NERC Facility for Atmospheric Radar Research (combined MSTRF and CFARR Facility)

Lead Research Organisation: University of Leeds


The new NERC Facility for Atmospheric Radar Research (NFARR) will be a merger between the existing Chilbolton Facility for Atmospheric Radar Research (CFARR) and the Mesosphere-Stratosphere-Troposphere Radar Facility (MSTRF). Both nodes have been part of NERC's S&F portfolio for more than 20 years and have become increasingly integrated with each other over the past few years. CFARR is based at the Science and Technology Facilities Council's (STFC's) Chilbolton Observatory in Hampshire, and provides world-class capability for the study of clouds, rainfall, boundary-layer processes and aerosols. It is experienced in hosting large atmospheric science and remote-sensing campaigns including coordinated in-situ aircraft measurements. The MST Radar at Capel Dewi near Aberystwyth is the UK's most powerful and most versatile wind-profiling instrument. It is unique in being able to provide continuous measurements of the three-dimensional wind vector over the altitude range 2-20 km at high resolution (typically 300m in altitude and a few minutes in time). It can also provide information about atmospheric stability, turbulence, humidity and rainfall. NFARR measurements address two of the three major societal challenges in the current NERC strategy: (i) Resilience to Environmental Hazards, and (ii) Managing Environmental Change. They are particularly well-suited for studying high-impact weather events, whether these involve damaging winds or heavy rain. They also have numerous applications for studying fundamental processes in the Earth's climate system. This proposal describes how NFARR plans to continue to provide unique atmospheric measurement opportunities, training, and support with data analysis/interpretation for the NERC-funded research community. The user base is drawn mainly from the fields of atmospheric science, remote sensing and hydrology. NFARR provides access not only to users working on NERC grant funded projects, but also has a Direct Access mechanism, whereby pilot or proof of concept studies (or the capture of extreme events) can be carried out. There is also a mechanism for PhD students to apply for access themselves. NFARR supported 10 PhD studentships during 2016/17. NFARR supports commercial work and non-NERC research if its capacity has not been exhausted by applications in the categories above. Given the wide range of instruments that NFARR operates, and the fact that some applications relate to guest instrument support, it is often possible to support multiple projects simultaneously. Potential users are encouraged to discuss their requirements with Facility staff from the initial planning stages. This ensures that the requirements are technically feasible and helps to avoid scheduling conflicts. The provision outlined in this proposal will sit alongside long-term measurements at both the Chilbolton and Capel Dewi sites funded through NCAS's Underpinning Programme. These measurements provide climatological context for the bespoke measurements and ensure that extreme or rare atmospheric events can be observed. They also add to the attractiveness of the sites for the support of field campaigns and for the hosting of guest instruments. Radiosondes may be launched from either site. Data from NFARR are made freely available through the Centre for Environmental Data Analysis (CEDA). Some also contribute to international research infrastructures such as ACTRIS (Aerosol Clouds and Trace Gases Research Infrastructure) and AERONET (Aerosol Robotic Network). Data from the MST radar are operationally assimilated, for the purposes of numerical weather prediction (NWP), by five European meteorological organisations. NFARR will merge with the AMF in two years' time. The two facilities have already begun to increase their interactions, particularly in the field of adopting common data standards.


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