Read the latest updates on coronavirus from Harvard University. For SEAS specific-updates, please visit SEAS & FAS Division of Science: Coronavirus FAQs

Student Profile

Senior Project Profile: Yonatan Girma

Measurement of Momentum Flux in the Surface Layer”

Yonatan Girma, S.B. ’19, mechanical engineering

Advisor: Steve Wofsy, Abbott Lawrence Rotch Professor of Atmospheric and Environmental Science

Advances in drone technology have improved their ability to take wind measurements for research. For instance, a rotary drone allows for the visualization and analysis of dynamic profiles of the atmosphere, due to its ability to precisely maneuver and hold its position. To study the feasibility of using drones in this research, Girma attached a sonic anemometer to a hexacopter drone, then used the device to record wind data from the boundary layer of the atmosphere. The biggest challenge he faced was extracting the relative wind speed from the data his device gathered, since it included the movement of the drone. Ultimately, his work could help researchers more effectively study wind profiles, leading to a better understanding of weather patterns and the phenomena that affect climate change, he said.

“I learned about the intricacies of the atmosphere that affect everyday weather patterns, and how difficult it is to fully develop an understanding of turbulent effects in the surface layer,” Girma said. “Additionally, while I very much appreciate technological advancements, taking ownership of my own thesis project has given me perspective on the countless hours of tiring work it takes to develop the advancements.”