Photo credit information: Installation site of SPLASH equipment. Instrument deployments supported by NOAA PSL. Credit: Gijs de Boer (CU/CIRES) (left); NYS Mesonet station located near Claryville, NY. It is fully equipped with sensors to measure our standard atmospheric variables as well as snow depth and Snow Water Equivalent (SWE). Credit:: Nick Farruggio, NYS Mesonet. (right)


Observations Program

The Observations Program supports research to improve weather observations technology critical for the detection and forecasting of hazardous weather phenomena. In pursuit of this goal, the Observations Program works closely with the weather observations research and operational communities in government, academia, and private industry to develop and transition weather observations technology into operations. Recent research focus areas the Observations Program supports include:

Next Generation of Mesoscale Weather Observing Platforms: The National Academy of Science report Observing Weather and Climate from the Ground Up (2009) underscores the importance of improved observations of the lower atmosphere to better understand and predict specific high impact weather events. This funding opportunity will focus on research and development to advance the next generation of operational mesoscale weather observing platforms needed by the weather and water enterprise.

Snowpack and Soil Moisture Observations and Data Assimilation to Improve the National Water Model (NWM): Both snow depth (snow water equivalent) and soil moisture are important in the hydrologic cycle and as inputs to the National Water Model, but current measurements of both are spatially and temporally sparse and not well assimilated and parameterized into the physics of the NWM. Improving the efficiency, effectiveness, and accuracy of obtaining and applying these measurements will improve the outputs of the NWM and the benefits to society. 

Airborne Phased Array Radar is a critical tool for studying weather and related hazards, especially over rugged terrain or the open ocean where operations are inherently challenging. Major advances in radar technology have paved the way for development of an Airborne Phased Array Radar (APAR) to provide more detailed observations from within high-impact weather systems. An APAR system is currently being designed and developed by NCAR for installation on the NSF/NCAR C-130 aircraft. This will provide more agile scanning strategies and enhanced capabilities for researchers to advance science frontiers. 

Developing Soil Moisture Technologies is a coordinated effort to advance the National Soil Moisture Network Strategy and enhance materially the soil moisture network and applications in the Southeast.  Several of the key elements include: assessing the viability of low-cost soil moisture sensors; expanding the soil moisture network by installing viable versions of low-cost sensors; calibrating and testing current and new remote-sensing techniques so as to provide complete three-state coverage of drought stress and flood indices; and developing tools to provide conformity and utility of soil moisture data and their derived products.

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