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ULM gets nearly $275K for mobile weather lab

Published August 23, 2018

WASHINGTON - Congressman Ralph Abraham, M.D., R-Alto, announced Tuesday that the University of Louisiana at Monroe is receiving a nearly $275,000 federal grant to buy new weather satellite equipment.

The National Science Foundation awarded the Major Research Instrumentation award to ULM so that the university can buy a compact, portable Doppler Wind Lidar system. This equipment uses lasers to study atmospheric characteristics such as wind, turbulence and aerosols. It will allow ULM to better research storms and air quality to improve public safety and human health.

“Severe weather can develop seemingly without warning. ULM is studying ways we can detect these storms faster and more accurately, and I am pleased that these federal funds will be used to help ULM with its mission of making Louisiana a safer place,” said Dr. Abraham, a member of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology.

Dr. Abraham has been a strong supporter of ULM’s atmospheric science program. In 2016, he worked with the university and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to help the university get an operational license for its Doppler weather radar.

ULM President Nick J. Bruno said the new instruments will further the university’s study of dangerous weather.
“We are very happy for the successful National Science Foundation grant of nearly $275,000. As the only university in Louisiana with an atmospheric science program, the grant will allow our faculty and students to continue research efforts into danger weather, which could lead to answers in making our citizens safer,” Bruno said. “I want to thank Congressman Abraham for his support of this grant.”
ULM investigators on the grant include principal investigator Dr. Todd Murphy, Dr. Kenneth Leppert, Dr. Joydeep Bhattacharjee, and Dr. Michael Chenoweth.

“We are essentially building out a mobile atmospheric profiling laboratory. The NSF grant will allow us to take our instrumentation to where the active weather is actually happening, instead of just remaining static and hoping the weather moves over you,” Murphy said. “There are only a handful of such mobile profiling labs across the United States, however, there is a great need in our field to build more of these labs to support new and improved knowledge of atmospheric processes.”

With the new grant, the ULM research team will acquire a Halo Photonics Stream Line XR, which is a pulsed Doppler Wind Lidar with an eye-safe laser, high pulse rate, low use energy, and coherent heterodyne detection, according to the grant abstract provided by the NSF. The research team will use the Lidar along with existing instruments such as a microwave radiometer, rawinsonde system, and surface instrumentation so that it can be used both in mobile field study settings or at a fixed location on campus.

The research team will study convective initiation and onset of severe weather, lake and sea breeze circulations and coastal processes, precipitation and cloud physics, and aerosol science and air pollution.

The University of Louisiana Monroe's Doppler weather system will be joined by a new, portable Doppler Wind Lidar. The Lidar is funded by a National Science Foundation grant of almost $275,000. Congressman Ralph Abraham, a member of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, supported the NSF grant. Emerald McIntyre/ULM Photo Services