Report of the berac arm facility review panel
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Report of the BERAC ARM Facility Review Panel. Joyce E. Penner, Eugene W. Bierly, Robert Dickinson, Charles Miller 1 , Nelson A. Seaman 1 , Anne-Marie Schmoltner 2 , Paul Try 2 1 Non-ARM funded 2 Participated in 2005 review.

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Report of the BERAC ARM Facility Review Panel

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Report of the BERAC ARM Facility Review Panel

Joyce E. Penner, Eugene W. Bierly, Robert Dickinson, Charles Miller1, Nelson A. Seaman1, Anne-Marie Schmoltner2, Paul Try2

1Non-ARM funded

2 Participated in 2005 review

Charge: Assess the effectiveness of the ARM facilities as a national user facility

  • How well are they serving the needs of the open (non ARM-funded) user community?

  • What factors are driving the costs of maintaining and operating the facilities?

  • Were critical recommendations from the 2005 review implemented?

ARM Background

  • ARM program funds ARM research and ARM infrastructure (sites and services)

  • 2004: ARM Climate Research Facility designated as a national user facility

  • ACRF Science Board reviews requests for field programs at the fixed sites and use of the Mobile Facility

  • ACRF does not fund research, but provides instrumentation, data, and expertise

ARM as a User Facility: External Users

  • The climate modeling community gains from knowledge generated by the data taken at ARM: Cloud/aerosol interactions; Convective precipitation

  • Non-ARM funded direct use of the facility:

    • Mobile facility: 3 out of last 4 users were not ARM-funded

    • 60% of accepted proposals are non ARM-funded P.I.’s

    • 1500 users; 931 use archive, 69% are non-funded

    • Several satellite validation exercises benefit NASA, NOAA

ARM as a User Facility: Possible extensions

  • Initiate programs to train new scientists (advanced graduate students and beginning post-docs) in the use of the ACRF

  • Initiate a process of outside review of the documentation of data provided in the archive

Cost Effectiveness of the ARM facility: Metrics

  • Metrics for cost effectiveness useful for DOE and OMB, but don’t tell the whole story

  • Scientific excellence metrics useful to capture the impact of the ACRF on the national and international research community.

Cost Metrics

  • Cost/Product: goal is $100 per product file (counted as the highest level product) (has trended down, but leveled off)

  • Leveraged Science Costs: Since external users not coming out of ARM, a measure of the costs of these campaigns would show broader impact

Science Metrics

  • Uptime (98%) or Number of Instrument Operation Hours

  • Number of Publications Citing ARM or ARM Data: 883 during 2002-2006

  • Number of Proposals Received/Number of Proposals Approved (68%); would be nice to have stratified by cost

  • Only 17% of Mobile Facility requests approved: Strong unaccomodated desire

  • User and Data Use Statistics: 931 data users: need better feedback about available documentation and need error bars on products

Cost effectiveness and trends

  • Largest cost factor is labor:

    • Have worked to keep this cost category flat and/or declining: Savings of $6M compared to projections using 3% inflation

  • Have also trained staff to maintain instruments (cost savings relative to contracting this out)

  • Cost saving in internet services through use of higher technology

ACRF is approaching a period of optimal productivity

  • Risk that ARM Infrastructure will not be able to sustain continued growth in service to the user community under the current funding profile

  • Scope of ACRF responsibilities has increased with their support of climate data records: Must emphasize data quality

Implementation of recommendations from prior review (2005)

  • Management team established a formal process to address each recommendation:

  • Emphasis was given to:

    • improvement of data quality,

    • documentation and dissemination,

    • enhancement of communications to the user community

Web Technology, Data Products and Information

  • Massive improvement to the ARM web site and organization of data

    • A more pro-active approach to feedback from users would help

    • Data quality especially error characteristics could be made more accessible

    • Linking and cross-cutting of data sets in time could be improved

    • Grouping of data sets for particular problems has started and should continue

Other recommendations

  • Revival of the Instrument Development Program is probably not necessary

  • The criteria for deployment is certainly better enunciated especially with the Mobile Facility

  • Constructive outreach is being pursued:

    • A limited number (one to three) of signature data sets should be advertised

    • More focused attention could be given to applications of the world-wide, regionally diverse, collective data from the ACRF sites to global climate research

  • Communication of ACRF Accomplishments needs to continue

Other recommendations

  • Data quality efforts have been expanded, though no easy way to track the improvements

  • Management/Leadership approaches appear to be evolving to remain effective though we did not spend effort on this in the review


  • ACRF is effectively used by the broader scientific community

  • The ACRF Management has worked aggressively to decrease costs of running the ARM facility: can widen metrics to better quantify the value of the facility

  • ACRF management also aggressively pursued implementation of the 2005 review recommendations, though we had a few suggestions for further improvement

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