Imperative III

Anticipate future needs resulting from changing priorities, aging equipment or emerging opportunities, and develop new technology (instrumentation, software, and infrastructure) to meet those needs.

The NSF LAOF maintained and deployed by EOL are of vital importance to the community’s scientific interests, and these systems continue to be in high demand.  However, community priorities and technological opportunities also call for ongoing development to ensure that EOL’s observing systems and support matches evolving community needs. There is also a constant, ongoing process of acquiring new capabilities, and retiring and replacing those that become outdated. In addition to such evolutions, it is necessary to plan for the replacement or end-of-life of systems that become obsolete or too costly to maintain.  Thus, Imperative III calls upon EOL’s scientific and engineering leadership and expertise for a healthy development effort, and for the retention and training of staff who can conduct that research and development. It also requires the development of life-cycle and end-of-life plans for major facilities, instruments and software (see Imperative IV for more information on data services and software developments). 

The shift toward an emphasis on studies that contribute to the support of climate process study research, on both local and global scales, can be well served by new or developing EOL facilities such as the planned CentNet sensor array. The attendant shift in the use of observing facilities features increased aircraft use in collection of global-scale observations, longer-term deployment of observing systems and sensors, repeated observations to cover seasons and broader areas, networks that provide a larger number of measuring stations, and development of reliable, easily deployable sensors. 

Our development efforts in FY 2016 included continued work on expanding CentNet; improvements to the 449 MHz wind profiler system, including development of a mobile version; further development of the Water Vapor Differential Absorption Lidar; work on the Airborne Phased Array Radar; and the Lidar Radar Open Software Environment (LROSE).  We also expanded our expertise in project management practices and held an R&D Summit to hear about emerging development ideas from EOL staff.

 

CentNet

Data System Module for CentNet
A new Data System Module (DSM) for CentNet

In FY 2016, CentNet’s capabilities were significantly enhanced through the replacement of hygrometers, the addition of sonic anemometers, building new TRH sensors, building 60 new Data System Modules (DSMs) based on inexpensive and efficient Raspberry Pi, the addition of 60 more motes to connect radiation and soil sensors, adding more solar panels and tower mounts, purchasing new optical disdrometers, and embedding a new microprocessor into new integrated net radiometers. EOL also used our newly installed altitude/temperature calibration chamber to calibrate all of the in-situ sensors necessary to support of the VERTEX (FY 2016 – 2017) and Perdigão (FY 2017) deployments and to achieve high quality data sets for these field programs. 

 



Mobile 449 Profiler


Mobile 449 Mhz profiler drawingThe motivation for this development is to take advantage of EOL’s expertise in 449-MHz wind profiler technology to replace and enhance the current LAOF Mobile Integrated Sounding System (MISS), which uses an older 915-MHz profiler.  The 449-MHz profiler is advantageous in that it takes measurements at higher frequencies (every few minutes) and is more flexible than the 915-MHz profiler. DFS and ISF are bringing together design plans for the Mobile 449-MHz Wind Profiler, which is designed to fit into the bed of a pickup truck or onto a trailer with design elements including vibration isolates, a leveling system, and air conditioners on the electronics boxes.  A design with the profiler inside the bed of a pickup is pictured to the right.  The Mobile 449-MHz Wind Profiler is set for completion in early 2017.

 

APAR

The second official meeting of the APAR Advisory Panel (AAP) occurred in December 2015 and included four panel members, 15 EOL APAR Team members, and other EOL staff.  The meeting covered a number of topics including the expanded project management activities, updates on technical aspects and testing of the transmitter/receiver (T/R) module printed circuit board (PCB), the antenna aperture design, and C-130 APAR feasibility analysis.  The Panel offered comments on these developments and provided suggestions for content in the Request for Information to be released in the first part of this year.

Based on the AAP’s recommendations, APAR’s technical team produced a comprehensive Technical Requirements Document (TRD) for APAR. The TRD includes the scientific rationale for the radar; technical requirements (AESA hardware); system calibration; aircraft structural, electrical, and environmental considerations; radar maintenance; concept of operations; and an overview of risk and project management. The document was finalized on 29 April and distributed to the EOL Management Council and AAP for comments.

In general, the APAR effort is moving along.  A full assessment of the LRU transmitter/receiver printed circuit board has been completed, and a redesign of the board is underway.  An airflow study was conducted to assess how two different APAR external antenna configurations would fare on the C-130; the computational fluid dynamics study found that either configuration can be flown on the aircraft.  A Request for Information (RFI) was sent to industry sources to assess the technical viability of our approach and to better estimate the cost to develop and fabricate the Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA).  Evaluation of those responses began in late FY 2016.

 

LROSE

The Lidar Radar Open Software Environment (LROSE) development continued in FY 2016 with the awarding of funding for continued work between NCAR and University partners.  The goal of the work is to apply a collaborative open source approach to help to address the “big data” problem faced by users in the radar and lidar research community and to provide solutions that are readily accessible to the average user. The plan involves:

  • packaging LROSE so that it can be run on a virtual machine, either locally or in the cloud;
  • collaborating with other developers of open-source radar software who have adopted a similar approach;
  • developing standard algorithm modules for those typical processing steps that are well understood and documented in the available literature; and
  • involving the user community in the development of new research modules that address the specific needs of the latest scientific research.

This project will build on existing prototypes and available software elements, while facilitating community development of new techniques and algorithms.

LROSE work in FY 2016 included improving data infrastructure and using S-Pol data from PECAN to develop improved algorithms for data quality and assessing the calibration accuracy of the radar. This work lays the framework for the planned steps outlined above.

 

R&D Summit
EOL held a two-phased Research and Development Summit in fall 2016.  The Summit provided a unique opportunity for any member of EOL to present new and creative ideas for sensors, instrumentation, software tools, or other capabilities, as well as new and novel approaches to the challenges and opportunities in EOL and for the communities we support.   EOL management then underwent an evaluation process that led to seed funding for two of the proposed activities. One will allow EOL to further its progress towards an airborne microwave radiometer for water vapor and liquid water by delivering a concept for a new or enhanced microwave radiometer. Such measurements are critical for cloud and environment characterization and for understanding the impact the earth’s water cycle. The other project will make major strides for EOL towards low-cost, low-maintenance, quantitative measurements of aerosol and improved measurements of water vapor above the boundary layer and at cloud boundaries, as well as providing us better understanding of a perhaps alternative path to thermodynamic profiling.

 

Project Management Professionals
Fifteen EOL staff participated in a nine-month course for Project Management Professional (PMP) certification and 8 of them have taken and passed the exam required by the Project Management Institute (PMI) to become certified.  According to PMI, those who complete the course are “expected to be able to lead and direct cross-­functional teams to deliver projects within the constraints of schedule, budget, and resources and to demonstrate sufficient knowledge and experience to appropriately apply a methodology to projects that have reasonably well­-defined project requirements and deliverables.”  These new skills in EOL will be extremely helpful as we undertake developments and other complicated projects.