Mild summer temperatures helped bring thousands of visitors through the gates of Argonne National Laboratory on August 29 for an open house, which featured a display about the ARM Climate Research Facility. Located in one of six very large tents in the middle of the Argonne campus, the display occupied about 50 feet by 30 feet—nearly ¼ of the tent space. Doug Sisterson, ARM Operations Manager, estimated that at least 3000 people walked through the exhibit during the event, which lasted from 9:00 am to 4:30 pm.

“I've worked every Argonne Open House since 1975 and this was one of the largest crowds I can remember,” he said. “There literally was no break in the stream of people.”

Mike Ritsche and Jenni Prell demonstrate several instruments at the ARM exhibit.
Mike Ritsche and Jenni Prell demonstrate several instruments at the ARM exhibit.

Joining Doug in the display area were Mike Ritsche, instrument mentor for the balloon borne sounding system and surface meteorological observation system, and Jenni Prell, a summer student from Northern Illinois University. They set up some meteorological sensors and demonstrated the tipping bucket rain gauge and the optical rain gauge.

“There seemed to be a constant stream of parents and children in front of the demonstrations,” Jenni said. “It was very refreshing to see the interest the kids took in the displays of the meteorology sensors.”

Meanwhile, two large flat-screen monitors cycled the ARM overview CD and live data display (kiosk.arm.gov). The exhibit also included a variety of large posters highlighting the user facility capabilities and research results using data from the ARM sites. Materials available as handouts included several hundred copies of fact sheets about the user facility, the 2008 annual report, and activity books for kids.

Visitors to the display included teachers, students, and the general public, who wanted to learn more about climate and global warming. Every time a visitor asked a question, a group of 20-30 people gathered around to hear the response. People were very interested in what researchers were finding and trying to understand if global warming is real or just a good story.

“I spoke from the beginning of the open house until the end,” said Mike. “People were very interested in the sensors and in general about the climate and weather. I talked so much I almost lost my voice.”

This YouTube video from Voice of America covers the open house, beginning with footage of Doug, Jenni, Mike and visitors in the ARM display area.

Argonne is one of nine national laboratories that share the responsibility of managing and operating ARM.