Development

New science drivers and technological advances call for continued development of our facilities and services. As a nimble and flexible organization, EOL dynamically adjusts and evolves its observing capabilities and services to meet the evolving science needs. This evolution occurs both over short- and longer-term time scales and is informed through the Laboratory’s processes for anticipating new needs and directions. Activities under this Imperative are categorized into the following priority areas: 1) agile development to meet current deployment needs, 2) advancement of priority developments to meet future needs, and 3) life-cycle-management and anticipation of new needs.

 

Sustain Agile Development to Meet Current Needs 

High Spectral Resolution Lidar (HSRL) software

Two internally-developed HSRL software systems were implemented for SOCRATES.   The data display system was switched to the NCAR/EOL Hawkeye display software, which is already employed for viewing HIAPER Cloud Radar (HCR) data.  This enables more reliable and easier to use real time displays for instrument operators as well as mission coordinators.  Additionally, EOL rolled out its own internally developed HSRL data processor.  This allowed for implementation of new algorithms designed to extract signals from noisy photon counting observations.

DLB-HSRL

Matt Hayman and Scott Spuler published a paper in the November 2017 issue of Optics Express on the demonstration of diode-laser-base high spectral resolution lidar (DLB-HSRL). The DLB-HSRL is based on the same lidar architecture as the Micro Pulse DIAL (MPD, formerly WV DIAL) and provides a low-cost and robust method to measure calibrated backscatter coefficients. The hardware was integrated into one of the MPD systems as an additional observation channel in spring 2017 and used for observations during LAFE (a DOE-funded field campaign in Summer 2017). The successful demonstration of HSRL with a diode laser architecture as described in the paper was a necessary step to enable temperature profiling that has been proposed.

C-130 Ground Vibration Test for APAR

One of the steps taken in the APAR project this year was to carefully study the vibration frequencies of the NSF/NCAR C-130 airframe, as they will affect the pointing accuracy of the APAR radars. A series of tests was performed at RMMA, which involved the installation of powerful shakers on the C-130 and inducing vibrations at a variety of frequencies with different fuel loads in the wings. 

449 MHz Wind Profiler

ISF is developing the next generation DSP/FPGA radar processor card for the 449 MHz wind profiler. This new processor card is specifically designed and optimized for the 449 MHz wind profiler application and it will support a distributed antenna array system, thus allowing for the capability to expand the number of receive channels for each antenna panel. The design effort included the hardware development and FPGA code development along with lab tests, and the first functional units are working very well under lab conditions. The next step will be integrated into the 449 MHz wind profilers in FY 2019 for system testing.

 

Develop Life-Cycle-Management Plans and Anticipate New Needs 

 

Scaling ISFS up to CentNet

Community input over several years has shown demand from scientists and PIs for expanding the current Integrated Surface Flux System (ISFS) to have more potential sites, to better sample spatial variability over real surfaces. As a result, EOL has embarked on a collaborative effort with RAL and MMM to create a system that would allow the configuration of sensors automatically, as they are connected to the ISFS' data system. That would dramatically reduce set-up time for the sensors for deployments, enabling the deployment of more sites while at the same time allowing for flexibility to meet scientific needs by offering a variety of instrumentation combinations. This two-year effort is planned to define a process whereby EOL could deploy a 100-station network (CentNet) of towers, with improved data quality, simplified maintenance, faster data delivery, and improved documentation - all with less staff time to prepare for deployments.

CentNet and UAS

During the 2017 NCAR/EOL-hosted Community Workshop on Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) for Atmospheric Research, participants identified several activities that EOL could undertake to facilitate the use of UAS in atmospheric research. EOL and RAL staff collaborated to develop a plan to address two of these areas: 1) evaluation of the uncertainties of users’ UAS sensors in the EOL Calibration Laboratory; and 2) a field facility for data validation during flight-testing events. The plan complements RAL’s goal to build a forecast system to support UAS operations nationwide, incorporating UAS data. In 2018, the team worked to define the needs for a test site and determine a tower design. This collaborative three-year effort will help significantly improve data quality from the growing university UAS community. 

 

Advance Priority Developments to Meet Future Needs 

APAR

EOL successfully secured $2.34 Million from NOAA for the next steps in the APAR development effort. Comprised of four critical tasks that will help EOL further reduce risks associated with the development of APAR, this grant and the work on it will extend over the next eighteen months.  The four tasks are an industry Trade Study to address specific technical questions about the APAR design; an end-to-end demonstration of integrated antenna, transceiver, digital receiver, and radar control and processing software; an airframe vibration characterization of the NSF/NCAR C-130; and a model simulation and evaluation of sampling performance of C-band AESA antennas using a prototype APAR Observation Simulator (AOS). 

Micro Pulse DIAL (MPD)

The Micro Pulse DIAL (MPD) testbed Major Research Instrumentation (MRI) project is in its final year.  The NSF MRI project is a collaboration with Montana State University with an end date of September 2019 to develop five MPD units.  As of this writing, all five MPD units have been constructed, installed in their enclosures, and running new instrument software written to be significantly more robust and fault tolerant than the original test software.  Initial instrument comparisons are underway.  These tests indicate that some additional revisions are needed (e.g., amplifier modifications to be made on all units to address a potential low range bias) which will be completed in the final year. There is a proposal to vett the five unit testbed at the DOE SGP site from April to June 2019.  One MPD unit is currently at an international field campaign (Argentina, RELAMPAGO) and this single unit will remain requestable for future NSF campaigns while the five-unit testbed is vetted.  To further develop the MPD technology and scientific applications, the EOL Lidar Group is pursuing NOAA funding via two proposals.  The first is to improve instrument readiness and enable future aerosol/cloud and temperature capabilities while the second is to investigate water vapor data assimilation impact on improving weather forecast skill.  In addition the group is pursuing industry partnership via a DOE SBIR which was submitted with Bridger Photonics in Bozeman, MT.


LROSE

In FY 2018 the LROSE team worked on the 'Blaze' release - the first formal release for the LROSE project. (LROSE releases are named after varieties of rose.) Blaze concentrates on the more initial stages of radar data processing, namely:

  • Data format conversion
  • Polar to Cartesian gridding
  • Some dual-polarization analysis - hydrometeor type classification and precipitation estimation
  • Doppler processing
  • Data visualization in polar coordinates

The format conversion software was considerably enhanced to include reading data in BUFR format, using the RadxBufr application. The main conversion application RadxConvert was also updated and is now capable of reading in 22 different data formats.

Considerable advances were also made on the data visualization side. Although the legacy 'solo' display application is still supported, it is difficult and time-consuming to maintain. Therefore effort was focused on enhancing the more modern HawkEye display application. HawkEye will incorporate all of the important functionality in solo, as well as offering a more modern user interface.

The gridding application Radx2Grid was also modified, to simplify the parameter interface that users must modify when running it. And the dual-polarization applications have been refactored, also to make them easier to use. 

The initial Blaze release occurred in June 2018, and the final Blaze release is planned by the end of calendar 2018. 

In addition to the software improvements themselves, the LROSE team has been working hard on making the software more readily available to users. This effort includes improved support for LINUX distributions, and the ability to compile and install the applications on a Mac. The latter is particularly important in the university environment where Apple products are widely used. In addition Windows now has an official 'Linux subsystem', which allows LROSE applications to be compiled and installed on Windows. 


Project Portfolio Management

In order to better foster and support EOL developments, EOL started developing the framework for a lab-wide portfolio management including associated processes, methods and technologies to analyze and collectively manage current and proposed projects based on a number of key characteristics.  The overall goal for EOL is to find the optimal mix of projects to best achieve operational and financial goals while honoring constraints imposed by strategic objectives, stakeholder needs and external real-world factors.  This activity started in FY18 and will continue through FY19.