’s National Weather Service. “We are exploring commercial sources to improve our observing systems footprint and through this partnership, we hope to leverage a new way to gather the observ

Operated by GrandSKY, Meteomatics Meteodrones UAS are remotely controlled mobile weather observation collection aircraft that provide near real-time, high-altitude atmospheric measurements. Each Meteodrone will fly into the boundary layer of Earth’s atmosphere, gathering atmospheric data such as temperature, pressure, humidity, wind conditions and detection of icing conditions and accumulations. Similar to radiosonde probes flown on weather balloons, Meteodrones provide an alternative method to observe weather conditions existing in the lower to medium regions of the atmosphere. UAS operators have the ability to launch and recover the drones in rapid succession. 

“As the first large scale commercial UAS test park in the nation, we are committed to providing our aircrews with the most accurate weather information possible,” said Tom Swoyer, President of GrandSKY. “We are excited to expand our partnerships to continue researching how UAS enabled weather collection tools can contribute to refined weather awareness across the National Airspace Systems.”

Synoptic is proud to participate in this cooperative research agreement studying the value of additional lower and middle atmosphere vertical data acquired via Meteodrones to weather forecasting,” said Elizabeth Wilson, Director of Weather Programs at Synoptic. “As the primary data repository for this effort, Synoptic will be storing and delivering these high-quality, low latency data to the National Weather Service in near real time, allowing for a more effective and centralized process for data validation. We’re looking forward to the outcomes and are excited to be at the forefront of these efforts.”

“Meteodrones significantly enhance the accuracy of weather forecasts by filling critical observation gaps in the lower and mid atmospheric boundary layer, offering precise, high-resolution data that revolutionizes our ability to predict severe local weather phenomena. Thus, we are very excited to be part of this forward looking project and to work with great partners on the future of advanced weather forecasting,” says Martin Fengler, CEO and Founder of Meteomatics. 

The research project will: 

  • Study the effectiveness of deploying unmanned aircraft systems in the weather observation role
  • Evaluate if the observations gathered are useful to NOAA stakeholders and meet NOAA’s mission 
  • Evaluate whether the observations gathered enhance situational awareness in support of existing NOAA weather forecast operations

NOAA regularly partners with private sector companies through CRADAs to conduct research and development work that is mutually beneficial and helps to accomplish NOAA’s mission. 

About GrandSKY
GrandSKY is a UAS-focused flight operations center located on Grand Forks AFB in Grand Forks County, North Dakota. The 217-acre flight center provides Uncrewed Aerial Systems (UAS) tenants and partners with unmatched research, development, training, and testing amenities. GrandSKY leverages access to the Air Force runway and tower support with commercial amenities and investment through a unique public-private partnership supporting civilian and military flight UAS flight operations. GrandSKY has been offering industry leading amenities such as over 11,000 square miles of BVLOS capability and 24/7 operations.  For more information, visit

Source: Press Release