Scientists Awarded Support for Joint ARM/EMSL User Facility Projects

Published: 14 September 2022

Tethered balloon hovers over golden hills in Colorado
In fiscal year 2023, ARM will continue tethered balloon system (TBS) flights during the Surface Atmosphere Integrated Field Laboratory (SAIL) campaign near Crested Butte, Colorado (above). TBS will also fly at ARM’s Southern Great Plains atmospheric observatory. Photo is by Brent Peterson, Sandia National Laboratories.

Four new research projects will integrate capabilities of the Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) user facility and Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory (EMSL).

In December 2021, ARM and EMSL—both U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science user facilities—opened a call for collaborative research applications through the Facilities Integrating Collaborations for User Science (FICUS) program.

Since 2014, the FICUS program has enabled ambitious research by providing access to specialized expertise and instrumentation from multiple user facilities.

The new ARM/EMSL projects for fiscal year 2023 (FY2023) will investigate aerosol processes or aerosol-cloud interactions to help improve earth system models.

EMSL has developed a size- and time-resolved automated aerosol sampler to fly as a guest instrument on ARM’s tethered balloon system (TBS). In FY2023, the aerosol sampler will operate during TBS flights at ARM’s Southern Great Plains atmospheric observatory in Oklahoma. The instrument also will collect data as part of the Surface Atmosphere Integrated Field Laboratory (SAIL) campaign near Crested Butte, Colorado.

In addition, some FICUS applicants proposed to analyze aerosol samples from past TBS missions. ARM recently completed its fourth and final series of TBS flights for the TRacking Aerosol Convection interactions ExpeRiment (TRACER) near Houston, Texas.

The FICUS support will enable researchers to capture aerosols during ARM TBS flights and analyze the physical, chemical, optical, and microphysical properties of aerosol particles using multimodal microscopy, spectroscopy, and advanced mass spectrometry techniques at EMSL.

Introductions of the selected FY2023 FICUS projects and their lead scientists are below. Projects begin October 1, 2022.

Project description for Allison Aiken: "Aerosols are critical for understanding the water cycle of mountainous regions, but a complete understanding cannot be provided without vertically resolved observations. The project aims to provide a greater understanding of aerosols and associated meteorological conditions for complex mountainous terrain in the East River Watershed of the Upper Colorado River." Project description for Allen Goldstein: "A gap in aerosol chemical composition between laboratory oxidation and ambient atmospheric data sets may result from challenges in simulating aerosol-cloud interactions. This project aims to improve process-level understanding and model representation of aerosol-cloud interactions and aerosol processes affecting cloud life cycles, properties, and related processes during ARM deployments." Project description for Allison Steiner: "Atmospheric organic aerosols represent a large portion of total aerosols in the atmosphere. Among poorly constrained contributions are primary biological aerosol particle emissions from the terrestrial biosphere. The project aims to investigate vertical gradients of biological particles and their fragments by analyzing samples from the tethered balloon system during the TRACER campaign." Project description for Maria Zawadowicz: "Atmospheric bioaerosols are bacteria, viruses, spores, or pollen and their fragments suspended in ambient air. They can have large impacts on air quality, climate, and public health. Atmospheric bioaerosols are difficult to measure, especially in real time. This project aims to investigate the vertical profile of bioaerosols as part of the SAIL campaign."

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