The Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) Climate Research Facility is an important part of the U.S. Department of Energy's strategy to understand global climate change. The ARM Facility established three fixed research sites and two mobile facilities to study a range of climate conditions. At the sites, scientists use scientific instruments and computers to gather information to study sunlight, radiant energy, and how clouds affect temperatures, weather, and climate. In addition, the ARM Mobile Facilities (AMF) allow ARM researchers to study the atmosphere anywhere in the world, in any environment.
The first ARM site, located in the U.S. Southern Great Plains (SGP), began operating in 1992. Located in northern Oklahoma and Kansas, the SGP site is the largest and most extensive climate research field site in the world and can be viewed as a real "laboratory without walls." The second ARM site, in the Tropical Western Pacific, is next to the Pacific "warm pool" - off the coast of Papua New Guinea, just north of Australia. First established in 1996, the TWP site has locations in Manus, Nauru, and Darwin, Australia. The third ARM site, on the North Slope of Alaska, began operating in 1998. The NSA site has one location in Barrow. The first ARM Mobile Facility was deployed in 2005 in Point Reyes, California. Since then, it has also been to Niger, Africa; the Black Forest in Germany; Shouxian, China; and Graciosa Island, the Azores. The second Mobile Facility was first deployed in 2010 to Steamboat Springs, Colorado. The AMFs consist of large shipping containers converted into laboratories. The laboratories are equipped with computer systems connected to the high-tech instruments that collect data from the atmosphere.
Sometimes, the ARM Facility conducts field campaigns at its sites or using the AMFs. Some types of measurements, such as those that require research aircraft, cannot be conducted routinely because of the expense, and so field campaigns are necessary. The above picture of students in a research aircraft was taken during a field campaign.
ARM is a continuation of an effort to improve general circulation models and to provide reliable simulations of regional and long-term climate change in response to increasing greenhouse gases. The ARM Facility is collaborating extensively with existing climate change programs at other agencies. For more specific information about ARM, visit the ARM website.