Atmospheric Radiation Measurement Climate Research Facility US Department of Energy

Cloud, Aerosol, and Complex Terrain Interactions (CACTI)

1 October 2018 - 30 April 2019

Lead Scientist: Adam Varble

Observatory: amf, cor

General circulation models and downscaled regional models exhibit persistent biases in deep convective initiation location and timing, cloud top height, stratiform area and precipitation fraction, and anvil coverage. Despite important impacts on the distribution of atmospheric heating, moistening, and momentum, nearly all climate models fail to represent convective organization, while system evolution is not represented at all. Improving representation of convective systems in models requires characterization of their predictability as a function of environmental conditions, and this characterization depends on observing many cases of convective initiation, non-initiation, organization, and non-organization. The Cloud, Aerosol, and Complex Terrain Interactions (CACTI) field campaign in the Sierras de Córdoba mountain range of north-central Argentina is designed to improve understanding of cloud life cycle and organization in relation to environmental conditions so that cumulus, microphysics, and aerosol parameterizations in multiscale models can be improved. The Sierras de Córdoba has a high frequency of orographic boundary layer clouds, many reaching congestus depths, many initiating into deep convection, and some organizing into mesoscale systems uniquely observable from a single fixed site. Some systems even grow upscale to become among the deepest, largest, and longest-lived in the world. These systems likely contribute to an observed regional trend of increasing extreme rainfall, and poor prediction of them likely contributes to a warm, dry bias in climate models downstream of the Sierras de Córdoba in a key agricultural region. Many environmental factors influence the convective life cycle in this region, including orographic, low-level jet, and frontal circulations, surface fluxes, synoptic vertical motions influenced by the Andes, cloud detrainment, and aerosol properties. Local and long-range transport of smoke resulting from biomass burning, as well as blowing dust, is common in the austral spring. Changes in land surface properties as the wet season progresses impact surface fluxes and boundary layer evolution on daily and seasonal time scales that feed back to cloud and rainfall generation. This range of environmental conditions and cloud properties coupled with a high frequency of events makes the Sierras de Córdoba an ideal location to improve understanding of cloud-environment interactions. The following primary science questions will be addressed through coordinated ARM Climate Research Facility and guest instrumentation observations:

  • How are the properties and life cycles of orographically generated cumulus humilis, mediocris, and congestus clouds affected by environmental kinematics, thermodynamics, aerosols, and surface properties? How do these cloud types alter these environmental conditions?
  • How do environmental kinematics, thermodynamics, and aerosols impact deep convective initiation, upscale growth, and mesoscale organization?
  • How are soil moisture, surface fluxes, and aerosol properties altered by deep convective precipitation events and seasonal accumulation of precipitation?

The ARM Aerial Facility Gulfstream-159 (G-1) aircraft will be deployed near the first ARM Mobile Facility (AMF1) location for approximately six weeks—November 1 to December 15, 2018—to support the CACTI science goals. The G-1 flight measurements will provide information on orographic cumulus clouds and deep convective systems. For orographic cumulus clouds, the G-1 measurements will characterize in-cloud dynamics, microphysics, and aerosols, as well as the environmental variability around the clouds focusing on conditions upstream and downstream of clouds at multiple altitudes in the vicinity of the AMF1 site. In situations of significant aerosol heterogeneity, emphasis will be placed on observations in and out of aerosol plumes in the vicinity of the clouds. For deep convective systems, the G-1 measurements will focus on characterizing the environmental conditions that lead to convective initiation and the vertical profiles of environmental properties around the growing deep convection and in adjacent regions that are not initiating deep convection so that the differences in environment can be compared. Convective inflow and free tropospheric properties from the G-1 aircraft will be important for putting AMF1 observations into context and for providing input to numerical simulations.


Eldo Avila Sonia Kreidenweis Paola Salio
Paul DeMott L. Ruby Leung Sue van den Heever
David Gochis Greg McFarquhar Christopher Williams
Robert Houze Steve Nesbitt Edward Zipser
Michael Jensen Kristen Rasmussen
Pavlos Kollias David Romps


  • Child Campaign


Prein A, Z Feng, T Fiolleau, Z Moon, K Núñez Ocasio, J Kukulies, R Roca, A Varble, A Rehbein, C Liu, K Ikeda, Y Mu, and R Rasmussen. 2024. "Km‐Scale Simulations of Mesoscale Convective Systems Over South America—A Feature Tracker Intercomparison." Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, 129(8), e2023JD040254, 10.1029/2023JD040254.

DOE US. 2024. Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) User Facility Management Plan. Ed. by Robert Stafford, ARM user facility. DOE/SC-ARM-13-022. 10.2172/1253897.

Ross T and S Lasher-Trapp. 2024. "On CCN Effects upon Convective Cold Pool Timing and Features." Monthly Weather Review, 152(3), 10.1175/MWR-D-23-0154.1.

Creamean JM, TC Hill, CC Hume, and T Devadoss. 2024. Ice Nucleation Spectrometer (INS) Instrument Handbook. Ed. by Robert Stafford, ARM user facility. DOE/SC-ARM-TR-278. 10.2172/1846263.

Rocque M, W Deierling, K Rasmussen, R Albrecht, and B Medina. 2024. "Lightning Characteristics Associated with Storm Modes Observed during RELAMPAGO." Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, 129(4), e2023JD039520, 10.1029/2023JD039520.

K.K. A, S Sahoo, S Biswas, and V Chandrasekar. 2024. "Study of Microphysical Signatures based on Spectral Polarimetry during the RELAMPAGO Field Experiment in Argentina." Journal of Atmospheric and Oceanic Technology, , 10.1175/JTECH-D-22-0113.1. ONLINE.

Sasaki C, A Rowe, L McMurdie, A Varble, and Z Zhang. 2024. "Influences of the South American Low-Level Jet on the Convective Environment in Central Argentina Using a Convection-Permitting Simulation." Monthly Weather Review, 152(2), 10.1175/MWR-D-23-0122.1.

Barahona D, K Breen, H Kalesse-Los, and J Röttenbacher. 2024. "Deep Learning Parameterization of Vertical Wind Velocity Variability via Constrained Adversarial Training." Artificial Intelligence for the Earth Systems, 3(1), 10.1175/AIES-D-23-0025.1.

Gorkowski K, E Koo, S Jordan, J Reisner, K Benedict, and M Dubey. 2024. "Insights into Pyrocumulus aerosol composition: black carbon content and organic vapor condensation." Environmental Science: Atmospheres, , 10.1039/D3EA00130J.
Research Highlight

Nie Y, X Li, Q Paletta, M Aragon, A Scott, and A Brandt. 2024. "Open-source sky image datasets for solar forecasting with deep learning: A comprehensive survey." Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 189, 113977, 10.1016/j.rser.2023.113977.

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Campaign Data Sets

IOP Participant Data Source Name Final Data
Paul DeMott Colorado State University Ice Spectrometer aboard aircraft Order Data
Paul DeMott Ice Spectrometer Order Data
Zhe Feng FLEXible object TRaKeR (FLEXTRKR) algorithm for generation of convection cell tracking databases using C Scanning ARM Precipitation Radar 2nd generation (CSAPR) data Order Data
Joseph Hardin Radar Surveillance Camera Order Data
Alyssa Matthews Ambient Winds- AIMMS Order Data
Fan Mei Cloud Particle Imager (CPI) Order Data
Fan Mei High Volume Precipitation Spectrometer - Images Order Data
Fan Mei Merged Cloud Particle Size Distribution Order Data
Fan Mei Scanning Mobility Particle Sizer Order Data
Fan Mei Two Dimensional Stereo (2DS) Particle Imaging Probe Order Data
Fan Mei meteorology/state/position parameters Order Data
Rusen Oktem Cloud Digital Camera Order Data
Mikhail Pekour Aerosol Size Distribution Best Estimate by airborne measurements Order Data
Mikhail Pekour Gust Probe Order Data
Mikhail Pekour Open Path Tunable Diode Laser Hygrometer Order Data
Mikhail Pekour Optical Particle Counter - Counterflow Virtual Impactor Order Data
Mikhail Pekour Optical Particle Counter - Isokinetic Order Data
Arthur Sedlacek Single Particle Soot Photometer Order Data
Jason Tomlinson Liquid Water Content (pvm-100a probe, SEA WCM-2000) Order Data
Jason Tomlinson Passive Cavity Aerosol Spectrometer Order Data
Jason Tomlinson Ultra High Sensitivity Aerosol Spectrometer- G1 Aircraft Order Data
Alla Zelenyuk-Imre Single Particle Mass Spectrometer- G1 Aircraft Order Data

COR Data Sources

Name Full Name Browse Data
2DS-AIR 2 Dimensional Stereo Probe aboard aircraft Browse Data
AAFMERGED ARM Aerial Facility (AAF) Merged VAP for Historical AAF G1 Field Campaigns Browse Data
ACSM Aerosol Chemical Speciation Monitor Browse Data
ACSMCDCE ACSM, corrected for composition-dependent collection efficiency Browse Data
AERI Atmospheric Emitted Radiance Interferometer Browse Data
AERINF AERI Noise Filtered Browse Data
AERIOE AERIoe Thermodynamic Profile and Cloud Retrieval Browse Data
AETH Aethalometer Browse Data
AOD-MFRSR Aerosol Optical Depth (AOD) derived from MFRSR measurements Browse Data
AOP Aerosol Optical Properties Browse Data
AOS Aerosol Observing System Browse Data
AOSMET Meteorological Measurements associated with the Aerosol Observing System Browse Data
APS Aerodynamic Particle Sizer Browse Data
ARMBE ARM Best Estimate Data Products Browse Data
ASDBE-AIR Aerosol Size Distribution Best Estimate from sensors aboard aircraft Browse Data
CAM-AIR Video camera aboard aircraft Browse Data
CAS-AIR Cloud and Aerosol Spectrometer aboard aircraft Browse Data
CCN Cloud Condensation Nuclei Particle Counter Browse Data
CCN-AIR Cloud Condensation Nuclei Particle Counter aboard Aircraft Browse Data
CCNKAPPA CCN Counter derived hygroscopicity parameter kappa Browse Data
CEIL Ceilometer Browse Data
CEILPBLHT Boundary-layer height data with CEIL Browse Data
CIP-AIR Cloud Imaging Probe aboard aircraft Browse Data
CLDTYPE Cloud Type Classification Browse Data
CMAC2 Corrected Moments in Antenna Coordinates, Version 2 Browse Data
CMH-AIR Chilled Mirror Hygrometer aboard aircraft Browse Data
CO-AIR Carbon Monoxide- Airborne Browse Data
CO-ANALYZER Carbon Monoxide Analyzer Browse Data
CPC Condensation Particle Counter Browse Data
CPC-AIR Condensation particle counter aboard aircraft Browse Data
CSAPR C-Band Scanning ARM Precipitation Radar Browse Data
CSPHOT Sunphotometer Browse Data
DL Doppler Lidar Browse Data
DLPROF-WIND Doppler Lidar Horizontal Wind Profiles Browse Data
DLPROF-WSTATS Doppler Lidar Wind Statistics Profiles Browse Data
ECOR Eddy Correlation Flux Measurement System Browse Data
FCDP-AIR Fast Cloud Droplet Probe aboard aircraft Browse Data
GNDRAD Ground Radiometers on Stand for Upwelling Radiation Browse Data
GOES Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites Browse Data
GUSTPROBE-AIR Gust Probe aboard aircraft Browse Data
HK-AIR House Keeping Instruments aboard Aircraft Browse Data
HVPS-AIR High Volume Precipitation Spectrometer aboard aircraft Browse Data
INLETCVI-AIR Inlet for Counterflow Virtual Impactor aboard aircraft Browse Data
INLETISOK-AIR Isokinetic Inlet aboard aircraft Browse Data
INTERPSONDE Interpolated Sonde Browse Data
IRT Infrared Thermometer Browse Data
KASACR Ka-Band Scanning ARM Cloud Radar Browse Data
KASACRGRIDRHI Ka-Band Scanning ARM Cloud Radar RHI scan, Cartesian Cloud Cover Grid VAP Browse Data
KAZR Ka ARM Zenith Radar Browse Data
KAZRARSCL Active Remote Sensing of CLouds (ARSCL) product using Ka-band ARM Zenith Radars Browse Data
KAZRCFRCOR Ka-Band ARM Zenith RADAR (KAZR) CF-Radial, Corrected VAP Browse Data
LDIS Laser Disdrometer Browse Data
MAWS Automatic Weather Station Browse Data
MERGED-COMMON Merged data- common timestamp Browse Data
MET Surface Meteorological Instrumentation Browse Data
MET-AIR Meteorological Instrumentation aboard Aircraft Browse Data
METWXT WXT520/530 Meteorological Instrument System Browse Data
MFR Multifilter Radiometer Browse Data
MFRSR Multifilter Rotating Shadowband Radiometer Browse Data
MFRSRCLDOD Cloud Optical Properties from MFRSR Using Min Algorithm Browse Data
MPL Micropulse Lidar Browse Data
MPLCMASK Cloud mask from Micropulse Lidar Browse Data
MPLCMASKML Micropulse Lidar Cloud Mask Machine Learning VAP Browse Data
MWR Microwave Radiometer Browse Data
MWRHF Microwave Radiometer - High Frequency Browse Data
MWRP Microwave Radiometer Profiler Browse Data
MWRRET MWR Retrievals Browse Data
NAV-AIR Navigational Location, Motion, and Attitude for Airborne Platforms Browse Data
NAVMET-AIR Navigation and Met Data from multiple sensors on airborne platform Browse Data
NEPHELOMETER Nephelometer Browse Data
NEPHELOMETER-AIR 3-Wavelength integrating nephelometer aboard aircraft Browse Data
NFOV Narrow Field of View Zenith Radiometer Browse Data
OZONE Ozone Monitor Browse Data
OZONE-AIR Ozone Monitor aboard Aircraft Browse Data
PBLHT Planetary Boundary Layer Height Browse Data
PCASP-AIR Passive cavity aerosol spectrometer aboard aircraft Browse Data
PSAP Particle Soot Absorption Photometer Browse Data
PSAP-AIR Particle soot absorption photometer aboard aircraft Browse Data
QCECOR Quality Controlled Eddy Correlation Flux Measurement Browse Data
QCRAD Data Quality Assessment for ARM Radiation Data Browse Data
RADFLUXANAL Radiative Flux Analysis Browse Data
RAIN Rain Gauge Browse Data
RWP Radar Wind Profiler Browse Data
SASHE Shortwave Array Spectroradiometer-Hemispheric Browse Data
SASZE Shortwave Array Spectroradiometer-Zenith Browse Data
SEBS Surface Energy Balance System Browse Data
SKYRAD Sky Radiometers on Stand for Downwelling Radiation Browse Data
SMPS Scanning mobility particle sizer Browse Data
SMPS-AIR Scanning mobility particle sizer aboard aircraft Browse Data
SO2-AIR Sulfur Dioxide Monitor aboard Aircraft Browse Data
SODAR Mini Sound Detection and Ranging Browse Data
SONDE Balloon-Borne Sounding System Browse Data
SONDEGRID Gridded Sonde VAP Product Browse Data
SP2-AIR Single Particle Soot Photometer aboard aircraft Browse Data
STEREOCAM Stereo Cameras for Clouds Browse Data
THERMOCLOUDPHASE Thermodynamic cloud phase Browse Data
TSI Total Sky Imager Browse Data
UHSAS Ultra-High Sensitivity Aerosol Spectrometer Browse Data
VARANAL Constrained Variational Analysis Browse Data
VDIS Video Disdrometer Browse Data
VDISQUANTS Video Disdrometer VAP Browse Data
VISST Minnis Cloud Products Using Visst Algorithm Browse Data
WB Weighing Bucket Precipitation Gauge Browse Data
WCM-AIR Water content meter aboard aircraft Browse Data
XSACR X-Band Scanning ARM Cloud Radar Browse Data
XSACRGRIDRHI X-Band Scanning ARM Cloud Radar RHI scan, Cartesian Cloud Cover VAP Browse Data