2015 Next Practices Workshop


Observations in Atmospheric Research

"Next" Practices: Conducting Field Operations in a Changing World

April 21-23, 2015 

New Orleans, Louisiana, USA

Field campaigns entail years of planning and incur substantial cost, especially if they involve operation of major research platforms in remote locations.  Deploying and operating those assets even for short periods of time poses challenges that, if not addressed properly, can have significant negative consequences and potentially jeopardize the success of a campaign.  Challenges vary from country to country and range from safety, health, and security risks to differences in cultural and social norms.
The workshop focused on sharing information on best practices, lessons learned and country-specific experiences by different groups for the planning and conduct of scientific research campaigns around the globe. The agenda consisted of a mix of short, focused presentations, plenary and small breakout sessions, as well as invited keynote speakers.  
The workshop was jointly organized by NCAR's Earth Observing Laboratory (EOL), which is responsible for managing and operating the US National Science Foundation's Lower Atmosphere Observing Facilities, and the German Aerospace Center (DLR), which manages and operates a fleet of aircraft in support of European airborne observational science.

Key Topcs

NCAR-EOL and DLR are organizing a three-day workshop that will focus on sharing information on the best practices, lessons learned, and country-specific experiences as experienced by different groups. The following key topics will be at the heart of the workshop debates and discussions:

Topic 1 - Modes of Field Operations

Modes of field operations range from short-term deployments of a few days to weeks to long-term monitoring lasting several months or even years; from domestic operations to deployments in remote locations with little to no infrastructure; from fixed site deployments at a single ground site to mobile operations chasing tornados across state lines to global operations that take a platform and its scientific team from its home institution to Antarctica and back.  Operations are conducted during the day as well as during the night.  Most recently we have seen requests for rapid response deployments to study short duration phenomena such as severe winter storms, flooding, or wild fires. Topic 1 will focus on important aspects and best practices to successfully implement each of these types operations.

Topic 2 - Campaign Feasibilities and Risk Assessments

Facility providers are required to evaluate the feasibility and cost of each campaign once a request for deployment is received.   We will discuss what initial risk assessments and feasibilities are done for each project, how various groups formulate the key components of a feasibility analysis, and what evaluation criteria are being used.   We will explore each group's risk tolerance and thresholds, how risks of various support components are evaluated and scored, and what kind of mitigation procedures are routinely put in place. We will also assess how feasibilities and risk assessments are reviewed and communicated, and how they play into the final decision-making at the institutional and funding agency level. We will also spend some time on the need and extend of individual emergency response plans.

Topic 3 - Campaign Planning and Execution

Once a campaign is approved, facility providers are faced with a myriad of activities at the planning as well as execution level. We will delve into issues such as site diplomatic clearances, research permits and waivers, site surveys and infrastructure requirements, deployment management and project staffing, airspace and air traffic control interactions, on-site safety and security issues, interagency and university collaborations, PI communications and involvement.

Topic 4 - Country-specific Operations

While there are unique challenges when planning and conducting operations in any country, some regions are more challenging than others when it comes to successfully implementing a campaign.  Challenges can range from political sensitivities to significant differences in local customs, especially related to the conduct of business. We will focus our discussions on five distinct geographic areas - Africa, Asia, Australasia, Europe and the Americas.  Using two or three countries as examples, we will discuss various challenges and hurdles that need to be overcome before a study can be initiated in those country, and what unique issues and dilemmas may arise. By tapping into various groups' experiences and lessons learned, we will be able to assist others in successfully conducting field research in unfamiliar territories. 

Topic 5 - Special Interest Discussions

The conference organizers have chosen an additional set of topics that we believe warrant focused discussion. We would like to share how different facility providers handle activities in each of the following areas

  • Media and public engagement
  • Student participation and training
  • Aircraft payload certification and instrumentation
  • Collaboration across facility providers and information sharing
  • Future technologies and tools to support field operations


Workshop participants, please make sure you visit the "To do" list to get ready for the workshop.

Tuesday, 21 April 2015
    Notes, Presentations, Posters
8:00 8:30 Poster Set-up and Informal Discussions
8:30 8:45 Welcome by NCAR and DLR (V. Grubišić / O. Brieger)
8:45 9:15 Purpose, Expectations and Goals of Workshop (B. Baeuerle)
9:15 10:00 Facilitated Ice Breaker Activity and Poster Session
10:00 10:15 Break
10:15 11:15 Participant Presentations - Workshop Expectations & Discussion Topics
11:15 11:30 Topic 1 - Modes of Field Operations -  J. Moore (NCAR)
11:30 13:00 Lunch Break
13:00 14:00 Keynote: Joseph Nieto (US Department of State/Diplomatic Security Service)
14:00 15:00 Breakout Sessions - Topic 1
15:15 15:45 Break
15:45 17:00 Reports from Breakout Sessions and Plenary Discussion - Topic 1
18:00   Dinner at Nola's (all participants; covered by registration fee)
Wednesday, 22 April 2015
    Notes, Presentations
8:00 8:30 Informal Discussions
8:30 8:45 Topic 2: Campaign Feasibilities and Risk Assessments - M. Craig (NASA)
8:45 10:00 Breakout Sessions - Topic 2
10:00 10:30 Break
10:30 11:30 Reports from Breakout Sessions and Plenary Discussion - Topic 2
11:30 13:00 Lunch Break
13:00 14:00 Keynote: EuroControl Operations, Crisis Management & Event Coordination - Andrew Woollin
14:00 14:15 Topic 3 - Campaign Planning and Execution - F. Probst (DLR)
14:15 15:15 Breakout Sessions - Topic 3
15:15 15:45 Break
15:45 17:00 Reports from Breakout Sessions and Plenary Discussion - Topic 3
17:15 18:30 Ignite - "Stories from the Field - Oh No! Experiences"
17:00   Reception - courtesy of Sheraton 4 Points Hotel (combined with Ignite event)
Thursday, 23 April 2015
    Notes, Presentations
8:00 8:30 Informal Discussions
8:30 9:30 Topic 4 - Country-specific Operations - Josh Wurman, Kim Nitschke, Beat Schmid
9:30 10:30 Plenary Sessions - Topic 4
10:30 10:45 Break
10:45 noon Media and Public Engagement (Alison Rockwell)
noon 13:15 Lunch Break
13:15 14:45 Topic 5 - Special Interest Discussions
    Group 1 - Aircraft Payload Certification and Instrumentation - Steve Deveraux (FAAM)
    Group 2 - Student Participation and Training - Karen Kosiba (CSWR)
    Group 1 - Future Technologies and Tools - Vidal Salazar (NCAR)
    Group 2 - Deployment Evaluation and Project Closure - Lou Lussier (NCAR)
14:45 15:15 Break
15:15 16:00 Reports from Special Interest Discussions and Plenary Discussion
16:00 16:45

Collective Vision and Future Steps &  Collaboration and Information Sharing - Mo Smith (FAAM)

16:45 17:00 Workshop Review, Evaluation and Closing Remarks (Baeuerle, Oliver)
17:30   Adjourn


Guiding Questions

The organizers have developed a list of possible questions to be considered during break-out sessions that will occur with the first four major topics of the workshop. Each topic is listed below with a set of relevant questions. There is no expectation that all the questions will be addressed in the allocated meeting time. The discussion should focus on questions that are appropriate to the expertise in each break-out group and/or the highest priority issues facing all the facilities as agreed upon by the group. Other questions may be added (and answered) as desired by each group.

Topic 1 - Modes of Field Operations

  1. What kinds of operations does your organization routinely carry out and how are those handled? 
  2. What works and what could be improved in your current operational strategies? 
  3. What procedures and strategies have helped your organization in significantly improving and implementing deployments? 
  4. Do you have experience with opportunistic/rapid response missions (e.g., severe weather events, environmental disasters) and if yes, what are some of the main operational aspects to be successful? 
  5. How do you organize and handle multi-partner / multi-asset missions?
  6. What can traditional research operations learn from the emerging UAV technologies and modes of operation? 
  7. Do you see new trends in the kind of operations you are asked to support? Are there modes of operations that you no longer entertain and if yes, why?
  8. What future modes of operations do you envision and how do you adapt and actively prepare yourself for such new approaches?
  9. What emerging technologies have or promise to improve your operations? 
  10. What do you consider to be the most challenging operations and why?

Topic 2 - Campaign Feasibilities and Risk Assessments

  1. What mission specification information do you require from the science team to prepare your feasibility assessment?
  2. How does your organization assess the feasibility and risk of a campaign? 
  3. What components are a critical part of your feasibilities, how is the information gathered and how do you evaluate and score those criteria? 
  4. Do you have criteria that automatically preclude deployment of facilities, i.e., do you ever say no? 
  5. What governs your choice of a campaign deployment base, especially for foreign deployments?
  6. How is information disseminated to the various stakeholders? 
  7. How does your funding agency incorporate your feasibilities and assessments in their decision making process?
  8. How often do you re-evaluate mission critical criteria and what are the processes to implement needed scope changes? Is there a “kill switch/knock it off” option?
  9. Are there ‘common’ project risks with common solutions? (This item also in country specific category)
  10. Do you have guidelines for your science team to propose a ‘feasible’ project?
  11. What approach do you take to proactive risk management? What has proven to be the best approach to handling campaign? 
  12. In your experience, what are the most significant risks associated with field campaigns?
  13. Do you have an Emergency Response Plan and if yes, what does it entail?
  14. Are there science disciplines that are the most challenging to support? 

Topic 3 - Campaign Planning and Execution

  1. At what point in a project’s life cycle does your organization get involved? 
  2. What kind of operational personnel do you have, what are their backgrounds? Do you require specific training for your project managers?
  3. How does your formal planning process look like? Do you have clearly defined milestones that everybody is aware of? How do you handle change requests, especially if they originate from the science team?
  4. What is the best way to handle campaign coordination and planning across multiple funding agencies and facility providers? 
  5. Who establishes local cooperation at a field site? 
  6. What are the biggest issues contributing to project delays and what steps do you routinely take to prevents this from happening?
  7. Do you rely on your science teams to be part of your operational team and in what form?
  8. How much flexibility do you have in your resource allocation, especially if you have to deal with unforeseen obstacles and complications?

Topic 4 - Country-specific Operations

  1. How do you prepare your and your science team for operations in places that are significantly different to your own culture (e.g., religion, politics, gender inequality etc.)?
  2. What responsibilities do you take on to assure that project participants stay save and healthy?
  3. Which countries do you find the most difficult to get access to and/or operate in?
  4. Do you maintain “Lessons learned” for field campaigns that address how to best operate in specific countries? Would you be willing to share those?
  5. What are common foreign governmental constraints that can seriously impact mission execution?
  6. Are there ‘common’ problems with common solutions? 
  7. What strategies have allowed you to successfully overcome barriers imposed by government that are known for their reluctance to invite researchers into their country? 
  8. What is the benefit and disadvantage of involving embassies in your operations?

Topic 5 - Special Interest Discussions

Group 1 - Media and Public Engagement - Alison Rockwell (NCAR)
1. What role does the media play in the projects you support?
2.  Does your organization provide resources to develop an active media program as part of project planning? If yes, what information do you provide to make your project more understandable to the public and the media? 
3.  How do you assure/make it easier for media to obtain accurate and up-to-date information about your facilities and projects?
4.  Do you provide training for your staff to help with media interactions? For example, do you develop and share a common message (organization & project-related) with staff ahead of time?
5.  What kind of public engagement activities do you routinely incorporate into your field campaigns?
6.  What are the most effective strategies to reach out to the public? 
7.  What role(s) and niches can social media play/fill in field campaigns? Do you have any success stories from using social media?
8.  What vision do you have for the “Next Generation PR event?”
9.  In what ways can your education program be improved for users and stakeholders?
Group 2 - Student Participation and Training - Karen Kosiba (CSWR)
1.  Do you routinely recruit students for campaigns? If yes, how is recruitment done?
2.  What traditional tasks are given to students? What assignments are successful and what should be avoided?
3.  What assignments have you witnessed that raised the bar for hands-on field training (e.g., mission planning and execution of a research flight/ground-based IOP) ?
4.  How do you prepare students ahead of the campaign? What kind of training happens in the field?
5.  Do you conduct or know of “field campaigns” for students? Could those become a routine part of field campaigns?
6.  Would it make sense to share student resources during large campaigns to maximize their experience? (e.g., assignment of scientific mentors to students0
7.  Does your organizations have a process in place that track students after participating in a field campaign? (i.e., what makes them become the next generation of PIs)
8.  How do you assess and evaluate student experience?
9.  What opportunities/resources can we provide to help our respective organizations become a leader in atmospheric science education?
Group 3 - Aircraft Payload Certification and Instrumentation - Steve Deveraux (FAAM)
1.  How involved is your organization in the planning stages of payload selection and prioritization?
2.  How is payload certification handled within your organization?
3.  What resources and services does your organization provide to handle payload-related issues?
4.  What percentage of the payload is facility versus user-supplied?
5.  Is there a “kill switch” if instrumentation does not comply with procedures or severely impacts project schedules?
6.  Does your organization provide instrument-testing opportunities outside of usual project schedules?
7.  What part of the payload do you routinely provide for projects?
8.  What are the main hurdles to payload sharing across different organizations and platforms?
9.  What guidance do you provide to PI teams ahead of the campaign related to instrumentation and payload? 
Group 4 - Collaboration and Information Sharing - Mo Smith (FAAM)
1.  What kind of resources and information would be useful to share across different organizations?
2.  What tools are most useful for sharing information?
3.  Would it make sense to establish “sabbaticals” for project managers across organizations?
4.  How could information be shared with the university community and/or groups who conduct smaller scale projects on a more ad-hoc basis? (e.g., “Handbook for Field Campaigns”)
5.  Is there a need for an introductory training course for PI teams or field campaign participants who plan especially large campaigns?
6.  Is there a need for an annual meeting for facility providers?
Group 5 - Future Technologies and Tools - Vidal Salazar (NCAR)
1.  What existing technologies could be further explored for use in field campaigns (e.g., GoogleGlass for site surveys; Face Time with PIs)
2.  Is there a place for the use of Virtual Reality in field operations?
3.  What additional tools could be developed to further guide real-time decision making?
4.  Are there any apps that could be developed to help with the conduct of field campaigns? Are there apps that could help with extensive data collection?
5.  What next technology will revolutionize how we do campaigns?
Group 6 - Deployment Evaluation and Project Closure - Lou Lussier (NCAR)
1.  What kind of debriefs do you routinely carry out? At what level are these debriefs conducted? Who participates?
2.  Are there processes in place that allow for honest feedback provided by all project participants (facility staff, PIs, etc)?
3.  Do you follow formal project management practices to evaluate the original project management plan with the outcome of the project? Do you track mission creep and change requests? 
4.  What indicators/measurement criteria are used to assess the success of a project?
5.  What project closure procedures do you have in place?
6.  How do you capture lessons learned so they can be applied to future planning processes?
7.  What metrics do you collect for each campaign?

Keynote Speakers

Dr. Linnea Avallone is an atmospheric chemist who specializes in the design, development, and deployment of instrumentation for measuring atmospheric trace gases, especially from airborne platforms.   During her 25-year research career, Dr. Avallone and her research group made measurements in more than 20 field campaigns that investigated upper tropospheric and lower stratospheric chemistry, boundary layer ozone chemistry, the impact of rocket emissions on the atmosphere, and cirrus cloud formation.   In support of this research, Dr. Avallone developed new instrumentation for measuring ozone, long-lived trace gases, and condensed water content.   She is an author on more than 60 peer-reviewed publications.   Dr. Avallone has taught courses on atmospheric chemistry, instrumentation, the relationship between science and public policy, and atmospheric science topics for non-science majors.   She is also committed to inclusivity in science and education, and has been involved with several initiatives to foster diversity among students and faculty, and within the atmospheric sciences community.   Dr. Avallone is currently manager of the National Science Foundation's Lower Atmosphere Observing Facilities and serves on several interagency groups related to research aviation and Earth observations. 

Andy Woollin was born in the United Kingdom and at a young age, emigrated to Brisbane, Australia. Andy completed his education in Australia before returning to Europe. Andy joined EUROCONTROL in 1994 after holding positions in the United Kingdom Civil Aviation Authority and the United Kingdom’s Royal Air Force.  Andy is currently the Flight Planning and B2B Web Services Domain Manager at EUROCONTROL, responsible for the provision and evolution of the pan-European  flight planning and B2B web services.

Supervisory Special Agent Joseph Nieto serves as the Resident Agent in Charge (RAC) of the U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) New Orleans Resident Office (NORO), where he oversees criminal investigations and monitors protective operations and law enforcement liaison activities in Louisiana, Southern Mississippi, and Southwest Alabama. Since joining the Foreign Service in 1999, Mr. Nieto has worked as a Special Agent in the Miami Field Office, where he investigated violations of Federal statutes related to passport and visa fraud, and conducted protective security details for the Secretary of State and visiting foreign dignitaries. As a member of a special security team, he deployed to provide emergency support to U.S. Missions in Yemen, Israel, and Nicaragua. Later, as Diplomatic Security’s senior advisor to the United States Southern Command (SOUTHCOM), he developed and strengthened working relationships within the interagency community and in coordination with post management, participated in the planning of operational requirements for evacuations and increased security support to Embassies and U.S. citizens in Latin America and the Caribbean. While assigned to the Regional Security Office at the U.S. Embassies in Panama, La Paz, and Cairo, he managed a broad spectrum of security programs designed to protect personnel and facilities from terrorist attacks, civil unrest, and criminal activities.

Mr. Nieto earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Industrial Management from Norfolk State University, a Master of Science in Administration from Central Michigan University, and a Master of Military Operational Art & Science from the Air Command and Staff College. Prior to joining the Department of State, Mr. Nieto worked for the Department of the Navy as a weapon systems logistics manager, and served in the United States Air Force, where he continues his service as an officer in the reserves.


List of Attendees


Last Name

First Name



1 Baeuerle Brigitte NCAR USA
2 Brieger Oliver DLR Germany
3 Broccardo  Stephen NWU South Africa
4 Canonici Jean-Christopher SAFIRE France
5 Chappell Peter FAAM UK
6 Cocquerez Philippe CNES France
7 Craig Mike NASA USA
8 Devereau Stephen FAAM UK
9 Goswami Virendra Kumar IITM India
10 Grubišić Vanda NCAR USA
11 Guy Nick U of Wyoming USA
12 Hausold Andrea DLR Germany
13 Hempe Stefan DLR Germany
14 Kepple Tammy NCAR USA
15 Kosiba Karen CSWR USA
16 Luna Bernadette NASA USA
17 Lussier Lou NCAR USA
18 Moore Jim NCAR USA
19 Nitschke Kim LANL USA
20 Oolman Larry U of Wyoming USA
21 Poellot Michael UND USA
22 Price Scott NOAA USA
23 Rockwell Alison NCAR USA
24 Romaskhin Pavel NCAR USA
25 Salazar Vidal NCAR USA
26 Schmid Beat PNNL USA
27 Smith Maureen FAAM UK
28 Stith Jeff NCAR USA
29 Thomson Michael NASA-AFRC USA
30 Vasques Marilyn NASA USA
31 Witte Katrin DLR Germany
32 Wolff Cory NCAR USA
33 Woollin Andy EUROCONTROL Belguim
34 Wurman Joshua CSWR USA
35 Probst Frank DLR Germany
36 Nieto Joseph FBI USA