Overview of CSWR radar location and King Air flight strategy during SNOWIE (from French et al. 2018, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci)
Over the past 15 years, the King Air has been deployed to support nearly 30 research
projects directly funded by NSF as part of the LAOF pool. These have included a wide
range of research topics, including cloud physics, air chemistry, flux measurements,
and development and testing of new airborne instrumentation. Many projects have been
based locally in Laramie, but deployments have commonly taken place around the United
States and even internationally - including Finland, Martinique, and England.
Numerous deployments have occurred in coordination with other LAOF facilities. One
notable recent example was the SNOWIE project. This project was focused on studying the effects of cloud seeding over the Payette
Mountains in Idaho, and involved the King Air making airborne measurements that were
coordinated with observations from the Center for Severe Weather Research’s mobile
Doppler on Wheels trucks.
More recently, the King Air participated in the CHEESEHEAD project, which was focused on quantifying boundary layer fluxes over an evolving vegetation
environment. For this project, the King Air flew along grid patterns as part of an
extensive array of surface-based instruments, UAVs, and radiosonde operations, including
the LAOF pool’s Integrated Sounding System and Integrated Surface Flux System.
CHEESEHEAD instrument locations and example King Air flight track
Students learning about the King Air during a facility open house for TECPEC
The King Air is also actively used in education, both for graduate students at the
University of Wyoming, and as a requestable facility. One recent field deployment
with a specific educational focus was SEAR-MAR, headed by Millersville University and also involving students at Pennsylvania State
University, Rutgers, and the University of Maryland - Baltimore County. For this project,
the King Air was deployed to Lancaster, PA, where students from each university could
take part in mission planning and serve as science crew aboard the research flights.
Another education-oriented project, TECPEC, was a joint effort between the University of Wyoming and University of Utah, again
allowing students from both universities to be directly involved in mission planning
and execution. For this project, the King Air was primarily based in Laramie, with
a short deployment to Salt Lake City allowing more direct involvement by the University
of Utah students.
In 2019, the Department of Atmospheric Science was awarded a grant as part of the
NSF’s Mid-Scale Research Infrastructure (MSRI) program, centered around the acquisition
and modification of a newer King Air 350 that will replace the current aircraft as
the University of Wyoming’s airborne research facility. In addition to the aircraft
itself, the MSRI grant also provides for the development of upgraded research capabilities,
including the capability to support new instrumentation and improved capacity to support
remote instrument operations by science personnel on the ground. More information
about the aircraft acquisition and modification can be found here.