Subject Mater Expert published

Cherokee Federal subject matter expert evaluates unmanned aircraft’s inclement weather forecasting abilities

October 12, 2020

Cherokee Federal Subject Matter Expert, John Walker, was recently published in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society (BAMS) regarding his involvement on a team of expert meteorologists and unmanned systems technicians at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).


The focus for the referenced study, “NOAA’s Sensing Hazards with Operational Unmanned Technology (SHOUT) Experiment Observations and Forecast Impacts,” evaluates the observational ability of high-altitude, unmanned aircraft (UAS) to improve forecasts of high-impact weather events, such as tropical cyclones (TCs) and hurricanes.


The environmental intelligence from the data derived from these experiments has the potential to give public safety officials and residents living in a hurricane’s path more time to protect their property and evacuate threatened areas — saving time and money, and even saving lives.


The SHOUT experiment encompassed 15 field missions. These missions utilized the NASA Global Hawk — an autonomous aircraft developed by Northrop Grumman. Flying above 60,000 feet, this UAS was instrumented with GPS dropwindsondes and remote sensors, used to sample several tropical cyclones and Pacific winter storms between 2015 and 2016.


The data from SHOUT missions were examined in real-time by operational forecasters. The results of their analyses demonstrate the value and potential of UAS coverage, improving forecasts for TCs at a 72-hour lead time by nearly 15%. While future decisions regarding use of UAS in inclement weather forecasting will include budgetary considerations, the scientific results from SHOUT support the potential merit of the UAS observations. 


“We are very proud of our team’s work at NOAA,” said John “JC” Coffey, executive director of unmanned systems (UXS) for Cherokee Nation Technologies. “It is an honor to support their UXS and S&T Strategies, and be part of such amazing results.”


Cherokee Federal provides programmatic, engineering and scientific support to NOAA’s unmanned aircraft program — working to advance the technological readiness of its drones and building out capabilities for application across the agency.


Not only is Cherokee collecting targeted atmospheric observations to understand and forecast hazardous weather through data derived from UAS operations, but our team is also evaluating methods to employ UXS for:

  • Rapid response to disasters
  • Advancing polar, marine and wildlife monitoring, as well as other environmental surveillance applications
  • Collecting detailed measurements of air quality

Furthermore, Cherokee Federal applies its UXS and UAS expertise across domains to fulfill defined ISR and homeland security missions as well as geospatial surveying. Our team of companies identify observational requirements that UXS capabilities can address by providing unique, affordable and reliable data from any required perspective.


With millions of drones in use for land, air and sea applications, immense amounts of smart data from smart sensors requires strategic analysis. To discern the right information, you need a trusted partner that knows how to cut through the data chaos and harvest actionable information using advanced data management, advanced analytics and artificial intelligence.

Partner with Cherokee Federal’s team of companies to make smarter decisions and generate actionable outcomes from your drone program. Visit for more details or to download our white papers:

  • Drone Wisdom
  • Applications & Impact of Land Unmanned Systems
  • Applications & Impact of Maritime Unmanned Systems

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