Provide New or Significantly Strengthened Capabilities to Support Observational Research in Key Areas Where Support Needs are Growing in Importance
EOL has much to offer in support of climate research, and a significant portion of EOL support throughout its and ATD’s history has been devoted to such research. However, the nature of the needs and the opportunities are changing, so there is an opportunity to change the nature of our support. The GV opens new opportunities for global-scale observations, and HIPPO has served to highlight the potential of such observations. FRONT has the potential to provide longer-term observations covering an area similar to a grid box in a climate model, and it can provide a setting for incorporating testbed measurements while longer-term observations provide context for the testing of new instruments. The history and experience of EOL in process studies will also continue to serve the needs of the climate community for such observations.
Another example where EOL’s expertise has expanded into development of observational capabilities needed by scientific areas that are growing in importance is the development of the balloon-borne Driftsonde system that releases dropsondes via commands from the ground. This capability is ideal for remote areas including the tropics and high latitudes. In FY 2011 this capability was used in the French/US sponsored campaign, Concordiasi (in Antarctica), which demonstrated the maturity of the EOL Driftsonde system in one of the most challenging environments imaginable. Before Concordiasi, the Driftsonde supported two other international field programs, the African Monsoon Multidisciplinary Analysis (AMMA) project over the African continent in 2006 and T-PARC over the Pacific Ocean in 2008. Each consecutive deployment spurred additional improvements, advances, and refinements. ISF, DFS and CDS staff faced a range of engineering challenges including the need for robust low-weight, low-cost sensors and materials that would function in the harsh stratospheric environment, implementation of reliable global satellite communications protocols, development of complex software to fully automate sounding launch from a web-based ground system, radio interference issues related to GPS, Iridium, and sonde transmitters and receivers, and successfully launching these large balloons in sometimes difficult conditions at McMurdo Station. Additional information on Concordiasi is presented under Imperative II.