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Air Quality, Weather & Climate Research

We provide high-quality evaluations of air quality, weather and climate change through advanced meteorological assessments.

ORAU works in partnership with NOAA's Atmospheric Turbulence & Diffusion Division (ATDD) to perform advanced weather and climate research. This may involve activities such as flying drones to better understand patterns of unpredictable weather or engineering and maintaining the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Climate Reference Network.

As a part of NOAA’s Air Resources Laboratory, ORAU’s atmospheric scientists at ATDD provide engineering expertise on the development and deployment of instrumentation and data analysis for short intensive campaigns to multi-decade, nationwide climate monitoring stations and systems. These innovative systems, such as the Best Airborne Turbulence (BAT) Probe and the Climate Reference Network, offer insight into the implications of climate change and air quality on a nationwide scale.

If you’ve ever questioned why tornadoes are disproportionately deadly in the Southeast, how pollutants affect local air quality, or how to continually improve monitoring and prediction of climate change, then you’re asking the questions ATDD experts are actively seeking answers to in their research.

What is the Climate Reference Network?

The Climate Reference Network is a system of 114 climate monitoring stations scattered throughout the continental United States, with an additional 21 stations in Alaska and two in Hawaii. All of the stations have sensors with the capabilities to read air temperature, precipitation, relative humidity, wind speed and solar radiation. Additionally, most of these stations also have sensors to read soil moisture and soil temperature. The data collected through the Climate Reference Network is used to monitor trends in the nation's climate and support climate-impact research, while supporting water resource management.

  • Atmospheric Modeling Map

    Areas of Expertise

    Air Quality
    • Atmospheric Modeling
    • Precipitation Chemistry
    • Reactive Nitrogen
  • Weather station in desert location

    Areas of Expertise

    • Climate Reference Network
    • Snow Measurements
    • Surface Energy Budget Network
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    Areas of Expertise

    Boundary Layer Processes
    • Surface-Layer Meteorology
    • Tornadogenesis
    • Thunderstorm Initiation
    • Unmanned Aircraft
    • Wind Energy
ORAU atmospheric scientists help take unmanned aircraft to new heights in hurricane research

ORAU atmospheric scientists help take unmanned aircraft to new heights in hurricane research

Did you know that unmanned aircraft known as “Coyotes” serve as a missing link for hurricane research? With a slim, tubular body mirroring an airplane and the wingspan of a vulture, measuring at about 4 feet, the Coyotes are similar in size to drones that would be used to deliver packages or capture aerial photos; not the type of aircraft one would imagine flying into a hurricane.

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Our Expert

Randy White

Randy White

Research Group Manager, ATDD

Expertise: Wind tunnel modeling, atmospheric and soil measurement in tornado research, wind energy studies, air pollutant measurement
  • Investigator: Environmental and atmospheric experiments for DOE, National Weather Service, National Park Service, and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
  • Presenter: Environmental sciences programs for K-12 students
  • Project Manager: East Tennessee 2017 Total Solar Eclipse atmospheric testing and measurement

Contact us

For more information about ORAU's environmental assessment servicescontact Derek Hagemeyer at 865.241.3615 or

For more information about contracting with ORAU, contact Kathy Rollow at 865.574.4390 or