Imperative I

Maintain the EOL Facilities that are Deployed Using NSF “Deployment Pool” Funds so that they are Ready for Reliable and Safe Operation in Anticipated Field Programs

Robust performance of weather, climate, and chemistry models depend on accurate observations and measurements. EOL's central mission, and our first Imperative, is the maintenance of NSF-funded Lower Atmospheric Observational Facilities (LAOF) for research in atmospheric science, with emphasis on systems that are beyond the capabilities of most universities or smaller groups.

The fulfillment of Imperative I drives countless day-to-day efforts to preserve and consistently improve the NSF LAOF resources with which we are entrusted, and to maintain their readiness for our vigorous deployment schedule (see Imperative II). In the preparations for each field campaign, all EOL instrumentation slated to deploy undergoes exhaustive testing by our engineers and technicians to ensure optimal performance during the campaign. After the field phase commences it often becomes necessary to make adjustments to overcome difficult or unforeseen environmental conditions in order to meet the Principal Investigators' (PIs’) scientific objectives for the experiment.

S-Pol Radar

Deployed for the first time in 1996, the S-band Dual Polarization (S-Pol) Doppler Radar remains a one-of-a-kind, dual-polarimetric, 10-cm weather radar. S-Pol’s flexible design makes it unique in that it can support different operating modes and advanced waveforms for researchers to choose from. Housed in eight standard-sized sea containers, the radar is transportable and can be deployed to remote locations around the world; previous deployment locations include Brazil, Italy, Barbuda, and Taiwan. S-Pol provides necessary measurements of cloud and precipitation microphysics and dynamics, ultimately leading to improved forecasting of cloud and precipitation formation, severe storms, tornadoes, floods, hail, damaging winds, aircraft icing conditions, and heavy snow.

The NSF/NCAR S-PolKa Radar set up for operations in support of the DYNAMO field campaign. (Photo courtesy of Scott Ellis, NCAR.)

In FY 2011 several improvements to S-Pol were made in preparation for its deployment in June 2011 to the Maldives for the Dynamics of the FY 2012 Madden-Julian Oscillation (DYNAMO) field campaign. Remote status monitoring software was completed for the radar, which will allow technicians to monitor the antenna, transmitter, data, and hardware from a remote location, and which will actually page an off-site technician in the event any of these are performing outside expected parameters. The radar was also deployed with new remote operations capabilities, including remote restart of the system should it stall, and operators can set radar scans. Hardware was also purchased for the centralized data archiving.

Another major upgrade to EOL’s remote sensing capabilities in 2011 was the development of a Ka-band (0.86 cm) wavelength radar for S-Pol (called S-PolKa when the Ka-band is installed), which was needed to meet PI requirements for simultaneous dual-wavelength measurements for DYNAMO. The concurrent dual-polarization measurements provided by S-PolKa will allow scientists to infer microphysical properties in precipitation systems. More discussion of the Ka-band development can be found under Imperative III. Once the S-Pol radar returns from DYNAMO we will begin preparing it for operations as part of the Front Range Observational Network Testbed (FRONT). Discussion of this activity can be found in Frontier IV

ELectra DOppler RAdar (ELDORA)

The ELDORA Radar mounted on the tail of the NRL P3 Research Aircraft.
The ELDORA Radar mounted on the tail of the NRL P3 Research Aircraft.

ELDORA, NCAR’s airborne dual-Doppler 3-cm (10 GHz) weather radar, was designed and built for installation on the NSF/NCAR Electra aircraft in 1993. Now available on a Naval Research Laboratory P3 aircraft, ELDORA is still the most sensitive airborne X-band tail weather radar available to the research community.

Its primary mission has been to collect high-resolution dual-Doppler winds and reflectivity (cloud and/or precipitation) for kinematic and dynamic studies of mesoscale precipitation systems. ELDORA’s mobility is particularly advantageous in observing large mesoscale weather systems in remote regions over land or over the ocean. Since 1993, ELDORA has been deployed in nine domestic and international field campaigns on four continents and over three oceans, most recently during the T-PARC campaign.

In FY 2011 improvements were made to extend the life of this aging instrument, even as development of the "next generation ELDORA" – Phased Array Radar – is underway (see Imperative III). Modules for an automated ELDORA Data Quality Control (QC) and navigation corrections were developed in 2011 as well. 

NSF/NCAR GV HAIS Instruments

Expanding EOL’s current suite of airborne instruments to provide the community with a comprehensive selection of unique state-of-the-art measurement capabilities has been a major focus for EOL since the acquisition of the GV. The acquisition of the HIAPER Airborne Instrumentation Solicitation (HAIS) instruments, an assortment of 14 different equipment packages that were developed by groups outside of EOL for delivery and operation on the GV, has played a significant role in the final configuration of the GV and its value to science. The delivery and acceptance of the HAIS instruments, overseen by GV Chief Scientist Al Cooper, was completed in 2011, and the final three instruments were tested on the required HAIS Instrument Test Flights. Many HAIS instruments have already participated in recent field campaigns such as HIPPO and PREDICT, and several will be essential to upcoming proposed field campaigns such as the Deep Convective Clouds and
Chemistry (DC3) project and the Southeast Asia Composition, Cloud, Climate Coupling Regional Study (SEAC4RS). The realization of the full potential of the GV would have not have been possible without the involvement of the community to understand and develop these new airborne instruments, and the excellent collaboration and partnership between EOL and the respective instrument providers.


HAIS Instruments

NSF/NCAR C-130 Avionics

The NSF/NCAR C-130 aircraft.

The NSF/NCAR C-130 aircraft has a 10-hour flight endurance, a 2,900 nautical mile range at up to 27,000 ft, and an impressively large payload capacity of up to 13,000 lbs. With a standard suite of thermodynamic, microphysics and radiation sensors, it offers a roomy fuselage with a selection of adaptable inlets and optical ports, and the ability to carry instruments and sensors in pods and pylons on both wings. Its extensive wing and fuselage modifications, power and signal wiring for instrumentation, and multiple configuration capabilities − particularly for chemistry experiments − make it one of the most capable heavy-lift research aircraft in existence.

In FY 2011, we completed C-130 infrastructure upgrades that included a modern avionics package, which was installed using American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds. This upgrade involved a complete reworking of the cockpit and avionics in the aircraft. The new avionics are similar to those on the NSF/NCAR GV aircraft, which greatly facilitates flight crew cross-training on the two aircraft and maintenance of the system. Upgrades to the NSF/NCAR C-130's propeller control system were begun in FY 2011 as well and are nearly complete. As a result, the C-130 is in a condition that will allow NSF to provide the aircraft to the community for at least another two decades.