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2019 Annual Report

The Science Directorate at NASA’s Langley Research Center


Who We Are.

From the air we breathe to upper atmospheres with commercial aircraft and stationary satellites, to less familiar planetary atmospheres explored by landing spacecraft, the Science Directorate at NASA’s Langley Research Center is on it.

NASA Langley provides essential science leadership to NASA with decades of intellectual expertise in the areas of Atmospheric Composition, Air Quality, Earth’s Energy Budget and Lidar Remote Sensing that supports aeronautics, space technology, exploration and Earth science.

Our data can be used to help others to respond in responsible ways.

What We Do.

The Science Directorate at NASA’s Langley Research Center studies atmospheres using passive and lidar remote sensing, in situ and airborne instruments. Our Flight Projects execute visions to obtain ground-breaking science through spaceflight platforms.​

We are committed to delivering science that is balanced between Research & Analysis, technology development, airborne science and flight development. Through our ground and flight hardware development, we infuse technology and gather science observations that produce knowledge, information and insight that informs policy and serves society.

We provide and maintain capabilities to ensure effective and affordable delivery of that knowledge.

SD Organizational Chart
Satellite Timeline


Our Earth Science research stretches across four main areas: Air Quality, Radiation and Climate, Atmospheric Composition and Active Remote Sensing. In these areas, we are involved in a number of scientific initiatives, including advanced instrument development, field and space-borne experiments and data retrieval, analysis and archival. We also take significant pride in our ability to receive and share scientific data through the Atmospheric Science Data Center (ASDC). We further extend our research to the public through our efforts in Science Education.
Radiation and Climate
Understanding what’s changing our climate – and the implications for our planet.​
Air Quality
We observe pollutants around the world and provide scientific data used study the impact on human health and agriculture.
Atmospheric Composition
We study the variations in and processes that affect aerosols, clouds, and trace gases, which influence climate, weather, and air quality.
Lidar Remote Sensing
We utilize Lidar technology on satellites and aircraft to learn more about our atmosphere, what’s in it, and how it’s changing.
+ View the Lidar Timeline


Data products from satellite measurements, field experiments, and modeled data products to create meaningful knowledge that inspires action by scientists, educators, decision makers and the public.
ASDC Metrics Graphic
ASDC Mission Hosting graphic


Innovative and practical uses of Earth Observations to inform wise decision-making and help people prepare for the future.
DEVELOP, part of NASA’s Applied Sciences Program, addresses environmental and public policy issues through interdisciplinary research projects that apply the lens of NASA Earth observations to community concerns around the globe.
+ View the DEVELOP Interactive Mapper
Applied Sciences Disasters Program Support
NASA Langley leads elements of the Applied Sciences Disasters Program which supports the use of Earth observations to improve prediction, preparation, response, and recovery from natural and technological disasters through mitigation approaches, information and maps to disaster response and recovery teams and representation in international organizations focused on reducing global disasters.
+ Learn more at
POWER Project Data Sets
The Langley-developed NASA Prediction of Worldwide Energy Resources (POWER) data sets from NASA research assist with support of renewable energy, building energy efficiency and agricultural needs.
+ Learn more about the POWER project


An interdisciplinary team of educators, scientists, technology experts and communication specialists collaborate with the education community to bring authentic Earth science practices and real-world data into the classroom.
Citizen scientists around the globe are participating in data collection and contributing to our understanding of the Earth system and global environment.
Science Education Metrics Graphic


Our atmospheric research also contributes to planetary science, heliophysics & astrophysics:​
  • Through the design, development, modeling and simulation of Entry, Descent and Landing (EDL) systems for Earth and planetary bodies,
  • Through our research on space weather and atmospheres of Terrestrial Type Exoplanets and planets,
  • And through SABER’s data being utilized in collaboration with TESS by NASA’s James Webb Telescope in the search for new planets that may harbor life.



NASA’s most prestigious honor awards are approved by the Administrator and presented to a number of carefully selected individuals and groups of individuals, both Government and non-Government, who have distinguished themselves by making outstanding contributions to the Agency’s mission.​

Individual Awards:

Paul Evangelista, Outstanding Public Leadership Medal
Josh Digangi, Early Career Achievement Medal
Ewan Crosbie, Early Career Achievement Medal
David Doelling, Exceptional Achievement Medal
Michael Pitts, Exceptional Scientific Achievement Medal
Fred Rose, Exceptional Achievement Medal
Anne Garnier, Exceptional Scientific Achievement Medal

Group Achievement Awards:

Langley Project Execution Assessment Team, Silver Achievement Medal

Kris Bedka and Team, H.J.E. Reid Award​
SAGE III Operations and Science Products
NASA/DLR Multidisciplinary Airborne Experiment (ND)

Lawrence and Reid Paper Awards:

  • The Above-Anvil Cirrus Plume: An Important Severe Weather Indicator in Visible and Infrared Satellite Imagery
    • By KRISTOPHER BEDKA (Science Directorate, NASA Langley Research Center, Hampton, Virginia) & BENJAMIN SCARINO (Science Systems and Applications, Inc., Hampton, Virginia)
Explore the latest news in Science at NASA’s Langley Research Center online at:

Radiation and Climate Highlights

GOES severe storm analysis, developed by NASA Langley researcher Kris Bedka, reveals the importance of the above anvil cirrus plume signature for forecasting the most catastrophic storms, those that generate 2+ inch diameter hail, 65+ knot winds, and tornadoes with an Enhanced Fujita scale rating of 2 (EF-2) or greater intensity. In 2019, Bedka presented Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES) severe storm detection and forecasting to Science and Operations Officers from 18 offices throughout the National Weather Service Central Region, local TV Meteorologists and the NOAA National Weather Service.

NASA Langley Researcher Patrick Taylor was appointed to a leadership panel for the U.S. Climate Variability and Change Program to set research priorities and guide the development of a strategic plan for the Nation’s climate research used by NASA, NOAA, DOE and NSF. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the United Nations body for assessing the science related to climate change. In 2019, Dr. Taylor participated in the IPCC U.S. Government Review Expert Panel meeting conducted by the Department of State and US Global Change Research Program (GCRP). Dr. Taylor evaluated the Summary for Policymakers for the Special Report on the Oceans and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate.

Using online collaboration tools in preparation for the Dynamics and Chemistry of the Summer Stratosphere (DCOTSS) Earth Venture field campaign, NASA Langley contributed to a simulated flight planning exercise conducted in July 2019. The team simulated a NASA ER-2 flight out of Salina, Kansas. Data from weather prediction models were used to identify potential target regions and to determine if wind conditions in Salina would be safe for the ER-2 takeoff/landing. DCOTTS will begin science flights in summer 2020.

DEMETER (DEMonstrating the Emerging Technology for measuring the Earth's Radiation) is a small sensorcraft that will demonstrate a revolutionary approach for measuring Earth's Radiation Budget from Low Earth Orbit. In 2019, DEMETER was selected for the Instrument Incubator Program (IIP) in support of the Earth Science Division (ESD).

The ARCSTONE project, Calibration of Spectral Lunar Reflectance from Space, tackles one of the most challenging tasks in remote sensing from space — achieving required instrument calibration accuracy on-orbit. The ARCSTONE project conducted a pre-Fabrication Review on October 8, 2019. The review represented a major milestone for assessing the project readiness for the Full Spectral Range instrument fabrication phase. The current objective of the ARCSTONE Full Spectral Range (FSR) project is to achieve Technology Readiness Level 5 (TRL5) by the end of 2020 calendar year.

CLARREO Pathfinder (CPF) provides a crucial step toward informing strategic planning by government agencies (e.g. DoD and DOE), the operation and sustainment of key national assets (e.g. coastal military installations), and risk assessment by the reinsurance industry in response to hazards such as flooding and inundation. The CPF project successfully passed its Key Decision Point C (KDP-C) review on July 8, 2019, resulting in agency-level approval to begin implementation per the project’s official schedule and budget.

The NASA Langley Satellite ClOud and Radiation Property retrieval System (SatCORPS) global cloud products have useful applications to aviation, aircraft and engine icing, convective turbulence, cloud layering, and model assimilation. In 2019, a comprehensive review of aviation meteorology and aviation hazard identification and prediction co-authored by NASA Langley researcher Patrick Minnis was published. Highlighted aviation hazards range from turbulence to deep convection.

Read: A Review of High Impact Weather for Aviation Meteorology

In 2019, CERES on Terra marked 20 years of becoming the first instrument to achieve complete global measurements of Earth’s Energy Budget. CERES measures reflected solar and emitted thermal infrared radiation from Earth. These data provide a better understanding of what drives Earth’s climate system and how it is changing. The two CERES instruments aboard Terra continue a data record that began in 1997 with the launch of the first CERES instrument aboard the joint NASA/Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM; operational 1997 to 2015). Six CERES instruments are currently in space.

Langley space-based instruments help to capture a vertical profile and the progression of Hurricane Dorian as it formed in the Eastern Caribbean and moved up the Atlantic Coast. Data from CERES showed the physical extent, highly reflective and cold nature of the clouds, which characterize a storm of Dorian’s strength and dynamic structure. Data from CALIPSO was able to confirm the extent and describe the vertical structure.

On August 21, 2017, North America witnessed a total solar eclipse, with the path of totality passing across the United States from coast to coast. The major public interest in the event inspired the Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment (GLOBE) Observer to organize a citizen science observing campaign to record the meteorological effects of the eclipse. Results published in 2019 show the benefit that research using citizen science data receives from increased numbers of participants and observations.

Read: Eclipse across America: Citizen Science Observations of the 21 August 2017 Total Solar Eclipse

Air Quality Highlights

At any given time, there is a fire burning somewhere on Earth. NASA Langley’s Dr. Amber Soja joined NASA experts to take a closer look at how fires are part of our changing planet during a NASA ScienceLive episode titled, “A World of Fires.” As the climate warms, it has directly affected the way fires occur, with longer fire seasons and more extreme fires that are harder to suppress. With a fleet of satellites orbiting Earth, NASA has a unique perspective to keep an eye on these fires, the impact they have on ecosystems, and how smoke degrades air quality for local communities and populations downwind from biomass burning.

Watch: NASA Science Live: A World of Fires

A joint campaign led by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Fire Influence on Regional to Global Environments and Air Quality (FIREX-AQ) is targeting broad questions about the chemical and physical properties of fire smoke, how it is measured and how it changes from the moment of combustion to its final fate hundreds or thousands of miles downwind. All of these have implications for public health. In 2019, NASA Langley contributed mission science leadership. The NASA Langley National Airborne Sounder Testbed - Interferometer (NAST-I) sensor was included as part of the aircraft payload for the ER-2 component. On the ground, the NASA Langley Aerosol Research Group Experiment (LARGE) operated a van full of instruments to catch the smoke as it settled.

Read: Tracking Smoke From Fires to Improve Air Quality Forecasting

Read: Through Smoke and Fire, NASA Searches for Answers

TEMPO (Tropospheric Emissions: Monitoring of Pollution), a NASA Earth science instrument that will dramatically advance our understanding of air quality over North America, secured a satellite host and ride into space with Maxar Technologies. In September, US, European and Korean team members for the planned new geostationary Earth observation satellites; TEMPO, the Geostationary Environment Monitoring Spectrometer (GEMS), Sentinel-4, Geostationary Carbon Cycle Observatory (GeoCARB) and the Geosynchronous Littoral Imaging and Monitoring Radiometer (GLIMR), met to foster the exchange of ideas on the upcoming Geostationary Air Quality Constellation. The TEMPO mission is a collaboration between NASA and the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory.

Read: Commercial Space Ride Secured for NASA’s New Air Pollution Sensor

Most of us don’t think twice about breathing. In fact, the average adult takes around 20,000 breaths per day. Understanding the air we breathe is essential to life on Earth. In 2019, NASA Langley’s Dr. Patrick Taylor and Dr. Jim Crawford were interviewed for a Health Journal article titled, “The Air Out There: Understanding Air Pollution.”

Read: The Air Out There: Understanding Air Pollution

For the past four years an international research team sponsored by NASA and the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) has been studying the Asian Tropopause Aerosol Layer (ATAL), an area of enhanced aerosol particles that appears in the summertime. Using balloon-lofted instruments, the Balloon measurement campaign of the Asian Tropopause Aerosol Layer (BATAL) has collected data to better understand this seasonal atmospheric phenomenon and its potential impact on water resources, ozone, weather and climate. In 2019, the team collected data on trace gases and the properties of aerosols and ice crystals. NASA Langley Research Center scientists deployed to India to understand how pollution in Asia is transported into the stratosphere during the active summer monsoon, an annual phenomenon that brings humid weather and torrential rainfall to India and Southeast Asia.

Read: Using Balloons to Track Pollution into the Stratosphere

Demonstrating new technologies is vital to progressing our knowledge and understanding in key science areas. In 2019, NASA Langley's High Altitude Lidar Observatory (HALO) and the Doppler Aerosol WiNd lidar (DAWN) flew on the NASA DC-8 as a part of the Atmospheric Dynamics Mission-Aeolus (ADM-Aeolus) calibration and validation mission, demonstrating a new water vapor profiling capability. Upon completion of the DC-8 flights, HALO also demonstrated the rapid reconfigurability of the system by reconfiguring from water vapor DIAL to methane DIAL measurements within a matter of days to support NASA's Atmospheric Carbon and Transport - America (ACT-America) campaign.

Read: Illuminating Gases in The Sky: NASA Technology Pinpoints Potent Greenhouse Gases

DAWN: NASA Testing Airborne Lasers to Touch the Wind

Dr. Laura Judd (NASA LaRC/SSAI) was selected to join NASA’s Health and Air Quality (HAQ) Applied Sciences Team as an Associate Program Manager. Entering this position in November 2019, Laura tracks and manages a portfolio of Health and Air Quality projects focused on the implementation of air quality standards, policy, and regulations for economic and human welfare. Additionally, she contributes toward strategic planning efforts for advancing innovative and practical uses of NASA Earth science data and capabilities to enhance decision making processes by public and private organizations.

Atmospheric Composition Highlights

SAGE III is a planet finder! ( least in our immediate neighborhood.) It was able to detect Mercury during its recent transit across the sun. The Stratospheric Aerosol and Gas Experiment (SAGE) III instrument uses the Sun to collect data on stratospheric ozone, aerosols, water vapor, and other trace gases during sunrise and sunset from orbit on the International Space Station (ISS). These measurements are taken every 46 minutes, on average.

Read: SAGE III Sees Mercury Transit the Sun

The Stratospheric Aerosol and Gas Experiment (SAGE) IV progresses toward developing and demonstrating a solar occultation imager capable of SAGE-quality ozone and aerosol measurements in a 6U CubeSat form factor. The SAGE IV Instrument Incubator Program (IIP) team successfully completed their 30-month interim review with the Earth Science Technology Office (ESTO) on October 8, 2019. This was the last interim review before the end of the IIP and final report-out in March 2020.

The NASA Langley-led project, Stereo Camera for Lunar Plume-Surface Studies (SCALPSS) was selected to fly on two Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) landers. Each of these commercial landers will carry NASA-provided payloads that will conduct science investigations and demonstrate advanced technologies on the moon. The objective of the SCALPSS project is to collect validation data for plume-surface interaction analysis which is critical for future lunar and Mars lander vehicle designs.

The Stratospheric Aerosol and Gas Experiment (SAGE) III instrument observed several stratospheric aerosol events across the globe in 2019. In mid-2019, volcanic emissions from the eruption of Ulawun in Papua New Guinea introduced significant amounts of aerosols into the stratosphere and greatly increased the concentration measured at altitudes observed by the SAGE III instrument. Starting in November 2019, the Australian wildfires produced an additional source of stratospheric aerosol in the form of combusted biomass. SAGE III saw significant stratospheric aerosol ‘loading events’ in the Northern Hemisphere resulting from large wildfires in Alberta, Canada and Siberia, Russia in mid-to-late 2019. Additionally, the Raikoke eruption in June 2019 in the Sea of Okhotsk emitted the largest amount of sulfur dioxide in the past decade. The resulting plume quickly transported toward the equator and was observed at high stratospheric altitudes for several months afterward. Since the SAGE III/ISS record began in June 2017, the Stratospheric Aerosol Optical Depth has recently increased globally by a factor of 2 or 3, but remain a factor of 20 less than after the Mt. Pinatubo eruption in 1991.

Lidar Remote Sensing Highlights

Because different kinds of aerosol particles affect the formation and evolution of clouds in ways that aren’t entirely well understood, and because more data on that process will help researchers refine climate and weather models, it’s a phenomenon ripe for an intensive field study. The Aerosol Cloud meTeorology Interactions oVer the western ATlantic Experiment (ACTIVATE) successfully completed an Investigation Confirmation Review at NASA Headquarters on October 18, 2019. ACTIVATE is an Earth Venture Suborbital-3 (EVS-3) investigation. The ACTIVATE team is prepared to take coordinated flights above, through and below clouds over the western North Atlantic Ocean. Flights will deploy from NASA s Langley Research Center in February 2020.

Scientific outcomes from the North Atlantic Aerosols and Marine Ecosystems Study (NAAMES) are rewriting textbooks with the first global observations of the greatest animal migration on earth with a satellite lidar coupled with autonomous sensors and coordinated aircraft and ship-based measurements setting an unprecedented characterization of plankton communities. The balanced, interdisciplinary team that conducted the five-year investigation to resolve key processes controlling ocean system function, their influences on atmospheric aerosols and clouds and their implications for climate, held their fifth and final NAAMES Science Team Meeting at NASA’s Langley Research Center in June 2019. During the meeting, team members discussed status of ongoing analyses, collaborative efforts and publications as well as plans to maintain momentum to continue progress beyond project end date of January 2020. Through 2019, published papers had already garnered 295 citations and were distributed across 36 different journals.

In 2019, Atmospheric Carbon and Transport-America, or ACT-America, a NASA airborne science study returned to the field for the fifth and final time to measure how weather moves carbon dioxide and methane through the atmosphere over the eastern part of the United States. By targeting that transport, scientists will better be able to understand how and where those greenhouse gases are cycled into and out of the atmosphere. Ever wondered what its like to fly with NASA? In 2019, local WAVY 10 reporter Jeff Edmondson shared his ACT-America flight experience.

Read: Final ACT-America Flights Target Summer Greenhouse Gases

What’s it like to fly with NASA

A group of NASA researchers was blown away by data they collected during an airborne science campaign that spanned from the Pacific coast to Hawaii. While in the sky, they shot lasers at the wind to advance technology that could help improve climate and weather predictions. In 2019, researchers from NASA’s Langley Research Center tested the Doppler Aerosol Wind Lidar (DAWN), an airborne instrument that uses pulsed lasers at varying scan angles to detect the movement of atmospheric aerosols such as dust or sea salt. In detecting those movements, it can profile wind vector both speed and direction.

Read: NASA Testing Airborne Lasers to Touch the Wind

An unexpected series of blasts from a remote volcano in the Kuril Islands sent ash and volcanic gases streaming high over the North Pacific Ocean. Since ash contains sharp fragments of rock and volcanic glass, it poses a serious hazard to aircraft. The Tokyo and Anchorage Volcanic Ash Advisory Centers have been tracking the plume closely and have issued several notes to aviators indicating that ash from the Raikoke eruption in June 2019 had reached an altitude of 13 kilometers (8 miles). Data from the CALIPSO satellite indicated that parts of the plume may have reached 17 kilometers (10 miles).

Read: Raikoke Erupts

Every night, under the cover of darkness, countless small sea creatures from squid to krill swim from the ocean depths to near the surface to feed. This vast animal migration the largest on the planet and a critical part of Earth’s climate system has been observed globally for the first time thanks to an unexpected use of a space-based laser. Researchers observed this vertical migration pattern using the Cloud-Aerosol Lidar and Infrared Pathfinder Satellite Observations (CALIPSO) satellite—a joint venture between NASA and the French space agency, Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales—that launched in 2006. In 2019, they published their findings in the journal Nature.

Read: NASA, French Space Laser Measures Massive Migration of Ocean Animals

When aloft ozone may be mixing down into the boundary layer and compromising surface air quality, the NASA Langley Mobile Ozone Lidar (LMOL) team are able to more fully characterize these complex events. In 2019, the team continued to gather data and they presented their work from OWLETS-1, OWLETS-2, and the Long Island Sound Tropospheric Ozone Study (LISTOS) field campaigns, as well as the annual TOLNet station report at the OWLETS/TOLNet Science Team Meetings at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Center for Weather and Climate Prediction facility in College Park, Maryland.

Langley is well on the path to develop technology that will significantly reduce the cost and risk of the future space-based water vapor Differential Absorption Lidar (DIAL) mission. The Atmospheric Boundary Layer Lidar PathfindEr (ABLE), was selected for the Instrument Incubator Program (IIP) in support of the Earth Science Division (ESD). The ABLE IIP will advance pulsed solid state lasers, pump laser diodes, and photonic integrated circuit (PIC) seed lasers.

NASA CAMP2Ex (The Cloud, Aerosol and Monsoon Processes Philippines Experiment) is a multi-platform international mission studying aerosol-cloud-radiation interactions associated with the Southwest Monsoon. NASA Langley supported the CAMP2Ex mission in 2019 by participating in extensive flight planning activities and helping to guide the P-3B aircraft to areas of interest to study aerosols and clouds and to maintain safe flight operations. Langley also deployed several instruments on the P-3B to measure aerosol/cloud properties, cloud chemistry, and 3D winds.

Read: Philippine Airborne Campaign Targets Weather, Climate Science

Atmospheric Science Data Center Highlights

NASA Langley’s Brandi Quam presented on the use of Earth Observation Satellites (EOS) Geospatial Data for Earth Science at the 5th Annual GIS and Remote Sensing Congress meeting held September 2019, in Rome, Italy. Quam also delivered the keynote and welcome presentation. The theme of the conference was ‘Implementation and Advancement of GIS and Remote Sensing Techniques’ and sessions and presentations ranged from commercial applications, such as strategic asset management and precision farming, to advanced research from industry and academic institutions across the globe. Brandi also moderated sessions focused on Spatial Analysis, Remote Sensing in Urban Environments, and Geographic Information System (GIS) for Disaster Assessment and Management.

In 2019, ASDC team members shared knowledge of principles and technologies that could be reapplied across various NASA Distributed Active Archive Centers (DAACs) for a multitude of projects during an Earthdata Webinar titled, “Modern Website Engineering for STA3CD (“stacked”): Subsetting Tools for Advanced Analysis of Airborne Chemistry Data.”

The Atmosphere Science Data Center (ASDC) held its User Working Group (UWG) meeting in June 2019 at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton. The ASDC team captured key finding, issues and concerns, and recommendations during the UWG breakout sessions. Previous UWG recommendations were reviewed which included Discovery, Access, Transformation, and Analysis. Two breakout sessions were held. Sessions covered Dynamic Landing Pages, Direct Data Downloads, ESDIS/DAAC User Forum, Earthdata Search: End-to-End Services, Airborne Data, Subsetting, Geospatial, and Cloud Analytics.

In July 2019, several ASDC team members attended the Esri International User Conference, the world’s largest GIS conference. The team presented on local and global tools for weather and atmosphere and discussed Earthdata Search, NASA’s Global Imagery Browse Services (GIBS), ASDC GIS web services, and NASA Langley’s Prediction of Worldwide Energy Resources (POWER) program.

DEVELOP Highlights

Hampton could use more trees to slow the stormwater runoff into creeks. The advice came from NASA Langley researchers, student interns, involved in the DEVELOP program who studied Hampton and its Newmarket watershed area. In August 2019, DEVELOP’s Hampton Roads Urban Development team had the opportunity to present their project results to the Hampton City Council. The team partnered with the City of Hampton, Virginia, home to NASA’s Langley Research Center, to analyze the urban tree canopy and impervious surface cover to inform resiliency efforts within the municipality.

Read: Hampton gets resiliency advice from interns at NASA Langley

DEVELOP presented at the Federal Partners Day of the Groundwork USA National Assembly & Youth Summit in Shepherdstown, WV in October 2019. The presentation was part of a session titled, “Youth Action on Climate: Change: What Skills Are Needed?” and highlighted the six projects that have collaborated with local Groundwork trusts over the past two years..

Applied Sciences Disasters Program Support Highlights

David Borges led Disasters Program involvement in Group on Earth Observations (GEO) and was named Committee on Earth Observation Satellites (CEOS) Working Group Disasters (WGDisasters) Secretariat for a two year term at the 2019 CEOS Plenary in Ha Noi, Viet Nam. GEO is an international partnership of governments and organizations working towards a future where decisions and actions for the benefit of humankind are informed by coordinated, comprehensive and sustained Earth observations. CEOS is a mechanism to coordinate civil space-based EO programmes globally and promote data exchange for society’s benefit.

David Borges co-led a workshop titled, “Resilient Recovery Approaches: Using Earth Observations to Understand Vulnerability and Exposure in Land and Infrastructure Planning,” which convened the NASA Disasters Program and the Puerto Rico Science, Technology & Research Trust (PRST) in August 2019 in San Juan Puerto Rico. The workshop brought together a wide variety of attendees from the federal and local government, territory and private industry.

A research grant was awarded through peer-refereed review in April of 2019, to Primary Investigator Kris Bedka at NASA Langley for a proposal entitled, “Using Space-Borne Remote Sensing to Assess Hail Storm Risk.” It is one of 10 new ROSES Disasters 2018 grant projects now being managed by NASA Langley’s John Murray.

POWER Highlights

POWER continues to build collaborations with ASHRAE (formerly stood for the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, Air-Conditioning Engineers) and Dr. Drury Crawley to improve the applicability and accessibility of NASA research data products to problems in building design optimization and energy efficiency. In 2019, Dr. Paul Stackhouse met with Dr. Crawley and participated in 2019 ASHRAE Summer Conference in Kansas City, Missouri. A briefing was presented to the TC 4.2 Executive committee and highlighted the past 6-month activities of the NASA POWER team to the ASHRAE Technical Committee 4.2 (ASHRAE TC4.2), which is responsible for a quadrennial update of the Climatic Design Information chapter in the ASHRAE Handbook – Fundamentals. ASHRAE has 59,000 members worldwide and provides information for building code standards for the U.S. and worldwide.

In July 2019, Dr. Paul Stackhouse Jr, Principle Investigator of Prediction of Worldwide Energy Resource (POWER), met with Greg Leng, Director of the RETScreen International project that has developed and released the new RETScreen Expert clean energy technology decision support tool. POWER supports the RETScreen Expert feasibility tool using long-term averages of relevant solar and meteorological parameters and provides the same parameters at low-latency at the daily average to support the building energy monitoring components. The RETScreen Expert tool is averaging 40,000 downloads per year and now has 650,000 registered users worldwide. It is now being used to monitor nearly 400,000,000 sq ft of building space worldwide including users such as 3M, Johnson Controls, all Canadian federal, multiple large university campuses such of U. of Michigan and educational facilities such as all schools in the State of Hawaii. Arrangements with NASA’s own Office of Strategic Infrastructure for building energy and greenhouse gas monitoring at all NASA Centers.

Dr. Paul W. Stackhouse Jr., made a presentation entitled, “Assessing 30+ years of Solar Resource, Surface Temperature and Humidity Variability Using NASA’s Latest Versions of Satellite Based Solar Irradiance and Atmospheric Reanalysis Data Sets” at the American Solar Energy Society (ASES) Solar 2019 meeting in Minneapolis, Minnesota in August 2019. The presentation showed long-term agreement of the newly processed GEWEX Surface Radiation Budget Shortwave Release 4 Integrated product (GSW R4-IP) with CERES and surface measurements. The long-term changes of the solar irradiance were discussed and assessed using a technique to evaluate statistical significance that accounts for the time series autocorrelation. It was found that long-term changes in the surface solar irradiance varying from 2-4 W m-2/decade were found to be statistically significant in the southern US regions. These findings are preliminary and will continue to be assessed against surface measurements and other data products to evaluate their reliability. However, the changes show the importance of considering time series variability for solar assessment rather than just the multi-year mean.

Science Education Highlights

Show us your cloudy skies, please. We asked. You really came through. The GLOBE Fall Cloud Observation Challenge brought in more than 45,000 observations from citizen scientists in more than 17,000 locations in 93 countries on every continent — including Antarctica. This influx of cloud observations is super helpful to NASA scientists who work with geostationary satellites and the suite of satellite instruments known as the Clouds and the Earth's Energy Radiant System (CERES). By comparing geostationary and CERES observations from a particular area to data submitted by citizen scientists, scientists can differentiate between wispy cirrus clouds and cold, bright features on the ground such as snow. But it wasn't just cloud observations you shared with us. We also got reports of purple skies, haboobs and other types of dust storms, and smoke plumes from fires. These measurements are of interest to atmospheric scientists, too, as they work to improve their understanding of dust storms.

Read: GLOBE Fall Cloud Challenge Rakes in the Observations
Watch: Students collecting environmental data to assist NASA

In 2019, the Science Directorate at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia played host to 30 students from Northern Shores Elementary School in Suffolk, Virginia. The visit served as a capstone experience for third-, fourth- and fifth-grade students in recognition of their hard work in STEM-related, extended-day programs at their school. These programs included the newly formed GLOBE Club through partnership with Langley, as well as the Girls STEM Club funded by Northrup Grumman. GLOBE, or the Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment program, is a worldwide initiative that brings together students, teachers, scientists and citizens to promote science and learning about the environment. The field trip to Langley involved hands-on STEM activities offered by the Science Directorate, Office of STEM Engagement, American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics – Hampton Roads Section, and the National Institute of Aerospace. In the above photo, student Madyson Knox experiments with UV-sensitive beads.

Read: Students Visit Langley to Cap Off STEM Experience

The Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment (GLOBE) Partnership at NASA Langley Research Center hosted the GLOBE Weather Workshop, led by University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR) with facilitation support by Angie Rizzi. Fifteen Virginia teachers participated in the three day workshop. GLOBE Weather is funded by NASA and its free five-week curriculum unit is designed to help middle school students understand weather at local, regional, and global scales. The curriculum is aligned to Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Combining the skills of educational resource developers from the UCAR Center for Science Education with Biological Sciences Curriculum Study (BSCS) Science Learning's curriculum design tools and processes from the American Museum of Natural History, GLOBE Weather represents a new approach for students to learn about weather phenomena that builds on prior knowledge and focuses on developing and iterating on models and analyzing data. The unit also leverages the existing suite of GLOBE science protocols and GLOBE data collected around the world. GLOBE Weather was designed to meet the needs of teachers who are already part of the GLOBE community and teachers who are not already actively involved in GLOBE.

NASA Langley Research Center's Global Learning and Observation to Benefit the Environment (GLOBE) Clouds program team started a campaign to collect ground observations and photographs of dust storms from citizen scientists through NASA's GLOBE Observer app. The use of these citizen science dust reports is being explored to improve satellite dust masks inferred from the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES) and the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) and dust forecasts from the US National Air Quality Forecast Capability (NAQFC). Researchers Dr. Daniel Tong from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and Kerstin Schepanski from the Leibniz Institute for Tropospheric Research (TROPOS) have partnered with the GLOBE Clouds team to collect and process the ground observations of dust storms. A webinar was conducted by GLOBE Clouds project scientist Marile Colon Robles with instructions on how to make the observations and provided existing educator resources for formal and informal audiences.

Tips and tricks for middle school teachers who would like to use the GLOBE Observer App for student research related to clouds was included in an article titled, “Making Science come Alive with Clouds.” The article published in the National Science Teacher Association (NSTA) Science Scope Journal for Middle School teachers in an Integrating Technology Special Issue.

Read: Integrating Tech: Making Science Come Alive With Clouds


Science at Langley is also helping to lay the groundwork for future science work beyond Earth by:

  • Developing the Mars Entry, Descent and Landing Instrumentation 2 (MEDLI2) that will measure aerothermal environments and the performance of thermal protection system (TPS) material during the entry phase on the Mars 2020 Mission,
  • Developing the sample return Earth Entry Vehicle (EEV) for the future Mars Sample Return Mission,
  • Contributing to EDL, parachute development and flight vehicle performance for NASA’s Dragonfly Mission to Titan, the second largest moon in the solar system,
  • Developing SCALPSS (Read: Stereo Cameras for Lunar Plume-Surface Studies), which will capture video and still image data of the lander’s plume as the plume starts to impact the lunar surface until after engine shut off — a critical capability for future lunar and Mars vehicle designs,
  • And by supporting modeling efforts for GRAM (Global Reference Atmospheric Model), one of the most widely used engineering models of vehicles and atmospheric environments for many NASA projects where planetary spacecraft cannot be tested in the flight environment prior to a mission.

January 24, 2022

Four joint flights were conducted this past Tuesday and Wednesday (Jan 18-19) to capitalize on another cold air outbreak event, similar to the previous week. We observed significant temperature variations in the various vertical profiles conducted by the low-flying Falcon, with evidence of significant precipitation near the transition from overcast to open-cell cloud conditions. A significant decreasing gradient in cloud drop number concentrations was observed with distance offshore especially during the January 18 flights.

June 20, 2022

ACTIVATE’s final flight deployment ended this past week with Research Flight 179 (Saturday June 18) transiting back from Bermuda to Virginia. A number of flights in the past week continued to build on the dataset for aerosol-cloud-meteorology interactions surrounding the Bermuda area, including on Tuesday June 14 a “process study flight” where the coordinated aircraft characterized a building cumulus cloud system. The Falcon conducted its traditional “wall” pattern used during process study flights with ~20 stacked legs going from below to above the cloud. Meanwhile the UC-12 flew overhead conducting remote sensing measurements of the same system while launching numerous dropsondes. A day earlier (June 13), the joint research flight conducted was synchronized with a CALIPSO overpass in conditions that are ideal for intercomparison of data including cloud-free air with significant aerosol concentrations and a diversity of aerosol types including in particular African dust. Now the ACTIVATE team focuses on processing and data archival of the 2022 flight deployments.

January 24, 2022

Four joint flights were conducted this past Tuesday and Wednesday (Jan 18-19) to capitalize on another cold air outbreak event, similar to the previous week. We observed significant temperature variations in the various vertical profiles conducted by the low-flying Falcon, with evidence of significant precipitation near the transition from overcast to open-cell cloud conditions. A significant decreasing gradient in cloud drop number concentrations was observed with distance offshore especially during the January 18 flights.

June 14, 2021

This past week included two double-flight days on Monday-Tuesday (June 7-8). June 7 was notable in that the second flight (RF 80) was a “process study” flight, which accounts for approximately 10% of ACTIVATE flights. We targeted an area with a cluster of clouds and conducted a total of 10 Falcon legs in cloud at different altitudes ranging from ~2 to ~13 kft. These legs and a subsequent downward spiral resulted in 10 cloud water samples for a single cloud system. Simultaneously, the King Air conducted a ‘wheel and spoke” pattern far above to allow the remote sensors to characterize the environment and cloud that the Falcon was directly sampling. A total of 14 dropsondes were launched by the King Air in the ~3 hr flight. This flight and the other “process study” flight in this summer campaign (RF77 on June 2) will provide a remarkable dataset to investigate aerosol-cloud-meteorology interactions with very detailed measurements for single evolving cloud systems.

March 15, 2021

ACTIVATE conducted four more successful joint flights (Research Flights 51-54) this past week. We characterized a variety of cloud conditions including post-frontal clouds associated with another cold air outbreak on Monday (March 8) in contrast to the following day (Tuesday March 9) where there was a sharp inversion with uniform cloud top heights and generally thin clouds. Flights this past week were marked by influence from local and regional burning emissions. The second of two flights on Friday (March 12) was coordinated with a CALIPSO overpass.

Febraury 5, 2021

ACTIVATE’s had its first joint flight of the winter 2021 campaign on February 3. We were successful to sample a transition from overcast stratocumulus clouds to broken cumulus clouds near our farthest southeast point of the flight track. There was extensive mixed-phase precipitation in areas closer to shore but pure liquid clouds farther offshore coinciding with the open cell cloud field. Although at low optical depth, an interesting aerosol layer was observed above 6 km that most likely was dust due to its depolarizing nature.

January 30, 2020

This past week ACTIVATE took to the skies again to begin our 2021 winter campaign. In contrast to last year, we started a bit earlier in the month of January to capitalize on a higher frequency of cold air outbreak events. Friday’s flights (January 29) were particularly ideal with both aircraft sampling along cloud streets aligned with the predominant wind direction coming from the north/northwest. We observed a transition from supercooled droplets to mixed phase precipitation with distance away from shore.

June 13, 2022

The past week coincided with a string of excellent weather conditions leading to eight joint flights between June 7-11 (RF166-173). There was evidence of African dust in the region that the aircraft sampled, in addition to coordinated efforts with glider platforms operated by the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences to study the upper parts of the ocean surface that may affect the ACTIVATE measurements via sea-air interactive processes. Research flight 166 on 7 June was somewhat unique in that we sampled distinct cloud streets that we more commonly flew in during the winter season associated with cold air outbreaks. The ACTIVATE team also hosted a successful outreach event at the Longtail Aviation hangar featuring 40 students from three local grade schools.

June 6, 2022

On 31 May, the ACTIVATE team conducted a joint plane transit flight from Langley Research Center to Bermuda to base operations there until June 18. A series of flights (Research Flights 161-165) up through Sunday 5 June helped obtain statistics of atmospheric conditions around Bermuda. Many of the local Bermuda flights ended with a spiral sounding just offshore the Tudor Hill facility to obtain important vertical data for trace gases, aerosol, and weather parameters that will complement extensive surface monitoring work going on in coordination with the NSF-funded BLEACH project going on focused on halogen chemistry. Flights have already gathered important statistics associated with shallow “popcorn” cumulus cloud fields.

May 23, 2022

Four graduate students from the University of Arizona visited Langley Research Center to learn about and participate in the operational side of ACTIVATE. They took part in a very active flight week, with a total of eight joint flights deployed (Flights 153 - 160). Flights 156 and 157 on Wednesday, May 18th were special because these were the first flights to and from Bermuda that included a CALIPSO underflight. The CALIPSO track was clear of clouds and various aerosol layers such as smoke and dust were present. Another set of joint flights to and from Bermuda was conducted on Saturday, marking a successful end to the May flights. The next update will be in a couple weeks as the coming week will be used to prepare to fly out to Bermuda to base operations there from 1-18 June.

May 16, 2022

The previous week was marked by a persistent low pressure system positioned off the mid-Atlantic coast that impacted flight operations. Only one joint flight was conducted as a result on Tuesday (10 May; Research Flight 152), which featured strong northeasterly winds and warm air advection over the coastal cold waters created stratiform clouds near the surface. During parts of the flight there were several layers of decoupled stratiform cloud in the lower (free) troposphere.  There was evidence of strong sea salt influence on this day with a high volume of cloud water samples collected that will be helpful for continued characterization of the cloud chemistry in the study region. This week was marked by some visitors to Langley Research Center from the science team including Hailong Wang (PNNL) and Minnie Park (BNL), along with Simon Kirschler who is visiting from DLR in Germany.

May 09, 2022

ACTIVATE’s sixth and final deployment began this past week with three successful joint flights (Flights 149-151). In contrast to the winter deployment, aerosol optical depths increased this past week with dust and smoke signatures, with the latter possibly stemming from plumes advected from the western United States. These data will be helpful to learn more about the impacts of these aerosol types on clouds even if they reside above cloud tops. On Thursday (5 May 2022) we conducted a successful refueling trip to Providence, Rhode Island marked by extensive cloud characterization and upwards of 20 cloud water samples helpful for cloud composition studies.

March 30, 2022

We wrapped up Deployment 5 on Tuesday after finishing a couple joint flights (Research Flights 146-148). Monday’s flight was intriguing owing to the diversity of aerosol types sampled ranging from the usual marine aerosol types such as sea salt to also smoke, dust, and pollen. Tuesday’s flights were excellent for cold air outbreak characterization including upwind clear air sampling and then also the transition from overcast cloud conditions to an open cloud field. We will begin Deployment 6 in the first week of May and conduct flights through the end of June.

March 28, 2022

After considerable effort and patience due to pandemic-related barriers, ACTIVATE was able to successfully execute its first flight to Bermuda this past week. Research flights 142-143 on Tuesday March 22nd involved out-and-back flights from Hampton, Virginia to Bermuda. Flights to Bermuda are important for a number of reasons including the ability to extend the spatial range of data off the U.S. East Coast to be farther removed from continental and Gulf Stream influence and closer to more “background marine” conditions. Flights 144-145 on Saturday March 26th were special in that a wide range of aerosol types were sampled including dust, smoke, sea salt, and biological particles especially in the form of pollen near the coast.

March 21, 2022

ACTIVATE had a golden flight day on 13 March 2022 (Sunday) with a cold air outbreak and two joint flights in morning and afternoon. In the morning flight we sampled an overcast cloud field that began to transition into a more broken field. We conducted 3 “walls” with the low flyer (Falcon) involving level legs below and in cloud stacked vertically on top of each other for better vertical characterization of the ‘aerosol-cloud system’. We launched 11 dropsondes with the high flyer (King Air). Data suggest significant new particle formation above cloud tops offshore during the cold air outbreak event. The two flights that day provide excellent data for model intercomparison to understand boundary layer cloud evolution. Later in the week (Monday March 14) was marked by smoke conditions offshore that the Falcon was able to characterize with its suite of instruments. Two graduate students and a research scientist from the University of Arizona visited NASA Langley Research Center this past week to learn about and participate in the operational side of ACTIVATE.

March 14, 2022

This week was dominated by a stalled cold front over the ACTIVATE flight domain, which prevented the team from executing flights most of the week owing to complex conditions that would affect data quality (e.g., mid and high level clouds impacting remote sensors on the King Air) and sampling of well-defined boundary layer clouds. We were successful though with flights at the beginning of the week (Research flights 135-136) on Monday March 7th, including both clear air and cloud characterization to the southern part of our usual sampling domain. The following week appears to be very promising with cold air outbreak conditions setting up as soon as this Sunday March 13th.

March 7, 2022

The past week of ACTIVATE flights (research flights 130-134) including more clear air characterization than past weeks, with both dust and smoke influence over the northwest Atlantic. Two of the flights consisted of a vertical spiral sounding in cloud-free and polluted conditions with the HU-25 Falcon with the King Air flying overhead, which will be helpful for a number of types of analyses, including intercomparison between aerosol remote sensing products from the HSRL-2/RSP (on the King Air) and in situ aerosol observations from the Falcon. The two flights on Friday March 4th in particular were excellent as there was high cloud fraction across most of our sampling region which afforded a chance to sample clouds impacted by potential dust and smoke plumes.

March 1, 2022

After standing down for a week to swap the B200 with the UC-12 King Air, flights resumed this past week (research flights 120-125) with three days of double-flights (Feb. 15, 16, 19). The statistical database representative of typical wintertime conditions continued to expand with these flights that all included cloud sampling and similar characteristics as recent weeks. For instance, gradients of decreasing cloud drop concentration with distance east of the shore continued to be observed, along with both warm and mixed-phase precipitation, and situations where cumulus clouds connected to overlying stratiform clouds.

February 22, 2022

After standing down for a week to swap the B200 with the UC-12 King Air, flights resumed this past week (research flights 120-125) with three days of double-flights (Feb. 15, 16, 19). The statistical database representative of typical wintertime conditions continued to expand with these flights that all included cloud sampling and similar characteristics as recent weeks. For instance, gradients of decreasing cloud drop concentration with distance east of the shore continued to be observed, along with both warm and mixed-phase precipitation, and situations where cumulus clouds connected to overlying stratiform clouds.

February 7, 2022

Research flights 115-119 in the past week continued the extensive characterization of the northwest Atlantic in during typical wintertime conditions. Notable features this week included gradients offshore such as how in flight 115 (Tuesday, Feb 1) clouds were initially scattered by the coast and then rapidly started to deepen and fill in forming an overcast deck on the outbound leg. Towards the northeast part of the flight path, clouds took on a distinctly decoupled appearance with cumulus clouds feeding an upper stratiform deck. Aerosol gradients were evident too with regard to number concentration and composition. These distinct differences in the study region on individual flights present a critical opportunity for data analysis to better understand the aerosol-cloud-meteorology system.

January 31, 2022

Six joint flights were conducted this past week, including three double-flight days between January 24 and 27. The two flights on January 24th included more sampling towards the southern part of our operation domain to get more diversity in conditions with regard to weather and aerosol conditions. The two flights on Thursday (Jan 27) included a refueling stop at Providence, Rhode Island to allow us to extend our spatial range of sampling. That day included complex cloud structure with wave characteristics (i.e., variable base and top heights) and decoupling of cloud layers. There was an abundance of ice nuclei during the two flights on this day.

January 18, 2022

ACTIVATE returned with flights this past week by executing Research Flights 100-104, including consecutive double-flight days on Tuesday and Wednesday (January 11-12, 2022). The two flights on January 11th were used to sampled upwind and into a region of clouds during a cold air outbreak event; the second flight was used to keep tracking the evolution of the cold air outbreak farther downwind to the southeast of where the first flight left off. Intriguing features were observed on the two flights on Tuesday including steam fog, funnel clouds, and waterspouts. Both warm and mixed-phase precipitation were observed, along with new particle formation above cloud tops.

December 13, 2021

Four joint flights were conducted this past week in ACTIVATE’s final week of science flights for December before resuming flights in January 2022. Notable was the back-to-back flight day on Thursday (9 Dec 2021) when the two aircraft flew north for a refueling stop at Quonset State Airport (Rhode Island). This marks the first refueling stop at a secondary base in the ACTIVATE project. Extending our typical spatial range was helpful for a more extensive characterization of the complex cloud scene  including solid and broken boundary layer cloud structure with distinctly different cloud types including both warm and mixed-phase precipitation. ACTIVATE measurements during these two flights will be very helpful to understand gradients in the aerosol-cloud system during the transitions between cloud types (e.g., stratocumulus, fair weather cumulus) and the solid versus broken cloud fields.

The ACTIVATE team hosted an open data workshop with 70+ participants over two days on October 20-21, 2021. Discussion centered around how to access and use the data, in addition to walking through two detailed case study flights. Participants from the international audience presented some slides of their own to stimulate ideas and brainstorming around research into aerosol-cloud-meteorology interactions. Material from the workshop, including recordings of the two days can be found at:

December 6, 2021

The 5th ACTIVATE deployment started this past week with two joint flights having similar headings going southeast from the base of operations at NASA Langley Research Center. These flights allowed for unique sampling of trace gases, aerosols, and marine boundary layer clouds in the month of December, which has yet to be done during ACTIVATE’s first 93 flights leading up to these two flights. More flights are planned in the coming week before a break and then resumption of flights in January.

July 1, 2021

We finished our summer campaign this past week with four more ACTIVATE flights (Research Flights 90-93) between June 28 and 30. These flights focused on extensive data collection in typical summertime shallow cumulus clouds. A notable feature in these flights was sampling behind ship vessels near the coast that yielded especially large enhancements in particle concentration parameters.

June 28, 2021

Four flights were conducted last week, with two single flight days on June 22 and 24, and a double flight day on June 26. Saturday’s conditions (June 26) were in particular very good for ACTIVATE with a scattered shallow cumulus cloud scene throughout the day that both planes were able to jointly characterize. The past week also was linked to high variability in aerosol conditions with the northward advancement of African dust into our study region.

June 21, 2021

This past week included three single-flight days on Tuesday-Thursday (June 15-17). The first flight of this week (June 15) was a statistical cloud survey but proved to be a challenging flight to execute as the King Air encountered pervasive cirrus along the track and the Falcon dealt with low clouds at varying altitude ranges. The June 16 flight targeted mostly clear skies with observations of moderate aerosol loading. This flight also included an overflight of Langley Research Center at the end to intercompare with the AERONET site and the High Altitude Lidar Observatory (HALO) HSRL/water vapor lidar that was conducting upward looking ground tests. The last flight of the week (June 17) included a coordinated run along the Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) satellite overpass and then two reverse headings to capture in cloud data in vicinity of the ASTER overpass for additional contextual data. The flights on June 16-17 both saw non-spherical particles near the coast and drizzle over the ocean was observed on June 17.

June 7, 2021

Four successful joint flights occurred last week. The double flight day on Wednesday June 2 was particularly noteworthy. Our morning flight conducted our typical statistical survey flight plan to an area south of the Virginia coast where there was a cumulus cloud field, with some regions evolving into deeper, more organized, convection. Based on that flight and satellite imagery, we set up the second flight to execute a “process study” pattern where the Falcon conducted a series of transects through a selected cloud cluster to characterize the vertical microphysical properties of the developing cluster immediately followed by an environmental profile in the surrounding cloud-free region. Simultaneously, the King Air conducted a “wheel and spoke” pattern centered around the cloud system, with multiple dropsondes launched above, and on the periphery of the cloud cluster alongside remote sensing transects to characterize the cloud and aerosol system underneath. Data from both planes will be used to characterize the range of cloud types observed on that day, with a focus on understanding the processes that drive shallow cumulus organization.

June 1, 2021

The last two weeks were busy with 9 joint flights, including three separate double-sortie days. The May 21 morning flight in particular was intriguing with a mixture of different conditions offshore with the two aircraft flying mostly straight to the east and then returning on the same track to NASA LaRC. Closer to shore, the aircraft observed a stratus deck with a prominent aerosol layer just above cloud as observed by the HSRL-2. These clouds then transitioned progressively into a more scattered cumulus cloud field to the east. At the far eastern end of the track there was a cold pool that we sampled within and just outside. Throughout this and the other flights this past week, there was evidence both either (or both) smoke and dust in the free troposphere. Measurement data will help unravel how these various aerosol types interact with the different types of clouds such as in the May 21 flights. On May 19, we also coordinated the flight along the CALIPSO satellite track where both aircraft and the satellite had successful made measurements.

May 17, 2021

After a short break after the Winter 2021 campaign, ACTIVATE took back to the skies this past week to start the Summer 2021 campaign. We conducted 4 successful joint flights between May 13-15 with interesting cloud conditions in each flight. The lower-flying Falcon characterized multiple layers of clouds and observed both warm and mixed-phase precipitation. Remote sensing observations on the higher-flying King Air detected aerosol layers aloft in the free troposphere potentially from dust and smoke on separate flights.

April 5, 2021

ACTIVATE wrapped up its winter 2021 flight campaign with five joint research flights this past week (RF 57-61) capped off by a double-flight day on Friday (4/2) to capitalize on another cold air outbreak event. Those two flights included an increased number of dropsondes (~10 per flight) to get extensive temporal and spatial characterization of the vertical atmospheric structure as the cold air outbreak cloud field evolved during the day. Notable in the other flights last week was successful coordination with ASTER and CALIPSO overpasses in our flight region.

March 29, 2021

We executed a joint flight (RF 56) on Tuesday March 23rd on a day marked by fairly ‘clean’ conditions in terms of very low aerosol and cloud drop number concentrations in the marine boundary layer. Cloud fraction on this day was markedly lower than a typical cold air outbreak type of day, which is helpful for ACTIVATE which is aiming to generate statistics in a wide range of conditions associated with aerosols, clouds, and meteorology.

March 22, 2021

The previous week posed significant weather challenges but Saturday (March 20, 2020) did finally provide low clouds evolving in a cold air outbreak. Interesting features in that joint flight (Research Flight 55) were Asian dust residing aloft above the boundary layer clouds, in addition to an interesting layer of depolarizing aerosol right above clouds near the end of flight as observed by the HSRL-2; it is unclear what the source of that layer was, but data analysis with the Falcon data will help unravel those details.

March 8, 2021

ACTIVATE executed three successful joint flights (Research Flights 48-50) this past week. On Thursday March 4th we coordinated our flight with a NASA A-Train overpass over an area with some scattered marine boundary layer clouds. The back-to-back flights on Friday March 5th served two objectives to capitalize on an excellent cold air outbreak event: (i) characterize the aerosol and meteorological characteristics upwind of the cloud field farther downwind; and (ii) characterize the evolution of the cloud field with the desire to capture the transition from overcast cloudy conditions to open cell structure. Noteworthy features in these flights were dust layers from long-range transport and significant new particle formation.