Atmospheric Radiation Measurement Climate Research Facility US Department of Energy

ARM Aerial Facility


Aerial observatory capabilities of the Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) user facility are operated by the ARM Aerial Facility (AAF). The AAF provides airborne measurements required to answer research questions proposed by scientists from around the world.

The AAF enhances surface-based ARM measurements by providing:

  • in situ measurements of aerosols, clouds, and trace gases
  • sampling not possible using surface- or satellite-based techniques
  • measurements for validation of surface- or satellite-based techniques
  • context for and extension of surface-based measurements
  • measurements for testing and evaluating models.

Gathering Data through Field Campaigns

ARM acquires airborne measurements during intensive field campaigns or long-term, regularly scheduled flights. Scientists can request these through the competitive ARM field campaign application process.

Once collected, data from the aircraft are documented, checked for quality, integrated into the ARM Data Center, and made freely available via Data Discovery for use by the scientific community. Read the AAF overview article in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society.

Crewed Aircraft

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) funded the purchase of a Bombardier Challenger 850 regional jet to expand ARM’s scientific data capabilities. It will replace the retired Gulfstream-159 (G-1) research aircraft, which served ARM from 2009 to 2018. ARM has also contracted for other aircraft outside DOE to address the wide range of measurement requirements associated with atmospheric science.

Uncrewed Aerial Systems and Tethered Balloon Systems

In addition to full-sized aircraft, ARM is developing uncrewed aerial system (UAS) and tethered balloon system (TBS) capabilities to gather in situ atmospheric measurements. ARM has collected measurements from TBS and small UAS, and is currently testing a midsized UAS that will provide greatly expanded capabilities in terms of payload, elevation, and endurance.

Deployments Timeline