Skip to main content
Dryad logo

Drones and global navigation satellite systems: current evidence from polar scientists


Sheridan, Iain (2020), Drones and global navigation satellite systems: current evidence from polar scientists, Dryad, Dataset,


Aerial unmanned vehicles, so-called drones, present a paradigm shift away from the long term use by scientists of manned airplanes and helicopters. This is evident from the number of research articles that focus on data obtained with drones. This article examines the use of aerial drones for scientific research in cryospheric regions, especially Antarctica and the Arctic. Specifically it aims to provide insights into the choices and performance of Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) use for drones, including augmentation systems. Data on drone GNSS navigation and positioning in the context of scientific polar research has been scarce. Drone survey data obtained from polar scientists in April 2019 is the first representative sample from this close-knit global community across the specialisms of climatology, ecology, geology, geomorphology, geophysics and oceanography. The survey results derived from 16 countries revealed that 14.71% of scientists used GALILEO, 27.94% used GLONASS and 45.59% used GPS. Many used a combination of two or more GNSS. Multiple regression analysis showed that there is no strong relationship between a specific pattern of GNSS augmentation and greater positioning accuracy. Further polar drone studies should assess the effects of phase scintillation on all GNSS, therefore BEIDOU, GALILEO, GLONASS and GPS.