ARM Aerial Facility


Aerial observatory capabilities of the Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) user facility are operated by the ARM Aerial Facility (AAF). The AAF provides airborne measurements required to answer research questions proposed by scientists from around the world.

The AAF enhances surface-based ARM measurements by providing:

  • in situ measurements of aerosols, clouds, and trace gases
  • sampling not possible using surface- or satellite-based techniques
  • measurements for validation of surface- or satellite-based techniques
  • context for and extension of surface-based measurements
  • measurements for testing and evaluating models.

Gathering Data through Field Campaigns

ARM acquires airborne measurements during intensive field campaigns or long-term, regularly scheduled flights. Scientists can request these through the competitive ARM field campaign application process.

Once collected, data from the aircraft are documented, checked for quality, integrated into the ARM Data Center, and made freely available via Data Discovery for use by the scientific community. Read the AAF overview article in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society.

Manned Aircraft

ARM is in the process of replacing the retired Gulfstream-159 (G-1) research aircraft, which served ARM from 2009 to 2018. Information on the replacement aircraft will be shared here when it is available. ARM has also contracted for other aircraft outside the U.S. Department of Energy to address the wide range of measurement requirements associated with atmospheric science.

Unmanned Aerial Systems

In addition to full-sized aircraft, ARM is expanding its use of unmanned aerial systems (UAS) and tethered balloon systems (TBS) to gather in situ atmospheric measurements. ARM also has begun routine measurement activities with UAS and TBS at Oliktok Point, Alaska.