Documenting the Life and Death of Clouds

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A crane positions the topmost portion of the X-band scanning ARM precipitation radar (X-SAPR). ARM Climate Research Facility

A crane positions the topmost portion of the X-band scanning ARM precipitation radar (X-SAPR).

Today, researchers at the Office of Science's Energy's Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) Climate Research Facility presented findings from their sophisticated new suite of scanning radars at a meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco.

"These new radars provide the world's most detailed data about the formation, structure, and evolution of clouds and precipitation," said Dr. Bill Brinkman, Director of the Office of Science, "They are making a significant contribution to climate modeling, to advancing knowledge needed to sustain planet Earth."

The highly sophisticated 18 radars, which were purchased with a $30 million investment from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, are providing extraordinary 4-dimensional information to help scientists better understand the lifecycle of clouds.

Various combinations of these radars are now deployed at the ARM Facility's four permanent sites within three of the Earth's major climate regimes: Arctic high latitude at Barrow, Alaska; continental mid latitude at Lamont, Oklahoma; tropical latitude at Darwin, Australia and Manus Island, Papua New Guinea. They have also been added to each of ARM's two mobile facilities; these portable observatories are deployed around the world for field campaigns lasting six months to a year, on average, to obtain additional data from under-explored climate regions.

Wanda Ferrell, program manager for the ARM Facility said, "We anticipate that many significant discoveries will emerge from these new radars, and we encourage all scientists to explore using these capabilities for their research."

Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) Climate Research Facility The ARM Climate Research Facility is a DOE Office of Science user facility, with heavily instrumented fixed research sites in Oklahoma, Alaska, and the tropical Western Pacific. It also operates mobile and aerial measurement platforms to support research around the world.

DOE's Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the Unites States, and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, please visit the Office of Science website at