TRACER Site Setup Proceeds at Full Speed

Published: 6 August 2021

Editor’s note: Heath Powers, site manager for the first ARM Mobile Facility (AMF1), sent in the following update about ARM’s site installation in the Houston, Texas, area for the TRacking Aerosol Convections interactions ExpeRiment (TRACER). Powers is based at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico.

August 6, 2021

C-Band Scanning ARM Precipitation Radar installation in Pearland, Texas, ahead of the TRACER campaign
In Pearland, Texas, the C-Band Scanning ARM Precipitation Radar is being set up for the TRacking Aerosol Convection interactions ExpeRiment (TRACER). “Slings” from a crane are visible at the top of the photo. The crane is just out of the frame. The installation team used the crane to place the platform with the bottom row of radome panels onto the top of the four-container cluster. All photos are by Heath Powers.

I am happy to report that the TRACER installation is well underway! We are about three weeks out from ARM’s “data verification” period, which is the time that most of AMF1 should be operating so ARM can look at the datastreams and certify that all the instruments are working as expected. Even though it will be a full month before the October 1 official start of the TRACER campaign, we should have the main site in La Porte and the C-Band Scanning ARM Precipitation Radar (CSAPR) site in Pearland installed and operating by the end of this month.

All ARM shelters have been placed at both the main and radar sites, and most instruments have been “roughed in,” meaning they are installed and in place. We are now configuring the instruments, testing them, and trying to get data moving to the right places.

At the C-band radar site, we have had an eventful two days of setup with the CSAPR being mostly assembled already. The final assembly should be finished tomorrow (August 7, if the weather cooperates) and ready for ARM’s radar engineering team to make the radar operational next week. In addition, NASA’s Tropospheric Ozone Lidar Network (TOLNet) system is slated to arrive at the main site on Monday, August 9, to make measurements at the main site as a part of TRACER-AQ (NASA’s TRACER air quality study).

We have a fantastic crew here, and I’ll express my thanks to everyone’s hard work in planning this installation and the great teamwork and collaborations that are allowing us to move forward quickly and efficiently. Special thanks to AMF1 TRACER Project Manager Nathan Wales and Deputy Project Manager Hannah Ransom, who have shown great acumen in planning and superb leadership in overseeing the installation.

We’ll keep everyone posted, and we hope you’re all ready for the start of TRACER!

Setup of the ARM Mobile Facility in La Porte, Texas, ahead of the TRACER campaign
ARM team members are hard at work setting up the main TRACER site in La Porte, Texas. This ARM Mobile Facility will run from October 1, 2021, through September 30, 2022, at La Porte Municipal Airport.
Setup of the ARM Mobile Facility in La Porte, Texas, ahead of the TRACER campaign
This view of the ARM Mobile Facility site in La Porte includes microwave radiometers in the foreground.