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

Department of Energy's mobile climate observatory prepares for shipboard campaign

August 16, 2012

Following a six-month land-based campaign in the Maldives to study tropical convective clouds, the Department of Energy's second Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) mobile facility is being readied for its first marine-based research campaign aboard a cargo container ship in the Pacific Ocean.

AMF2, operated and maintained by Argonne National Laboratory's Environmental Science division, is a mobile suite of atmospheric sensing instruments to measure properties of clouds, precipitation, aerosols, and radiation in regions where observational data is sparse or existing data is difficult to resolve in global climate models.

AMF2 equipment
AMF2 equipment

This October, AMF2 will be deployed on the Horizon Lines ship Spirit that will traverse its scheduled shipping route between Los Angeles and Honolulu approximately 25 times over the course of the DOE's yearlong field campaign under the name MAGIC, for the Marine ARM GPCI Investigation of Clouds. (GPCI is a project comparing data from the major climate models.) Atmospheric scientist Ernie Lewis of Brookhaven National Laboratory leads the MAGIC campaign.

According to Lewis, low marine boundary layer clouds have a large influence on Earth's climate through reflection of sunlight and mediating interactions between air and sea. The objective of the MAGIC campaign is to improve the representation of clouds and their cloud-type transitions- the stratocumulus-to-cumulus transition, for example-in global climate models. These cloud-type transitions are an ever-present phenomenon in this area of the Pacific Ocean, which makes the Spirit route an ideal opportunity to gather real-time data.

The data will be made available to the scientific community through the ARM data archive located at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

For more more news about the MAGIC study see Yearlong climate study launches.

AMF2 atmospheric sensing instruments
AMF2 atmospheric sensing instruments
portrait of Nicki Hickmon