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Around the world, scientists are searching for answers to the big questions in atmospheric science. Enabling and advancing these research efforts, the National Science Foundation (NSF) offers state-of-the-art instruments and platforms to U.S. atmospheric scientists through its Lower Atmospheric Observing Facilities (LAOF). These facilities, which run the gamut from aircraft, radars, and lidars, to surface and sounding systems, data curation and research support, are available on a competitive basis for university, National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), and government agency researchers who have a funded science grant.
To help users navigate the variety of available facilities and support functions, and simplify the facilities request process, the NCAR Earth Observing Laboratory (EOL) recently published an easy-to-navigate digital guide to the LAOF that provides everything that researchers need to know, http://www.eol.ucar.edu/laof. The guide, available online and as Apple iOS- and android-compatible applications, offers a centralized source of information, giving researchers an overview of available facilities and services. Perhaps most importantly, it provides investigators with detailed instructions on how to request use of the facilities.
“We have developed this guide both for experienced and novice users of NSF and EOL’s capabilities and services,” explains Vanda Grubišić, director of EOL. “In addition to providing a go-to source for the latest information on the facilities available to the university community, the guide demystifies the application process by providing step-by-step guide to making an LAOF request.”
“The digital guide is designed both for ease of use and to ensure that EOL and NCAR provide the community with access to mission-critical information via a variety of digital channels, including mobile media-friendly applications,” says Tom Bogdan, president of the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR), NCAR’s managing body.
EOL’s digital media guide is one means by which the laboratory is achieving its goal of training and entraining new and existing users within the scientific community it serves.
“While the digital guide provides crucial information to a novice user, experienced users will also benefit from new and updated information about LAOF and EOL. Additionally, EOL, in working with early career investigators, is staying ahead of the curve of meeting the community’s broad needs by providing the information researchers need via the technologies they rely on,” says Grubišić.
 With NSF funding, NCAR’s Earth Observing Laboratory (EOL) manages and operates the LAOF along with four partner organizations, including the University of Wyoming, Colorado State University, the Center for Severe Weather Research, and the Center for Remotely Piloted Aircraft Studies.