Atmospheric Measurement and Observation Facility (AMOF)

Lead Research Organisation: University of Leeds
Department Name: National Centre for Atmospheric Science


The AMF (Atmospheric Measurement Facility) was established in April 2014, following a review of NCAS's ground-based facilities and the service they provided to the community. AMF deploys state-of-the-art instrumentation such as radars, lidars and mass spectrometers, together with ancillary instrumentation and logistics, for a range of projects both ground-based, ship-based and airborne. It supports experiments in the UK and across the world, e.g. India, China and Ghana over the past 2 years. The laboratory facilities provide calibration standards in gas-phase chemistry at York and access to the environmental wind tunnel at Surrey University. The field sites at Weybourne, Cape Verde and the BT Tower (and though close collaboration with the STFC radars, Chilbolton and Capel Dewi) offer the community a range of environments for field experiments where the basic necessities of power, internet and space are provided, alongside standard meteorological measurements. Together, AMF offers to the community far more capacity and expertise than could be maintained at an individual University. It also has a commitment to developing data standards that enable measurements to be easily combined and re-used in future. By continuity of staff and a commitment to maintaining up-to-date provision it ensures that the UK community is able to compete internationally in experimental atmospheric science.

This proposal sets out how AMF plans to continue to provide a facility meeting the needs of the NERC funded research community for high-quality atmospheric field measurements and laboratory data. The facility web pages may be accessed through the portal at, where the different elements are described in detail and the calendar showing when elements are available may be viewed. Applications are accepted through an on-line form at any time. Each application is assigned to an AMF instrument scientist, who performs a technical evaluation then liaises with the applicant to discuss details of the requirement. Following a successful initial appraisal, a formal offer is made to the PI defining the service to be provided. The main focus of AMF is support for NERC grant-funded projects, and priority is given to applications that are submitted alongside a JeS application. The next level of priority is given to applications for NERC NC science, NERC-funded PhD students and NERC grants where the application is received after the grant is awarded. If there is spare capacity, AMF will offer its services to other scientific organisations (like the Met Office) or commercial users, from whom suitable costs will be recovered. Generally, NERC applicants receive 2 months instrument scientist time for each project and are only asked to pay additional T&S and consumables associated with a deployment. Should a proposal require more than 2 months IS time the PI will need to find the necessary excess staff funding.

AMF's core rationale is the delivery of high-quality datasets to the customer, and the nature of the dataset provided by each instrument or experiment is defined clearly on the AMF web site. Core data are supplied within 2 months of the end of an experiment; the delay allows for proper quality assurance and quality control. Derived products may also be provided through discussion with the IS but these can take longer as they rely on the scientist's individual expertise. AMF is working with the community and with CEDA to develop data standards that make all our data accessible and re-usable by future users. There has been particularly close collaboration with CFARR and MSTRF in this project which puts us on the road to the merger of the three facilities in 2020.

Planned Impact

AMF impacts through direct impact by the Facility, support for the NCAS science and impact programmes, and through projects supported in the research community.

The direct impacts of AMF arise from activities including:
a) Outreach: This can be part of NCAS and NERC's overall public engagement programme, or a collaboration with partner Universities and outside charities. AMF's measurements inform the public about our science and allow us to question their understanding of key scientific concepts.
b) Training: AMF's aerosol measurement course is a partnership with TSI Inc. and accepts both commercial and academic participants. We aim to increase the provision of such courses over the next 5 years, continuing the model of working with an industrial partner.
c) Provision of data from our instruments: For example, the AMF wind profiler is based in Cardington or Capel Dewi between campaigns, and its data provided to the Met Office for use in forecasting while measurements from the Iceland Atmospheric Observatory provide observations of volcanic ash for the Icelandic Met Office (with whom NCAS has a Memorandum of Understanding) and the London VAAC (Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre) based at the Met Office.
d) Deployment of AMF equipment for commercial customers: Although carried out on a commercial basis, such deployments result in AMF's expertise being transferred to the benefit of the customer. AMF only has limited capacity to support such deployments but we anticipate roughly one a year if past trends continue. Recent examples are the deployment of the X band radar to Lossiemouth for the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency, and of the radar wind profiler to Heathrow in support of a Met Office project for better fog forecasting.
e) Access to AMF field sites and calibration sites to commercial organisations. Over the course of the next 5 years AMF calibration facilities will work towards obtaining UKAS certification as government accredited calibration facilities.
f) Support for the NCAS science and impact programmes: AMF will support FAAM in projects such as measuring methane gas leaks from oil and gas wells in the North Sea, and readiness for emergency response in a future volcanic ash & gas emergency. AMF scientists will contribute their specialist expertise to applications such as monitoring fracking sites in North Yorkshire for methane emission, and advising the aerospace industry on appropriate measurement standards for aerosol emissions from engines.
g) Community working groups organised with the NCAS underpinning programme and FAAM: for example in areas of UAVs, lidar remote sensing or atmospheric aerosol measurements. Such activities involve non-academic public sector organisations like the Met Office and commercial manufacturers and so spread best practice and provide community networking opportunities.
h) Emergency response: In the event of national emergency, for exampe volcanic ash & gas cloud, major fires and gas leaks, AMF's capabilities will be deployed to meet national need in support of NCAS's NPG activities.


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Bai L (2022) An Atmospheric Data-Driven Q-Band Satellite Channel Model With Feature Selection in IEEE Transactions on Antennas and Propagation

Description School visit 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Lindsay Bennett (meteorologist and AMOF Radar Instrument Scientist) was invited to talk about her job to Year 3 students at Spring Bank Primary School in Leeds. Her careers story session supported their Wild Weather theme that term. Lindsay showed photos and animations about clouds, making observations with radar, and talked about storms and tornadoes. They made clouds and tornadoes in bottles, to demonstrate some weather science principles.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
Description School visit 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact After school club STEM session about the atmopshere, for pupils at Bledlow Ridge School in Buckinghamshire. The pupils involved do not speak English as their first language, and the teacher requested an in-person session to support greater engagement in the topic and the session.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021