Aerosol IOP

1 May 2003 - 31 May 2003

Lead Scientist: Richard Ferrare

Observatory: SGP

To gain improved understanding and model-based representation of aerosol radiative influences an IOP (Intensive Observational Period) was conducted at the Department of Energy's Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) Southern Great Plains Site in north central Oklahoma, in May 2003. This experiment used ground and airborne measurements of aerosol absorption, scattering, and extinction over the ARM SGP site to characterize the routine ARM aerosol measurements, and help resolve differences between measurements and models of diffuse irradiance at the surface. The assessments of aerosol optical thickness and aerosol absorption was carried out in conjunction with measurements of downwelling direct and diffuse irradiance as a function of wavelength and altitude. The IOP carried out a variety of closure experiments on aerosol optical properties and their radiative influence. Measurements of the aerosol chemical composition and size distribution allowed testing of the ability to reconstruct optical properties from these measurements. Additional effort was directed toward measurement of cloud condensation nucleus concentration as a function of supersaturation and relating CCN concentration to aerosol composition and size distribution. This relation was central to description of the aerosol indirect effect.

Activity Summary

The Aerosol IOP was conducted between May 5-31, 2003 over the ARM SGP site. There were a total of 16 science flights, for a total of 60.6 flight hours, conducted by the CIRPAS Twin Otter aircraft on 15 days during this period. Most of the Twin Otter flights were conducted under clear or partly cloudy skies to assess aerosol impacts on solar radiation. Additional flights were used to target mostly cloudy skies to assess aerosol/cloud interactions, test our understanding and model representation of aerosol activation, and to test how well surface remote sensing of the indirect effect works.

The field deployment phase of the Aerosol IOP was successful in a number of ways. First, the instruments deployed on the aircraft and on the surface generally worked very well and acquired the data required to address the IOP objectives. These instruments included both well established and newly developed airborne instruments to measure aerosol optical properties (scattering, absorption, and extinction), aerosol size distribution, and cloud condensation nuclei (CCN), as well as surface based instruments to measure aerosol composition, aerosol optical properties, and cloud condensation nuclei. A newly developed stabilized platform for zenith viewing radiometric instruments was also deployed on the CIRPAS Twin Otter aircraft and worked well for most of the mission, including the flights designed to assess direct and diffuse radiation. Additional airborne and surface instruments acquired the desired measurements of solar direct and diffuse measurements. Additional surface-based instruments deployed at the SGP Central Facility, including several instruments from investigators funded by the DOE Atmospheric Chemistry Program (ACP), measured aerosol size distributions, aerosol mass, and composition.

During the IOP, several different datasets that were used to address the IOP objectives were successfully acquired. One objective of the IOP was to measure aerosol optical properties (scattering, absorption, and extinction) using a number of different instruments simultaneously with measurements of direct and diffuse solar radiation in order to better understand and model the impact of aerosols on direct and diffuse radiation. Particular emphasis was placed on the role of aerosol absorption. Data to examine this issue and to accurately characterize aerosol absorption were acquired during a number of flights. Another objective was to examine the ability of routine Raman lidar and In Situ Aerosol Profiling (IAP) measurements to characterize ambient aerosol extinction. Four coordinated flights were conducted so that the IAP and Raman lidar measurements could be evaluated using the more extensive instrumentation on the CIRPAS Twin Otter. This IOP also was the first time the ARM program acquired airborne CCN measurements over the SGP site. These data were used to assess how aerosols impact cloud properties and help develop algorithms to use routine ARM surface and remote sensing data to model cloud properties and their impact on radiation.

Several new and/or upgraded instruments were deployed over the ARM SGP for the first time during this mission. For example, two new instruments, a cavity ring-down cell (NASA Ames) that measured aerosol extinction and a photoacoustic sampler (Desert Research Institute) that measured aerosol absorption, were deployed. A newly developed stabilized platform for zenith viewing radiometric instruments was also deployed and worked well. New surface and airborne instruments (Cal Tech and DRI) to measure Cloud Condensation Nuclei were also deployed.

Several times during the IOP, elevated aerosol layers were observed over the ARM SGP site. These layers, which were present 2-5 km above the surface, are often the result of the transport of smoke, dust, or pollution from long distances away. Observations of these layers during the IOP indicated that these layers may be more common than originally thought, and can have a substantial impact on the atmospheric radiation budget. CIRPAS Twin Otter flights were also conducted in coordination with overpasses of NASA Terra and Aqua satellites. These aircraft and satellite measurements will be used to evaluate how the satellite, airborne, and surface network measurements can be used to study the horizontal variability of aerosols and clouds.

The success of this IOP was due to the hard work and dedicated efforts from a large team of ARM and ACP scientists and investigators, CIRPAS Twin Otter and Cessna pilots, crew, and support personnel, SGP site personnel, ARM infrastructure support, weather forecaster, and support from Greenwood Aviation at the Ponca City airport. We thank ARM for their support of this IOP.

Related Publications


de Boer G, SE Bauer, T Toto, S Menon, and AM Vogelmann. 2013. "Evaluation of aerosol-cloud interaction in the GISS ModelE using ARM observations." Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, 118(12), 10.1002/jgrd.50460.


Chuang CC, JT Kelly, JS Boyle, and S Xie. 2012. "Sensitivity of aerosol indirect effects to cloud nucleation and autoconversion parameterizations in short-range weather forecasts during the May 2003 aerosol IOP." Journal of Advances in Modeling Earth Systems, 4(3), M09001, 10.1029/2012ms000161.


Toto T, M Jensen, A Vogelmann, R Wagener, Y Liu, W Lin, and S Giangrande. 2011. New Data Support Activities for the FAst-physics System TEstbed and Research (FASTER) Project. Presented at 2nd Atmospheric System Research (ASR) Science Team Meeting. San Antonio, TX.


Guan H, B Schmid, A Bucholtz, and R Bergstrom. 2010. "Sensitivity of shortwave radiative flux density, forcing, and heating rate to the aerosol vertical profile." Journal of Geophysical Research – Atmospheres, 115(D6), D06209, 10.1029/2009jd012907.

Toto T, M Jensen, A Vogelmann, R Wagener, Y Liu, and W Lin. 2010. Custom Data Support for the FAst-physics System TEstbed & Research (FASTER) Project. Presented at Atmospheric System Research (ASR) Science Team Meeting.


Schmid B, CJ Flynn, RK Newsom, DD Turner, RA Ferrare, MF Clayton, E Andrews, JA Ogren, RR Johnson, PB Russell, WJ Gore, and R Dominguez. 2009. "Validation of aerosol extinction and water vapor profiles from routine Atmospheric Radiation Measurement Program Climate Research Facility measurements." Journal of Geophysical Research – Atmospheres, 114(D22), D22207, 10.1029/2009jd012682.


Michalsky JJ and PW Kiedron. 2008. "Comparison of UV-RSS spectral measurements and TUV model runs for clear skies for the May 2003 ARM aerosol intensive observation period." Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, 8(6), 10.5194/acp-8-1813-2008.


Guo H, JE Penner, M Herzog, and S Xie. 2007. "Investigation of the first and second aerosol indirect effects using data from the May 2003 Intensive Operational Period at the Southern Great Plains." Journal of Geophysical Research – Atmospheres, 112(D15), 10.1029/2006jd007173.

Wang J, PH Daum, LI Kleinman, YN Lee, SE Schwartz, SR Springston, H Jonsson, D Covert, and R Elleman. 2007. "Observation of ambient aerosol particle growth due to in-cloud processes within boundary layers." Journal of Geophysical Research – Atmospheres, 112(D14), 10.1029/2006jd007989.

Kassianov EI, C Flynn, TP Ackerman, and JC Barnard. 2007. "Aerosol single-scattering albedo and asymmetry parameter from MFRSR observations during the ARM Aerosol IOP 2003." Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, 7(12), 10.5194/acp-7-3341-2007.

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Campaign Data Sets

IOP Participant Data Source Name Final Data
William Arnott Desert Research Institute - airborne photo-acoustic aerosol extinction Order Data
William Arnott Desert Research Institute - ground based instruments Order Data
Anthony Bucholtz Aircraft Solar and IR Radiometers Order Data
Thomas Cahill DRUM aerosol sampler Order Data
Don Collins Tandem Differential Mobility Analyzer Order Data
David Covert Nephelometer, absorption photometer, humidograph Order Data
Robert Elleman Twin Otter Order Data
Richard Ferrare Raman Lidar Best Estimate Order Data
James Hudson CCN spectrometers Order Data
Dan Imre Aerosol mass spectrometer AMS and SPLAT-MS Order Data
Qiang (Jack) Ji Surface-sensing Measurements for Atmospheric Radiative Transfer Order Data
Haflidi Jonsson Cloud and Aerosol Spectrometer Order Data
Haflidi Jonsson Forward-Scatter Spectrometer Probe Order Data
Haflidi Jonsson Passive Cavity Aerosol Spectrometer Order Data
Evgueni Kassianov MFRSR Order Data
Thomas Kirchstetter Aerosol Filter Sampler for ATN Order Data
Thomas Kirchstetter Aerosol Filter Sampler for TC,BC Order Data
Yin-Nan Lee Aerosol Chemical Composition Measurement using PILS-IC-TOC Order Data
Joseph Michalsky Diffuse Pyranometer Order Data
Joseph Michalsky Normal Incidence Multi-filter Radiometer Order Data
Joseph Michalsky Normal Incidence Pyrheliometer Order Data
Joseph Michalsky Surface Spectral Albedo Order Data
Peter Pilewskie Solar Spectral Flux Radimeter Order Data
Tracey Rissman CNN Counters - Flight Order Data
Beat Schmid Ames Airborne 14-channel Sunphotometer Order Data
Patrick Sheridan Integrating nephelometer, condensation particle counter Order Data
Patrick Sheridan Platt Radiometer Order Data
James Slusser UV Rotating Shadowband Radiometer Order Data
Anthony Strawa Ames CRD Extinction/Scattering Order Data
Alexander Trishchenko Spectrometer ASD FieldSpecFR Order Data
Timothy VanReken CNN Counter - Ground Order Data
Jian Wang Scanning mobility particle sizer Order Data
Stephen Wilcox Absolute Cavity Radiometer Order Data