News 1998 Army Science and Technology Master Plan

8. Atmospheric Sciences

a. Strategy

The atmospheric environment impacts every aspect of Army operations. Fog, rain, snow, and aerosols and smokes from battlefield sources are a few obvious factors influencing Army strategy, mobility, logistics, and weapons delivery. Prior, quantitative knowledge of present and future environmental conditions, consequences, and limitations is essential for intelligence preparation of the battlefield, for developing improved weapon systems, for using weather conditions as a force multiplier, and for enhancing the Army’s "all–weather" capability.

Under Project Reliance, the Army has the primary responsibility for scientific issues concerning the atmospheric boundary layer over the land. Furthermore, the Army has the responsibility for providing environmental data for its own needs at battlefield and smaller scales. Better capabilities for predicting and using weather effects as force multipliers require basic understanding of the physical processes of the atmosphere on scales ranging from continental to the engagement scales and the ability to communicate them effectively in oral, visual, or electronic media for a variety of practical, user purposes. The Army’s Atmospheric Sciences Coordinating Group, with representatives from ARO, ARL directorates, Test and Evaluation Command (TECOM), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), academia, and industry, developed a strategic plan for focusing future research by identifying and assigning priorities to promising basic research thrusts.

b. Major Research Areas

Present and future research focuses principally on the atmospheric boundary layer—where the Army operates—at higher time and space resolution than ever before. Basic research in the atmospheric sciences is multidisciplinary, using understanding of electromagnetic and acoustic propagation in the atmosphere, fluid dynamics and turbulence, radiative energy transfer, and thermodynamics of mixed phases of water to assess the natural and induced environments over the land.

Development of a capability for remote sensing of the atmospheric boundary layer for high resolution of wind velocity, temperature, and moisture in four dimensions will continue as a major research interest. The sensed data should provide quantitative information on the inhomogeneity of the atmosphere as a propagation (electromagnetic and acoustic) medium and as a dispersing medium for natural and induced aerosols. The instruments for remotely measuring atmospheric boundary layer properties at time and space scales affecting Army interests increase the time and space resolution of atmospheric effects and properties (Figure V–14).

Figure V-14. Sensing Atmospheric Properties
Figure V-14. Sensing Atmospheric Properties

Propagation research concentrates on developing physically based models of atmospheric propagation in a variety of real environments. The models address electromagnetic frequencies from the ultraviolet through MMW and acoustic frequencies from 1 to 1,000 hertz (Hz). Developing reliable imaging models for predicting atmospheric effects on sensors or system imaging performance, especially in inhomogeneous conditions, will improve evaluations of systems before going to field tests or deployment. The models will also be used to examine atmospheric effects on digital communications and ATR performance, and to improve ATR algorithm development. Also, the application of spectroscopy to earth sensing is developing a major library of reflectance and radiance data to support the modeling and rapid detection of natural and manmade features, including camouflage.

Research efforts in understanding the detection, identification, and quantification of chemical and biological aerosols will continue. Research thrusts in this area are expected in the development of laboratory capabilities that are later transferred to field applications or techniques.

c. Potential Military Benefits

Boundary layer meteorology research serves all services through improved characterization (parameterizations) of boundary layer processes over land in weather prediction models. It specifically supports multiple functions of the Army’s Integrated Meteorological System (IMETS) in intelligence preparation of the battlefield. Research in turbulent dispersion of aerosols leads to a significantly improved dispersion model applicable to open detonation/open burning of munitions; for improved prediction of transport and diffusion of nuclear, biological, and chemical (NBC) materials on short time and space scales, over varied terrain shapes and ground covers, and all times of day; and for modeling effectiveness of smoke and other obscurants in realistic scenarios.

Remote sensing of wind fields will also enable detection of hazardous winds in aircraft landing zones, in paradrop zones, above urban areas, and in 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.

9. Terrestrial Sciences

a. Strategy

Army doctrine has long dictated that commanders know the terrain. Coupled with weather, the resulting variety and dynamics of the terrain surface impact all aspects of the Army mission. The broad range of features and conditions found in cold region, mountain, temperate, desert, and tropical climates of the world can be either a formidable barrier or significant advantage for our forces. The key determinants are, first, a knowledge of terrain characteristics and processes and, second, the ability to incorporate that knowledge into our planning, operations, system development, training, and doctrine. The topographic, geological, climatological, and hydrological character of the are critical to mobility/countermobility, logistics, communications, survivability, and troop and weapons effectiveness. The digital battlefield requires detailed and sophisticated information about topography as well as terrain features and conditions. Environmental information and models need to be integrated with systems models to develop the ability to simulate and forecast system and unit performance. These capabilities are fundamental to the development of materiel that can perform effectively in worldwide environments, as well as doctrine that is appropriate for the wide range of conditions that might confront a force projection Army.

Within the context of a force projection Army, terrain conditions are of paramount importance to mission planning, field mobility and logistics, systems performance, and unit effectiveness. The force–projection, precision–strike Army of the 21st century will be able to use and control terrain more effectively than an opponent. In this context, the Army will have two superior capabilities. The first will be full situational awareness through an integrated capability to acquire, automatically process, analyze, and display terrain data—derived from a variety of different space, airborne, and ground–deployed remote sensing platforms—in real time that can be distributed to at all levels of command, both in–theater and the continental United States (CONUS), at the level of resolution required. The second will be a capability for realistic, dynamic terrain for interactive training and mission planning and rehearsal. Three types of 3D digital terrain information will be available: topography, natural features and manmade objects, and short–term battlefield conditions and dynamics. These force–multiplying capabilities will enhance a commander’s ability to visualize a battlefield at multiple resolutions and execute combat operations using an efficient decision–making cycle much more rapidly and effectively than an adversary. They will also improve a planner’s capability to manipulate and evaluate information about terrain and provide a trainer the functionality to correctly incorporate realistic terrain into distributed, interactive simulation. Dynamic, 3D terrain models will be the enabling foundation for interservice, intelligent autonomous weapon systems. Additionally, the Army of the 21st century will have a capability for rapid deployment to perform military and humanitarian operations worldwide. These forces will rely on enhanced battlefield awareness and timing to conduct pulsed, well–coordinated massing of forces to quickly overwhelm enemy forces with minimal loss of manpower and material. An essential component for operational success is superior mobility of deployed military forces. Ground forces will be smaller, lighter, and more capable of precision maneuvers at high tempo with reduced logistics encumbrance. A capability to effectively model and predict vehicular mobility in real time under current environmental and battlefield conditions is critical to this objective.

Terrestrial sciences research within the Army, which is directed toward meeting the above–stated objectives, is highly multidisciplinary in nature. The vision, long–term strategy, and research priorities for the terrestrial sciences are defined in the Environmental Sciences Strategy Plan, which is prepared by the Environmental Sciences Coordinating Group. This Group is composed of scientists from ARO, the Corps of Engineers laboratories (Construction Engineering Research Laboratory (CERL), Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory (CRREL), Topographic Engineering Center (TEC), and WES), academia, and industry. This plan outlines a strong multidisciplinary research program in the terrestrial sciences that emphasizes research in three broad areas:

Terrain Characterization and Analysis (topography and terrain).
Hydrodynamics and Surficial Processes (hydrometeorology, surface and subsurface hydrology, hydraulics, geomorphology; and coastal processes).
Geotechnical Engineering (snow, ice and frozen ground, geophysical site characterization, vehicle–terrain interaction, geotechnical engineering).

Major themes of the plan are reflected in the following paragraphs.

b. Major Research Areas

Terrain Characterization and Analysis

Characterization of the surface geometry and terrain features of remote or inaccessible areas is needed to enhance planning and tactical decision making, as well as tailoring equipment to the challenges of the natural environment. Fundamental data on the distribution and character of natural and manmade features, together with information about the dynamic condition of the terrain, are required for rapid mapping and such information must be coupled to models that quantify dominant physical processes to allow temporal forecasts of the conditions to be faced by soldiers and materiel. Enhanced remote sensing data acquisition capabilities (Figure V–15), system–organization and neural network theory, and advanced numerical methods are used to synthesize topography and terrain database information. The earth’s surface features and materials interact dramatically with the boundary layer and weather systems, producing a highly sophisticated background within which targets are embedded. A knowledge of the many energy exchanges as a function of terrain character and climate, as well as their impact on the appearance of terrain scenes to sensing devices used for reconnaissance and target acquisition, is critical to both the development and deployment of these systems. Modeling of the physical processes operating on the Earth’s surface is essential for the design of autonomous systems and the ability to realistically consider dynamic environmental effects in system performance and training simulations and in wargames. No single factor has more influence on the performance or the ability to accomplish future missions with emerging autonomous or aided smart systems.

Figure V-15. Terrestrial Sciences Thrusts
Figure V-15. Terrestrial Sciences Thrusts

Hydrodynamics and Surficial Processes

Research in hydrodynamics and surficial processes addresses two thematic areas. The first relates to the hydrologic cycle and focuses on hydrometeorology, rainfall–runoff dynamics, surface and groundwater hydrology, and fluvial hydraulics. This area includes research that seeks to understand the fundamental nature of subsurface flow and mass transport, numerically model this complex process, and describe the interaction of surface water and ground water systems. The second relates to the geomorphological character of the surficial environment and focuses primarily on physical processes operating in arid/semi–arid, tropical, and coastal environments. A knowledge of the topography and physical character of landscape leads to the ability to estimate hydrologic/physical response and, therefore, an ability to accomplish specific activities within the range of environmental conditions that might occur in different localities, seasons, and weather. Hydrometeorological conditions and the surface hydrologic regime are determining factors in mobility/countermobility, thus impacting surface strength, creating barriers to movement, and/or at times allowing movement over normally inaccessible terrain.

Geotechnical Engineering

Geotechnical engineering research focuses on the strength and behavior of natural materials at a variety of scales. Soil is the dominant surficial material of terrain and a highly heterogeneous material that usually is distributed both horizontally and vertically in a nonuniform manner. Its strength and deformation properties are highly variable due to both the intrinsic heterogeneity of soil formation processes and moisture content over small spatial scales. Because nearly all Army operations take place on the Earth’s surface, a thorough understanding of the physical character of soil and its behavior under different environmental conditions, and the development of appropriate constitutive models, is required. Operational mobility and successful geotechnical engineering rely on a knowledge of the type and distribution of soils at a small scale, as well as an understanding of the physical properties and behavior of different soil types under different environmental conditions. Research on soil dynamics and structural mechanics is focused on the nonlinear response of deformable soils to transient loadings by vehicles, constitutive behavior of geological/structural materials to weapons effects, a determination of the response of granular materials to loading, and the failure mechanisms of pavement systems. Physics–based principles and quantitative approaches are needed to provide predictive estimates of soil behavior and to model the process of vehicle–terrain interaction. There is a special emphasis on the cold/alpine regions, where research is directed toward the physics, mechanics, and dynamics of snow, ice, and frozen ground in the context of the impacts of winter conditions on most equipment and soldier activities.

In the context of the Army’s mission of environmental stewardship there is a need for basic research related to environmental quality. Concern about environmental damage that has resulted from military activities requires improved technological capabilities for the characterization, analysis, and remediation of contaminated sites. Important in this context is research that addresses the response of the landscape to modification, research which seeks to understand the fundamental nature of subsurface flow and mass transport, and research into improved technologies for site characterization that would provide insight into the character of the near subsurface environment without recourse to conventional drilling. (See Hydrodynamics and Surficial Processes and Geotechnical Engineering topics above.)

c. Potential Military Benefits

Terrestrial sciences research is directly supporting current Army Science and Technology Objectives (STOs) in Vehicle–Terrain Interaction, Digital Terrain Data Generation and Update Capability, and Conservation. The complexity of the terrestrial environment can be a positive factor that the warfighter can leverage to operational/tactical advantage, when the features and physical processes occurring therein are understood at a fundamental level. Improved topographic and terrain information and an improved understanding of the physical nature and dynamic behavior of the surface environment—particularly regarding possible impacts on the simulating, planning and execution of military operations—can be a dramatic force multiplier. Knowledge about the detailed character of a terrain and a capability to estimate when and where specific physical events or conditions will occur can be a great tactical advantage, in terms of both operational capability and preparedness. For example, an understanding of vehicle–terrain interactions is necessary for mobility modeling, an ability to remotely estimate precipitation and/or snowmelt infiltration and runoff is necessary to forecast hydrologic stage for river crossing operations, and an ability to predict sea–state conditions and nearshore morphology is essential to successful logistics–over–the–shore operations. Research in support of the environmental stewardship mission will lead to the Army conducting its activities in concordance with federal statutes, the cleanup of contaminated sites on military installations, well–managed and sustainable training lands natural and the preservation of cultural resources on military installations.

Click here to go to next page of document