New Organization to Optimize ARM Radar Data

Published: 4 September 2012

Every ARM fixed and mobile site now includes both scanning (left) and zenith-pointing (right) cloud radars. The fixed sites also include scanning precipitation radars.
In the past few years, the ARM Facility added 19 new scanning cloud and precipitation radars to its fixed and mobile sites. Combined with the Facility’s upgraded zenith-pointing radars, ARM now operates the world’s largest multi-frequency radar network for obtaining measurements of cloud and precipitation properties for climate studies.

To ensure the quality, characterization, calibration, availability, and utility of all the radars and associated higher-order data products, ARM and DOE’s Atmospheric System Research (ASR) program formally established a new ARM Radar Organization in June 2012, with a leadership structure for both science and engineering/operations. Together, these groups will guide the development of radar scan strategies and data products that meet the observational needs of the cloud and climate modeling community, ARM, and the ASR science team.

“We need to optimize radar operational modes, communicate data quality and instrument status, and deliver advanced multi-sensor data products at the temporal, dimensional, and spatial scales necessary for improving climate model physics,” said Jimmy Voyles, ARM chief operating officer from Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. “The new ARM Radar Organization uses an integrated approach for management, leadership, planning, coordination, and communications between science and operations to help us do that.”

Radar Science

Led by Dr. Pavlos Kollias from McGill University, the primary role of the Radar Science Group is to represent the ASR science team’s perspective, recommendations, and priorities, and to communicate directly with the Radar Engineering & Operations Group and other groups (e.g., ARM Data Quality Office) to ensure the optimal utilization of the ARM radar facilities to meet the scientific needs of the users.

In the short term, Kollias and the group’s steering committee—Eugene Clothiaux, Pennsylvania State University; Matthew Shupe, NOAA; Courtney Schumacher, Texas A&M University; and Silke Troemel, University of Bonn in Germany—are evaluating the quality of the current radar observations at the ARM mobile and fixed sites. They are also developing recommendations for the scanning ARM cloud and precipitation radars planned for the the fixed site in the Azores and for the upcoming mobile facility deployment at Oliktok Point, Alaska.

In the long term, the Radar Science Group aims to establish scientific performance goals, ensure the high quality of radar products, identify measurements gaps, optimize the use of the ARM radar facilities through innovative sampling and data processing, and address the scientific needs of the modeling and broader user community.

A wiki page has been developed to serve as an access point for the ASR scientists to post their concerns, findings and remarks on the availability and quality of ARM radar data. All ARM/ASR scientists and engineers are invited to register and provide feedback and suggestions on any issue related to ARM radars. The wiki page will also be used as a repository for radar analysis software and visualization tools provided by ARM radar users to the ARM and ASR community.

Radar Engineering and Operations

Members of the Radar Engineering & Operations Group gather for a photo at the Southern Great Plains site in August 2012.

Led by Kevin Widener from Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, the Radar Engineering & Operations Group consists of instrument mentors, site operations managers, the Data Quality Office, site scientists, and translators. The members of this group are responsible for the maintenance and performance of ARM radars, including the final rules and processes used to implement standard operational, calibration, and scanning modes for radars at each research site. This group is also responsible for the on-time delivery of high-quality data products to the Data Archive, including the development of innovative value-added products (VAPs)–designed in cooperation with the Radar Science Group–to advance improvements in climate model physics.

In early August 2012, the group gathered for an intensive training session at the ARM Southern Great Plains site. Approximately 20 operators, technicians, and engineers from across the ARM sites participated in the week-long session, which covered radar safety, basic radar theory, and classes for each type of ARM radar.

Each day started with a science presentation by Scott Collis, Argonne National Laboratory, showing how ARM radar data is important to climate science. This was followed by a presentation on radar theory by Nitin Bharadwaj from PNNL and a tutorial by Widener on the Linux operating system common to all of ARM’s radars. Attendees spent the remainder of each day getting hands-on experience for operating and maintaining ARM’s cloud and precipitation radars.