Measurements 2019-12-04T19:49:56+00:00



The Arctic has a special effect on global weather, commerce, and security. The ability to collect data in this rapidly changing region has become a key enabling capability for research, forecasting, and regional and national planning. Atmospheric measurements collect data for predicting the weather, monitoring severe weather, and improving climate models. Environmental data collected from the region is important to those nearby as well as policy and security decision makers. However, collecting measurements in the Arctic has historically been challenging.

What We Do

Sandia collects more precise weather, environmental, and climate data with help from a variety of tools, technologies, and one-of-a-kind facilities. The extreme conditions and remoteness in the Arctic allow Sandia to develop, test, validate, and improve data-collection technologies for other national security uses.

Sandia offers unique instrumentation for harsh, remote, and extreme conditions. In addition to expanding  Atmospheric Radiation Monitoring program site measurement/monitoring capabilities, we have installed and monitored other institutions’ instrumentation.

We work with innovative tools, technologies, and facilities to collect never-before-available data:

  • Drones, aka unmanned aerial systems (UASs), provide reusable, lower-preparation means to collect from more remote locations, more frequently, at various altitudes.

  • Tethered weather balloons carry distributed temperature sensors to collect Arctic atmospheric temperature profiles, among other sensors, such as supercooled water sensors which can measure multi-phase clouds.

  • ARM facilities enable uniquely located data collection and arctic climate measurements.

  • Access to 700-mile-long restricted airspace over the Beaufort Sea at Oliktok Point enables Sandia to conduct experiments and exercises over Arctic waters without risk to human-piloted aircraft.

  • Advanced sensors, such as Raman lidars.

Sandia atmospheric scientists regularly fly tethered balloons out of Sandia’s dedicated Arctic airspace on Oliktok Point, the northernmost point of Alaska’s Prudhoe Bay. These 13-foot-tall balloons carry distributed temperature sensors to collect Arctic atmospheric temperature profiles, or the temperature of the air at different heights above the ground, among other atmospheric sensors. The data Sandia collects is critical for understanding Arctic clouds to inform global climate models.

The Arctic requires specialized operational and sensing equipment. Sandia’s experience measuring harsh, inaccessible environments enables Sandia to collect data identified by sponsors and stakeholders as critical to understanding key Arctic systems. For example, Arctic research and data can inform coast guard, commercial, and military operations, allowing them to operate more safely and effectively.

Coupled with our modeling capabilities, expert staff, and focus on arctic science and security, Sandia can assist partners in taking and collecting measurements as well as analyzing and applying the data.