11.1 Smart Sensor Arrays For Advanced Complex Terrain Observations of the Boundary Layer

Wednesday, 23 June 2004: 10:30 AM
Lynette Laffea, NCAR - Atmospheric Technology Division, Boulder, CO; and G. S. Poulos and D. Carlson

Researchers seeking to explore and understand land surface interaction with the atmosphere and the near-surface atmosphere in complex terrain are often challenged by the rapidly evolving atmospheric state, a multitude of atmospheric phenomena of interest, and spatial heterogeneity in physiographic characteristics. Measurements during complex terrain boundary layer field projects and recent efforts at establishing and sustaining longer term observational capabilities in mountainous areas, as in the AmeriFlux network for CO2 measurements, invariably reveal a need for a greater volume of measurements for all variables. Observational records and numerical simulations also emphasize the importance of assimilating and scaling point measurements at model grid scales and to satellite remote sensing scales.

To this end, we describe an effort underway to design, evaluate and explore the capabilities of multi-scale, network and wireless, meteorological and environmental sensor arrays. Flexible, self-configuring, easily deployable smart sensor arrays consisting of many tens of affordable sensors will offer researchers an important new tool to measure and scale environmental systems. Lower cost wireless sensors will enable multiple sensors to be combined in a networked array and multiple arrays in use at any one time, providing advanced interwoven and cross-ecosystem sensing capabilities. Quick, flexible deployment options, the option for several types of sensors at a given node, the use of modular and largely off-the-shelf components with flexible measurement capability over varying scales with self organized wireless communication linked to a self organized wired network will provide the flexibility required to adequately sample conditions in the heterogeneous environment presented by complex terrain. Intelligent recognition and response to events (hardware, software and network) combined with sensed components will enable quick, real-time, autonomous diagnosis, comparison, configuration and recovery, allowing sensors to activate intelligently when certain predetermined conditions are detected. Also, the use of GPS allows easy reconfiguration during field experiments when an experimental design flaw is detected.

An example array from the Colorado University Flux Facility at a high-altitude Rocky Mountain station at Niwot Ridge, CO will be presented.

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