CROCUS Academic Partners and Chicago Field Campaigns

The Community Research on Climate and Urban Science (CROCUS) project has twelve (!) academic partners: Chicago State University, City Colleges of Chicago, North Carolina A&T State University, Northeastern Illinois University, Northwestern University, University of Chicago, University of Illinois Chicago, University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, University of Notre Dame, University of Texas – Austin, University of Wisconsin – Madison and Washington University in St. Louis.

These partners play a wide range of roles from education and outreach to modeling and, what I will discuss here, bringing state of the art atmospheric observatories to Chicago. I will go into more depth on the CROCUS Measurement Strategy (CMS) later (yes I am kind of doing this backwards). There are two key components: the Chicago Micronet and the CROCUS Comprehensive Field Campaign Strategy (CFCS).

The C-Band On Wheels (COW) radar is part of the UIUC FARM. And it is coming to Chicago!!! Courtesy Stephen Nesbitt.

All partners will play a role in the CFCS. As said in the previous post, CROCUS is inclusive and open. But three partners play an outsized role. Over the course of the five years of the project the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, the University of Wisconsin – Madison and Washington University in St. Louis will be deploying unique atmospheric observational tools in and around Chicago.

Washington University in St. Louis will be deploying state of the art instruments that can detect and analyze the chemistry of tiny particles called aerosols. They will be able to see how these aerosols grow and interact with the urban environment.

The University of Wisconsin – Madison will be brining a systems taylor made to measure how the city interacts with the larger atmosphere. The University of Wisconsin–Madison Space Science and Engineering Center Portable Atmospheric Research Center (SPARC) has some of the best instruments available for measuring how temperature, moisture and winds change with height. This gives our modeling teams what we call “The column”. That is the layer cake of air above the city. This will help us understand how the regional climate influences Chicago and how Chicago influences the climate.

The SPARC trailer. This facility will tell us what is happening in the skies above Chicago. Courtesy Tim Wagner

Finally, The University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign is bringing the Flexible Array of Radars and Mesonets (FARM). This includes the world famous Doppler On Wheels radars which CROCUS will use to get a neighbourhood scale picture of storms that lead to the worst flooding. The current radar networks around Chicago do not adequately capture the spatial resolution of rainfall important to urban flooding the FARM will allow us to zoom in like a microscope to the street level.

All three facilities will address science as identified by our community partners, Blacks in Green, The Puerto Rican Agenda, The Metropolitan Mayors Caucus and the Greater Chatham Initiative. And they will provide unprecedented opportunities for students. Stay tuned! We are a big tent and this is just the start. We also plan to submit a proposal for the ARM Mobile Facility as another building block to create the largest study of the urban environment, ever.

Community Research on Climate and Urban Science

The day has finally come! As is usual with projects funded by the government we find out many weeks ahead we have been funded and are under embargo as the details are sorted out. Let me start by saying to my fellow scientists who were not awarded: I feel your pain. It is unpleasant, to say the least, to work so hard on a vision and be told you can not carry it out (yet).

Charlie Catlett showing a Sage node to Dr Berhe, Director of the Office of Science with Paul Kearns, Director of Argonne National Laboratory.

Community Research on Climate and Urban Science or CROCUS is an Argonne led response to a call for proposals by DoE’s Office of Science. In a nutshell; through modeling and measurements, we will shine a light on climate relevant atmospheric science at the street level IN CHICAGO!

I will be leading the Measurement Strategy Team. We will be doing two very exciting things: Building a network of AI enabled sensors across Chicagoland. This is the Chicago Micronet. And we will be running a series (three) of field campaigns aimed at understanding the urban science behind the three climate elements that impact the people of Chicago: Heat, Water and Air Quality.

Bad air is a result of industry transport and energy, water moves and often where we tell it to through urban hydrological systems and heat KILLS. Heat kills more than tornadoes and is the nation’s most deadly weather phenomena.

Waggle: The cyberinfrastructure that will enable CROCUS!

For the field campaigns (and I almost giggle with excitement) we have partnered with the University of Washington at St Louis, a leader in understanding the science of aerosols (tiny particles, one millionth of a meter across). The University of Wisconsin–Madison Space Science and Engineering Center and their Portable Atmospheric Research Center (SPARC). And The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Flexible Array of Radars and Mesonets (FARM) which includes the famous Doppler on Wheels (DOW)!

This will culminate in the largest, most inclusive, most open, and, most comprehensive study of an urban environment ever on the planet!

Stay tuned for more news including how we will work with partners like Blacks In Green. To our friend in the community who did not fare as well: I feel for you. But, I am personally dedicated to make CROCUS open and welcoming. Come to Chicago, collaborate with us and we will have so much fun equipping the communities in Chicago with the knowledge they need to fight and prepare for climate change.

Engaging With Blacks In Green (BIG)

“There is a deep connective tissue between Argonne and communities in Chicago. This is not shake and bake” – Naomi Davis (paraphrased)

Blacks In Green in Woodlawn, Chicago.

I am writing this post from the Blacks In Green (BIG) green living room garden. I was asked to come here this week to help translate climate science for a coalition of groups fighting for climate energy justice. What is climate energy justice? To reduce our CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions requires change. As does building resiliency against the worst impacts of climate change. Change, at times, means picking winners and losers so when the United States Government, corporations and communities encourage a transition to a clean energy future it must be a just transition.

Readers of this blog will know I avoid politics. In fact I can not be involved in the crafting of policy or political advocacy in my official role due to the Hatch Act. There IS however the Justice40 initiative which directs agencies to ensure 40% of of benefits from clean energy transitions goes to underserved communities.

Shalanda Baker, Director, Office of Economic Impact and Diversity, DOE.

Now, back to my role here. It is threefold: To give a presentation, in the clearest most understandable terms, of the science behind climate change (modeled in the style of Katharine Hayhoe), to make myself available to this community as a resource and, finally, to respectfully and quietly listen and learn the challenges of communities in Chicago when it comes to weather and climate. This is all part of a long term strategy: Argonne in Chicago.

The stunning garden at Blacks In Green’s The Green Living Room.

Furthermore our proposal to the Office Of Science’s Urban Integrated Field Laboratory call has BIG as well as other communities in Chicago as research partners. We have recognized you do not study communities. Communities do not want to be studied! Rather you work with communities as a trusted partner to empower them with the tools then need to understand the earth air and water where they live, how it will be impacted by a changing climate and equip them with the information they need to drive change and achieve a just energy transition.

Curating Weather Simulation Data. Earthcube Workshop in North Dakota.

“Simulation outputs are important but that does not mean we save them forever” – Gretchen Mullendore

This week I have been attending a workshop on data curation (a key part of open science) specifically on developing guidelines on the data produced by weather and climate simulations. Open science is better science! But a blanket “you must save and provide all data” is not only onerous (especially for underserved institutions) but not what is needed for reproducibility and reusability.

So many great minds focused on open science.

First, this post are my thoughts and do not, necessarily, reflect the views of attendees and organizers. There will be a report. There has been a lot written about measurements and measurements can no be recreated. Model data, to a degree, can be regenerated. By sharing workflows those with the appropriate resources can run the models on provided initialization and configuration data. Furthermore the sharing of workflows allows the exploring of the robustness of conclusions to assumptions (sensitivity) and the reuse of the workflow to address new science questions.

Gretchen kicking off the meeting

I really enjoyed the discussions and applaud the team’s focus on designing rubrics as it brings the conversation up a level and enables the clear measurement of the efficacy of solutions. It was also great seeing a huge diversity in the career stage and “flavor” of participants. We had data creators, curators, representatives from three publishers (AGU, AMS and PLOS), data scientists and more!

Susan from the University of Michigan on data curation.

Also, fittingly, lots of discussions around equity. Open science is better science. Journals are increasingly requiring data to be made available (even FAIR) which can create a burden to institutions without the physical and/or workforce to meet these requirements. There have been discussions of carving out exceptions for underserved communities. My perception is that the community here at the workshop pushed back hard against that idea as, as aforementioned, open science is better science. Rather we need to equip those institutions to meet the open science requirements.

Lots of discussions on just how much data should be required to be made available to be open and how long it should be curated for. Again a focus on designing rubrics to guide the process. The focus should be on the goal and be flexible to aid the scientist in achieving open science and reproducibility and also allow the society driven journals in meeting the aspiration of is members.

A nice atmosphere and a nice atmosphere!

It was great to be back in Grand Forks. The University of North Dakota is a great institution that, in the atmospheric science, punches way about its weight. Two of our recent three hires had a background at UND and I very much enjoy my collaborations with the team there. It was also very nice to be there during a dry cool air outbreak in summer rather than a frigid cold air outbreak in october!

SciPy Thoughts

Subtitle, too busy to blog. Just about finished my time here at SciPy and I am both tired and energized. My excitement has not diminished from my first SciPy back in 2012. Great to meet new people and re-meet people that, due to reasons, many of them pandemic related, I have lost contact with.

Good to be back in the ballroom!

My number one take away from SciPy is: How much better organized the community is and how they, more so than any government program I have worked with, pull in the same direction and work in concert across many projects. The impact of organizations like Chan Zuckerberg is clear as is the orchestrating role of NumFocus. Also a thing to watch is the new Scientific Python organization which is aimed at sustainable growth and enhancement of the ecosystem.

Queso!!!

The increasing common language of enhancement projects (PEPs, SPECs, ZEPs etc…) and common governance structures is extremely pleasing and what just blows my mind is how this is completely self organized without any kind of edict from above.

The Scientific Python ecosystem is just that, an evolving ecosystem! It is so pleasing watching it evolve to a sustainable track. As Ben Blaiszik said during his keynote, this software is fundamental science infrastructure and while it needs (very much) more financial support from the agencies who’s science it supports (side eye at DOE) it is now in a place where any funds it (the ecosystem) receives will be used for the good of science.

On a technical note some great things I took home were: New, exciting 3D visualization tools, Pangeo forge forges ahead, cool ways to access HRRR as a X-Array like Zarr store from AWS, James Webb space telescope processing runs on SciPy, new ways to manage conda environments for teams and more.

BBQ and storms!

On a professional note, my greatest enjoyment was from seeing the enjoyment of my team three of whom were at their first in-person SciPy. Joe, Max and Bhupendra seemed to completely immerse themselves in the meeting and made new connections. It was also fantastic seeing our ARM collaborators at Brookhaven Lab , Die Wang and Sid Gupta there. This turned into a mini-science meeting as well with new connections made and new work planned. It also is a sign that open science is growing in the programs I love.

On a personal note, it was fun and a little interesting being in Austin during the pandemic. The city’s homeless problem has gotten worse and many businesses are struggling with hiring and some old haunts have gone out of business. I really enjoyed taking advantage of the scooter scheme clocking up 25 miles of low carbon transport.

Great seeing out DOE EESSD funded open science family grow at SciPy.

The news today of NumFocus taking over from Enthought as the organizing entity for SciPy is great news. Enthought has been spectacular and so supportive but having a genuine not for profit will help in many ways. It also opens the opportunity for SciPy not being in Austin. I am genuinely on the fence about this. Whatever the case I hope NumFocus takes a good look at WHY we have these meetings and comes up with some guiding principles. Define what is trying to be achieved, a north star to guide decisions. Then they and the chairs, committee, etc, can keep coming back to those and be forced to justify decisions. I am excited for the future, be it in Austin or elsewhere (note the contract for Austin in 2023 is signed, this does not mean it has to be in Austin but means there is a cost to not having it in Austin).

I’ll finish this blog post by asserting I need to become more engaged in the community. I need to write in folks like NumFocus, Quantsight, 2i2c et al into grant proposals as collaborators as not only are they better positioned to implement workflows I love to use funding them will give back to the tools I love to use. I also need to make more time to contribute code and continue to support my team in contributing to free open community software, critical international science infrastructure.

SciPy 2022. Kid In a Candy Store.

Short update! I am SciPy bound. My first in person conference since, well, the world stopped. So the pandemic is by no means over and there is some controversy (which I will not go into but you can GTS yourself) but that has not dampened by excitement.

My first SciPy. Red pill all the way.

One super exciting thing is three members of my team, Bhupendra, Max and Joe, are heading to their first SciPy.. I remember my first SciPy. It was like a scene from the matrix where I took the red pill and my world changed forever. I have been in “science” for two decades plus and I have never found a community like the Scientific Python community. The smartest and kindest people I have ever met. Genuine and passionate.

Great day for traveling.

I am excited to re-meet many I have met (please please forgive my memory for names, the pandemic has frazzled the skills I had, already meagre, in that area) meet new people and just learn a lot! I remember clearly in 2012, my first SciPy attending and about to give a talk and wondering what to use to format code (at SciPy they show a LOT of code, it is amazing). And I heard about this cool tool called an iPython Notebook. Yeah, before Jupyter.

And that is the amazing thing about SciPy. You are, as Hamilton would say, in the room where it happens. In the very least you are in the hallway outside the room and are the first to know about what happened and use the tools of said happening. Bring It On!

I Am Going To Become a Pro Drone Pilot

Wait What? Well, you all might know I take a pretty nice picture. On the ground that is super easy. I can go to a DOE ARM site and take a pic and say “Yep, its me! Scott Collis, Atmospheric Scientist from Argonne.” I love it, the media loves it DOE loves it, Argonne loves it..

I’m a aviation geek and map nerd. I was born for this.
So much here! Sunset over Chicago at 400ft above my house.

So, first, I am going to post some pic here.. These pics are taken by me in a completely personal capacity. Let’s say WTTW says “hey Scott amazing pic of that sunset over Chicago, can we use it?” Usually I would say “Sure! just say ‘Scott Collis, Atmospheric Scientist, Argonne National Lab'”. Now, flying a drone, and rightly so, different concept. Planes and all.

Well, you might ask, why even bother with drone photography? Getting up a bit higher really puts those clouds into context. Being above the ground (max 400 feet) helps show the 3D structure of clouds so much better the the perspective on the ground. And no blockage!

DuPage forest preserve. Once permitted so much fun to fly!

DOE has no exceptions for less than 250g. I will need to get a “107” licence and pass a physical. I will then need to find some like minded individuals at the lab (I have some in mind) to do the same. Reading the requirements for the test it is all about regulations, weather and sectional maps.. Wait? I get to do this? This sounds like my type of fun. (note Argonne is paying for none of this… yet).

So, now starts a new itch in my life… Play along at home..

Thank You.

Goodbye Houston. IAH on climb out.

Day eight, a travel day back home. Very thankful to be heading home. It has been a good, long, good trip and very worthwhile. I have a better understanding of Houston meteorology, better understanding of ARM Operations which will help me be a better scientist working with ARM data and many new connections to the area and collaborations.

Daniel, a big U of H fan!

Of the seven days I was mission scientist we called three “up” days. Two (the first two) were a slam dunk. Yesterday’s was less so with storm firing more to the east and north of the TRACER domain. The data from yesterday will still be interesting in studying a transition to an atmosphere more conducive to storms.

David Oaks. Michicagian to Alaska, Norway and now Texas.

Mike Jensen, the overall PI (lead) for TRACER will now take over as the Mission Scientist while Chris Nowotarski from Texas A&M will take over from Bobby as forecast coordinator. It was really nice today to not be “on”. Not having to plan my day around spinning up and having the call.

Gabi Pessoa, from theater in Rio to balloons in Houston.

Most of all I am thankful to the AMF site staff. David Oaks, the technical lead, Daniel Bahrt, Mark Spychala and Gabi Pessoa. Not only are they key to collecting data that will change our understanding of our planet they do it with style and a passion for the mission that is amazing. It is interesting to think when I attended a break out meeting at an ARM-ASR meeting (I think it was in 2016) when folks were just starting to talk about Houston and then I decided that we (Bobby and I) should start studying Houston storms using data from the local NWS NEXRAD radar it would lead to this.

Mark Spychala. Valpo grad, Army and NEON nerd now geeking on Texas clouds.

Also amazing, when Mike led the proposal and we came up with ideas for deploying to Houston that our science thoughts would lead to the uprooting and redeploying of people. Fact is, as much as we try, ARM’s deployments can not be fully automated. In La Porte, where we are deployed to the middle of an airfield, launching sounding balloons takes careful coordination with the airport, authorities and Houston TRACON. And even beyond soundings each technician does daily rounds where they inspect instruments, clean windows and work with visiting scientists like myself.

What now? For one I will be back in August for another tour of duty. Details still to be determined. With the ARM C-Band radar in automated mode our team will have our work cut out for us working out exactly what we got. And that’s where the coming weeks I will be wearing my other hat. Not a Mission Scientist but an ARM Translator. Working with the team to make ARM radar data more useful to our users. Can’t wait to dig into that data and so grateful to the folks on-site who make it possible. I leave Houston thankful.

Out On A High Note.

And we are done. A seven day tour as mission scientist for ARM TRACER done! Seven days and three up days, super stoked with that, especially this last day which was just a bonus. Forecast turned distinctly more positive for the science we want to do yesterday (understanding the impact of those little particles on big clouds) so we called an up day for my last day in Houston.

Done… Celebratory beverage at St Arnolds

So now I sit here biting my fingernails waiting for storms! I’m sitting in the trailer at the ARM site hoping to get video of one last sounding launch. Plus some time lapse of I HOPE developing storms. It has been an amazing trip. I have learned a lot about Houston, the meteorology, ARM and AMF operations and the folks in Houston. Being immersed is important. Back in Chicago I would have so many distractions. Here I watch the atmosphere develop.

Leading up to the forecast call I am watching the data, watching the sky and visiting the sites. I listen to the forecast call, take in all information and make a call on operations. I then watch how it pans out. As talked about in previous posts, forecasting creates an impression on all those involved and aids in future analysis.

Magic

With today’s forecast being so uncertain a lot hinged on the morning (7am, 12 noon in Universal Coordinated Time or UTC aka Zulu or “Z” yeah.. a lot of odd stuff) sounding and how dry the air just above the surface is. So, because it seemed “right” I took Mark up on his offer to come out and launch the 12Z sonde.

What a treat. There was a fine layer of fog over the site and the light was MAGIC.

So lucky to work for such an amazing organization.

So, scratch “get up at 5am on Sunday to drive to a world class facility to launch a balloon to help in your forecast” off the bucket list. A high note indeed. We looked at the sounding and kept the “up” forecast in place. It’s 23:30Z right now (yeah a long day). Still feeling good about the call. Even if it is a miss it is an interesting miss and the weather turns messy tomorrow (yay! A travel day with tropical-like storms!). I am really looking forward to getting back to my family. 2.5 years or lockdown and heck yeah I miss them when I go away (took all of about 24 hours). Proud of the work I have done here and so very humble to be part of something so amazing.

Putting The M In ARM

ARM’s Cloud Radars
Total Sky Imager and sun photometer.

Atmospheric Radiation Measurement. A facility 30 years strong. And the focus is on measurements. We take measurements. ARM collects measurements with a mission to improve the representation of clouds, aerosols (those tiny particles) and anything that impacts how sunlight travels to the earth and how the infrared radiation emitted from the earth travels our into space in any kind of earth simulation. ARM does not do the improving of simulations.

We target our data so users can do that themselves and use the funding from various agencies (including our sister program, the Atmospheric Systems Research program). ARM looks to scientists like me (yes I have a dual role here, I am supported by the ARM program to value add ARM radar measurements AND I am a scientist who proposes to ARM to deploy instruments) to suggest through a proposal mechanism where we should go to make the most impactful measurements.

Micropulse LIDAR.

ARM measurements are comprehensive. A simple breakdown could be instruments that measure the properties and chemistry of tiny particles, instruments that measure clouds, instruments that measure both and those that measure the air (the meteorology) in which they reside.

Those vital balloons.

I could go over each instrument and its purpose but the would be a lecture, heck a whole course, not a blog post. Some of my favourites are our cloud radars (of course) which shoot radio waves (super high frequency. Your wifi is ~3GHz our Ka Band radar is 35GHz! ) the micropulse LIDAR which instead of shooting radio waves shoots laser beams and, one of my all time favorites due to its simplicity, the Total Sky Imager (TSI).

Warm work!

The TSI cam from the idea of “hey I can see the whole sky in this shiny salad bowl”. It is my got when I am trying to work out “what happened?”. And, of course, as you have all garnered from previous posts, one thing ARM does very well is launch weather balloons.

So after taking all these photos in the morning (sweaty business even at 8am) I relocated back to the hotel for the weather briefing and ops call. The forecast was improving but is a real head scratcher for tomorrow. So we are calling an up day for tomorrow. The key will be moisture near the surface. If there is just a slight bit more than forecast we will get some nice storms. If not enough, no storms until a major chance comes through tomorrow night. Fingers crossed all!