Environmental Science Division (EVS)a Division of Argonne National Laboratory
Predictive environmental understanding

Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) User Facility Aids Understanding of Climate and Weather

November 12, 2019

Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science, the Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) User Facility mission is to advance our understanding of cloud, aerosol, precipitation and radiation processes and provide the data to better represent these phenomena in global-scale models.

ARM serves as an exemplary illustration of DOE collaboration. Nine DOE national laboratories, including Argonne National Laboratory, are involved in the operation or management of three fixed and three mobile atmospheric observatories, as well as the operation and maintenance of 400 meteorological instruments, and an aerial facility that includes a plane and unmanned aerial systems.

ARM’s three fixed stations span the globe: the North Slope of Alaska observatory is near the town of Utqiagvik; the Eastern North Atlantic observatory is located on an island in the Azores, Portugal; and the Southern Great Plains (SGP) facilities are located in Oklahoma and Kansas.

EVS manages operations at the SGP site. Mike Ritsche serves as the SGP site manager, and Nikki Hickmon as the ARM associate director for operations. The oldest, largest, and most heavily instrumented of the ARM facilities, SGP is equipped with nearly 200 instruments, like Doppler lidars and cloud radars that provide users with additional ways to visualize the atmosphere vertically and, more specifically, the vertical distribution of clouds. This variability in the climate and geography of the region, combined with SGP’s vast toolkit, creates a natural lab for measuring the dynamics of clouds and aerosols and how they interact with the earth’s surface, which SGP researchers also measure and characterize.

Read the Argonne feature story by John Spizzirri.

As part of the Measurements of Aerosols, Radiation, and Clouds over the Southern Ocean (MARCUS) field campaign from October 2017 to April 2018, ARM technicians collected data on clouds and aerosols over the Southern Ocean.
As part of the Measurements of Aerosols, Radiation, and Clouds over the Southern Ocean (MARCUS) field campaign from October 2017 to April 2018, ARM technicians collected data on clouds and aerosols over the Southern Ocean. [Source: U.S. Department of Energy ARM user facility]
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portrait of Michael Ritsche
portrait of Nicki Hickmon