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Atmospheric Radiation Measurement Climate Research Facility

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The Atmospheric Radiation Measurement Climate Research Facility (ARM Climate Research Facility) is a United States Department of Energy scientific user facility for the study of global climate change by the national and international research community.

ARM Climate Research Facility
ARM Logo FullColor.png
ARM Precipitation Radar.jpg
Three X-band scanning precipitation radars are located throughout the Southern Great plains site. They are dual-polarized Doppler weather radars that simultaneously transmit and receive both horizontal and vertical polarizations, providing measurements to identify precipitation type and to estimate rainfall rates. Positioned around the Central Facility, they also provide the capability to use multi-Doppler velocity retrievals to estimate wind fields.
Established 1989
Operating agency
United States Department of Energy

The ARM Climate Research Facility consists of global observation sites and research aircraft that measure radiative properties of the atmosphere, particularly cloud and aerosol formation processes.[1] Continuous data from these sites, as well as supplemental data obtained through intensive field research campaigns, are available to scientists online through the ARM Data Archive. ARM is collaboratively managed by nine DOE national laboratories.[2]



ARM seeks to provide the climate research community with strategically located in situ and remote sensing observatories designed to improve the understanding and representation, in climate and earth system models, of clouds and aerosols as well as their interactions and coupling with the Earth’s surface.ARM focuses on obtaining continuous measurements—supplemented by field campaigns—and providing data products that promote the advancement of climate models.


ARM was established in 1989 by the U.S. Department of Energy to develop several highly instrumented ground stations. During the early years of the program, ARM focused on establishing field research sites, developing and procuring instruments, and developing techniques for both atmospheric retrievals and model evaluation. To obtain the most useful climate data, three main sites were chosen that represented a broad range of weather conditions.

The Southern Great Plains (SGP)[3] site in Oklahoma, established in 1992, provides a wide variability of climate cloud type and surface flux properties, and large seasonal variation in temperature and specific humidity. The SGP site is the workhorse for the ARM Facility, and is the world's largest "laboratory without walls" for studying atmospheric processes.

The North Slope of Alaska (NSA)[4] sites, established in 1997, provide data about cloud and radiative processes at high latitudes, which have been identified as one of the most sensitive regions to climate change. High latitude data from the NSA site are being used to refine models and parameterizations as they relate to the Arctic and are receiving increasing attention as the interactions of the atmosphere-ocean climate system become better understood.

The Tropical Western Pacific sites, where data was collected from 1996 to 2014, obtained data from the "warm pool" where the warmest sea surface temperatures on the planet and widespread convective clouds play a large role in the interannual variability observed in the global climate system. This site was discontinued in August 2014.

Since 1993, airborne measurements have been an integral part of the program. A variety of aerial platforms and instruments are available for intensive field campaigns or long-term, regularly-scheduled flights through the ARM Aerial Facility.[5] In 2005, ARM Mobile Facilities,[6] containing most of the same instruments as the fixed sites, began supporting experiments in different climate regions for about year at a time.

The latest site to join the ARM Climate Research Facility suite of observations began operations in September 2013. Identified broadly as the Eastern North Atlantic (ENA),[7] this facility is located on Graciosa Island in the Azores. The Azores are an island group located in the northeastern Atlantic Ocean, a region characterized by marine stratocumulus clouds. Response of these low clouds to changes in atmospheric greenhouse gases and aerosols is a major source of uncertainty in global climate models.


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