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Atmospheric Turbulence and Diffusion Division (ATDD)

ORAU supports ATDD's focus on air quality and climate-related research

U.S. Climate Reference Network station

The U.S. Climate Reference Network (CRN) consists of more than 120 stations throughout the continental U.S., Alaska, Hawaii and Canada. The stations use highly accurate and reliable sensors and gauges to measure temperature, wind speed and precipitation. The network allows scientists to study the climate of an area over sustained periods, from 50 to 100 years. Pictured here is a CRN station at the Mauna Loa Slope Observatory in Hawaii.

Through the Atmospheric Turbulence and Diffusion Division (ATDD), ORAU works closely with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to perform lower atmosphere research in the areas of air quality, contaminant dispersion and climate.

ATDD began as a Weather Bureau Special Projects research office in 1948 under Atomic Energy Commission sponsorship in Oak Ridge, Tenn. Major contributions to many of the classic models of air pollution dispersion have been made during its history.

ATDD continues to serve as a source of meteorological information and expertise for the U.S. Department of Energy and its contractors in Oak Ridge, though its activities have greatly expanded. It now operates primarily as a NOAA research organization.

ATDD's objectives include:

  • To develop better methods for predicting transport and dispersion of air pollutants
  • To improve modeling of air-surface exchange of water, energy and carbon, so that their effect(s) on the earth's climate may be better understood
  • To make high-quality measurements in support of these efforts toward increased understanding
  • To install and maintain a long-term, self-consistent system to monitor climate across the United States

ATDD has maintained a key role in the implementation of the U.S. Climate Reference Network (USCRN), as well as the modernization of the U.S. Historical Climatology Network (USHCN), which was established more than 100 years ago to assist in the detection of regional climate change by collecting monthly averages of maximum, minimum, and mean temperatures and total precipitation.

ATDD led the installation, calibration and maintenance of approximately 140 new, automated stations that collect temperature and precipitation data every five minutes. Each new station includes triple redundant temperature and precipitation sensors for reliability. Additionally, the stations are expandable to allow for any future interest in measuring soil temperature, soil moisture, snow fall and snow depth. The addition of new stations is part of NOAA’s goal to modernize 1,000 of its existing 1,221 USHCN stations.