The Black Swift S2 drone will be used in a project to gather environmental data as part of a research project in Greenland. Courtesy Black Swift Technologies.

Boulder company’s technology to join arctic research project

BOULDER — Black Swift Technologies LLC, a specialized engineering firm based in Boulder, will deploy its advanced aerial research platform, the Black Swift S2 UAS, in a research project in Greenland.

The University of Colorado Boulder, through its Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research, will use the platform to conduct high-altitude, high-latitude atmospheric research studies in Greenland. This work is supported by the National Science Foundation and is part of the larger international East Greenland Ice-Core Project.

The Black Swift S2 will operate at temperatures down to minus-20 degrees Celsius (minus-4 Fahrenheit) or colder, and will be flying at altitudes up to 14,000 feet, which is on the edge of commercial airspace, to make routine atmospheric measurements, something that few other platforms are capable of achieving. For its part in the research studies, the S2 will perform transects or vertical profiles of the arctic atmosphere to analyze the water vapor above the ice sheet to better understand how climate conditions are impacting Greenland’s mass as a result of evaporation directly into the atmosphere, according to information supplied by Black Swift.

Bruce Vaughn, lead research fellow on the project at CU Boulder, has been conducting isotope research in arctic environments for nearly three decades. The isotopes of the snow and ice represent a fingerprint of the temperature when that water condensed out of a cloud providing researchers with a fairly reliable historical temperature record. This in turn can be studied along with other variables measured in the ice core, including dust, volcanic debris, chemical make up and trapped atmospheric gases. By analyzing past climate conditions, the researchers hope to gain new knowledge on the timing and response of the ice sheet to changes in a variety of climate drivers, such as sea ice extent and changes in ocean circulation.

“Ice sheets are melting and glaciers are retreating. Greenland is no exception,” Vaughn said in a written statement. “Measuring the amount of water vapor above the ice sheet and its isotopes can tell us about its origins, whether it’s coming from the ice sheet or the atmosphere. We have been, during the course of our field work over the last couple of years, taking measurements using a small three- or four-meter tall tower. The data we have captured lets us look at the gradients, in terms of both in water vapor concentration and it’s isotopic signature above the ice sheet. That can tell us a whole lot. But what it doesn’t tell us much about is what’s happening above the boundary layer in the atmosphere and the upper troposphere and how air masses in the stratosphere might be mixing in. This is where the S2 fits into our strategy.”

“The other key reason for selecting the S2 is it flight management system. That is a huge bonus for us since none of my crew or myself are pilots,” Vaughn said.

Black Swift Technologies was founded in 2011 and specializes in creating unmanned aircraft capable of flying scientific payloads in demanding environments.

BOULDER — Black Swift Technologies LLC, a specialized engineering firm based in Boulder, will deploy its advanced aerial research platform, the Black Swift S2 UAS, in a research project in Greenland.

The University of Colorado Boulder, through its Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research, will use the platform to conduct high-altitude, high-latitude atmospheric research studies in Greenland. This work is supported by the National Science Foundation and is part of the larger international East Greenland Ice-Core Project.

The Black Swift S2 will operate at temperatures down to minus-20 degrees Celsius (minus-4 Fahrenheit) or colder, and will be flying at altitudes up to 14,000 feet, which is on the edge of commercial airspace, to make routine atmospheric measurements, something that few other platforms are capable of achieving. For its part in the research studies, the S2 will perform transects or vertical profiles of the arctic atmosphere to analyze the water vapor above the ice sheet to better understand how climate conditions are impacting Greenland’s mass as a result of evaporation directly into the atmosphere, according to information supplied by Black Swift.

Bruce Vaughn, lead research fellow on the project at CU Boulder, has been conducting isotope research in arctic environments for nearly three decades. The isotopes of the snow and ice represent a fingerprint of the temperature when that water condensed out of a cloud providing researchers with a fairly reliable historical temperature record. This in turn can be studied along with other variables measured in the ice core, including dust, volcanic debris, chemical…