Top ARM Accomplishment: Advancements in Instrumentation Development


ARM developed a number of new instruments, and adapted and improved others to work on a 24/7 basis, to create something never seen before: permanent field campaigns in five locations around the world devoted to clouds, aerosols, and radiation. It also created the world’s first high-tech mobile facilities for the same purpose, and then deployed those facilities to far-flung locations ranging from Africa to China to the Azores Islands for typical periods of 10 months. ARM’s most remarkable instrumental effort has been in cloud radars, a distinct type of radar designed to measure cloud drops (not precipitation like the weather radars on the evening news). Such radars were formerly the province of a few laboratories and were deployed only for brief periods with PhD-level staffs. ARM developed the world’s first continuously-operating cloud radars and fielded them at difficult sites in the Arctic and Tropics without the need for PhD staffs. ARM’s cloud radars have produced the world’s first decadal-length cloud climatologies, which have been particularly valuable for: (a) evaluating climate and cloud-resolving models, including whether they produce clouds at the right altitudes and the right times of day; (b) understanding microphysical properties of clouds; and (c) parameterizing cloud overlap in climate models. ARM has recently managed the acquisition of 12 new scanning radars and is now the world’s foremost deployer of cloud radars for research purposes.