Requesting Lower Atmosphere Observing Facilities

NSF's Lower Atmosphere Observing Facilities (LAOF) are available on a competitive basis to all qualified scientists from universities, NCAR, and other U.S. government agencies. Any such scientists who require these facilities and associated services to carry out their research objectives are welcome to apply. All facility deployment is driven by

  • scientific merit,
  • the capabilities of a specific platform to carry out the proposed observations, and
  • facility scheduling for the requested time.

NSF's Atmospheric and Geospace Sciences (AGS) section budgets annually for deployment costs associated with these multi-user facilities. Requests for LAOF are reviewed semi-annually during the Observing Facilities Assessment Panel (OFAP) meeting. The feedback and technical evaluations presented by the LAOF Partner Organizations and OFAP members are taken into consideration before individual NSF Program Officers make a final funding decision.

The process for considering requests and setting priorities is determined on the basis of the complexity and deployment costs of the field component. Campaigns are split into three distinct categories:

  • Large field campaigns require significant monetary resources, use several observing platforms, involving multiple agencies, and entail difficult deployment often overseas. 
  • Small field campaigns are more modest in scope, involve a small number of platforms, usually take place in the United States and cost less than $1.25 Million in deployment pool funds.
  • Educational deployments are focused on classroom instructions and hands-on learning opportunities for students, including the deployment of a facility to a university for a limited period.

Your NSF Program Officer, in consultation with the LAOF Request Coordinator, can help you determine which category applies to your program. It is therefore essential that Principal Investigators (PI) discuss all proposed field activities with their NSF Program Officer in a timely manner.

To learn more about the NSF-established procedures and priorities for requesting the use of the Lower Atmosphere Observing Facilities, please follow the links above.

University of Wyoming King air Update

With the development of the Next Generation King Air, the University of Wyoming will be unable to support any flight requests for a 12 to 18 month period beginning in May of 2022. This includes projects that utilize the UWKA or projects requesting the WCR on the NSF/NCAR C-130.

The Next Generation King Air is expected to come online in the Spring of 2023. Those wanting to request either the UWKA and/or the WCR for projects beginning in May 2023 should work closely with UWKA facility management team. They expect support for limited payload projects will be available in May 2023 at the earliest. More complex payloads and/or project logistics will likely become supportable later in 2023. The University of Wyoming will continue to update the Next Generation King Air webpage throughout the development of the project.

See the UWKA project Calendar for upcoming projects and scheduling of the UWKA.


Facility Request Coordinator
Alison Rockwell