Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)




Out of Cycle Requests



What is the NSF Deployment Pool, and what expenses can be charged to it?
The NSF Deployment Pool supports expenses directly associated with the deployment of the NSF Lower Atmosphere Observing Facilities (LAOF) for NSF-supported research. Allowable expenses include extraordinary salaries (e.g., overtime) and benefits, aircraft/field system operations, travel, materials, and supplies, and purchased services including equipment rental. Non-allowable expenses include regular salaries and benefits, operation and maintenance, research and development costs, purchase of new instrumentation in excess of $5,000, PI expenses, non-NSF supported instruments and observing systems.

What NSF LAOF are eligible for support from the NSF Deployment Pool?
The following facilities are currently funded by the deployment pool:

  • Aircraft: NSF/NCAR EC-130Q Hercules, NSF/NCAR GV (HIAPER), and University of Wyoming King Air
  • Airborne Radars: Wyoming Cloud Radar (WCR), HIAPER Cloud Radar (HCR)
  • Airborne Instrumentation: HAIS instruments, Airborne Vertical Atmospheric Profiling System (AVAPS)
  • Airborne and Ground-based Lidars: Wyoming Cloud Lidar (WCL), High Spectral Resolution Lidar (HSRL)
  • Ground-based Radars: NCAR S-Band Dual Polarization Doppler Radar (S-Pol) 
  • Surface and Sounding Systems: NCAR Integrated Sounding System (ISS), NCAR Integrated Surface Flux System (ISFS)

How does a scientific platform get added to the suite of Lower Atmosphere Observing Facilities that are eligible for NSF Deployment Pool funding?
The decision is made by NSF on an as needed basis and depends on the current mix of existing facilities. 

Does the NSF Deployment Pool fund campaigns led by NCAR investigators?
Yes. Since NCAR is funded through the NSF/UCAR Cooperative Agreement, requests by NCAR-led investigators are considered NSF-funded.



What is OFAP?
OFAP stands for Observing Facilities Assessment Panel. The OFAP is an independent advisory panel to the FARE/LAOF Partner Organizations, composed of a pool of scientists with broad-based experience in observational studies of the atmospheric and related sciences. The role of the OFAP is to conduct reviews of field project plans and designs early in the project cycle and to provide objective input and recommendations on issues associated with operational and technical challenges linked to facility support requirements. 

Does the OFAP make the final decision whether or not to fund a project?
No. The NSF Program Officer makes the final decision on whether to fund a proposed field campaign or not. The role of the OFAP is to provide a written assessment to the management of the FARE/LAOF Partner Organizations regarding deployment of a requested facility, and which will be shared with the NSF Program Officers and the PIs. While this input will be part of the overall consideration, it is NOT the determining factor whether a project will be approved for funding.

Do I get to see the OFAP assessment of my project request?
Yes. The FARE/LAOF Request Coordinator will send you the OFAP recommendations together with the facility-prepared feasibility assessment within days of the OFAP meeting. You will be invited to respond to the documents within two weeks in writing to address any comments and concerns. Your response will be part of the final summary documentation that EOL sends to NSF after the assessment process and before NSF makes a final funding decision.

How can I become a member of the OFAP?
OFAP members are appointed by the EOL Director based on recommendations by NSF Program Officers, current or retired OFAP Members, Facility Managers, and facility staff. If you are interested in serving on the OFAP, please contact your NSF Program Officer or the EOL Director.



Who are the FARE/LAOF Partner Organizations?
The NSF Facilities for Atmospheric Research and Education (FARE)/LAOF Partner Organizations are a consortium of two institutions that manage and operate the Lower Atmosphere Observing Facilities on behalf of NSF. The Partner Organizations include the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and the University of Wyoming (UWYO). Both NSF FARE/LAOF partner organizations provide support directly to the science community on facility needs and capabilities, as well as process their requests for use in coordination with NSF.

What is the difference between a Straightforward and a Complex campaign?
The NSF determines the category in which a field campaign would fall based on the project's complexity. Field campaigns are categorized into one of two distinct categories: Straightforward and Complex. See the Facilities and Instrumentation Request Process (FIRP) solicitation for details.

Do I have to submit a Statement of Interest?
Yes, a Statement of Interest is required for FIRP Tracks 2 and 3, and optional for Track 1. See the Facilities and Instrumentation Request Process (FIRP) solicitation for details.

What is the deadline for making the FARE/LAOF requests?  Does it occur before the NSF proposal deadline or is it concurrent with it?

Facility requests need to be submitted before the NSF FIRP proposals so that we have enough time to prepare the required documents that you, the PI, need to upload with the proposal.

  • For Track 1, submit the facility request no later than two months before you plan to submit the NSF FIRP proposal.
  • For Track 2, submit the facility request no later than two months before you plan to submit the NSF FIRP proposal.
  • For Track 3, submit the facility request no later than one month before the FIRP proposal deadline, i.e., no later than 15 December or 15 June, depending on your submission deadline.

I receive my funding from another government agency (such as NASA or NOAA.) Do I still have access to NSF facilities such as the NSF/NCAR GV?

Yes. PIs from other funding agencies do have access to NSF facilities on a non-interference basis. Similar to NSF and NCAR-funded investigators, PIs have to go through the standard request process. Programs funded entirely by government agencies other than NSF (i.e., NASA, NOAA, DOD) or non-governmental organizations will be charged on a full cost-recovery basis. Costs include all operational expenses, maintenance, and UCAR/NCAR overhead. Maintenance and overhead are charged through the application of overhead and facility use rates approved on an annual basis by NSF. Currently approved rates are available from EOL.

What happens in the time frame between the submission of my facility request and the OFAP meeting?
During the time between the submission of the request and the OFAP meeting, personnel from the FARE/LAOF Partner Organizations prepare various documents such as feasibility assessments, risk analyses and cost estimates, which will be reviewed at the OFAP. During the same time frame, NSF is responsible for conducting the scientific proposal review.

What is the Global Feasibility?
The Global Feasibility is prepared by the FARE/LAOF Request Coordinator ahead of each OFAP meeting. The document takes into consideration staffing and facility resources, and lays out all possible project combinations that can be accommodated.


Out of Cycle Request Questions

I just realized that I missed the deadline for submitting my request by several months. Can I send it out-of-cycle?
Out of cycle requests are strongly discouraged but are possible. However, they will only be accepted with prior approval by the responsible NSF Program Officer and the FARE/LAOF Program Director. As the situation allows, these will then be accommodated on a non‑interference basis with fully approved projects. Out of cycle requests also will have low priority for deployment pool funds and most often have to be paid for by NSF program funds.

What defines an Out-of-Cycle Request?
Any request for a field program not meeting the described schedules and deadlines will be considered “out of cycle”.