PSD  »  Observing Technology

Observing Technology

Forks, WA field site. Photo by Clark King, NOAA
The Physical Sciences Division deploys a wide range of instruments in support of field and process studies. These studies are designed to help address issues critical to human health and safety, environmental stewardship and economic progress. To execute these studies, PSD relies on decades of expertise and development to meet the current need for environmental information.

Some of the instruments fielded today were developed by PSD theorists and engineers years before and have been in development ever since. As theory becomes reality, instruments are developed from prototypes to research instruments and fielded to improve their reliability and demonstrate their capability. Reaching the operational stage, instruments are often contracted to industry for operational production.

Name Description
Air-Sea Flux System An instrument package that measures the exchange (or flux) of heat, water, and momentum between the atmosphere and the ocean.
Boulder Atmospheric Observatory A research facility in Erie, Colorado, which was maintained by PSD and used to study the planetary boundary layer and for testing and calibrating atmospheric sensors. The site closed in July 2016.
Snow-Level Radar Snow level, the altitude in the atmosphere where snow changes into rain, is a critical parameter influencing runoff in mountainous watersheds because it determines the surface area of the watershed that will be exposed to rain versus snow.
Surface Meteorology A suite of instruments measuring a variety of quantities near the Earth's surface, such as temperature, humidity, pressure, radiation, and soil moisture.
Unmanned Aircraft System PSD is planning to use an Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) to aid in the calibration of a W-band radar antenna.
W-Band Radar A highly sensitive radar used to detect small water droplets, which has been deployed on ships (to study clouds) and airplanes (to study sea spray).
Wide Swath Radar Altimeter A unique airborne system measuring ocean waves and rain rate in hurricanes.
Wind Profilers Wind profilers are Doppler radars that transmit vertical electromagnetic pulses, which bounce off atmospheric conditions, such as clouds, precipitation, and turbulence to provide information about wind speed and direction at various heights.