Triennial Review Finds ARM Enables High Impact Science

Published: 14 June 2017
Jim Mather, ARM Technical Director

Once every three years, the Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) Climate Research Facility undergoes an extensive external review by a panel selected by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). The latest review was April 12 and 13 in Gaithersburg, Maryland.

In May, the ARM Facility received a letter outlining the findings of the triennial review panel from Gary Geernaert, director of the Climate and Environmental Sciences Division (CESD) in the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Biological and Environmental Research (BER).

The reviewers found that “ARM has unique capabilities, enables high impact science supporting CESD strategic goals, has effective management and operations, effectively engages with the BER user community, and has addressed the recommendations from the 2014 review.” These were the criteria ARM was being assessed against.

“The review is quite positive,” says ARM Technical Director Jim Mather. “While the review is very good, the reviewers have identified areas where we can improve—many of which are priorities that we are already working on and that we discussed during the review.”

There are a set of seven actions that the ARM Facility will be addressing. They are:

  1. Update the ARM communications plan to improve the Facility’s presence at meetings, such as the American Geophysical Union (AGU) Fall Meeting, transparency from and feedback to the User Executive Committee, communications metrics, and analysis of ARM’s scientific impact.
  2. Create a plan to reach a broader user base beyond BER and the Atmospheric System Research (ASR) program.
  3. Develop a plan for more timely development of value-added products (VAPs) for ARM Mobile Facility deployments.
  4. Outline a plan to continue to improve the Data Discovery tool, including more guidance/streamlining of the number of data products presented to users, quicklooks, documentation for new users, and server-side processing.
  5. Define a clear process for biennial reviews of existing instrumentation, data products, or activities that might be de-scoped to enable new activities.
  6. Update progress on the radar plan, identify potential revisions to the radar plan to reduce the scope of radar efforts, and provide an update on plans for aerosol instrumentation and operations.
  7. Provide a plan/timeline for the LASSO—the LES ARM Symbiotic Simulation and Observation operational workflow that includes scope, goals, and metrics for success.

“Several of these actions relate to the idea that we currently have a lot on our plate and that ARM should review its priorities periodically to ensure that we are making room for evolving needs from the science community,” Mather says. “This is a message that we have also heard from the User Executive Committee as well as the radar and aerosol constituent groups so it is clearly an area that we will be studying over the coming year.”

He adds, “The feedback from the reviewers will help ensure we are even more effective in the coming years.”

Mather will be submitting an action plan to DOE at the end of June on how ARM will be responding to the recommendations.

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The ARM Climate Research Facility is a DOE Office of Science user facility. The ARM Facility is operated by nine DOE national laboratories.