New ARM mobile facility completes its first test at sea, will study climate

July 1, 2010

The second ARM Mobile Facility, AMF2, is facing its first test on the open seas off the coast of Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

The Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) Program, created in 1989, developed several highly instrumented ground stations to study cloud formation processes and their influence on radiative transfer. The goal is to provide measurements of cloud, aerosol and radiative processes at climatologically significant locations that will enable the modeling community to better represent these processes in global climate models. The first mobile platform, AMF1, was launched in 2005 to move from country to country, gathering weather data; the second, AMF2, is designed to be deployed aboard a ship.

Led by Rich Coulter, AMF2 co-manager from Argonne, with support provided by Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, the AMF2 team installed a subset of AMF2 instruments on the RV Connecticut to test their operation in a marine environment and to experience the potential problems likely to be encountered during a long-term shipboard deployment. One primary objective of the testing was to evaluate the control software for the new AMF2 stable platform, as well as to evaluate the operation of various instruments in stabilized and non-stabilized modes.

The AMF2 is designed to be a highly portable version of the AMF1 and is intended for deployment in complex terrain or on a ship. Argonne atmospheric scientist Brad Orr and his team have readied the AMF2 for complex terrain but needed to test the inertial platform that corrects for the motion of the ship.

In October 2010, the initial deployment of AMF2 takes place at Steamboat Springs, Colorado, for the Storm Peak Laboratory Cloud Property Validation Experiment (STORMVEX). The objective of this field campaign is to obtain data about liquid and mixed-phase clouds using AMF2 instruments in conjunction with Storm Peak Laboratory, a cloud and aerosol research facility operated by the Desert Research Institute.

The already extensive instrument suite at Storm Peak Lab, located at an elevation of 3220 meters on Mt. Werner, will be augmented with additional state-of-the-art instruments typically used for airborne cloud research. The instrumentation at Storm Peak will collect in situ cloud and precipitation property measurements, while AMF2 instrumentation operates at lower elevations to gather complementary measurements. The resulting data set will be used to test and improve the way cloud and aerosol processes work in climate models.

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