Date of Award

January 2020

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Atmospheric Sciences

First Advisor

Mark Askelson


Use of the small Unmanned Aircraft System (sUAS) for commercial applications is growing. Once approval is granted to conduct flights Beyond Visual Line Of Sight (BVLOS), utilization of the sUAS will accelerate. Hazards associated with sUAS flight, including weather hazards, must be understood when flying BVLOS. One of the leading weather hazards is wind. In this study, nested Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model simulations with horizontal grid spacings of 12 km, 4 km, 1.33 km, and 0.444 km were conducted to evaluate the impact changing resolution has on wind fields and, thus, on the forecasting of sUAS wind hazards. The simulated area lies within Central New York (CNY); the surrounding topographic features commonly generate small-scale wind patterns, creating excellent opportunities to explore the dependence of winds on model resolution. Results suggest the importance in increasing model resolution to increase sUAS safety, where a 1.33 km resolution well-identifies hazardous winds. The 0.444 km resolution resolved more detailed atmospheric features at the cost of an increase in computational power. An ensemble model approach along with human interpretation is hypothesized to best facilitate a sUAS-centric forecast.