ATOMIC

Atlantic Tradewind Ocean–Atmosphere Mesoscale Interaction Campaign

About

The Atlantic Tradewind Ocean–Atmosphere Mesoscale Interaction Campaign (ATOMIC) is a field study to investigate atmospheric shallow convection and air-sea interaction in the tropical North Atlantic east of Barbados. During January–February 2020, this NOAA-led effort will deploy instruments from a research ship and aircraft to measure key cloud and air-sea interaction processes that are needed to improve understanding and prediction of the impacts of shallow convection on weather and climate conditions on the U.S.

In an effort to advance understanding of these processes, the ESRL Physical Sciences Division will join with other NOAA Research laboratories, the NOAA Climate Program Office’s Climate Variability and Predictability Program, and several universities during the winter of 2020 to lead ATOMIC.

This U.S. field campaign will collaborate with an intensive European study, called EUREC4A (ElUcidating the Role of Clouds-Circulation Coupling in ClimAte), to investigate atmospheric shallow convection and air-sea interaction in the tropical North Atlantic east of Barbados. NOAA will deploy instruments from a research ship and aircraft to measure key cloud and air-sea interaction processes. This effort will involve a unique combination of manned and unmanned aircraft and ships including newly developed capabilities using UAVs, saildrones, and underwater gliders to characterize the variaibility of oceanic and atmospheric properties.


Contact: Chris.Fairall@noaa.gov


NOAA ship Ronald H. Brown NOAA P-3 Aircraft L3-Latitude HQ-60 UAV
Top to bottom: NOAA ship Ronald Brown, P-3 aircraft, and L3-Latitude HQ-60 unmanned aircraft.

Background

Shallow convection, the effects of clouds on the ocean surface energy budget, and mesoscale oceanic processes are relevant to myriad NOAA applications: climate sensitivity, propagation of the Madden-Julian Oscillations (MJO), hurricane track and intensity, annual movement of the Intertropical Convergence Zone, midlatitude storm tracks, and marine stratocumulus cloud regions. Shallow convection is also an important issue for weather forecast models over land, with implications for convective inhibition and the initiation of thunderstorms or for solar energy forecasting. The oceanic region of interest is smack in the middle of the Atlantic Warm Pool.

NOAA is developing plans for an air-sea interaction field program conducted in the north Atlantic tradewind region in January–February 2020. This will be a multiagency U.S. effort that will link with a European program called EUREC4A (ElUcidating the Role of Clouds-Circulation Coupling in ClimAte). EUREC4A will consist of a large-scale ship-island rawinsonde sounding array plus a 180-km diameter mesoscale region that will sampling with airborne platforms. The primary goal of EUREC4A is to determine the role of shallow convective cloud processes in the CO2 sensitivity of climate models.

For the U.S. contribution to EUREC4A, NOAA plans to bring their unique observing platforms to complement the European effort. NOAA’s science objectives will emphasize energy exchange between the ocean and atmosphere, and cloud–aerosol interactions. It is expected that this work will be done by NOAA in collaboration with the National Science Foundation. This campaign has been endorsed by the World Climate Research Programme's CLIVAR project.

Map showing location of ATOMIC/EUREC4A observation deployments
Map showing location of ATOMIC/EUREC4A observation deployments. Circled areas are sample aircraft flight paths. BCO is the Barbados Cloud Observatory.

Meetings

Title Dates Materials
NOAA ATOMIC Planning Meeting, Boulder, CO July 29-30, 2019 Agenda Visitor Info Contacts