Observing Technology

Forks, WA field site. Photo by Clark King, NOAA

The Physical Sciences Laboratory 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, PSL relies on decades of expertise and development to meet the current need for environmental information.

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.
Atmospheric River Observatories Monitoring stations that measure primary variables of Atmospheric Rivers to determine whether an event may lead to flooding.
Atmospheric Surface Flux Station A moveable, autonomous instrument system originally developed to collect atmospheric data over the Arctic sea ice for the MOSAiC expedition.
Boulder Atmospheric Observatory A research facility in Erie, Colorado, which was maintained by PSL and used to study the planetary boundary layer and for testing and calibrating atmospheric sensors. The site closed in July 2016.
miniFlux A compact, lightweight sensor suite that can be used on small uncrewed aircraft. miniFlux measures 3D wind, air temperature, surface and sky temperature, and atmospheric humidity.
S-Band Precipitation Profiler A short-wavelength instrument that uses a that uses a switchable microwave coupler that can more accurately measure both precipitation and cloud structure. It is basicaly a cross between a meteorological radar and a millimeter-wave radar.
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.
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.
Page Last Reviewed: May 15, 2024