What ARM meant: To unravel the uncertainties in cloud feedbacks, it was necessary to obtain simultaneous measurements of a broad range of parameters relative to clouds and their impact on the radiative energy balance.
The key was to establish well-instrumented ground research sites in the world’s most important climate regions, including its equatorial and polar extremes. Other needs: make cloud and radiation measurements; perform experiments at appropriately short physical and temporal scales; and amass relevant data any climate researcher could use.
Performing these measurements over a long period of time further provided the unique opportunity to get away from idealized case studies and to investigate the wide range of conditions that occur in nature.
Since beginning operations, ARM has made significant contributions to improving climate prediction models as they represent radiative heat transfer, aerosol processes, and cloud processes. Scientists use data gathered from ARM’s fixed, mobile, and aerial facilities worldwide to address these issues and compare the observations with their models.
ARM was the first climate research program to deploy such a comprehensive suite of cutting-edge instrumentation for obtaining continuous measurements of cloud and aerosol properties. This strategy revolutionized scientists’ ability to collect long-term statistics of detailed cloud properties and now serves as a model for programs around the world.