White Sands Missile Range is now the co-location for one of the Army Research Laboratory’s latest concept. WSMR’s local ARL division hosted the Atmospheric Science Center Workshop June 9-10 at the Army Community Services’ Yellow Ribbon room to unveil the newest open campus concept for atmospheric boundary layer research.
The new research concept invites outside industry, academia organizations and other government labs to join in on the research that will benefit surrounding industries and universities but ultimately benefit Soldiers in theater.
“We’re trying to do research and push the envelope. Everybody working together is much better than doing it yourself. We come together and create better science,” said Robb Randall, Ph.D., Atmospheric Science Center lead for ARL.
Atmospheric boundary layer research studies the first 1,000 meters of the atmosphere. The research can provide detailed weather information to tactical units in theater. The information is beneficial in situations like flying unmanned aerial vehicles, where any unpredicted weather can reroute or bring down a UAV.
“We want to help big Army and make it safer for the Soldiers in the field. We’re here to make sure the Army’s needs are met,” Randall said. “Commanders really want accurate computer based decision aids out there.”
During the workshop, it was unveiled that the Atmospheric Science Center is developing a new meteorological sensor array, also known as a sensor platform with locations on WSMR and the U.S Department of Agriculture’s Jornada Experimental Range. The new array will help revolutionize the way in which research is conducted and provide a great tool to industries and organizations that are interested in such research.
“Our job is to manage this open campus concept for atmospheric boundary layer research,” Randall said.
In order to provide military units with the most accurate weather information, Randall said they would first need to understand atmospheric processes in complex terrain. Currently, there is no data set in use that measures at the Army scale and gives Commanders the confidence that the modeled forecasted weather is accurate. Randall said they’re using novel ‘Validate and Verify methods’ to validate and verify new ways to sense the atmosphere or weather at the fine scales the Army requires.
“There’s no real world observations at these small scales. (While in theater) isn’t the time we want to figure out that it’s not working,” Randall said.
Ben MacCall, Ph.D., ASC associate lead, said the workshop served as a way to gather interested researchers outside of the Department of Defense and introduce the facilities that can be shared to conduct atmospheric measures and very high resolutions. Half of the individuals in attendance came from a battle background. The results that can come from these facilities, in regards to research, has a large number of applications, according to MacCall.
“There’s a lot of academic interest in increasing the knowledge in the atmospheric boundary layer,” MacCall said. “We’re encouraging collaboration to work on big problems in atmospheric science innovation.”
This was the first of what Randall hopes will be an annual workshop. “I think it was a phenomenal success. There’s a lot of excitement from external agencies and internal to ARL,” Randall said. “Team WSMR really came together to get this working.”