NSF Facilities and Funding for Educational Deployments

A subset of NSF's Lower Atmosphere Observing Facilities are available for educational purposes to college campuses across the continental United States every year. This funded NSF effort was designed to expose bright young college students in science and engineering to observational meteorology, without requiring faculty to design and propose a full-scale scientific field campaign.

The Earth Observing Laboratory (EOL) as well as the Center for Severe Weather Research (CSWR), and the University of Wyoming are in a unique position to provide hands-on training opportunities and exposure to several mobile surface, sounding and remote sensing instruments, at no cost to the educator.

Additional outreach activities involving demonstrations and lectures for the general public and K-12 can add to the overall experience, and raise the awareness of the need for high-quality measurements. Combined, these activities will convey the excitement and intrinsic value of observational research to a wider audience.

Contributing in this way is part of the EOL mission. The mechanisms EOL provides to support and inspire undergraduates and graduates, high school students, teachers, and faculty will ensure the field of atmospheric science remains vibrant well into the future.

Requesting Facilities for Educational Deployments

A portion of the NSF Deployment Pool is set aside every year to support short-term deployments of NSF's observing facilities to various colleges across the U.S. Educators wishing to gain access to these observational facilities for classroom instructions and hands-on learning experience are encouraged to submit a short proposal and facility request four to six months before the start of the intended activity. Proposal submission by students will also be accepted but require approval by a faculty advisor.

Educators must contact the relevant facility manager to discuss the proposed project, identify the appropriate time period and work on a feasibility and cost estimate. Learn more about how to submit a proposal requesting the use of an NSF facility for educational purposes.

Requestable Ground-based Remote Sensing Facilities:

  • NCAR High Spectral Resolution Lidar (HSRL)
  • CSWR Doppler on Wheels (DOW)
  • CSWR Rapid-Scan Doppler on Wheels (Rapid-Scan DOW)
  • CSWR Weather Pods
  • CSWR Mobile Mesonet

Requestable Surface and Sounding Systems:

  • NCAR Mobile Integrated Sounding System (MISS)
  • NCAR Integrated Surface Flux System (ISFS)

Requestable Research Aircraft:

  • University of Wyoming King Air (UWKA)* 
    *requestable with special consideration

Examples of how Facilities are integrated Into Educational Deployments

NCAR Integrated Surface Flux System (ISFS)

ARTSE: The 21 August 2017 total solar eclipse presented a tremendous and relatively rare opportunity for both hands-on educational activities and atmospheric boundary layer research. To take advantage of this opportunity, the Earth and Space Sciences Department at Columbus State University (CSU), collaborating with the Coca Cola Space Sciences Center (CCSSC), developed project ARTSE: Atmospheric Response to a Total Solar Eclipse. The principal goal of this project was to provide students with hands-on experience in meteorological fieldwork, computer programming, and low-level data analysis all while collecting meaningful data and experiencing a truly incredible event. To achieve these goals, CSU requested two National Center of Atmospheric Research (NCAR) Integrated Surface Flux System (ISFS) stations to be deployed in the path of totality through an NSF-sponsored educational deployment.
» Read more about ARTSE

NCAR Mobile Integrated Sounding System (MISS)

BaSE CaMP II: In the fall of 2012, Saint Cloud State University was visited by a Mobile Integrated Sounding System (MISS) provided by NCAR’s Earth Observing Laboratory. The deployment was termed Boundary Structure Experiments with Central Minnesota Profiling (BaSE CaMP). Within one week, the MISS was deployed to five different locations, was visited by forty-nine students, and collected datasets of features including a cold pool breakup, a subsidence inversion, a cold frontal passage, and a small graupel event. The first of these cases has been a subject of research by the PI and two students which was presented as a poster at the 2014 AMS Mountain Meteorology conference. 
 » Read more about BaSE CaMP II

University of Wyoming King Air (UWKA) Research Aircraft

SEAR-MAR: Four universities are partnering for a two-week educational deployment of the University of Wyoming King Air aircraft (UWKA) in early November 2017 that will serve as the stimulus for 175 undergraduate and graduate students to be immersed in the study of the atmosphere from an airborne platform. In particular, faculty and students from Millersville University (MU), Pennsylvania State University (PSU), Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey (RU), and the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) will use this valuable airborne observing system to study synoptic scale cold fronts and other atmospheric phenomena in the mid-Atlantic Appalachian Mountains, Piedmont, and Coastal Plain.
» Read more about SEAR-MAR

CSWR Doppler on Wheels (DOW)

ERAU CBREESE 2.0: Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University Convective-Boundary Research Engaging Educational Student Experiences 2.0 (ERAU CBREESE 2.0) was a 15-day Doppler-on-Wheels (DOW) and Mobile Mesonet (MM) educational deployment from the Center for Severe Weather Research (CSWR), funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF). ERAU CBREESE 2.0 ran from 28 June–12 July 2018 across Central Florida. The educational deployment was designed to observe and measure sea-breeze processes and convection during the warm season, with a specific focus on Central Florida sub-regions that contain multiple mesoscale breezes and boundary collisions. It was the first LAOF educational deployment to involve both a DOW and MM.
» Read more about ERAU CBREESE 2.0

CSWR Rapid-Scan Doppler on Wheels (Rapid-Scan DOW)

TOM: The Teaching flow Over Mountains (TOM) activity is a collaborative effort between the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Science (ATOC) at the University of Colorado (CU) and the Department of Marine, Earth, and Atmospheric Sciences (MEAS) at North Carolina State University (NCSU). The instrument will be used in the CU undergraduate courses ATOC 1050 (Weather and the Atmosphere) and ATOC 4500 (Weather Analysis and Forecasting). The resulting data will be used in the aforementioned CU courses and the NCSU course MEA511 (Introduction to Meteorological Remote Sensing).
» Read more about TOM


Educational Resources | Instrumentation and Measurement of Atmospheric Parameters

This course series is currently in development and is part of a collaborative effort by NCAR's Earth Observing Laboratory, Millersville University, and The COMET Program. This series in total will provide approximately 15 hours of atmospheric instrumentation training. The course focuses on the science involved in measuring basic atmospheric parameters. This information can help with successful instrument siting and data collection for various efforts. A free login is required.

  1. Foundations of Meteorological Instrumentation and Measurements
  2. Meteorological Instrument Performance Characteristics
  3. Instrumentation and Measurement of Atmospheric Temperature
  4. Instrumentation and Measurement of Atmospheric Pressure
  5. Instrumentation and Measurement of Atmospheric Humidity

    Coming soon!
  6. Instrumentation and Measurement of Winds
  7. Instrumentation and Measurement of Atmospheric Trace Gases
  8. Instrumentation and Measurement of Surface Precipitation
  9. Instrumentation and Measurement of Atmospheric Radiation
  10. Instrumentation and Measurement of Clouds and Aerosols