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Research Facilities

A10 Storm Penetrating Aircraft

Since the retirement of the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology (SDSMT) storm-penetrating T-28 research aircraft in 2004, the national and international storm research communities have been without means of obtaining in-situ measurements of thunderstorm processes. In 2010 the National Science Foundation (NSF) took steps to remedy this. The NSF funded the Center for Interdisciplinary Remotely Piloted Aircraft Studies (CIRPAS) at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, CA, to requisition a Fairchild A-10 from the US Air Force. A year later, the USAF agreed to lend a mothballed A-10 to the US Navy. The NSF funds provided to CIRPAS will cover regeneration, reinforcement for storm penetration, and instrumentation for scientific research. Paul Smith, Andy Detwiler, Donna Kliche, and other scientists and graduate research assistants at SDSM&T, will collaborate with CIRPAS to operate the aircraft as a national facility in support of national and international storm research projects. To view the website for the A10 facility, please go to:

Instrumentation and Computing

The department has recently acquired a set of research-grade portable surface weather observing stations that measure temperature, moisture, pressure, solar radiation, wind speed and wind direction.  One of the stations also includes a tipping bucket rain gauge to measure rainfall.  These stations provide students with hands-on experience collecting and analyzing weather data and can be deployed to study mesoscale weather patterns in the Black Hills region.

The atmospheric sciences department has a long history of numerical modeling expertise.  To this end, we maintain a fleet of high-performance computing platforms capable of running state-of-the art numerical weather prediction models such as the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model developed by the National Center for Atmospheric Research.  This includes a high resolution forecast version of the WRF model being run in real-time for the Black Hills region in western South Dakota and versions of WRF adapted for regional climate and coupled hydrologic modeling.  Additionally, the department has a Unix computer lab for student use, access to University of Colorado and NCAR supercomputing resources in collaboration with the USGS, a RAID server for data storage and access to an LDM data feed that brings in real-time weather data from the National Weather Service for forecasting and research use.

Laboratory facilities

The Department of Atmospheric Sciences at SDSM&T has state of the art laboratory facilities to analyze key constituents of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. For example, the Biogeochemistry Core Facility, made possible by a recent grant from the National Science Foundation and housed in the department, is an analytical and research laboratory facility shared by Atmospheric Sciences and Civil and Environmental Engineering. Additional laboratory facilities  focus on measurements of atmospheric constituents that have the potential to affect the radiation and the oxidant balance of the earth system.

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Department of Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences

South Dakota School of Mines and Technology 501 East Saint Joseph Street Rapid City, SD 57701

Office: (605) 394-2291 Fax: (605) 394-6061


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(Page updated 12/12/2013)