2014 EOL Holiday Newsletter


Dear Friends and Colleagues,

It has been another successful year for EOL that is reflected in the high quality of service the Laboratory has provided to the atmospheric observational science community. I am proud of EOL’s staff, postdocs, students, and visitors who continue to actively contribute to advancing observational science through their own research, the deployment of the NSF Lower Atmosphere Observing Facilities, the development of the next generation observational systems, and the ongoing attention to and stewardship of our large data holdings.

In the past fiscal year, EOL supported a total of nine field campaigns and their respective investigator teams. Many of our PIs took advantage of EOL’s end-to-end service that extends from field program planning and guidance through the operation of facilities and instruments in the field to data services in the course of a field campaign and afterwards. In addition to several continental US campaigns centric to the Colorado Rockies and Front Range area (IFRACS, FRONT-DE and FRAPPÉ) as well as the Arizona Meteor Crater (METCRAX II), EOL teams supported airborne campaigns on Guam (CONTRAST), in New Zealand (DEEPWAVE) and across the Atlantic Basin (HS3). This past year we also introduced a new type of deployment – a 20-hr research project – and supported two of these (LATTE, STEP Hydromet) via operation of our S-band Dual Polarization Doppler radar (S-PolKa) at the Front Range Observational Network Testbed (FRONT) site. All in all, EOL’s work on these campaigns entailed direct support of over 60 principal investigators from 30 US universities, 10 European universities, and 11 federal agency entities and organizations. A total of 88 students - undergraduate, graduate and postdoctoral – were also directly involved in this fieldwork. In conjunction with support of field campaigns, we have expanded our service to help investigators implement targeted and tailored outreach activities via education and public engagement. During the last five years, those efforts attracted close to 3,000 visitors during nine Open Houses and arranged visits to more than 60 schools reaching close to 5,500 students. Another 1,000 students were reached through tours and hands-on demonstrations either here at home or in the field. 

With support of field campaigns worldwide, we have continued to place heightened emphasis on safety of our operations and expanded the Safety Management System (SMS) – a comprehensive set of policies and procedures covering all aspects of safety related to flight operations – at EOL’s Research Aviation Facility (RAF). In August 2014, the RAF SMS underwent a Stage 2 third-party audit and successfully obtained the certification for compliance with the protocols under the International Business Aviation Council (IBAC) International Standard for Business Aircraft operations (IS-BAO) SMS. Having a certified and registered SMS is becoming a worldwide requirement for international aviation operations and having the IS-BAO Stage 2 certification will allow us to operate easily worldwide.

The end-to-end service that EOL provides to our scientific community includes not only the deployment of instrumentation to the field but also data processing, quality control, and archival and stewardship of field project data. In FY 2014, EOL updated its data policy to insure that our data policy follows the open data guidelines set forth by the US Office of Science and Technology Policy while at the same time addressing the needs of our community. Also, we have continued our efforts to locate older field project datasets in NCAR’s and EOL’s archives and bring those data online. A total of 487 projects that EOL (ATD) has participated in, or have data for, have been identified to date, going back to the NCAR Line Islands Experiment in 1967. Last but not least, EOL fully embraced the Digital Object Identifier (DOI) system and the advantages of using a DOI name to cite and link to our research data. Starting with datasets collected in 2014, all datasets collected and/or archived by EOL will be assigned a DOI so they can be handled as independent, citable, unique scientific objects. 

In 2014, the Laboratory also made significant strides with respect to several new and innovative instrumentation developments. Our highest development priority is the Airborne Phased Array Radar (APAR), a new and unique C-band airborne radar with dual-Doppler and dual-polarimetric capabilities designed for a large fuselage aircraft such as the NSF/NCAR C-130. In FY 2014, we began work on a prototype “brick” Line Replacement Unit (LRU), the basic element of the APAR antenna. The NCAR HIAPER Cloud Radar (HCR) underwent final flight testing in late November to verify the functionality of an Active Pressurization System, automatic shutoff control, and a real-time B-scan display. The radar is now available on the NSF/NCAR HIAPER to the NSF community and will debut during the CSET field campaign in summer 2015. EOL made significant strides toward completing the Laser Air Motion System (LAMS), which measures wind velocity using a continuous-wave laser that in undisturbed air is focused about 20 meters ahead of the NSF/NCAR GV, and which, for the first time, allows for measurements of turbulence in the air unaffected by the presence of the aircraft.  Several improvements were made by EOL staff to the Advanced Vertical Profiling System (AVAPS) dropsonde, including a two-generation jump in the GPS receiver; the incorporation of GPS ephemeris information for faster GPS lockup; and updates to the AVAPS software and telemetry firmware. EOL continued its partnership with Montana State University to improve the original design of the Water Vapor Differential Absorption Lidar (WV DIAL) for robust, unattended field operations. The upgrades in 2014 included a shared telescope to improve eye-safety and long-term stability; optical filtering to enable measurement during daytime bright-cloud conditions; rapid spectral switching between the online and offline wavelengths enabling measurements during changing atmospheric conditions; and enhanced performance at lower ranges by the introduction of a new filter design and the addition of a wide field-of-view channel. EOL continues to push 449 MHz wind profiler technology in an effort to improve measurements within and above the atmospheric boundary layer, increasing height coverage and measurement frequency for wind and temperature profiles. The new profiler incorporates a modular and flexible design based upon individual panels that are combined in various configurations. 

Finally, I am excited to announce the Airborne Research Instrumentation Testing Opportunity (ARISTO), an EOL program recently funded by NSF. ARISTO will provide periodic access to the NSF/NCAR HIAPER and C-130 aircraft for testing of newly developed or highly modified instruments as part of their development efforts. The program, which is open to instrument developers and investigators with existing NSF funds related to instrumentation, was created in response to a critical need expressed by the NSF community for regularly scheduled flight-testing programs to be able to test instrumentation, data systems, inlets and software well ahead of a field campaign in order maintain cutting-edge and vibrant airborne research.

If you would like to find out more about the EOL-supported field campaigns, development efforts or other activities carried out in FY14, please take a look at EOL's Annual Report.

From all of us here at EOL, Happy Holidays and we look forward to working with you again next year.

Vanda Grubišić
Director, Earth Observing Laboratory