From PACS-SONET to the present

Our activities, supervised by Mike Douglas, started with the development of the Pan American Climate Studies Sounding network project (PACS-SONET) by the end of 1996. The PACS-SONET was a research project funded by the NOAA Office of Global Programs. Initially, the objectives of the PACS-SONET were to determine the atmospheric circulations asociated with wet and dry spells in Central America during the rainy season (Peña and Douglas 2002), and to help determine whether the National Center for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) operational analyses over Central America and the Eastern Pacific were accurate. As the project developed and new opportunities arose, our field of research was expanded to a broader geographical region. This also allowed for our team two grow from 2 individuals by the end of 1996 (Mike Douglas and Malaquías Peña) to 6 individuals by 2005.
From Central America in 1996, our area of interest started expanding towards the south into the west coast of South America, interested on the circulations associated with El Niño 1997-8. Further extensions of the project included implementing a low-cost operational upper air network the poorly sampled low-lands of central South America. The PACS-SONET network therefore expanded as far south as Bolivia and Paraguay by 1999.
The observations carried out over eastern Bolivia revealed the presence of an intense low-level jet. Motivated partly by these observations, South American Low Level Jet Experiment, a large internationally coordinated activity, was organized for the 2002-3 rainy season. On the mean time, training activities were carried out over the Altiplano, Panama and the bolivian lowlands as part of the PACS-SONET educational component. The idea behind these training activities was to show and motivate individuals about the use of low-cost technology to produce large-impact observations, in particular over regions with limited economic resources. This is why PACS-SONET has concentrated on the use of pilot balloons on the tropical Americas.
After the SALLJEX was carried out, the area of interest expanded to the north into Mexico. Our group got involved on the North American Monsoon Experiment (NAME), carried out over Mexico and the southwestern United States during the warm season (May-September) of 2004. We contributed to the activity with pilot balloon, radiosonde and tethersonde observations. Our region of focus included most of northwest Mexico with higher density of observations about the central Gulf of California.
After the NAME and as part of the educational component of the PACS-SONET, our group activities concentrated again on training activities and the strengthening of the upper air network in northern South America. The LLANOJET experiment in Venezuela and training activities in Colombia were succesfully carried out in 2005. At present times some of the stations installed during these campaigns continue their operations independently from PACS-SONET.
In 2006 we became involved on the NASA African Monsoon Multidisciplinary Analysis activity (NAMMA) concentrated on studying the processes associated to the African Monsoon region that lead to the development of tropical cyclones over the Atlantic ocean. Our contribution was to strengthen the operational pilot balloon network over the region, motivate locals to use and produce more upper air soundings using pilot balloons, and to organize different flight strategies to measure the tropical waves with a DC8 NASA aircraft during August and September 2006.

Last Update: by JMG

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