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  • 2017-10-26 10:05:04
  • Article ID: 683905

Field of Meteorologists' Dreams

  • Credit: the U.S. Department of Energy ARM Climate Research Facility

    This X-band scanning ARM precipitation radar is part of the Southern Great Plains atmospheric observatory, which has hosted nearly 400 field campaigns over the past 25 years.

  • Credit: Argonne National Laboratory

    Nicki Hickmon is the associate director of operations for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Atmospheric Radiation Measurement Climate Research Facility.

  • Credit: Argonne National Laboratory

    Mike Ritsche helps Argonne manage the Southern Great Plains atmospheric observatory, located across Oklahoma and Kansas.

Right now over 200 instruments are ticking around the clock across vast stretches of wheat fields and pastureland inside Oklahoma and Kansas. Their function — to take detailed measurements of our atmosphere — keeps them busy 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. And without them, scientists around the world would lack critical data they need to truly understand the atmosphere.

These instruments make up the Southern Great Plains (SGP) atmospheric observatory, the world’s largest and most extensive climate research facility. This year the site celebrates 25 years of operations, helping scientists gain vital insights into the Earth’s cloud, aerosol and atmospheric processes.

“SGP is the best, most advanced atmospheric research site in the world in terms of the variety of its atmospheric measurements, the measurement quality, staff expertise and the length of the data record.” - David Turner, NOAA meteorologist

The site, managed by Environmental Science Division researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory, is the first and largest one established by the Department of Energy’s Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) Climate Research Facility. As a DOE Office of Science User Facility, ARM offers scientific data and support to advance scientific inquiry across a wide variety of fields.

The site’s more than 200 instruments measure the atmosphere in countless ways, including solar radiation, rain or snowfall, cloud properties, winds, pollution, humidity and temperature. Researchers glean these data to enhance climate and weather forecast models as well as studies in agriculture, cloud development, land –atmosphere interactions and severe storm processes.

“Individual researchers would not have the resources to measure the number of variables needed in analysis of complex atmospheric processes,” said Nicki Hickmon, associate director of operations for ARM.

“But for many researchers, measuring all these variables is critical to understanding what is going on. So providing those measurements really helps to feed the science.”

Measurements collected are freely accessible through the ARM’s Data Discovery portal.

The Southern Great Plains’ instruments extend from the site’s core facility to 25 other locations surrounding it. This design enables researchers to track how clouds, rainfall and other atmospheric phenomena move and evolve across wider areas.

Along with access to instrumental data, scientists can visit the site to conduct field campaigns - periods of time set aside to capture specific data at a set location. During these campaigns, researchers can bring in their own instruments or augment them with SGP’s observations.

“We’ve hosted people from all over the world and can run many campaigns at any given time, which is unique,” said Mike Ritsche, Argonne’s SGP site manager.

“These capabilities are made possible through our extensive support structures, including a shipping and receiving warehouse, an electronics repair shop and a dedicated team of experts available to help with logistics.”

Over the past 25 years, the site has hosted nearly 400 field campaigns. Meteorologist David Turner, a long-time user at the site and associate of ARM, is impressed.

“SGP is the best, most advanced atmospheric research site in the world in terms of the variety of its atmospheric measurements, the measurement quality, staff expertise and the length of the data record,” Turner said.

Turner, who works for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, says the value of ARM site observations are fundamental to scientific inquiry.

“ARM allows us to evaluate whether our current understandings of our world are correct. If not, then these observations can help us make improvements.”

The ARM Climate Research Facility is operated by nine DOE national laboratories, including Argonne National Laboratory, Brookhaven National Laboratory, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Los Alamos National Laboratory, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and Sandia National Laboratories.

Argonne National Laboratory seeks solutions to pressing national problems in science and technology. The nation's first national laboratory, Argonne conducts leading-edge basic and applied scientific research in virtually every scientific discipline. Argonne researchers work closely with researchers from hundreds of companies, universities, and federal, state and municipal agencies to help them solve their specific problems, advance America's scientific leadership and prepare the nation for a better future. With employees from more than 60 nations, Argonne is managed by UChicago Argonne, LLC for the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science.

The U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, visit the Office of Science website.

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Out of Thin Air

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Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Professor Jian Shi Receives Air Force Young Investigator Research Program Award

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Kerstin Kleese van Dam Receives 32nd Town of Brookhaven Annual Women's Recognition Award for Science

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Jefferson Lab Announces New Accelerator Science Leader

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First Plasma for New Machine to Study Puzzling Process That Occurs Throughout the Universe

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Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Professor Jian Sun Receives Power Electronics Achievement Award

Jian Sun, professor of electrical, computer, and systems engineering and director the New York State Center for Future Energy Systems at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, received the 2017 R. David Middlebrook Outstanding Achievement Award from the IEEE Power Electronics Society (PELS). He was recognized for "contributions to modeling and control of power electronic converters and systems."

FGC Plasma Solutions Wins Top NASA Innovation Award

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Sandia Researcher Jacqueline Chen Elected to National Academy of Engineering

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PNNL Helps Form International Energy Storage Organization

News Release DALIAN, China -- Energy storage allows power operators across the nation to balance electricity supply and demand instantaneously, affording ratepayers a more resilient power supply.Now the focus on energy storage is global. In January, energy storage experts at the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory joined forces with their counterparts around the world to forge the International Coalition for Energy Storage and Innovation, or ICESI.

University Partnership to Help Nevada Scientists Commercialize Discovery

UNLV's Office of Technology Transfer and the Desert Research are partnering to help faculty and students leverage each other's talent and resources to transform inventions into new products and services.

DOE Seeks Industry Partners for HPC Research on Materials in Applied Energy Technologies

The Department of Energy (DOE) today announced a funding opportunity totaling $3 million to support projects between U.S. industry and DOE national laboratories related to improving materials in severe or complex environments through the new High Performance Computing for Materials in Applied Energy Technologies (HPC4Mtls) Program.

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Turning Up the Heat on Remote Research Plots Without Electricity

Flexible, tunable technique warms plants without need for electricity, aiding ecosystem research in remote locales.

Engineering Yeast Tolerance to a Promising Biomass Deconstruction Solvent

Chemical genomic-guided engineering of gamma-valerolactone-tolerant yeast.

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Certain species of trees retain stored water, limit root growth to survive three months without water.

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It's Not Part of the Problem, but Part of the Solution

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Electronic and structure richness arise from the merger of semiconducting molecules of carbon buckyballs and 2-D graphene.

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Tracking atoms is crucial to improving the efficiency of next-generation perovskite solar cells.

Catalysts: High Performance Lies on the Edge

Iron may be more valuable than platinum. Sometimes.


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