Triennial Review Highlights ARM’s Aptitude for Enabling Impactful Science

Published: 23 March 2021

Findings indicate that ARM ‘well positioned’ to keep serving as world-class DOE user facility

For ARM’s Triennial Review, an external panel of experts evaluated ARM using a set of 26 questions posed by the U.S. Department of Energy. ARM’s review team prepared a report intended to help the reviewers determine how to answer those questions; the report cover is shown above. This report is available on request.

The Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) user facility received a highly favorable assessment from its Triennial Review, held virtually from November 4 to 6, 2020.

Every three years, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) selects an external review panel of domain and technical experts to evaluate ARM’s effectiveness in science, operations, and management. Presenters during the review include members of ARM’s Infrastructure Management Board and communications team.

Gary Geernaert, director of the Earth and Environmental Systems Sciences Division (EESSD) within DOE’s Biological and Environmental Research (BER) program, summarized feedback from the review in a letter to ARM Technical Director Jim Mather.

“Overall, the reviewers found (and BER concurs) that ARM has unique and world-leading capabilities, enables high impact science supporting the EESSD strategic plan, has effective management and operations, effectively engages with the BER user community, has started broadening outreach beyond BER, and has mostly addressed the recommendations from the 2017 review,” states the letter. “ARM appears to be well positioned to continue to serve as a world-class DOE Scientific User Facility.”

Review Recommendations

Though their feedback was largely positive, reviewers also provided recommendations for further strengthening and improving ARM. Here are the areas in which ARM received recommendations and some key suggestions within each area:

Broadening the user community: Continue to increase engagement with the satellite and modeling communities and reach out to early career scientists. Consider diversity when planning outreach activities.

Metrics: Work with the modeling community to develop metrics that will help ARM better assess its impact on improving earth system models. Within ARM, consider metrics that could help the facility better track and analyze data usage and instrument performance (e.g., uptime).

Staff: Engage with staff on workload issues and build a plan for managing workloads as new demands crop up. Explore professional development and training opportunities for staff.

Data management and data products: Continue to pursue data epochs—time periods for which data are well characterized. Improve several processes related to value-added products. Make calibration data available to the user community.

Decadal Vision document, which outlines ARM’s vision for the next five to 10 years: Incorporate more engagement with the modeling and satellite communities. Place more emphasis on the development of instrument simulators. Add more specific information about outreach.

2017 Triennial Review response: Carrying forward from the 2017 review, BER would like ARM to update its radar plan and continue looking at how it reviews its capabilities to make sure that it is always providing the most impactful measurements and datastreams.

A Plan for Action

“Addressing these recommendations will help strengthen the ARM facility and improve our ability to serve the science community.”

Jim Mather, ARM’s technical director

In late February 2021, Mather sent a response letter to DOE outlining plans to address the recommendations. He says that ARM management will engage with staff and users to help determine priorities and strategies for addressing issues identified through the review.

“Addressing these recommendations will help strengthen the ARM facility and improve our ability to serve the science community,” says Mather.

A finalized version of the Decadal Vision document, incorporating feedback from the Triennial Review, will be available soon on the ARM website.

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ARM is a DOE Office of Science user facility operated by nine DOE national laboratories.