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.


Contact Information: Alison Rockwell ( / 303-497-8758)