3.1 25 Years of NOAA-Supported Climate Field Experiments

Monday, 8 January 2018: 2:00 PM
Room 2 (ACC) (Austin, Texas)
Kenneth Mooney, NOAA, Silver Spring, MD; and W. Higgins, J. Huang, S. Lucas, J. Todd, and M. Patterson

Process field experiments lie at the heart of understanding and modeling the Earth system. The research quality data collected and the understanding obtained from the analysis of that data are fundamental to gaining insight into and quantification of the process that govern the Earth system. Many of the achievements over the past decades in understanding the Earth system have stemmed from and are a direct result of field experiments. There is no more valuable commodity to Earth science than the data collected during these field experiments.

Over the past 25 years, the NOAA Climate Program Office (CPO) and its predecessor, the Office of Global Programs (OGP), supported several large climate field experiments. All the field experiments were supported by multiple US agencies, were international in nature and conducted under the auspices of the World Climate Research program. While all made contributions to the field of climate, this presentation will review the following four major field experiments and their scientific achievements:

  • the Tropical Ocean Global Atmosphere (TOGA) Coupled Ocean Atmosphere Response Experiment (COARE) which studied processes in the western pacific warm pool, took place from November 1, 1992 to February 28, 1993
  • the North American Monsoon Experiment (NAME) Enhanced Observation Period (EOP) in 2004, which studied warm season convective processes influencing summer precipitation over the southwestern US and northern Mexico, took place from June 1, 2004 to September 30, 2004
  • the Variability of the American Monsoon Systems (VAMOS) Ocean-Cloud-Atmosphere-Land Study Regional Experiment (VOCALS-Rex) which studied physical and chemical processes central to the climate system of the Southeast Pacific (SEP) region, took place from October 1, 2008 to November 30, 2008
  • the Dynamics of the Madden-Julian Oscillation (DYNAMO) which studied processes key to initiation of the Madden-Julian Oscillation over the Indian Ocean and expedited efforts to improve its simulation and prediction, took place October 1, 2011 to March 31, 2012

All of these field experiments produced voluminous invaluable data sets which are still being utilized today. The field experiments exhibited a systematic progression, with the early experiments focusing on understanding the fundamentals processes of the Earth system and then systematically progressing onto model development and simulations, with an emphasis on theoretical and operational prediction in the out years. The comprehensive data collected are being used for study by the research community, for operational model validation and evaluation, and for education and outreach purposes. The presentation will show the benefits/impacts of the field experiments including:

  • Improved scientific understanding of key processes and phenomena
  • Improved model representations of the processes
  • Regional capacity building
  • Leveraging national and international capabilities to achieve NOAA’s mission
  • Training ground for students
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