ARM Data Products for Carbon Cycle Research

modified from Sarmiento and Gruber 2002
Raymond A. McCord, William W. Hargrove, Craig C. Brandt, and Henriette I. Jager
Environmental Sciences Division
Oak Ridge National Laboratory*
P.O. Box 2008
Oak Ridge, TN 37831

*Managed by UT-Battelle, LLC, for the U.S. Dept. of Energy under contract DE-AC05-00OR22725

******** Important News Update - ORNL ARM Carbon Project Ends 09/30/2004 ********

******** ARM Program Upgrades ECOR Systems to measure Carbon! ********


The Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) Program is focused on improving our understanding of atmospheric radiative energy transfer, cloud formation, and the parameterization of these functions in general circulation models (GCM) for global climate change research. ARM field sites include dozens of instruments that intensively measure radiative transfer, cloud properties, and meteorology. Many of these data also have potential application in carbon cycle research.

Data from the ARM Program include many of the measurements needed by carbon modelers to simulate carbon dynamics in terrestrial ecosystems. However, because of its sheer size and comprehensiveness (17 terabytes in 5 million files, 2000 file types, 8000 different data products from 30 locations over 10 years), accessing meaningful data directly from the ARM Archive may be impractical for some carbon researchers.

Our ORNL project seeks to increase awareness of this valuable data source, demonstrate its advantages, and facilitate ease of use for carbon modelers. The focus of this project is to prepare appropriate elements of the ARM data (by generating subsets and/or statistical summaries) so that they are amenable for use by the carbon cycle research community. The spatial and temporal intensity of the ARM measurements, particularly at the Southern Great Plains (SGP) site, allows for the development of several data products useful in carbon cycle research. We are also establishing working relationships with interested carbon modelers in order to assess their needs and assist them by preparing value-added products which are customized for use with popular carbon models.

Other companion projects sponsored by DOE are working on the addition of new instruments and measurements to the ARM sites that will meet the needs of carbon cycle research. A sister project at Lawrence Berkeley Laboratories (LBL) seeks to extend the ARM data set for carbon simulation purposes by collecting and archiving measurements from fixed and portable carbon eddy-flux towers, continuous high-precision CO2, and isotopes of carbon through time at various heights. A description of these additional carbon measurements can be seen in this pdf document. Future phases of the ORNL project will produce data summaries which include these new carbon-specific measurements.

Potential uses of ARM data in Carbon Cycle research include:

Our conceptual philosophy for facilitating carbon research using ARM data includes both the synthesis of new products to entice carbon modelers (a positive "carrot"-type approach), and demonstrations of inadequacies of current data sources and improvements that ARM data can provide relative to them (a negative "stick"-type approach). Our efforts are comprised of the following tasks:

  1. Identify measurements within the existing ARM data collection that can contribute directly to carbon cycle modeling and research.
  2. Develop summarizations from the ARM Archive that have appropriate time steps for models.
  3. Review the quality and completeness of the summary.
  4. Evaluate the summary by completing test runs of the Biome-BGC and SiBD carbon models.
  5. Document the data products and provide them to carbon cycle researchers.
  6. Evaluate methods for filling measurement and data gaps and their consequences for carbon research applications.

This project is developing and evaluating data products created from existing ARM measurements that are "ready to use" in Carbon Cycle research. Specific activities of interest to carbon modelers include:

Details about each of these activities can be found from the links above. All value-added data products are available, and their use is encouraged. Access instructions and data documentation are available. The methods for developing data products for carbon researchers can also be extended to other related disciplines (e.g., water cycle research). Many of the same tasks listed above would be transferrable to additional outreach efforts aimed at other research communities. Additional applications of these methods will proceed as directed by DOE sponsors.

We would like to contact researchers who are actively involved in carbon simulation research.

For additional information contact:

Raymond A. McCord
Oak Ridge National Laboratory*
Environmental Sciences Division
P.O. Box 2008, M.S. 6407
Oak Ridge, TN 37831-6407
865 574-7827 voice
865-574-4665 fax
*Oak Ridge National Laboratory, managed by UT-Battelle, LLC, for the U.S. Dept. of Energy under contract DE-AC05-00OR22725.

William W. Hargrove (
Last Modified: Fri Jul 2 12:24:37 EDT 2004