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Director's Message

Dr. Roger Wakimoto is Assistant Director of NCAR for the Earth Observing Laboratory

Welcome to the Earth Observing Laboratory's 2008 Annual Report

EOL is known as a community hub for the collection of data and transfer of knowledge pertaining to observations. The Laboratory also develops new measurement tools to extend community understanding of the atmosphere. EOL specifically fulfills three critical needs:

  1. To lead and serve the community in the provision of observational facilities infrastructure, and services needed by the atmospheric and related sciences.
  2. To play a leadership role in the development community-inspired next generation instrumentation and infrastructure while providing existing instruments and infrastructure in support of science.
  3. To coordinate all aspects of field deployment from pre-project planning through the field phase and subsequent data stewardship.

Central to EOL’s success is our world-class scientific, engineering and project management staff that is respected by the community. Our staff responses to new directions in atmospheric research technology play a leadership role in the development and application of new technology to science objectives.

Field Campaigns Going Global

EOL was extremely busy in FY2008 fulfilling our mission to support the NCAR goal #5, “Provide World-Class Observational Facilities”: during 42 out of 52 weeks this year we coordinated and participated in seven field campaigns, three of which were international, and spent over 3000 person-days in field. Every platform was deployed this year, some more than once, which was a first for us.

This Google Earth diagram shows the complex communications schema necessary for the remote and autonomous deployment of Miniature In-situ Sounding Technology (MIST) sondes from the Driftsonde during T-PARC.

As we come closer to realizing the full operational capability of the NSF/NCAR GV we are addressing the drastically shifting expectations of field campaigns towards longer, larger-scale events. In order to meet the new challenges posed by global operations, EOL has begun to reframe the way we prepare for and manage field deployments. To perform global operations at the level our community has come to expect also requires advances in the instrumentation technology. A good deal of progress was made in the area of remote operation of airborne instrumentation with the development of the Miniature In-situ Sounding Technology (MIST) sonde for the Driftsonde platform, used in the THORPEX Pacific Asian Regional Campaign (T-PARC). The development of this autonomous deployment capability will have a profound positive effect in global campaigns and applications with the HAIS instruments and Unmanned Autonomous Systems (UAS), such as the NOAA Global Hawk, are already being explored.

EOL launched a strategic partnership with Colorado State University (CSU) to develop an integrated radar facility that will expand the capabilities that either entity can currently provide. Both EOL and CSU support 10-cm, multiparameter Doppler radars (NSF/NCAR S-Pol and CSU CHILL radars, respectively) that will be jointly operated in this new partnership, as well as other, smaller radars. A key objective of this partnership is to create a national test bed that other institutes and agencies can use for research and education.

The NSF Facilities Assessment database was officially launched this year and will continue to garner input from the community. The intent is provide descriptive information on atmospheric science facilities and instrumentation in a consistent, easy-to-read format as a resource for the broad atmospheric science and related communities.

Understanding the Earth & Sun System

S-Pol, EOL's transportable, ground-based Doppler radar, on site for Terrain-influenced Monsoon Rainfall Experiment (TiMREX) in Taiwan.

In support of Goal #1, Understanding the Earth & Sun System, EOL participated in three field campaigns: for the Stratosphere-Troposphere Analyses of Regional Transport (START-08) EOL operated the NSF/NCAR GV to study the chemical and transport characteristics of the extratropical upper tropospheric and lower stratospheric (ExUTLS) region; for the Terrain-influenced Monsoon Rainfall Experiment (TiMREX) we deployed the S-Pol radar to Taiwan in May to study heavy rain and flood-producing convective events and evaluate the skill of numerical weather prediction systems to forecast these complex systems; and in September we participated in the mammoth multinational T-PARC with the C-130, ELDORA radar, Dropsondes, Driftsondes, and the new MIST sondes, not to mention the project management, data management and communications technology necessary to meet the science objectives and keep the campaign running smoothly across nine time zones and the international date line. The objectives of T-PARC were to sample typhoons through their lifecycle and document three primary phases from formation through maturity to extra-tropical transition.

Improving Resilience to Weather, Climate and Atmospheric Hazards

In support of Goal #2, Improving Resilience to Weather, Climate and Atmospheric Hazards, EOL scientists, working with researchers at the Naval Research Laboratory, developed the VORTRAC technique to continually monitor landfalling storms in the United States. In March 2008 the National Hurricane Center officially adopted VORTRAC as a technique to monitor hurricane intensity. In time, VORTRAC may also help improve long-range hurricane forecasts by using data from airborne Doppler radars or spaceborne radars to produce detailed information about a hurricane that is far out to sea. Forecasters could input the data to computer models to improve three- and five-day forecasts.


Cultivate a Scientifically Literate and Engaged Citizenry and a Diverse and Creative Workforce

In November 2008 the Doppler on Wheels will be deployed to the University of Nebraska for the first Educational Deployment. The professor will teach students radar fundamentals and will use the radar to give students hands-on experience.

EOL places major emphases on Goal #3, diversity and education and outreach activities. At the advice taken from the 2007 NSF Facilities Users’ Workshop, in 2008 we instituted a process through which universities can officially request NSF Lower Atmospheric Observing Facilities through the NSF Deployment Pool for educational purposes. In FY2008 we received five requests and the interest in opportunity continues to grow. The first such official project will be a deployment of the Doppler on Wheels Radar to a meteorology class at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln for a two-week period in November 2008. We will continue our efforts to support SOARS and the EOL Engineering Intern Program, as well as numerous education and outreach activities for K-12 students and the general public.

Provide Robust, Accessible, and Innovative Information Services and Tools

EOL is committed to data processing, quality control, and archival for field projects as part of our expanding services that will be provided to the community, Goal #4. This includes efforts to complete development of the Metadata Database and Cyberinfrastructure (EMDAC, formerly known as CODIAC) to access and browse products and data from field projects while integrating with the Community Data Portal. In FY2008 EOL has been leading data management support for a series of NSF-funded Arctic programs. Finally, our Atmospheric Sounding Processing Environment (ASPEN) software underwent extensive modifications in order to create a better match to processing results produced by quality control software developed by the National Hurricane Center. These changes focus on the last 5 seconds of dropsonde sounding data, which are critical to hurricane surface condition assessment. The modified Aspen was deployed for 2008 hurricane season in T-PARC.