Mission and Objectives


The goal of the Atmospheric System Research (ASR) program is to improve understanding of the key cloud, aerosol, precipitation, and radiation processes that affect the Earth’s radiative balance and hydrological cycle, particularly processes that limit the predictive ability of regional and global earth system models.


To achieve this goal, ASR supports research that uses observations to improve understanding of atmospheric processes. ASR works closely with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) user facility, using ARM’s measurements of radiation, aerosols, clouds, precipitation, thermodynamics, turbulence, and state variables. ARM’s continuous observational data sets are supplemented with process models, laboratory studies, and shorter-duration ground-based and airborne field campaigns to target specific atmospheric processes in different locations and across a range of spatial and temporal scales.

Importance of the Program's Research

The ASR program is a key U.S. research activity that addresses a broad area of uncertainty in earth system models: the interdependence of clouds, atmospheric aerosols, and precipitation and how they influence the radiation balance. ASR research improves physical formulations, leading to state-of-the-art science related to clouds, aerosols, radiation, and precipitation. The program is geared to observe and advance understanding of the atmospheric system in a holistic, comprehensive fashion that addresses the full range of interrelated climatic processes. The anticipated end result is that earth system models will have reduced uncertainty and improved simulation capability so that they can be used with increased confidence in decision and policymaking.