End of the Biogenic Aerosols - Effects on Clouds and Climate Campaign in Finland

Finnish scientists are measuring aerosols on branches as they grow in the boreal forests. Image courtesy of Juho Aalto.
Finnish scientists are measuring aerosols on branches as they grow in the boreal forests. Image courtesy of Juho Aalto.
Nine months in the icy, cold forests of Finland was not what the second ARM Mobile Facility (AMF2) was primarily created for, but because of its adaptability and reputation for stability in various climates and weather conditions, the AMF2 was essential for this international effort. In February 2014, the Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) Climate Research Facility deployed one of its mobile facilities to Finland as part of the Biogenic Aerosols - Effects on Clouds and Climate (BAECC) field campaign.

The University of Helsinki's Station for Measuring Ecosystem-Atmosphere Relations (SMEAR II) and the Finnish principal investigators are world-renowned in their aerosol research and instrumentation. They were able to measure aerosols off of branches as they grew in the Scots pine forest, but they needed the ARM team, and the AMF2 specifically, to help them make the connection between the biogenic aerosols and the resulting cloud structures that grew off of those aerosol particles. With new measurements, scientists were able to connect the biogenic trace gas emissions, aerosol formation, cloud properties and ultimately even precipitation patterns and properties.

In the Trees

A frosty 127-meter tower peers over the Scots pine forest in northern Finland throughout the BAECC campaign. Image courtesy of Juho Aalto.
A frosty 127-meter tower peers over the Scots pine forest in northern Finland throughout the BAECC campaign. Image courtesy of Juho Aalto.
The greatest challenge with the campaign was mostly as a result of the equipment. AMF2 site manager from Argonne National Laboratory Nicki Hickmon said, "Siting instruments in a forest is a challenge. The tall Scots pines and birch trees impeded some instrument’s field of view."

Radars and lidars aren't designed for operating under trees; leaves shake and move with the wind. A few of the challenges included: ideally siting radar calibration corner reflectors—with one secured at the top of SMEAR's 127 meter tower and another in a kind farmer’s field—and stacking the scanning ARM cloud radar on two containers.

These challenges, however, created opportunities for unexpected collaborations between the AMF2 and SMEAR II teams. "The team left this [deployment] with a very good sense of brotherhood," said Hickmon.

The availability of the AMF2 was a serious challenge. At the start of the campaign, AMF2 was not available as it was finishing up 20 round trips between Hawaii and California on the container ship Spirit, operated by Horizon Lines, for the Marine ARM GPCI* Investigation of Clouds (MAGIC) field campaign. It had to be rushed to Finland in order to capture the wintertime events. Getting it installed was a big concern for both the U.S. and Finnish counterparts. The collaboration and planning set in motion a series of team victories.

Collaboration for the Win

Finnish scientist, Tuukka Petaja stated, "The technical performance was outstanding. The whole chain from planning and installation to operation and data delivery was truly excellent. The key here was the combined expertise, commitment, and teamwork of AMF2 and SMEAR II technical staff. This is not a small thing as the science is totally dependent on this step."

"Also, the joint scientific work in BAECC within Finland and within collaborators in the United States and Europe has been extremely fruitful and I see that it will continue and intensify in the coming years. The solid foundation for this collaboration has been accomplished due to BAECC," said Petaja.

While in Finland, the team received plenty of media attention. They were featured on every main television station and in each newspaper. In the United States, the Honorary Finnish Consulate visited Argonne National Laboratory.

The second ARM Mobile Facility's ability to withstand harsh Finnish winter conditions was crucial to the success of BAECC.
The second ARM Mobile Facility's ability to withstand harsh Finnish winter conditions was crucial to the success of BAECC.
Hickmon said, "Collaboration is leading to better science. From this campaign, we’ve shown the value of combining certain instrumentation. At the SMEAR II site, they're now getting equipment that they didn't have before. Governments working together are now getting the best data—the most valuable data."

The team anticipated that BAECC would increase collaboration, but was surprised by the amount of attention received during the campaign. In terms of visiting scientists, they had a record year at SMEAR II with 1800 visitors. Many universities, companies, and research institutes participated in the BAECC campaign further expanding the potential value of the data.

The team has high expectations for their results. Petaja said, "The combination of our long-term observation record on aerosols and atmosphere-biosphere interactions—and the successful AMF2 deployment—will be the benchmark data set with multiple scientific breakthroughs. Of course, this will require a lot of work."

Heading Out of the Forest

Each new campaign has a new science team and new goals to answer. The baseline instruments for AMF2 mostly remain the same, but the collection is adapted to meet the needs of each campaign.

Hickmon stated, "It's difficult to compare one [campaign] to the other, but what ARM does really well is run the mobile facilities and fixed sites to collect quality data, from a baseline set of instruments, in strategically different environments. This not only provides campaign scientists data for their specific goals, but also provides scientists everywhere a large, high-quality climate data set for analysis."

The AMF2 headed for a warmer climate, once again aboard Horizon Lines in transit, and arrived in Hawaii November 24. It was installed on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) research vessel Ronald H. Brown in Pearl Harbor in December for the ARM Cloud Aerosol Precipitation Experiment, or ACAPEX. In the not too distant future, the AMF2 will be heading to Antarctica in support of the ARM West Antarctic Radiation Experiment (AWARE) for 2016, followed by deployment on an ice breaker for the Multidisciplinary Drifting Observatory for the Study of Arctic Climate (MOSAIC) Atmosphere campaign in 2018-2019.

This equipment is essential to research because of its ability to handle all kinds of weather while observing different atmospheric phenomena.

For more information on the campaign, please visit the deployment web page. For pictures of the campaign, visit ARM's Flickr page.

*Note:

  • GPCI = GCSS Pacific Cross-section Intercomparison, a working group of GCSS
  • GCSS = GEWEX Cloud Systems Study
  • GEWEX = Global Energy and Water Cycle Experiment, a core project of the World Climate Research Programme.

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The ARM Climate Research Facility is a national scientific user facility funded through the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science. The ARM Facility is operated by nine Department of Energy national laboratories.