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Hurricane Lane in Hawaii and the US Climate Reference Network (USCRN)

August, 2018

Hurricane Lane brought record rains to the Big Island of Hawaii that was observed by two USCRN stations one located on the wet side of the Big Island in Hilo, and on the other one on dry side of the island up on the mountain at Mauna Loa (co-located with the OAR/ESRL Observatory). The 4-day rainfall total from August 22-25 was 47.59 inches, and that amount classified this event as a 500-year event. The current monthly total for August 2018 at the Hilo station through the end of August 27th, is 63.50 inches, and that total now sets a new all-time 30-day record for the entire USCRN network of 63.46 inches that was set at this same Hilo station in Jan/Feb 2008. The Hilo station received national media coverage during the event.

The USCRN station at Mauna Loa also set an all-time record for rainfall at that site since it has been in operation since 2005, with a monthly total so far of 11.98 inches; breaking the former all-time record of 9.68 inches set in December 2016. The all-time rainfall records set at both the Mauna Loa and Hilo USCRN stations speaks to the significant environmental event that Hurricane Lane was, and the value of NOAA’s USCRN to capture this climatologically significant event. – Howard Diamond, 301-427-2475.

Satellite image of Hurricane approaching Hawaii

Image of Hurricane Lane taken from the GOES-15 satellite. The storm is approximately
300 miles south of the “Big Island” at 2 p.m. ET on August 22, 2018.

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Site photo of Hilo, Hawaii

USCRN site near Hilo, Hawaii
(click on image to enlarge)

Map showing location of Hilo, Hawaii

Map showing location of the site on the “Big Island”


Eclipse Data May Fine-Tune Weather Forecasts

August, 2018

The article “Great American Eclipse Data May Fine-Tune Weather Forecasts” by Temple Lee, Michael Buban, Michael Palecki, Ronald Leeper, Howard Diamond, Edward Dumas, Tilden Meyers, and Bruce Baker was published online on 16 August in Eos at In the article, the rapid near-surface meteorological changes that accompanied the total solar eclipse on 21 August 2017 are described. To characterize these changes, 5-min data from the US Climate Reference Network (USCRN) and flux observations from a site along the path of totality were obtained near Ten Mile, Tennessee, located approximately 75 km southwest of Knoxville. Depending on the proximity of the USCRN station to the path of eclipse totality, temperature decreases ranging from 2-5ºC were observed, as were increases in moisture. These findings demonstrate the sensitivity of the lower atmosphere to a loss of solar energy and highlight the necessity of high temporal resolution, quality-controlled climate observation datasets at the continental scale. For more information contact

Read a related ATDD article here.

nasa map of eclipse path

NASA map depicting the path of the
August 2017 solar eclipse
(click on image to enlarge)


ATDD Hosts Summer Intern Students

July, 2018

ATDD is hosting four students this summer who are involved in a wide variety of research investigations.

Rick Saylor is mentoring two student interns: Emily Ireland, a senior in Meteorology at Northern Colorado University, and Zach Moon, a PhD graduate student in Meteorology and Atmospheric Science at Penn State University.

Emily is performing an exploratory analysis of aerosol composition data over the United States to look for evidence that wildfires are contributing to increased deposition of phosphorus to sensitive ecosystems. Zach is working with Dr. Saylor’s canopy chemistry column model to improve the simulation of solar radiative fluxes through vegetation canopies.

John Kochendorfer and Michael Buban are mentoring Alexanderia Lacy, a PhD student in mathematics at the University of Tennessee Knoxville. Alex is developing code to facilitate the comparison of CRN precipitation measurements to gridded precipitation measurements. Alex is using these data to evaluate the effects of altitude, temperature, and wind speed on biases and errors in the gridded precipitation measurements.

LaToya Myles and Nebila Lichiheb are mentoring Chase Hahn, a sophomore Microbiology major at Middle Tennessee State University. Chase is engaged in an atmospheric chemistry field study of carbon and nitrogen cycling in coastal ecosystems. He is involved in laboratory processing of samples and in drafting a research summary describing the analytical methods being used in the study.

Alexanderia Lacy, a PhD student in mathematics at the University of Tennessee Knoxville

Alexanderia Lacy
University of Tennessee Knoxville

Chase Hahn, a sophomore Microbiology major at Middle Tennessee State University

Chase Hahn
Middle Tennessee State University

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Photo Emily Ireland, a senior in Meteorology at Northern Colorado University

Emily Ireland
Northern Colorado University

Zach Moon, a PhD graduate student in Meteorology and Atmospheric Science at Penn State University

Zach Moon
Penn State University


Dr. Tilden Meyers Presents Seminar
Highlighting 20+ Years of Data and Modeling Results

April, 2018

Dr. Tilden Meyers, Acting Chief Scientist for Climate Programs at ARL’s Atmospheric Turbulence and Diffusion Division, presented a seminar on 18 April titled, “Using a calibrated land-surface model for gap-filling energy, carbon, and water fluxes.” The seminar, open to colleagues across all four divisions of ARL, served as a culmination of multiple factors as Meyers moves toward publication of his findings.

The session began with the observation that long-term monitoring of energy, carbon, and water fluxes always requires a gap-filling strategy when examining seasonal and annual water and carbon fluxes. In most cases, data gaps are either prorated for a given time period or relationships between variables are formed to provide estimates of the missing variables and are site specific. Dr. Meyers discussed how site specific information can be used in a two-source (soil and canopy) land surface model to provide estimates of not only energy and carbon fluxes, but also of soil temperatures and moisture, leaf area index, and turbulence scaling parameters. He went on to explain that the two-source model also provides an opportunity evaluate the contributions of water and carbon fluxes from the soil and canopy over the growing season, and he provided details on how site specific information was used in modeling.

Dr. Meyers has spent the last 33 years of his career at ATDD. His primary focus is land-atmosphere interactions, which includes delving into both atmospheric science and micrometeorology. Over the last 20+ years, Dr. Meyers has continually performed highly-technical activities, amassing a large collection of data and observations. He was excited to explain how he’s compiled a novel way to fill in data utilizing a model that’s been calibrated against his observations, especially since it’s taken the last few years to assemble the model’s components.

As a dedicated scientist, Meyers was eager to share the “nuts and bolts” of his efforts – what went in, what he learned, and results that he obtained; especially the part where the model matched his measurements. Sharing his work, he believes, may help others in the modeling community. He’s happy to share the various sub-models that were used and is hoping to get constructive feedback from colleagues on these findings. When asked to summarize his findings, Dr. Meyers noted, “Observations of land-atmosphere exchanges of water, heat, and carbon dioxide were used to derive land surface model (LSM) parameterizations. The derived relationships, coupled with the LSM, were able to provide estimates of heat, water and carbon fluxes that could be used to fill data gaps since continuous data records are necessary for providing seasonal and annual summations of both carbon and water budgets.”

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Flux Tower in soybean field in Bondville, Illinois

Flux Tower in soybean field in
Bondville, Illinois (circa 2009)

Flux Tower in soybean field in Bondville, Illinois

Flux Tower in soybean field in
Bondville, Illinois (present)

Bondville soybean crop nearing full leaf out 

Bondville soybean crop nearing full leaf out 


Field Study Performed on eMote Sensors

April, 2018

On April 5, 2018, Temple Lee, Ed Dumas, and Michael Buban conducted a field study to evaluate the performance of four eMote sensors from ManoNano Technologies. The tests were conducted at the House Mountain Radio Control field located approximately 20 km northeast of Knoxville, Tennessee.

When large numbers of eMotes are released from a fixed-wing aircraft, small Unmanned Aircraft System (sUAS), or balloon, they can be used to follow the airflow and can ultimately provide important information about the three-dimensional temperature, moisture, and wind fields by transmitting these data to a ground-based receiver.

The test consisted of releasing the eMotes from ATDD’s DJI S-1000 sUAS at heights ranging from 50 – 150 m above ground level. The data from the eMotes was compared with temperature and humidity measurements obtained from the iMet-XQ sensors installed on-board the sUAS. Another set of measurements were obtained from a tethered balloon that lofted one Graw T/RH sensor and three iMet-XQ2 sensors to altitudes of 150, 100, 75, and 50 m, respectively.

These tests revealed that the eMotes have a warm and dry bias, and also indicated problems with their on-board GPS. These results will help motivate improvements in the sensor’s design and data acquisition systems.

emote test equipment

Equipment used during the test.
Tethered balloon is aloft to the left of this image.

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Photo of balloons and drone

Balloons and drone aloft
(click on image to enlarge)

Ed Dumas with DJI S-1000 sUAS

Ed Dumas with DJI S-1000 sUAS


Monique Baskin visits ATDD

March, 2018

On March 1, 2018, ATDD hosted a climate briefing for Monique Baskin, Climate Portfolio Policy Advisor in OAR’s Office of Policy, Planning and Evaluation.

The goal of the briefing was to highlight ATDD’s climate research and development activities for the last five years.

ATDD Director Dr. Bruce Baker provided an overview of the climate research and engineering efforts. Mark Hall, Senior Engineer for US Climate Reference Network (USCRN) provided an overview of the history of USCRN and of the site installations and maintenance program.

Other presentations:

  • Dr. Tilden Meyers on past and present collaborations between ATDD and other OAR labs with future directions for research and development;
  • Dr. John Kochendorfer, Precipitation Testbed studies and results;
  • Dr. Tim Wilson, USCRN Soil Moisture Testbed;
  • and Dr. Praveena Krishnan, Intercomparison of Land Surface Temperatures.

Ms. Baskin also toured ATDD’s Surface Energy Budget Network (SEBN) site at Chestnut Ridge (pictured on the right), the USCRN site at ATDD, and, USCRN engineering research and development, and maintenance facilities.

Photos from facility tour.

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Ms. Baskin visits ATDD SEBN site

Ms. Baskins is briefed on the
Surface Energy Budget Network site


ATDD extends welcome to Dr. Kelsey Ellis, UTK Visiting Scientist

February, 2018

Dr. Ellis will spend a few months working at ATDD while on sabbatical from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UTK), where she is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Geography and has research interests in natural hazards (i.e., tropical cyclone climatology, tornadoes climatology, risk and vulnerability analyses, historical reconstructions, and spatial climatologies) and human-environment interactions (i.e., microclimates, land use-atmosphere interaction, climate-suicide relationships, and urban microenvironments).

While at ATDD, she will work with Drs. Bruce Baker, Temple Lee, Michael Buban, and others on research and analyses of datasets obtained during the recent Verification of the Origins of Rotation in Tornadoes Experiment in the Southeast U.S. (VORTEX-SE) campaign. They will explore new ways to use these datasets and will also explore joint funding opportunities. In addition, Kelsey will work with the group on analyses of datasets obtained during the Land-Atmosphere Feedback Experiment (LAFE), focusing on analyses of remotely-sensed land surface data from aircraft operated during the experiment. These, as well as work on other research topics, will strengthen collaborations between UTK and ATDD.

For more information on Dr. Ellis, please visit her UTK web page.

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Dr. Kelsey Ellis is greeted by Dr. LaToya Myles

Dr. Kelsey Ellis is greeted by Dr. LaToya Myles


ESRL and ARL scientists meet in Boulder, Colorado

January, 2018

Scientists from Headquarters Air Resources Laboratory (ARL) and the Atmospheric Turbulence and Diffusion Division (ATDD – a division of ARL) met with Earth System Research Laboratory (ESRL) scientists in Boulder, Colorado, January 17-18, 2018 for a collaborative strategy session. There were three primary goals for this meeting:

  • to exchange information on current air chemistry research at each of the labs;
  • to discuss short-term and long-term plans to utilize air chemistry research to support NOAA core missions and educate NOAA Oceanic and Atmospheric Research (OAR) management about the importance of air chemistry research to NOAA’s missions;
  • and to explore potential opportunities for collaboration (i.e. joint projects, proposals, interactions with OAR programs).

Following the presentation of lab overviews to the entire group, participants divided into three subgroups to participate in concurrent sessions related to their respective areas of specialty:

  • air chemistry,
  • dispersion,
  • and Climate Reference Network/boundary layer processes.

Each of the three topic areas had its own full agenda, complete with a lengthy slate of five-minute “lightning talks” on projects, personal interests, and suggested collaborations, followed by more in-depth, focused discussions. The entire group then reconvened Thursday afternoon to hear a summary of each working group’s interactions and to discuss strategies and next steps.

Discussions are continuing about the potential collaborative topics identified in the meeting.

For more information on ESRL research please visit their website.

The ARL website can be accessed here.

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ESRL, ARL and ATDD group picture

group photo in Boulder, Colorado
(click on image to enlarge)

Air Pollution over a city

Air pollution within the boundary layer over a city


NOAA Center for Atmospheric Science personnel
meet with ATDD scientists

October, 2017

On Thursday, 5 October, scientists at ATDD hosted a visit by a group of personnel representing NOAA Center for Atmospheric Science (NCAS). The meeting was held to explore potential collaborative research between NCAS members and ATDD. Attending from NCAS were Dr. Vernon Morris, Director and Principal Investigator and Ricardo Sakai, Research Associate from Howard University, and Dr. Jose Fuentes from Penn State University. Kafayat Olayinka, a graduate student from Howard University, and Zachary Moon, a graduate student from Penn State, were also in attendance. Presentations were made by staff from both NCAS and ATDD to provide background on current research activities and personnel involved. Part of the visit included a short field trip to Knox County Radio Control field to demonstrate the DJI 1000, one of the drones in ATDD’s UAS fleet. Potential collaborative research projects were discussed with follow-up discussions planned in the near future.

Group photo of NCAS and ATDD personnel

NCAS and ATDD personnel

Back row: Dr. LaToya Myles, Zachary Moon, Dr. Rick Saylor, Dr. Bruce Baker, Dr. Temple Lee, Dr. Michael Buban, Dr. Nebila Lichiheb, Edward Dumas, Dr. Praveena Krishnan, Kafayat Olayinka

Front row: Dr. Ricardo Sakai, Dr. Tilden Meyers, Dr. Jose Fuentes, Dr. Vernon Morris

For more information about the NCAS program, visit their website.

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ATDD UAS in-flight

ATDD UAS In-flight

Ed Dumas and Dr. Jose Fuentes with Octocopter

Ed Dumas, ATDD UAS Pilot, shows Dr. Jose Fuentes a new location for the iMet-XQ temperature, relative humidity, and pressure sensor on the DJI S-1000 small UAS


ATDD-UTK identify opportunities for new partnerships

September, 2017

On September 12, 2017, ATDD and the University of Tennessee Knoxville (UTK) held a science workshop at the Cherokee Farm Innovation Campus and Research Park. The goal of the workshop was to foster collaborations that advance research, technology, and education in weather, climate and air chemistry. Dr. Bruce Baker (ATDD Director), Dr. Stacey Patterson (UTK Interim Vice President of Research, Outreach, and Engagement) and Dr. Robert Nobles (UTK Interim Vice Chancellor for Research and Engagement) hosted the workshop. University researchers and ATDD scientists delivered research presentations and engaged in round-table discussions to identify opportunities for new partnerships. This workshop is a first step under the recent Memorandum of Agreement between ATDD and UTK.

Attendees to ATDD-UTK meeting

Attendees to ATDD-UTK meeting

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Bruce Baker, Stacey Patterson, Robert Nobles

From left to right:
Dr. Bruce Baker, Dr. Stacey Patterson,
Dr. Robert Nobles