Environmental Science Division (EVS)a Division of Argonne National Laboratory

Argonne-led tropical atmospheric field campaign fills gaps in the global climate picture

May 9, 2012

A Department of Energy mobile research facility team deployed for the past six months in a remote region of the Indian Ocean has collected a full range of atmospheric measurements to fill a large data gap for scientists investigating climate dynamics and climate change.

Argonne National Laboratory led the half-year campaign from Gan Island in the Maldives, including managing the first international deployment of the mobile facility, AMF2 (the second mobile facility of DOE’s Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) program Climate Research Facility) containing a high-tech suite of instruments for measuring properties of the atmosphere and clouds including specially equipped weather balloons that the team launched eight times a day.

The Gan campaign is part of the two-pronged ARM Madden-Julian oscillation Investigation Experiment, or AMIE, led by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. Data gathered at AMIE-Gan and at AMIE-Manus on Manus Island, in Papua New Guinea, will allow studies of the initiation, propagation, and evolution of convective clouds in the framework of the Madden-Julian oscillation (MJO)—an annual large-scale variability in the tropical atmosphere affecting both atmospheric circulation and tropical deep convection.

Climate models have difficulty predicting its effects and its interactions with the monsoon and El Niño. AMIE-Gan will measure the area where the phenomenon begins its eastward propagation, observing the atmosphere, ocean, and air-sea interface, using a combination of ground-based and ship-based radars, satellites, and atmospheric soundings provided through AMIE and affiliated ARM campaigns, to produce a data set that researchers can use to identify deficiencies in climate models and improve their ability to predict the MJO.

The Gan scientific team weathered both crippled scanning radars and periods of civil unrest while operating over two-dozen baseline instruments with the support of the Maldivian Meteorological Service. “The local support we received throughout the preparation and operational phases of the project was crucial in our ability to respond to safety and logistical issues associated with the first foreign deployment of the AMF2,” said Argonne AMF2 manager Brad Orr.

Researchers have already begun to analyze the AMIE data set. The AMF2 is currently en route back to Argonne’s Environmental Science division, which operates and maintains the mobile facility for the DOE Office of Science.

Media Contacts: Laura Wolf, lwolf@anl.gov

ARM Facility on Gan Island, Maldives.
ARM Facility on Gan Island, Maldives. [Source: Argonne National Laboratory]
portrait of Nicki Hickmon