The annual meeting of Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) user facility staff and data users and Atmospheric System Research (ASR) scientists usually draws a sizable crowd to the Washington, D.C., area.
In 2020, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Joint ARM User Facility/ASR Principal Investigators (PI) Meeting followed many other conferences in switching to a virtual format. Although many speakers acknowledged that circumstances were not ideal, there was still much to be celebrated during the yearly meeting of U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) research partners.
Because the Zoom video conferencing platform has a broader reach than a typical hotel meeting room, more people got to attend the 2020 joint meeting, which took place from June 23 to 26. About 400 people signed on for the opening plenary sessions, including DOE leadership, national laboratory staff, and university researchers.
The program began with remarks from Sharlene Weatherwax and Gary Geernaert of DOE’s Biological and Environmental Research (BER) program. Weatherwax, the Associate Director of Science for BER, and Geernaert, director of the Earth and Environmental Systems Sciences Division within BER, affirmed DOE’s commitment to ARM and ASR. Both leaders also praised attendees for their work this year before the meeting moved into programmatic updates.
ARM and ASR Updates
ASR’s Shaima Nasiri introduced co-Program Manager Jeff Stehr, who joined DOE in November 2019 and was participating in his first joint meeting. Nasiri gave updates on ASR research calls for fiscal years 2019 and 2020, adding that the goal was to have all award decisions for the most recent call finalized by late July. The presentation also highlighted plans for another ASR topical research call later in calendar year 2020.
To start ARM’s programmatic updates, DOE ARM Program Manager Sally McFarlane thanked ARM staff and users for their support during the pandemic.
“Some weeks, it seems like the situation and plans are changing daily,” she said.
In addition to providing updates on COVID-19 impacts on ARM, McFarlane shared changes to the ARM Infrastructure Management Board and plans for ARM’s new research aircraft. She also spoke about how ARM is preparing for its Triennial Review, an external review scheduled for November 2020.
After an overview of upcoming, current, and recently completed ARM deployments, McFarlane noted that there were seven pre-applications for the 2020 ARM Mobile Facility (AMF) proposal call. However, because of current campaign schedules, there will not be an AMF call in 2021.
“Time flies when you’re having fun.”
McFarlane reviewed an open call to fly guest instruments on ARM tethered balloon systems (TBS) during the TRacking Aerosol Convection interactions ExpeRiment (TRACER) in 2021. She added that proposals can be submitted year-round for small campaigns and guest instrument deployments at fixed sites.
McFarlane closed the presentation by recognizing ARM Aerial Facility Program Manager Rickey Petty, who was preparing to retire June 30 after 26 years with DOE.
“Time flies when you’re having fun,” said Petty, who, appropriately enough, helped with many flights during his DOE/ARM career.
A presentation from ARM Technical Director Jim Mather keyed in on instrument activities, data products, and new field campaign data, including data from the ongoing Multidisciplinary Drifting Observatory for the Study of Arctic Climate (MOSAiC) expedition.
Mapping Out ARM’s Future
After announcing the recipients of the second annual ARM Service Awards, Mather led a discussion on updating the Decadal Vision, ARM’s 10-year strategic plan.
“The purpose of this session is to give you some background to that process and to solicit some input because we want this vision document to reflect the needs of the community as well as, obviously, the priorities of DOE,” said Mather.
Ann Fridlind, chair of the ARM Cloud and Precipitation Measurements and Science Group, and Allison McComiskey, co-chair of ARM’s Aerosol Measurement Science Group, discussed recent workshops in which their constituent groups provided input for the vision document. Reports detailing recommendations from those workshops will arrive later in 2020. Both groups are working on templates where they can track community needs and help ARM prioritize new investments.
Before the joint meeting, ARM/ASR community members had an opportunity to review a draft of the Decadal Vision. During the plenary session, Mather described the document’s four key themes—measurements, data analytics, data services, and observations to models. He then conducted a real-time audience poll to help gauge whether eight main subthemes in the vision document aligned with community needs. Increased emphasis on spatial sampling drew the greatest amount of support, with 90 voters saying they expected the activity to help ARM serve their needs more effectively, followed by coordinated use of intensive operational periods (80).
Mather plans to follow up on questions where audience members expressed concerns about taking on activities that are under consideration. While facilitating open-source software practices among ARM staff and the science community drew the third-largest number of votes in favor (79), it also received the most “concerned” votes (14).
Mather also asked the audience which topics were not in the Decadal Vision that they wanted to see represented. Voters typed in their choices, which populated a word cloud. Calibration was the most cited term (14 responses), followed by aerosol optical properties (seven), and uncertainty and machine learning (six apiece). Mather will take those responses into account while revising the vision document. (See the poll responses in Mather’s presentation.)
During the opening plenaries, Raymond Shaw of Michigan Technological University gave a talk on a November 2019 workshop where participants discussed scientific questions and concepts for a large-scale aerosol-cloud-turbulence research facility. A paper about the workshop is available as an early online release from the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society (BAMS).
Pierre Gentine of Columbia University followed with a presentation on his five-year DOE early career research project, focused on understanding the space-time nature of land-atmosphere interactions. Gentine and student Yu Cheng conducted research for the project at ARM’s Southern Great Plains (SGP) atmospheric observatory.
Without the usual joint meeting poster session, Day Two included a plenary session of seven poster/research talks, which covered:
- the Global Aerosol Synthesis and Science Project (GASSP), which seeks to improve modeling of aerosol properties and radiative forcing
- revisiting dry deposition of particles in the atmosphere
- particle chemical composition in the Arctic and Antarctic
- the ARM data-oriented metrics and diagnostics package for climate models
- work between ARM and another DOE scientific user facility—the Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory (EMSL)—to develop a joint capability via TBS deployment
- radar-based ice number concentration retrievals toward studying secondary ice production in mixed-phase clouds
- using ARM observations to evaluate process interactions in mesoscale convective system simulations across scales.
A Dive Into Breakout Sessions
To look at ARM/ASR research and projects, eight two-hour breakout sessions—a smaller slate than in past years—took place during the virtual meeting. The first three were held during the afternoon of Wednesday, June 24, and the others happened the next day. Just as the plenaries attracted a larger crowd than usual, so did the breakouts: Each session had more than 100 attendees.
During a presentation on the Large-Eddy Simulation (LES) Symbiotic Simulation and Observation (LASSO) activity, LASSO PI William Gustafson announced that 17 more case dates will be released this summer for shallow convection at the SGP. Then, the activity will turn to its next scenario of focus: deep convection during the 2018–2019 Cloud, Aerosol, and Complex Terrain Interactions (CACTI) field campaign in Argentina. Gustafson also mentioned the possibility of starting work on a scenario for the Aerosol and Cloud Experiments in the Eastern North Atlantic (ACE-ENA) campaign in fiscal year 2021.
A session moderated by Fridlind looked at current and potential community projects that pair single-column model/LES and global climate model/earth system model approaches for observation-guided model development. Examples included a hierarchy modeling approach to help improve simulations of the diurnal cycle of precipitation and an open-source framework for comparing ground-based observations and large-scale model outputs.
For those interested in airborne atmospheric research, a session on ARM aerial instrumentation provided updates on ARM’s new research aircraft, unmanned aerial systems, and TBS operations. The Bombardier Challenger 850 jet—now undergoing modifications—is expected to be ready for its first science mission in 2023. As a follow-on to a March 2020 ARM aerial instrumentation workshop, audience members voted on what proposed instruments and measurement capabilities they wanted ARM to pursue for its aerial platforms.
A Bounty of Research
Recent ARM campaigns absorbed some of the spotlight during the breakout sessions.
Sixteen presenters lined up to share research related to the ACE-ENA campaign during a breakout session moderated by PI Jian Wang. ACE-ENA will be featured as part of a joint special journal issue, which is accepting submissions, and a session during the January 2021 American Meteorological Society Annual Meeting.
Paquita Zuidema, PI of the 2016–2017 Layered Atlantic Smoke Interactions with Clouds (LASIC) field campaign on Ascension Island, moderated a session on shortwave-absorbing aerosols and their interactions with the large-scale environment. Many presenters focused on research using data from LASIC and complementary campaigns in the southeast Atlantic, such as the U.K. CLoud-Aerosol-Radiation Interaction and Forcing: Year 2017 (CLARIFY-2017) campaign.
Another session focused on the Cold-Air Outbreaks in the Marine Boundary Layer Experiment (COMBLE). Led by Bart Geerts at the University of Wyoming, the six-month campaign ended May 31 in northern Norway. Nathan Wales, operations manager for the first ARM Mobile Facility (AMF1), shared that COMBLE generated 119 datastreams totaling 47 terabytes.
A pair of breakout sessions also looked at future AMF deployments.
PI Daniel Feldman of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California led off a session on the Surface Atmosphere Integrated Field Laboratory (SAIL) campaign, which ARM announced in March 2020. SAIL is aimed at characterizing processes that affect mountain hydrology across seasons. From September 2021 through June 2023, the second ARM Mobile Facility (AMF2) will be based in a Colorado watershed, gathering atmospheric measurements to be combined with surface and subsurface data.
A session on the upcoming deployment of the third ARM Mobile Facility (AMF3) to the Southeastern United States stoked plenty of activity in the Zoom Q&A window. Chongai Kuang, who leads the site science team that will help guide the move of AMF3, moderated the discussion about science drivers and siting considerations. People who still want to provide feedback to the site science team can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Catching Up With Working Groups
The final day of the joint meeting consisted of presentations from ASR working groups. The four groups—Aerosol Processes, Convective Processes, High-Latitude Processes, and Warm Boundary Layer Processes—correspond with ASR research priorities. These groups help connect researchers studying cloud, aerosol, land, and precipitation processes and process interactions.
Morning sessions focused on the Aerosol Processes and Convective Processes working groups. Afternoon presentations from the High-Latitude Processes and Warm Boundary Layer Processes groups closed out the meeting.
During their presentations, the groups summarized related breakout sessions and provided updates on ARM data and field campaigns relevant to their research areas. Providing input to ARM’s constituent groups was a common thread through the working group sessions.
If you missed any of the sessions, you can find the full agenda and presentation slides on the joint meeting web page.
There is more to come in the next several months, including possible mini-workshops and breakout sessions on topics that could not be addressed during the joint meeting.
Taking advantage of the virtual format used during the joint meeting, ARM plans to conduct a series of webinars over the next 6–12 months on topics of interest to the user community. Please complete this survey to let ARM know which topics are of interest to you.# # #
ARM is a DOE Office of Science user facility operated by nine DOE national laboratories.