Atmospheric Radiation Measurement Climate Research Facility US Department of Energy

The Storm Peak Lab Cloud Property Validation Experiment (STORMVEX)

15 November 2010 - 25 April 2011

Lead Scientist: Gerald Mace

Observatory: amf, sbs

The core goals of the ARM Climate Research Facility included improving the representation of clouds in global models. To accomplish this goal, ARM invested considerably in creating long-term data sets from suites of ground-based remote sensors placed at climatically important locations around the world. However, the ability to convert the remote sensing measurements to cloud properties has been hampered by a critical shortage of correlative data that could be used for validation and development of new algorithms. Such correlative data sets are normally created by episodic and expensive aircraft measurements. The field deployment of the second ARM Mobile Facility (AMF2) provided the potential to create a correlative data set equivalent to between 200 and 300 aircraft flights in liquid and mixed phase clouds. This was achieved by placing the AMF2 in close proximity to an elevated platform that was heavily instrumented with aerosol, cloud and precipitation sensors.

The Storm Peak Lab (SPL), located east of Steamboat Springs, Colorado, is a well-established cloud and aerosol research facility operated by the Desert Research Institute. SPL is located at 3210 meters above sea level and is above cloud base 25 percent of the time during the winter season. The already extensive instrument suite at SPL was augmented with additional state-of-the-art instruments that are typically used for airborne cloud research by the Stratton Park Engineering Corporation (SPEC). SPL and SPEC collected in situ cloud and precipitation property measurements while the AMF2 operated at a location approximately 2.4 kilometers west and 2078 meters in elevation during a winter season.

This deployment addressed three long-standing ARM objectives:

  • From a cloud property retrieval perspective, the type of clouds that were observed during this period ranged from stable liquid phase boundary layer clouds to mixed phase clouds to heavily precipitating snow. These cloud types represented some of the most unique challenges for cloud property retrievals and the full Doppler spectra from the scanning cloud radar combined with other AMF2 measurements correlated with continuous in situ data facilitated development of new algorithms and statistically significant validation of the algorithm results.
  • The data set was collected in a region of complex terrain. Collecting such a data set has been a long standing goal of ARM and presented a unique challenge and opportunity for modeling groups.
  • The extensive aerosol data set that was collected at SPL allowed for investigation of the role of natural and anthropogenic aerosol in cloud and precipitation processes.
The sun breaks through the clouds to shine on the mountains behind AMF2 instruments located on the valley floor at Steamboat Springs.
The sun breaks through the clouds to shine on the mountains behind AMF2 instruments located on the valley floor at Steamboat Springs.


Roger Marchand
Ian McCubbin


  • Child Campaign


Uin J and S Smith. 2020. Second ARM Mobile Facility (AMF2) Aerosol Observing System (AOS) Instrument Handbook. Ed. by Robert Stafford, ARM user facility. DOE/SC-ARM-TR-264. 10.2172/1755121.

Kassianov E, M Pekour, L Berg, G Chirokova, C Flynn, A Hallar, A Setyan, Q Zhang, J Uin, and J Fast. 2020. "Aerosol Total Volume Estimation from Wavelength‐ and Size‐resolved Scattering Coefficient Data: A New Method." Earth and Space Science, 7(9), e2019EA000863, 10.1029/2019EA000863.

Muradyan P and R Coulter. 2020. Radar Wind Profiler (RWP) and Radio Acoustic Sounding System (RASS) Instrument Handbook. Ed. by Robert Stafford, U.S. Department of Energy. DOE/SC-ARM/TR-044. 10.2172/1020560.


Lowenthal D, A Hallar, R David, I McCubbin, R Borys, and G Mace. 2019. "Mixed-phase orographic cloud microphysics during StormVEx and IFRACS." Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, 19(8), 10.5194/acp-19-5387-2019.
Research Highlight


Kassianov E, M Pekour, C Flynn, L Berg, J Beranek, A Zelenyuk, C Zhao, L Leung, P Ma, L Riihimaki, J Fast, J Barnard, A Hallar, I McCubbin, E Eloranta, A McComiskey, and P Rasch. 2017. "Large Contribution of Coarse Mode to Aerosol Microphysical and Optical Properties: Evidence from Ground-based Observations of a Trans-Pacific Dust Outbreak at a High-Elevation North American Site." Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences, 74(5), 10.1175/JAS-D-16-0256.1.
Research Highlight


Miller MA, K Nitschke, TP Ackerman, WR Ferrell, N Hickmon, and M Ivey. 2016. The ARM Mobile Facilities. In Meteorological Monographs vol.57, pp. 1-15. Washington, D.C.: American Meteorological Society.

Cziczo D. 2016. STORMVEX: Ice Nuclei and Cloud Condensation Nuclei Characterization Field Campaign Report. Ed. by Robert Stafford, DOE ARM Climate Research Facility. DOE/SC-ARM-15-052. 10.2172/1248490.

Shupe M. 2016. Final Report: Investigations of Mixed-Phase Cloud Microphysical, Radiative, and Dynamical Processes. Ed. by Robert Stafford, ARM Climate Research Facility. DOE-CUB-7005. 10.2172/1298132.

Kingsmill D, P Persson, S Haimov, and M Shupe. 2016. "Mountain waves and orographic precipitation in a northern Colorado winter storm." Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society, 142(695), 10.1002/qj.2685.


Geerts B, B Pokharel, and D Kristovich. 2015. "Blowing Snow as a Natural Glaciogenic Cloud Seeding Mechanism." Monthly Weather Review, 143(12), 10.1175/MWR-D-15-0241.1.

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Campaign Data Sets

IOP Participant Data Source Name Final Data
Gannet Hallar Aerodynamic Part Sizer Order Data
Gannet Hallar Cloud Aerosol Precip Spectrometer(CAPS)/Cloud Imaging Probe (CIP) Order Data
Gannet Hallar Cloud Condensation Nuclei Counter Order Data
Gannet Hallar Condensation Particle Counters - G1 Aircraft Order Data
Gannet Hallar Forward Scattering Spectrometer Probe Order Data
Gannet Hallar Precipitation Imaging Probe- Stormpeak Lab Order Data
Gannet Hallar Scanning Mobility Particle Sizer Order Data
Gannet Hallar Scanning Mobility Particle Sizer Order Data
Chuck Long (deceased) Radiative Flux Analysis- Storm Peak Site Order Data
Chuck Long (deceased) Radiative Flux Analysis- Storm Peak Site Order Data
Chuck Long (deceased) Total Sky Imager- Ground Order Data
Gerald Mace Scanning IRT Order Data
Ian McCubbin Cloud and Rainfall Parameter Retrievals Order Data
Ian McCubbin Manual Snowboard and Snowstakes- Thunderhead Order Data
Ian McCubbin Sonic Precipitation Measurements- Thunderhead Order Data
Arthur Sedlacek Black Carbon Mass Concentrations- Storm Peak Order Data

SBS Data Sources

Name Full Name Browse Data
AOD-MFRSR Aerosol Optical Depth (AOD) derived from MFRSR measurements Browse Data
AOSMET Meteorological Measurements associated with the Aerosol Observing System Browse Data
CCN Cloud Condensation Nuclei Particle Counter Browse Data
CEIL Ceilometer Browse Data
CPC Condensation Particle Counter Browse Data
CSPHOT Sunphotometer Browse Data
ECOR Eddy Correlation Flux Measurement System Browse Data
GNDRAD Ground Radiometers on Stand for Upwelling Radiation Browse Data
HSRL High Spectral Resolution Lidar Browse Data
MET Surface Meteorological Instrumentation Browse Data
MFRSR Multifilter Rotating Shadowband Radiometer Browse Data
MPL Micropulse Lidar Browse Data
MWR Microwave Radiometer Browse Data
MWR3C Microwave Radiometer, 3 Channel Browse Data
MWRRET MWR Retrievals Browse Data
NEPHELOMETER Nephelometer Browse Data
OZONE Ozone Monitor Browse Data
PBLHT Planetary Boundary Layer Height Browse Data
PSAP Particle Soot Absorption Photometer Browse Data
QCRAD Data Quality Assessment for ARM Radiation Data Browse Data
RWP Radar Wind Profiler Browse Data
SEBS Surface Energy Balance System Browse Data
SKYRAD Sky Radiometers on Stand for Downwelling Radiation Browse Data
SONDE Balloon-Borne Sounding System Browse Data
SONDEADJUST Sonde Adjust Browse Data
SWACR W-Band (95 GHz) ARM Cloud Radar, mounted to scan Browse Data
TSI Total Sky Imager Browse Data