Integrated Sounding System (ISS)

The Integrated Sounding System (ISS) is a dynamic meteorological observing system that combines surface, sounding, and remote sensing instrumentation to provide a comprehensive description of lower atmospheric thermodynamics and winds. The core instruments are a balloon-borne rawinsonde sounding system, a radar wind profiler for high-resolution measurements of wind components from the surface to the mid-troposphere, a scanning Doppler wind lidar, a radio acoustic sounding system for virtual temperature profiles, and a meteorological station that collect surface wind, pressure, thermodynamics, radiation and precipitation data. Other instruments may be added if additional measurements are needed.

EOL has a variety of wind profilers available for deployment with the ISS. Our newest system is a Leosphere scanning Doppler wind lidar (Windcube 200S). We also have a long history with a variety of radar wind profilers. Our research system is the 449-MHz Modular Wind Profiler which is a scalable system being developed to provide extended altitude coverage and greater flexibility. Spaced antenna techniques enable the system to make rapid wind measurements. This system is deployable in various configurations ranging from a small network of boundary layer profilers to a mid-troposphere radar and ultimately a full-troposphere radar. Standard LAP3000 915 MHz or 1290 MHz boundary layer Doppler Beam Swinging radar wind profilers are also available.

The available instruments include:

 Radar Wind Profilers  449 MHz Modular Wind Profiler
 915 MHz Vaisala LAP3000 DBS
 1290 MHz Radian LAP3000 DBS
 RASS (Radio Acoustic Sounding System)
 Wind Lidar  Vaisala / Leosphere Windcube 200S Scanning Doppler lidar
 Ceilometers  Vaisala CL31, CL51 and CL61 (with depolarization channel)
 Radiosonde Soundings  Vaisala MW41 / RS41 radiosondes
 iMet-3050A / iMet-1 radiosondes
 Surface Met  Gill Wind Observer (2D sonic anemometer)
 Lufft WS300 (Temp/RH/Pressure)
 Vaisala PTB210 / PTB330 (Pressure)
 Hukseflux NR01 4-component radiation
 HSA Tipping bucket rain gauge
 Lufft WS800 (Wind/Precip/T/RH/P)
 OTT Parsivel-2 optical disdrometer
 10 or 3 meter towers
 GPS Integrated Water Vapor  Trimble NetR8 with Vaisala WXT

The ISS are available in a variety of configurations:

  • The standard systems are typically deployed at fixed locations for periods of weeks to months.
  • The mobile system (MISS) is a trailer mounted system used for shorter, more rapid deployment such as storm chasing and outreach activities
  • The ship-borne configuration is deployed on research vessels for ocean meteorology studies.

Currently up to three ISS can be deployed in the standard configuration, and one MISS and one ship-borne system are available. The radar wind profilers are available in the following configurations:

  • Standard LAP3000 (915 or 1290 MHz) DBS (Doppler Beam Swinging) boundary layer profilers
  • Advanced 449 MHz Modular Wind Profiler, consisting of multiple antenna modules that are used to build up radars scalable to the problem being studied. This enables either multiple small boundary layer radars to be deployed, or alternatively a larger radar capable of probing much higher into the troposphere. Spaced antenna techniques are used to enable very fast wind measurements.
  • RASS (Radio Acoustic Sounding System) can be added to measure virtual temperature in the boundary layer.

The ISS now also has a Doppler Wind Lidar that can be deployed to supplement the radar wind profilers. Other instruments such lidars, disdrometers, radiometers, sodar, cameras, and other equipment can be added to suit any experiment. Measurements from all instruments are ingested into a data management, display, and communications infrastructure to provide raw data and data products in real-time or near real-time to researchers remotely or on-site.

The ISS have been deployed in over 60 field campaigns, and a list of the more recent campaigns appears in the "Deployments" box on the right hand side of this web page. The system is commonly used for boundary layer meteorology studies, but has also contributed to studies in topics ranging from tropical meteorology, severe weather, mountain meteorology, ocean-atmosphere exchange, precipitation, microphysics, wind energy, agriculture, atmospheric chemistry, atmospheric gravity waves, to education and outreach.


Lead Contact
William Brown

When referencing the NCAR Integrated Sounding System (ISS) in publications or proposals, please use the identifier 10.5065/D6348HF9 -- for example as a citation:

UCAR/NCAR - Earth Observing Laboratory. (1997). NCAR Integrated Sounding System (ISS). UCAR/NCAR - Earth Observing Laboratory. Retrieved February 17, 2017

Please be careful of line breaks when cutting and pasting the above text, and feel free to reformat to fit your document. Additional citation styles are available at DataCite or CrossCite.

Additionally, please cite the First Use paper associated with this Facility/Instrument:

Parsons D, Dabberdt W, Cole H, Hock T, Martin C, Barrett AL, Miller E, Spowart M, Howard M, Ecklund W, Carter D. The integrated sounding system: Description and preliminary observations from TOGA COARE. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society. 1994 Apr; 75(4): 553-567.