The FARM Facility operates a fleet of three instrumented, multi-purpose pickup trucks known officially as mobile mesonets or often colloquially as “scout vehicles”. Each are equipped with standard instruments for measuring wind, temperature, and relative humidity, atop a mast mounted far forward at 3.5 m (11.5 feet) above ground level to avoid vehicle slip stream. Temperature and relative humidity sensors are mounted inside an aspirated tube to protect from excess ventilation. A GPS device collects geolocation and movement data, so vehicle velocity can be subtracted from observed winds. As such, accurate datasets can be collected whether the vehicle is stationary or mobile. Air pressure is additionally measured using Vaisala PTB-110 sensors mounted inside the vehicle. Data can be observed in real-time and/or collected after project deployments. A simple, proven quality control process is undertaken to provide superior and easily-readable datasets to the PI.
Mobile mesonet deployments have been requested for several research projects including RELAMPAGO, PECAN, VORTEX2, ASCII, OWLeS, and TWIRL to augment/compliment DOW and other observations aloft. Mobile mesonets can be posted in stationary areas of interest, or assigned to transect at constant speed across a feature or domain. The pickup bed is protected by a high-grade commercial topper cap where gear, pods and other equipment may be stored. The vehicle thus doubles as a multi-purpose platform for a number of data acquisition strategies including sounding launches, PoleNet deployments, and pod/disdrometer deployments.
The FARM Facility operates an array of approximately 15 rapidly deployable, ruggedized “Pods” (pictured at right). These collect standard meteorological observations of temperature, relative humidity, wind speed/direction and pressure at 1 m AGL (depending on configuration), and video or time lapse photographs. They were initially designed for tornado and hurricane low-level wind and damage studies, but their use as a general purpose quickly-deployable weather stations have made them ideally suited to gather data for a variety of scientific objectives.
Pods have been requested for and/or deployed in ASCII, OWLeS, ROTATE, VORTEX2, PECAN, RELAMPAGO, TWIRL and several educational projects to augment DOW observations aloft and provide educational benefit. Roughly 4-5 pods can be transported in the back of each mobile mesonet vehicle. Due to low power requirements and long battery life, they may be quickly deployed and left to record data for many hours, even days. Data is collected using the mobile mesonet systems after project deployments and like the mobile mesonet data, is quality controlled for the PI.
Pods are usually provided, at zero cost, to educational and outreach missions. Researchers can request mobile mesonet or pod deployments with or without DOWs.