Atmospheric monitoring station dedicated in Darwin, Australia

July 31, 2002

LOS ALAMOS, N.M., July 31, 2002 - The largest and most comprehensive DOE-funded climate data collection project ever undertaken has dedicated a new facility in Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia, adding a third such facility in the Tropical Western Pacific (TWP) region of the Department of Energy's Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) program.

Tropical Western Pacific region operations are managed by Los Alamos National Laboratory and are part of the ARM triad that includes instrument sites on the Southern Great Plains and the North Slope of Alaska. The ARM program is managed for DOE by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Washington. The Darwin facility, called an Atmospheric Radiation and Cloud Station (ARCS), will be jointly operated by Los Alamos National Laboratory and the Australian Bureau of Meteorology.

The other ARCS facilities in the TWP region are located on the tropical islands of Manus and Nauru just north and northeast of Papua New Guinea, near the equator. The first of those stations, on Manus, began taking data in 1996.

The ARCS facilities are designed to gather the standard types of weather data such as temperature, humidity, wind speed, etc. They also measure naturally-occurring solar and ground radiation, ground heat and cloud reflectivity. The Darwin site houses instruments such as a cloud radar, a micropulse LIDAR, a ceilometer, a Total Sky Imager and a Whole Sky Imager.

"The primary goal of the ARM program is to collect, over a long period of time, a comprehensive database of weather and cloud information and make it available to scientists," said TWP site manager Larry Jones of Earth and Environmental Sciences (EES-8). "The hope is to come up with a climate change model and with that tool improve our understanding of how climate change happens, and thereby our ability to predict how and when climate change will occur."

The Darwin, Manus and Nauru ARCS are located in an area of the western Pacific that experiences a wide variety of weather. The region typically sees yearly weather extremes from dry continental conditions to an active monsoon season, and those conditions - along with all the standard transitional weather in between that give rise to plenty of "convective cloudiness"- make the region a rich environment for gathering an elaborate set of weather data.

"The addition of the Darwin site brings with it an important collaborative effort between the ARM program, the Australian Bureau of Meteorology and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization that will be greatly beneficial to everyone involved," said Jones. "The additional collaborative agreements we have with the Papua New Guinea National Weather Service, the Nauru Department of Industry and Economic Development and the Australian Special Services Unit make this a truly international scientific endeavor."

The Tropical Western Pacific region management has the additional responsibility of dealing with foreign governments and their agencies and so is actively involved in diplomacy and educational issues in the countries of Papua New Guinea and The Republic of Nauru. The regional management has developed and implemented educational workshops to help children in those countries learn about the global implications of climate change and the impact of weather on the Earth and its inhabitants.
Los Alamos National Laboratory is operated by the University of California for the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) of the U.S. Department of Energy and works in partnership with NNSA's Sandia and Lawrence Livermore national laboratories to support NNSA in its mission.

Los Alamos enhances global security by ensuring safety and confidence in the U.S. nuclear stockpile, developing technologies to reduce threats from weapons of mass destruction and improving the environmental and nuclear materials legacy of the cold war. Los Alamos' capabilities assist the nation in addressing energy, environment, infrastructure and biological security problems.

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DOE/Los Alamos National Laboratory

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