This issue of the Atmospheric Radiation Measurement Program (ARM Program) monthly newsletter is about the ARM Program goal to improve scientific understanding of the interactions of sunlight (solar radiation) with the atmosphere, then incorporate this understanding into computer models of climate change. To model climate accurately all around the globe, a variety of data must be collected from many locations on Earth. For its Cloud and Radiation Testbed (CART) sites, ARM chose locations in the US Southern Great Plains, the North Slope of Alaska, and the Tropical Western Pacific Ocean to represent different climate types around the world. In this newsletter they consider the North Slope of Alaska site, with locations at Barrow and Atqasuk, Alaska.
In the realm of global climate modeling, numerous variables affect the state of the atmosphere and climate. One important area is soil moisture and temperature. The ARM Program uses several types of instruments to gather soil moisture information. An example is the soil water and temperature system (SWATS). A SWATS is located at each of 21 extended facility sites within the CART site boundary. Each system is configured to measure soil moisture and temperature at eight distinct subsurface levels. A special set of probes used in the SWATS measures soil temperature, soil-water potential, and volumetric water content. Sensors are placed at eight different depths below the soil surface, starting at approximately 5 cm (2 in.) below the surface and ending as deep as 175 cm (69 in.). Each site has two identical sets of probes buried 1 m (3.3 ft) apart, to yield duplicate measurements as a quality control measure. At some sites, impenetrable soil or rock layers prevented installation of probes at the deeper levels. The sensors are connected to an electronic data logger that collects and stores the data. Communication equipment transfers data from the site. All of the electronic equipment is housed in a weatherproof enclosure mounted on a concrete slab.