News 1998 Army Science and Technology Master Plan

9. Atmospheric Sciences

Much present and future basic research in the atmospheric sciences focuses on the atmospheric boundary layer where the Army operates at high time and spatial resolution. The proliferation of sensing satellites, ground weather collection sites, and advances in M&S have brought about a significant capability to predict local and regional weather. Much remains to be done to provide the needed lower atmospheric data to support the rapid increase of smart and brilliant weapons whose operation can be affected by weather phenomena. Work in propagation, remote sensing, and boundary layer meteorology will contribute significantly to understanding lower atmospheric phenomenology. Table E–31 shows most of the industrialized countries have capabilities in certain niches of these research areas.

a. Propagation and Remote Sensing

These research thrusts stress fundamental understanding of the atmospheric boundary layer and the processes of its interaction with the natural ground surface. These issues have direct bearing on CBD, atmospheric effects on weapon systems and operations, and predictability of atmospheric conditions. Remote sensing of wind fields enables detection of hazardous winds in aircraft landing zones, paradrop zones, and accidental release of hazardous gases or aerosols. Active and passive remote sensing research is essential to detection of objects in snow or on the ground, modeling and rapid detection of natural and manmade features, including camouflage, and MMW propagation at low grazing angles over and through a variety of vegetation.

The United States and Russia have been sharing space solar flare radiation data, which has aided in better prediction of communication and GPS navigation variances due to atmospheric scintillation in the equatorial and polar regions of the world. The flow of both weather data and research information to all members of the World Meteorological Organization is well established and for the foreseeable future this collaboration will continue. The U.K. and Germany have advanced programs in global and regional weather prediction. Japan has advanced work ongoing in ionosphere and troposphere interactions and predictions. France and Russia have wide technology coverage as well, with significant programs in atmospheric phenomenology. Canada, the Netherlands, Denmark, Brazil, Israel, and China have narrower coverage, but can still make substantial contributions in niche areas.

Table E–31.  International Research Capabilities—Atmospheric Sciences


United Kingdom




Asia/Pacific Rim


Other Countries

Propagation & Remote Sensing 2s.gif (968 bytes) Atmospheric backscatter; global & regional weather prediction 2s.gif (968 bytes) Atmospheric electricity–aircraft interactions; IR physics of the atmosphere 2s.gif (968 bytes) Atmospheric environmental prediction 2s.gif (968 bytes) Ionosphere & troposphere interactions & predictions China

5s.gif (958 bytes) Upper atmosphere testing


2s.gif (968 bytes) Solar flare prediction; atmospheric spectral transmissivity


2s.gif (968 bytes) Ice flow & weather prediction; tracer technology for atmospheric dispersion


2s.gif (968 bytes) IR celestial background


2s.gif (968 bytes) Polar/cap & aerial ionosphere interactions


2s.gif (968 bytes) Weather & ionosphere experiments


2s.gif (968 bytes) LIDAR measurements

Boundary Layer Meteorology 2s.gif (968 bytes) Low–level weather prediction 2s.gif (968 bytes) 2s.gif (968 bytes) Low–level weather prediction 2s.gif (968 bytes) Tropical cyclone; urban pollution   Russia

2s.gif (968 bytes) Low–level weather prediction


1s.gif (931 bytes) Atmospheric dispersion technology


2s.gif (968 bytes) Low–level weather prediction


2s.gif (968 bytes) Atmospheric turbulence

Italy, Poland

5s.gif (958 bytes) Atmospheric physics

Note: See Annex E, Section A.6 for explanation of key numerals.


b. Boundary Layer Meteorology

Boundary layer meteorology research improves characterization of boundary layer processes over land in weather prediction models. It also supports multiple functions of the Army’s integrated meteorological system in intelligence preparation of the battlefield. Research in turbulent dispersion of aerosols and gases leads to a significantly improved dispersion model applicable to open detonation/open burning of munitions; improved prediction of transport and diffusion of NBC materials on short time and space scales, over varied terrain shapes and ground covers, and all times of day; and modeling effectiveness of smoke and other obscurants in realistic scenarios.

Many countries have focused their weather development programs on regional issues, such as Japan in pollution monitoring of tropical cyclones. Results of these efforts will have multiple applications across the full spectrum of weather modeling and prediction. The U.K., France, Israel, Germany, Japan, and Russia have strong technology coverage in low–level weather prediction. Canada has significant capability in the development of atmospheric dispersion technology, while Italy, Poland, and Denmark have niche capabilities in areas of atmospheric physics.

The following highlight a few selected examples of specific research facilities engaged in work in the atmospheric sciences:

United Kingdom—Center for Marine and Atmospheric Science (CMAS), University of Sunderland. CMAS is the U.K.’s newest center entirely focused on meteorological studies. Research is primarily done in the areas of cloud and aerosol physics. The center originated in the atmospheric physics program at the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology and continues to maintain close contact. It is composed of a rather small group of tightly focused researchers whose main focus is on the formation and evolution of marine aerosols. Additional research is done on aerosol impact on boundary layer optical propagation and climate.

United Kingdom—Department of Meteorology, University of Reading. The university houses the United Kingdom’s largest academic meteorology program. The research program has two main thrusts, global scale atmospheric dynamics and synoptic and mesoscale meteorology, with smaller thrusts in radar meteorology, radiative transfer, tropical satellite data applications, atmospheric chemistry, and oceanography. Research in boundary layers and micrometeorology includes work on flow over hills and the development of new instruments that apply acoustic thermographic techniques to measure humidity. Other programs include atmospheric modeling, studies into the behavior of tropical cyclones, and cloud and precipitation research.

Italy—Institute of the Physics of the Atmosphere. The institute is CNR, Italy’s largest institute devoted to atmospheric research. Work here is primarily involved in atmospheric research, with thrust areas including remote sensing, polar stratus, and atmospheric dynamics. Remote sensing studies include the use a spectrum of sensors from the visible through the RFs, including LIDAR and Italy’s SODAR, to study the atmosphere, as well as satellite–based precipitation work. Work in atmospheric dynamics concentrates largely on modeling to study mesoscale regional dynamics.

Poland—Warsaw University of Technology, Institute of Environmental Engineering Systems, Meteorology and Air Pollution Division. Research focuses on boundary layer meteorology, numerical modeling of atmospheric processes, environmental aspects of energy production, and air pollution. Past projects include the development of a mesoscale dispersion modeling system for pollution and radioactive wastes, and the development of a short–range air pollution predicting system for small geographical areas. Current work includes developing techniques for wind energy assessment in regions of complex topography, work on an operational mesoscale weather prediction system, and tropospheric chemistry modeling.

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